Video: Winterizing Your Outboard: Odds & Ends


After you’ve tackled the major tasks of stabilizing the fuel and protecting the internal components of your engine, it’s time to take on some of the easier jobs. By the way, it’s a good idea to maintain a checklist of these items and note the date you performed each job, so you don’t end up repeating yourself or forgetting something the next time around.

1. Air Compressor Filter:

If your outboard has an air compressor, you’ll probably need to change the filter once a season. This is a good time to do it. The air filter on my 2004 200-hp Mercury OptiMax outboard is very easy to change, and only involves the removal of a plastic zip-tie.

2. Zincs:

If your boat spends the season in a saltwater slip or on a mooring, you’ll need to change the zincs (sacrificial anodes) every season. Check your engine manual to see where the zincs on your engine are located.

3. Oil Filter:

If you have a 2-stroke outboard, you’ll need to change the in-line filter on your oil line. If you have a 4-stroke engine, wait to install the new filter after you’ve drained the crankcase oil prior to the start of the new season. No need having the fresh oil sit around all winter.

4. Grease:

Grease all of the fittings (e.g., swivel bracket, tilt support lever) on your outboard using a grease gun to force out any water. Check your engine manual to see what type of lubricant is recommended by the manufacturer. Tip: Invest in a large grease gun so you won’t need to change tubes as often.

5. Steering Rod/Tilt Tube:

Lubricate the tilt tube via the appropriate fittings. Lubricate the steering link rod pivot points with lightweight oil. If your engine has cable steering, lubricate the cable via the appropriate fitting.

6. Trim/Tilt Rod Balls:

Apply some Teflon grease on the balls of the trim/tilt rods to prevent corrosion during layup. Rotate the balls to work the grease into the sockets.

7. Power Trim Fluid:

Check the fluid level on the trim/tilt cylinder and fill if necessary.

8. Powerhead Protection:

I like to spray a corrosion-inhibitor—such as the kind made by Boeshield or CRC—over the metal parts of the powerhead to protect it during layup. A light coating of the spray is all you need. Tip: Wear a protective mask when applying this stuff.

9. Cowling:

While it’s not necessary, you might consider a light application of marine wax on the engine cowling to protect it from exposure to the elements and keep it nice and shiny over the winter.

10. Propeller:

Remove the propeller and grease the entire shaft with a Teflon grease (I use an old toothbrush to work the grease between the splines). Inspect the prop for signs of damage, such as large chips, cracks or bent blades. Have the prop repaired over the winter if necessary. Tip: Propellers are expensive and easily stolen, so you may want to store yours in a secure place.

11. Lower the Engine:

Lastly, always store your outboard in the vertical position over the winter, so that standing water can’t accumulate and freeze.

Has this information helped you out?

What other winterizing or engine tips would you be interested in?

Let us know what you would like to see in the space below.