Basic Boat Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance can extend the life of your boat, reduce the need for costly repairs, and help ensure the safety of your passengers.

Cleaning and Care

Wash your boat regularly to prevent the long-term effects of environmental wear and tear. Routine waxing and the use of an anti-fouling paint can also help protect your boat from the elements. Consider using environmentally-safe products whenever possible. Invest in a cover to keep your boat clean and free from dirt, water, falling leaves and bird droppings, all of which cause damage if left unchecked. A cover can also prevent UV rays from breaking down hoses and fading carpets and upholstery.

Routine Inspection

Proper boat maintenance means being actively involved in, and attuned to, all aspects of your vessel. Keep an eye out for everything from loose fittings to fraying ropes to any other areas of your watercraft that may need special attention or replacement. Many times, damages incurred to a boat could easily have been prevented by following a preventative watercraft maintenance routine. You can also have a professional vessel inspection.

Battery Care

Depending on the type of battery your boat uses, check to ensure that it is properly charged and that it has the correct fluid levels. Always keep your battery clean, as dampness and dirt can drain your battery.

Motor Maintenance

Flush your engine after every outing, and check everything from your fuel tanks to the clamps on your fuel line for rust, damage or corrosion. Also check your oil for correct levels, proper filtration, and cleanliness. Last, but not least, keep an eye on your engine’s cooling system to make sure it’s functioning correctly.

Bilge Pumps

A crucial aspect of boat maintenance is ensuring that your bilge pump is functioning properly. There’s not much that can cause more irreparable damage to a boat than having it sink. In the event that you need to use your pump, you’ll want to make sure that your battery system contains enough power to run the pump for a prolonged period of time.

Electrical Components

Many boating failures occur as a result of corroded electrical systems, so keeping electrical components dry should be a regular part of your watercraft maintenance routine. Electrical fittings can be protected with a water-repellant, non-conductive grease or corrosion inhibitor.

Winterization

Boat maintenance doesn’t only mean paying attention to your boat when you’re actively using it during the warm weather months – you also need to be sure to protect your watercraft through an effective winterization routine. Whether you’re able to store your watercraft in a climate controlled environment, or if you have to go with an in-water storage option, see How to Winterize Your Boat for more in-depth guidelines.

Trailer

See Trailer Safety for tips on maintaining your trailer.

Stay in the Know Courses

Last but not least, responsible boat maintenance means taking the time to familiarize yourself with all aspects of watercraft care. Consult your owner’s manual for in-depth guidelines. If you’re new to boating, your boat dealer may know of helpful watercraft safety and training courses that deal specifically with your type of watercraft. Become comfortable with boating terms and definitions. And while it’s always important to take the time to learn how to do things yourself, don’t be afraid to seek the help of professionals when needed.

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