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Professional Boat Maintenance Key To A Smooth Spring

By Scott Stankowski - November 1, 2013
There is nothing worse than wanting to fish in the spring, taking your boat out to the lake and it fails to start. If you winterize your own boat, the possibilities of this happening are higher than if you take it to a professional. Roughly 25% of spring boat business is due to no starts which can be directly related to improper fall maintenance.

Living in Stevens Point-WI, I take my mercury motors to Jerry Clinton of Amherst Marine. I took a little extra time this year to find out specifically what it was all about so I could share it with my readers, and I was surprised to find out the details that go into it. Jerry and the crew recommend taking your boat to any dealer state wide to get your investment taken care of properly.

Justin Kolbus, service manager. took me through the chain of events that a boat goes through. If you take your boat into a dealer you can expect it to take a couple of days before you get it back. I remember when I used to do it myself and I wondered how it could take so long, a spray here, add some lubricant there and you are done.

Well, it is just not that simple. The first thing that is done is to stabilize the fuel. Justin takes a fuel sample and analyzes it to see what additives are needed. If the lines contain ethanol it makes it a longer process. Ethanol breaks down when not used and corrodes things within the engine. He strongly said that ethanol gas has no place in a boat motor. Treating the motor takes time, when I used to do this on my own I ran it for maybe five minutes. The proper procedure is to run it for 10-15 minutes depending on the application and the motor.

Doing what your friends do is also a mistake as all motors are different. This past year most manufacturers changed their service procedures making owner’s manuals out of date. A service professional gets updates regularly and stays on top of the industry. After the gasoline is treated, a variety of things can happen. If it is a four stroke, the oil gets changed. If it is a two stroke the engine will get fogged, but the application again is different for every engine. They then grease all pivots and cables and check the tilt and trim fluid if applicable.

Before they put the cover back on the engine, they will spray an anti-corrosive agent on the engine and wires. Finally they remove the gear oil or lower unit oil. Justin stated that about half of all lower units have some degree of water in them. If allowed to freeze it can cause your lower unit to crack making the motor useless. A typical boat owner will go to the local store and buy all of these products separate and they may not buy the top of the line products. What you will find out is that in the long haul it will cost you more money to do it yourself as all boat dealers buy in bulk, cutting down on costs. Not only do they have an advantage with costs, they always use top of the line motor-specific products and do it on a daily basis.

I have never had a spring problem after taking my boat in to get professionally winterized. That is a great piece of mind when it comes time to breaking out the fishing gear. That first trip of the year is a big enough scramble that you should not have to worry about the motor.. I for one and am glad to take my boat to the dealer to get it taken care of properly. Take a look on the Lake-link boat dealer directory and you can find a dealer near you to ensure your fishing in the spring rather than being frustrated.

Author Scott Stankowski
Scott Stankowski
Scott Stankowski is the senior outdoor writer for and produces weekly articles, typically highlighting getting kids active in the outdoors. His family prides itself on living off of the land. Scott also takes the mantra into the classroom where he teaches environmental science at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School. Scott and his sons have won numerous titles in turkey and deer calling at the state level. Scott and his sons have a national outdoor television show titled Growin' Up Wild and can be found on Facebook.
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