How to Winterize a Pontoon Boat for Beginners

How to Winterize a Pontoon Boat: A 6-Step Beginners Guide 

Winter is coming, and that means it’s time to say goodbye to your pontoon boat for a few months. But before you store it away, you need to make sure it’s properly prepared for the cold season.

Winterizing your pontoon boat is a good way to protect it from damage and ensure that it’s ready to hit the water again when spring arrives. However, the winterizing process of a pontoon boat may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re a beginner.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you with this guide. We’ll walk you through the basic steps of how to winterize a pontoon boat in 6 simple steps and provide you with some extra tips and tricks along the way.

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Remove the Boat from the Water

The first step to winterizing your pontoon boat is to remove it from the water. This may seem obvious, but some people may think that leaving their boat in the water is easier or cheaper than taking it out!

However, this is not a good idea, as the water can freeze and cause damage to your boat’s hull, engine, and other parts.

To remove your boat from the water, you’ll need a pontoon boat trailer. You can either use your own trailer or rent one from a marina or a dealership. If you’re not confident in towing your boat, you can hire a professional to do it for you.

Once you have your boat on the trailer, make sure to secure it with straps and check the tire pressure.

Step 2: Clean the Boat

The next step to winterize your pontoon boat is to clean it thoroughly. This will prevent dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and pests from ruining your boat’s appearance and performance.

Cleaning your boat involves both the interior and the exterior.

Cleaning the Interior

Start with the interior of your boat, and remove any items that you don’t need to store with your boat, such as electronics, life jackets, fishing gear, and personal belongings.

These items can be damaged by moisture, cold, or rodents, so it’s better to store them separately in a dry and safe place.

Next, clean the surfaces of your boat’s interior, such as the seats, the carpet, the console, and the storage compartments.

Read More: 7 Steps Guide to Cleaning Pontoon Boat Carpet

Use a mild soap, water solution, and a soft brush or cloth to wipe away any dirt, stains, or spills. Be careful not to use any harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage your boat’s materials.

After cleaning, make sure to dry everything thoroughly, as any moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth. You can use a towel, a fan, or a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.

You can also apply a protective spray or wax to your boat’s vinyl, leather, or wood surfaces to prevent cracking and fading.

Cleaning the Exterior

Once you’re done with the interior, move on to the exterior of your boat. This includes the hull, the pontoons, the deck, and the rails.

Use a hose or a pressure washer to rinse off any dirt, algae, or marine growth that may have accumulated on your boat’s surface.

Read More: How to Clean Pontoons with Vinegar

Then, use a boat cleaner, sponge, or scrubber to remove any stubborn stains or spots. After cleaning, rinse your boat again and dry it with a towel or a squeegee.

You can also apply a polish or wax to your boat’s exterior to create a protective layer against rust and corrosion.

This will also make your boat shine and look new!

Step 3: Winterize the Engine of Your Pontoon Boat

The engine is one of the most important parts of your boat and also one of the most vulnerable to winter damage.

That’s why you need to winterize your engine properly to prevent any problems with starting, running, or performance in the spring.

The exact steps to winterize your engine may vary depending on the type, model, and manufacturer of your engine.

Therefore, checking your owner’s manual for specific instructions and recommendations is always a good idea.

However, here are some general steps that apply to most engines:

Change the Engine Oil

The engine oil is responsible for lubricating and cooling your engine and preventing friction and wear.

Although, the oil can get contaminated with dirt, water, and fuel over time and lose its effectiveness. That’s why you must change your engine oil before storing your boat for winter.

To change your engine oil, you’ll need a few tools and supplies, such as a wrench, a drain pan, a funnel, a new oil filter, and fresh oil.

You’ll also need to warm up your engine for a few minutes to make the oil flow easier.

Then, follow these steps:

Locate the oil drain plug on your engine and place the drain pan underneath it.
Now locate the oil filter on your engine, and use the wrench to unscrew and remove it.
Replace the old filter with a new one, and make sure to tighten it securely.
Then, replace the oil drain plug, and make sure to tighten it securely.
Use the funnel to pour fresh oil into the oil fill cap, until it reaches the recommended level on the dipstick.
Run your engine for a few minutes, and check for any leaks or drips.

Change the Lower Unit Oil

The lower unit oil is responsible for lubricating and cooling the gears and bearings in your lower unit, which is the part of your engine that connects to the propeller.

However, just like the engine oil, the lower unit oil can get contaminated with water, dirt, or metal shavings and lose its effectiveness. That’s why you need to change your lower unit oil before storing your boat for winter.

Changing your lower unit oil may require a few tools and supplies, such as a screwdriver, a drain pan, a pump, and fresh oil.

You’ll also need to tilt your engine up to expose the lower unit. Then, follow these steps:

Locate the upper and lower drain plugs on your lower unit and place the drain pan underneath them.
Lower plug: Use the screwdriver to loosen and remove the lower plug, and let the oil drain into the pan.
Upper plug: Use the screwdriver to loosen and remove the upper plug, and let the remaining oil drain into the pan.
Inspect the old oil for any signs of water, dirt, or metal shavings, which may indicate a leak or damage in your lower unit.
Use the funnel to pour fresh oil into the oil fill cap until it reaches the recommended level on the dipstick.
Now, use the pump to fill fresh oil into the lower unit through the lower plug hole until it comes out of the upper plug hole.
Replace the upper plug, and make sure to tighten it securely.
Change and replace the lower plug, and make sure to tighten it securely.

Read More: DIY Pontoon Changing Room (Easy Steps)

Flush the Cooling System

The cooling system is responsible for keeping your engine from overheating by circulating water or coolant through the engine. But if you leave water or coolant in your engine for winter, it can freeze and expand and cause cracks or leaks in your engine.

