Fall Checklist

Last year, Grid Michal wrote an Engines column detailing the winterization process for outboards. If you’re planning to start that process soon, take a look at this short recap from Michal’s column (boatingworld.com/engines/shutting-it-down).

Fall Chores:

  • The last tank of fuel for the season has to have a great stabilizer/cleaner, such as SeaFoam, in it, and the engine has to run at least an hour on that mix. Then fog the engine’s internals with thin fogging oil until the engine quits. Don’t remove the plugs to add oil to the cylinders — it ends up puddling at the bottom of the cylinder. If your engine is carbureted, drain the carburetor bowls. If it’s fuel injected, the air-tight system should be OK over the winter.
  • After the engine has cooled, drain the gearcase of the season’s oil. This is when you find out if there’s water intrusion into the oil and can take corrective action before any expensive parts are ruined. If it looks like oil, refill it with fresh.
  • If it’s a four-stroke, change the oil and filter.
  • If the steering has been getting sticky, that won’t be a problem in the spring: it’ll be seized, unless you remove the steering ram, grind out the rust and reinstall the steering system.
  • If you can easily access it, remove the thermostat and clean it by boiling it in a solution of vinegar and water to ease out the corrosion. Look at the thermostat closely. If anything looks as though it could break soon, replace the thermostat — and be ready to pay $50-plus per thermostat.
  • If it has a grease fitting, grease whatever the fitting is attached to.
  • Put a tiny bit of tape over the “pee hole” so mud daubers don’t build.


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