When to Start Thinking about Boat Motor Maintenance

Photo credit: Paul Murray

Many boat owners, especially in the north, went through the process of winterizing a boat. Well, it’s almost time to start thinking about ways to reduce "springizing" a boat. Boat motor maintenance throughout the year will be easier if you start early, working through a boat maintenance checklist.

Many examples of boat maintenance checklist can be found online or it comes with your boat to assist with your boat engine maintenance. In general, the bigger the boat, the longer the boat maintenance checklist. When focusing on  boat engine maintenance, without going into too much detail here, you may find it helpful to remember 3 necessary elements for the internal combustion engine: fuel, fire, and air.

Replace Gas and Fluids


For the fuel, it is a good idea to replace the gas, and all fluids for that matter, especially if you didn’t remove before winter. Replace the fuel filter. Inspect the fuel hoses, looking for cracks, and go ahead and retire that clamp that usually is loose. You know the one.

Inspect the Battery


For fire, start with an inspection of your batteries. How old are they? Still holding a good charge? Look for corrosion of any connection points and clean with a wire brush if needed. Another part of your spring boat motor maintenance should include checking the spark plugs. Replacing these and making sure you have a good spark is much cheaper than calling for help on the lake later.

Replace Air Filter


Then, there is air. Go ahead and put in a new air filter in case you can’t remember when it was replaced. Check air hoses similarly. I recall a loose vacuum hose that really cut into my fishing time one spring.

Also, if it moves, it will need lubrication so make sure boat enginee maintance is done correctly Check the grease fittings and seal of the lower unit. Remove the prop. Check for fishing line or old remnants of aquatic vegetation. And does that cotter pin need to be replaced?

Finally, if you haven’t already, consider investing in an outboard motor flusher. The only way to be sure that the boat motor repair is complete, is to see if it will run before you back down the ramp. This device hooks up to a garden water hose and keeps the engine cool while you tinker with it in the driveway.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for boat motor maintenance. Their checklist for Spring boat maintenance will not miss anything and will provide exact sizes and fluids to use in case there are any warranty issues. And while we are working on "springizing" a boat, don’t forget to check the boat registration date. Some states sell multi-year stickers which can be handy, but also easy to overlook.


Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.