That’s why you must flush your cooling system before storing your boat for winter.

There are a few tools and supplies you may need to flush your cooling system, such as a hose, a flush kit, and antifreeze. You’ll also need to attach your engine to a water source, such as a garden hose or a bucket.

Then, follow these steps:

Start your engine and let it run for a few minutes to warm it up and circulate the water or coolant.
Turn off your engine and disconnect it from the water source.
Turn on the hose, and let the water run through the engine for a few minutes to flush out any dirt or debris.
Now you can turn off the hose and disconnect it from the flush kit.
Attach the antifreeze to the flush kit, and start your engine.
Let the antifreeze run through the engine for a few minutes until you see it coming out of the exhaust or the propeller.
Turn off your engine, and disconnect the antifreeze from the flush kit.

Apply Fogging Oil

The fogging oil is responsible for protecting your engine from rust and corrosion by coating the internal parts with a thin layer of oil.

This prevents moisture and air from reaching the metal surfaces and causes oxidation. That’s why you need to apply fogging oil before storing your boat for winter.

To apply fogging oil, you’ll need a few tools and supplies, such as a spray can of fogging oil, and a spark plug wrench. You’ll also need to start your engine and let it run at idle speed.

Then, do the following steps:

Locate the air intake on your engine and spray the fogging oil into it until you see thick smoke coming out of the exhaust.
Turn off your engine, and remove the spark plugs with the wrench.
Spray the fogging oil into the spark plug holes, and turn the engine over a few times to distribute the oil.
Replace the spark plugs, and make sure to tighten them securely.

Step 4: Fill the Gas Tank and Add a Stabilizer

The gas tank is another part of your boat that needs attention before winter.

Leaving your gas tank empty or partially full can allow air and moisture to enter and cause condensation and corrosion. It can also allow the gas to evaporate and leave behind a sticky residue that can clog your fuel system.

That’s why you need to fill your gas tank and add a stabilizer before storing your boat for winter. You’ll need a few tools and supplies, such as a gas can, a funnel, and a fuel stabilizer.

You’ll also need to find a gas station that sells ethanol-free gas, as ethanol can damage your engine and fuel system.

Then, follow these steps:

Fill your gas can with ethanol-free gas, and bring it to your boat.
Use the funnel to pour the gas into your gas tank until it’s almost full, leaving some space for expansion.
Add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer to your gas tank according to the instructions on the bottle.
Start your engine, and let it run for a few minutes to circulate the gas and the stabilizer through your fuel system.
Turn off your engine, and close the gas tank cap securely.

Read More: 9 Creative Pontoon Boat Seating Ideas (With Layouts)

Step 5: Disconnect the Battery

The battery is the last part of your boat that needs attention before winter. If you leave your battery connected, it can drain over time and lose its charge and performance.

It can also cause corrosion or short circuits if exposed to moisture or dirt. That’s why you need to disconnect your battery before storing your boat for winter.

To disconnect your battery, you’ll need tools like a wrench, a battery box, and a battery charger. You’ll also need to turn off your engine and any electrical devices on your boat.

Then, follow these steps:

Locate the battery on your boat, and use the wrench to loosen and remove the negative cable first, then the positive cable.
Carefully lift the battery out of the boat and place it in the battery box.
Bring the battery to a dry and cool place, such as your garage or basement, and connect it to the battery charger.
Charge the battery until it’s fully charged, and then disconnect it from the charger.
Check the battery periodically and recharge it if needed to maintain its charge and performance.

Step 6: Cover and Store the Boat

The final step to winterize your pontoon boat is to cover and store it properly. This will protect your boat from dust, dirt, moisture, sunlight, snow, ice, and animals like mice and rodents and keep it in good shape for the next boating season.

You should have a few tools and supplies, such as a boat cover, a tarp, some straps, and some blocks at your disposal to cover and store your boat properly.

Read More: Best Way to Cover a Pontoon Boat for Winter

Now, you may also need to find a suitable place to store your boat, such as a garage, a shed, a barn, or a storage facility.

Then, follow these steps:

Place some blocks under the trailer to raise it off the ground and prevent flat tires and rust.
Lower the tongue jack to tilt the trailer slightly and allow water to drain from the boat.
Cover the boat with the boat cover, and secure it with the straps, making sure there are no gaps or holes.
Cover the boat and the trailer with the tarp and secure it with the straps, making sure there are no gaps or holes.
Store the boat in a dry, sheltered place, away from direct sunlight, rain, snow, and wind.

Great Job! You Have Winterized Your Pontoon Boat Successfully!

Winterizing your pontoon boat is not a difficult task if you follow these steps and tips. By doing so, you’ll be able to protect your boat from winter damage and ensure that it’s ready to go when spring comes.

However, you should check your boat periodically and perform any necessary maintenance or repairs to keep it in optimal condition.

We hope this guide has helped you learn how to winterize your pontoon boat, and we wish you a happy and safe winter!

List of Tools Required to Winterize a Pontoon Boat

Cleaning tools and materialsEngine tools and materialsBattery tools and materialsCovering and storing tools and materials
Boat soapA wrenchA battery chargerA boat cover
Boat polisherA drain panA battery boxA tarp
Hull cleanerA funnelSome straps
A soft bristle brushA new oil filterSome blocks
A stiff bristle brushFresh oil
A pressure washer or a garden hose with a nozzleA flush kit
Absorbent towelsAntifreeze
A sponge or a scrubberA spray can of fogging oil
A polish or a waxA spark plug wrench
A gas can
A fuel stabilizer
N.B.: This list of tools may not cover all your needs, but the basic tools are listed here so you can get an idea.

Winterize a Pontoon Boat: FAQs

Read More: Pontoon Storage Ideas – Best Way to Store a Pontoon Boat?

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