Putting the Outboard to Bed

By: Zuzana Prochazka

QuestionI’m getting ready for another Midwestern winter, and I’m wondering if I should run antifreeze through the outboard?

AnswerThere is definitely a winterization process for outboards, and if you’re organized and have all the tools, it should take no more than an hour. It helps to put the engine away clean inside and out, so run fresh water through it if it is used in salt water regularly. Store the engine upright so all the water drains out the bottom. It’s also good practice to add fuel stabilizer to prevent the gas from going bad. Change the fuel filter and change the lower-unit gear oil, which could have water in it if the seals have failed. Spray fogging oil into the carburetor, and remove the battery for storage somewhere inside. Finally, remove the prop and grease the shaft as well as the engine tilts and clamp screws.

Notice what’s missing from this list — antifreeze. If you store the engine upright, the water will flow out of it, and so will any antifreeze introduced into it. I’ve heard of boatyards that do an antifreeze rinse and then add $150 as a line item to your tab. It’s a less-than-ethical practice. If a yard tells you they’ll do this for you for a small fee, shop around for another yard.


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