Boat Maintenance Tips That Every Boat Owner Should Know

How to keep my boat clean

Boating is one of the most popular pastimes in American culture. Currently, there are around 12 million boats registered in the US. However, just because so many people own boats doesn't mean that all boat owners treat theirs equally.

Unfortunately, because so many mariners neglect their vessels, boats themselves often get a bad reputation. Hopefully, we can change that for you. Here's what you need to know about proper boat maintenance.  

Annual Boat Maintenance Tips

Boats are complex machines that we hope to use for years of enjoyment. As the years pass, it's important to have an annual boat maintenance checklist, as the last thing you want is an unwanted surprise on the first boating day of the season. Here's what you need to do at least once a year, regardless of how short your boating season is!

Winterize Your Boat

Just like all machines with engines, it's important to winterize your boat before it gets too cold, especially if you live up north. If you're in a place like Maine or Canada where the water is likely to freeze, then this is essential. 

First, you'll need to remove the fuel from the fuel tank. It's not necessarily that the fuel will freeze and expand, which is possible, but rather that the old fuel could damage your engine at the start of the next season. It's best to get it out before the winter to be safe.

Next, you should change the oil. Dirty oil may settle and sludge when left to sit during the colder months, which could harm your engine, especially if you start it up with the same oil next season. It's best to change the oil ahead of time to be safe.

Finally, give your boat a thorough cleaning and waxing, cover the boat to protect it from the elements, and store it somewhere safe and out of the water. Doing this will ensure that your boat will start right up the next season without any problems. Worst case scenario is you'll have to jumpstart the battery!

Change Filters

Changing your fuel filter at least once a year is a good idea. Always read your manufacturer's recommendations for these routine maintenance steps, as some may require more frequent changes for oil, oil filters, engine air filters, and fuel filters. Try to stay as close to these time schedules as possible.

If you don't know how boat engines work, it's very similar to that of a car. However, boat engines are exposed to more potentially harmful elements than vehicles on average, so it's important to change their filtering systems often.

Get a Checkup

If you have a boat mechanic that you trust, consider having your boat checked on once a year, even if you don't think anything is wrong with it. More importantly, communicate to them if you've noticed any issues or heard any concerning noises while operating.

A great time to do this is prior to winterizing the boat. If you've already taken the boat out of storage, why not bring it in for a quick checkup before putting it away for the year?

Routine Boat Maintenance Tips

If you take away anything from this article, remember that boat maintenance is not an annual chore but rather an ongoing process. During boating season, there's a lot you need to do to keep your vessel running smoothly. Let's talk about how to maintain a boat throughout the boating season!

Safely Dock

When you dock your boat, make sure you have the right bumpers and rope to hold your boat in place and away from any obstruction. Don't forget to look under your boat to ensure that you aren't hitting any rocks or miscellaneous items that may have fallen off of the dock.

Bumpers are essential to preventing scrapes or scratches, which can open your boat to rust. Always make sure that the only things your boat is touching are water and soft materials like bumpers.

Also, don't forget to secure your boat every time you dock. If it gets loose, there's no telling what could happen!

You can trust our durable and strong dock ropes to safely secure your boat! 

Better Boat black dock lines

Keep It Covered

Keeping your boat covered from the sun, water, and harsh weather conditions is highly recommended. Not only will it keep your boat looking like new for much longer, but it can help prevent long-term damage and increase the resale value later on. When you aren't using the boat for more than 24 hours (at most), always throw a cover on it.

Check the Oil Regularly

Here's the thing about boats, they use combustion engines like cars, and the natural enemy of engines is, you guessed it, water. The problem is that boats stay in the water for long periods. This is one of the reasons why boats have such a strong reputation for failure.

Luckily, this doesn't have to be a problem if you check the oil regularly enough. If you notice that there is water in the engine, it's time to immediately flush it out. Turning on the engine with water in it could destroy your engine, so it's important to remove the water immediately.

It's also a good idea to check your fuel for water every once in a while as well. Checking every couple of days during boating season will only cost you a minute or two of your time, and it could save your boat from the worst!

Inspect Often

At least once a week, give your boat a thorough inspection, and try to keep an overall eye out for issues. The most important things to check are:

  • Mold or mildew growing (especially in upholstery seams)
  • Battery terminals (keep them clean)
  • Fuel and oil (check for water)
  • Dents, scrapes, or scratches
  • Concerning noises or behaviors while running

If you notice something, remember that old phrase "a stitch in time saves nine". Fixing a little problem now could cost you as little as $0 to $100 or maybe a few minutes of your time. Leaving it to persist could lead to serious repair costs, so always be preemptive.

Clean Your Boat Regularly

Cleaning your boat is one of the most essential parts of boat maintenance, and it should be done every week at the bare minimum. Very few mariners clean their boats every day during boating season, but that is generally the recommended best practice, especially if you use the boat every day.

Seams, cracks, and crevices can start growing mold or mildew much quicker than you may think, so it's important to stay ahead of it. Aim for a quick clean every day or two that the boat is in use and a deep clean once a month during boating season.

Also, always make sure you're using the right boat cleaners and soaps for your vessel. Certain chemicals may harm your boat or make it challenging to clean, so always use boat-specific products when cleaning and do as thorough of a job as possible.

If you can't decide which cleaning products to use, you may want to read our article on choosing the best boat cleaners.

Flush the Engine

Every time you ride your boat, you're exposing your engine to salt, sand, and other debris. Most boats come with an engine flushing system or cleaner, so make sure you flush your engine with clean water every time you take it out, especially if you're operating in salt water. If you do not know if your boat has a flushing system, look at your manual for further instructions.

Here's a video of how to properly flush and de-salt your engine: 

Replace Old Fuel

We mentioned that old fuel is bad for your engine, so don't run your boat if it has any in it. Storing emergency fuel for the boat is fine, but it should only be used for emergencies. Leaving old cans of fuel to fill up your boat is never a good idea.

Generally know how long it was sitting at the gas station either!

Keep Your Boat in Good Shape

Now that you have some important boat maintenance advice, put these tips to use today and keep your boat running smoothly for the long term. There's no reason that a boat can't last a lifetime, regardless of what people say, so follow these tips, keep up with routine maintenance, and enjoy your boat for as long as you can!

If you are looking for some helpful, high-quality products that will help you to maintain your boat, check out our online store!

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