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Tips on winterizing your boat and ATVs

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According to Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS), if you’ve put off winterizing your boat for the winter, you need to take special precautions with E-10 gas and review your insurance policy before doing so. BoatUS warns that you may be in for trouble next spring when trying to start the engine.

BoatUS’s motto is: Keep ethanol at bay. They say that it’s highly likely your boat’s gasoline engine contains a mixture of up to 10 percent ethanol, which is known to damage engines and boat fuel systems, especially over the long winter storage season.

BoatUS adds that if your boat has a built-in gas tank that cannot be emptied, add a fuel stabilizer and then fill the tank as much as possible, leaving just a smidgen of room for expansion. This, they contend, will greatly reduce the amount of moisture laden-air that can enter through the tank’s vent and potentially condense on inside tank walls over the long storage season. The goal in doing this is to prevent water from being absorbed into the gas and ethanol mixture, which is left unchecked, results in phase separation and damage to the boat’s fuel system and motor. [For more details on ethanol and winter storage go to

The boating organization also suggests checking your boat insurance policy for “ice and freeze coverage” to insure your craft is covered since BoatUS gets multiple freeze damage claims for boats even in Southern states that may get hit by a hard freeze, or for boats stored indoors in Northern states.

Further winterization requires draining all the areas of the raw water system that can destroy an engine. For that reason, BoatUS recommends ice and freeze coverage in case something got overlooked when the boat was winterized. The coverage is typically offered as a policy “rider” to boats stored in northern climates. And it’s inexpensive (BoatUS offers add-on coverage for $20) and can go a long way toward protecting you from a catastrophic engine loss. Ice and freeze coverage may also be a smart option for do-it-yourselfers who want some piece of mind, or for trailer boaters who store their boat in a heated garage or travel between warm and cold states.

For more information on “ice and freeze” coverage go to or call 800-283-2883.

Incidentally BoatUS is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its over half million members with government representation, services such as 24-hour on water boat towing as well as roadside assistance for boat trailers and tow vehicles, boat insurance, money-saving benefits that include marina and West Marine shopping discounts.


Boat owners are not alone in preparing their toys for the winter. ATV/UTV owners are in the same boat so to speak.

The folks at Polaris say the first thing you need to do if you’re storing sport vehicles is to clean the machine thoroughly. As silly as it sounds, mud and gunk can create a bigger issue once the snow melts. Anything that holds moisture and sits against anything steel can lead to rust. Rust, they say, is the enemy of fun toys.

And one of the most important and easiest things to do is to take care of the fuel system. Ethanol gas breaks down and turns into all kinds of nasty sludge. This can clog a fuel line, the petcock of the gas tank and carburetor or fuel injection. Polaris recommends adding a stabilizer to your gas and then run the machine for a few minutes to so it works its way through the entire system. If your machine has a carburetor, drain it.

Also check your coolant levels and make sure the coolant is at least 50 percent antifreeze. Too much water can be bad. Radiators are expensive and frozen coolant expands. And change the oil as dirty oil has stuff in it that is not good and can lead to corrosion.

As too with a motorboat, batteries should be charged and disconnected if being stored for several months. Keeping a battery warm, like in your house, will prevent the water in the cells from freezing and wrecking the battery.

Tires also need some TLC. Deflate the tires a bit. Freezing temperatures will make the air in the tires expand and contract as the air warms and cools during the winter. Neglecting these, could make the tires not spin true.

It’s also recommended that you jack up the machine and place blocks or jacks under it so the tires aren’t touching the ground or floor. This is also a good idea for boat trailers.

Another area that needs attention is to close off things like the airbox, exhaust and storage areas so little creatures like mice, chipmunks and spiders don’t get in and make nests there.

If you’re going to use your ATV or side-by-side throughout the winter as many sportsmen do, it’s suggested your change the oil before it gets too cold. And if you’re in really cold climes, you may want to switch to different weight oil.

Doing these simple chores will insure your toys will run smoother when needed and save you money in repairs.

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