How to Winterize a Bass Boat: Step by Step Guide

how to winterize a bass boat

Maybe it’s your first time going through a cold winter with a bass boat in your possession, or maybe you’re just tired of paying your dealer to do the job for you. Whatever the case, it’s high time you learned how to winterize a bass boat on your own. After all, it’s a lot easier than it might seem at the start.

Preparing for the cold months will protect your investment, save you from expensive repairs at the start of spring, and make sure that you can take your boat out the moment the weather gets warm enough. Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to do.

Steps on Winterizing a Bass Boat

What a lot of boat owners don’t realize is that their manual has all the information necessary to care for the boat in all seasons. So before you get started, you might want to give your owner’s manual a thorough read.

Once you’ve done that, you should be able to figure out what all of the parts are, and what you might have to do to winterize your vessel. Most often though, the process should follow these steps:

1. Fill Your Gas Tank with Fuel Stabilizer

Fuel stabilizer’s function is two-fold. First off, it prevents your fuel from freezing in cold temperatures. Secondly, it ensures that your gas doesn’t go bad when it’s in storage for too long. Fill up your tank 3/4 of the way with your regular fuel and then add in some fuel stabilizer. The amount depends on what’s indicated on the label.

When that’s done, you’re going to go ahead and run your motor for up to 15 minutes. The purpose of this is to make sure that stabilized fuel is running through all of your gas lines.

Remember that there will always be at least small amounts of gas in the various channels that course through your motor and engine. These need to be filled with stabilizer as well so they don’t freeze over during the winter. Running the motor should help with that.

2. Spray the Engine with Fogging Oil

While the motor is running, you can go ahead and spray fogging oil into the engine. This stuff leaves a film around all of the internal surfaces of the machine, keeping it lubricated and protected from corrosion during the winter.

Spray fogging oil generously into the carburetor. If you’ve done it right, your motor should be releasing lots of smoke as it continues to run. Keep in mind though that not all engines need to have fogging oil sprayed into the cylinders. Read your manual! Newer models might not require this step.

Fogging oil also goes into the spark plug holes. Remove each spark plug and spray the stuff inside, holding the spray for about 4 seconds at a time. Then you can put back the spark plugs without connecting the wires. See to it that you also disconnect your kill switch.

And while it’s not necessary, some boat owners find that turning the motor over might help distribute the fogging oil more evenly throughout the cylinders. Of course, it should be turned off by this part.

3. Lubricate Your Prop Shaft

Take your propeller and remove it from its shaft. Check the shaft for any lines or other debris that might need to be removed or cleaned. Use some all-around grease to lubricate the shaft and make sure that the propeller doesn’t corrode in place during the cold winter months.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to check your prop for damage. If you notice any dings, divots, or dings in the propeller fan, then now might be the perfect time to have it repaired since most repair services are probably not going to have as many clients as when it’s peak season.

4. Check Your Lower Unit

The lower unit is essentially the gearcase. This is the part of your motor that directs the power of the engine and turns it into a turning force that drives your propeller. The thing as loaded with moving parts on the inside, so it’s important that everything is nice and greased up for the season.

As a standard, the lower unit has quite a lot of oil inside. If there’s any water present in the oil, it could freeze over during the winter and cause performance issues when you start your boat.

You can drain the water out which should rest at the bottom of the compartment and thus come out first when you pull the plug. But if there’s water mixed thoroughly into the oil, you should see whitish streaks. Replace the stuff with fresh lube and close her up.

5. Remove the Batteries

You probably won’t want to leave the batteries on board especially if you’re not sure if the temperature in storage would stay above freezing. Disconnect and dismount the batteries and store them indoors, away from the grubby hands of curious kids, cats, and dogs.

See to it that you charge the batteries at least once every six months to make sure they’re in working condition. You might also want to label them so you don’t mix them up when spring comes rolling around the corner.

6. Check for Water

Look into your livewell, bilge pump, and other parts of your boat that might have water. Any part of the boat with even just small amounts of moisture can freeze over and incur damage when stored without draining.

Get rid of water in your livewell and bilge pump and check your water pressure line. If there’s any water in there, disconnect the line and drain any remaining water out. In some cases, you might want to add RV antifreeze to your livewell or bilge if you’re not confident that all the water is cleared out.

7. Final Touches Before Storage

Fill up your oil tanks so that there isn’t any space for condensation to happen during winter. Check your owner’s manual for all of the parts that need lubrication, and see to it that they all get a generous dose of grease before storage.

Remove any electronics, accessories, and other items that don’t need to be on your boat during the storage period. If there are compartments on board, prop them open with small blocks of wood, styrofoam, or anything similar to make sure that air circulates throughout the boat.

See to it that the motor is in the down position so that any remaining water can drip off before things start to get too cold. Before you prop your boat onto the trailer, check to see if the tires are filled up enough.

If you’re storing your boat outside or somewhere where it might not be too secure from opportunistic thieves, you might want to remove the tires and set the trailer on a bunch of blocks so they can’t hook it up to a vehicle and tow away your boat.

And finally, slather on some wax all over the exterior to keep it nice and shiny even when you peel back the cover during spring. Place your bass boat cover and secure it snugly over the edges. You might even want to add a few mouse traps for good measure.

Tips for Winterizing a Bass Boat

  • Always refer to your owner's manual
  • If you don't find the answers in the manual, don't hesitate to reach out to your dealer or manufacturer
  • Choose your products carefully by reading instructions thoroughly
  • Get rid of any moisture before you tuck your boat into storage
  • Use the proper protective gear to prevent chemicals from irritating your skin, nose and eyes
  • Never tinker with parts and accessories that you're not sure about
  • Use a dehumidifier under the cover to get rid of ambient moisture in storage
  • Set up traps on deck to catch or deter opportunistic pests

How Much Does It Cost to Winterize a Bass Boat?

There are three options when it comes to winterizing a bass boat. You could take it to the marina or the dealership to have it winterized for you. Aside from the products they’ll use (which they’ll charge you for at a profit), they’re also going to charge labor fees. This could run you up to $300 or thereabouts.

You could also look for a private mechanic to do the job. They also charge a professional fee and perhaps a travel fee if they’re coming a ways away from your location. Expect to pay around $250 or a little less.

Then, you could do it all yourself. Since you can acquire the products needed at retail, you probably won’t have to pay as much as you would with a professional service. Then of course there’s the fact that you won’t have to pay any labor or travel fees. A DIY job might cost around $150 to $200.

Ready for Winter

Your bass boat need protection for the cold months ahead, so make sure you prepare it for the winter. And while you might be thinking about bringing your boat in to have it winterized by professionals, knowing how to winterize a bass boat yourself might save you a few handsome hundreds. Remember these tips before you decide to pay a pro - winterizing a bass boat is a lot easier than you might think. While you're here you may also be interested in some cool bass boat names or how to winterize a pontoon boat.

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