Winterize your boat this fall

Posted at 8:28 AM, Sep 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-12 08:28:23-04

Summer is slipping away, so if you're one of the country's 17 million boat owners, it's time to think about putting it up for the off-season. Preparing for winter is a lot of work, and if you don't do it right, it could cost you big next spring. Here's more in in this Angie's List report.

Boats can be a ton of fun, but if you own one, you know they're also a ton of work - especially when you put it away for the winter. If you don't properly prep for cold weather, you'll get hot under the collar when you see the repair bills next spring. 

Rodney Good services boats for a living, "The main thing to be careful about is that you get all the water out of it properly. Don't leave any water trapped in there. And make sure you get all your fluids full because if you do something wrong, it becomes an expensive lesson."

Good recommends first adding a quality stabilizer to the fuel system and letting it work up to the carburetor or fuel injectors, then pulling the engine's drain plug to get the water out. He says it's essential to physically pick out the debris, or water will stay trapped, freeze and crack the engine block."

That's how a lot of people get caught. They don't get that… they get some water out of there and think okay, it's drained, we're good. And then they didn't get enough out and it freezes and breaks," he said.

A rebuilt or brand new engine costs thousands of dollars, which is why many people turn this task over to a pro. 

Angie Hicks of Angie's List says, "Don't leave your boat winterization to a handyman or an auto mechanic. It should really be left to someone who specializes in boats, so a reputable marina that deals in the type of boat you have. A boat technician and a typical boat winterization should cost between 300 and 400 dollars."

That job should also include an oil change, gear lube, battery charge and cooling system flush followed by running non-toxic anti-freeze through the system to treat any remaining water hiding inside.

Once it's winterized, your boat needs to be stored. A climate controlled space is best, but if you're leaving it outside, Angie recommends a custom-fit cover and shrink wrap for maximum protection.