With summer behind us, it’s time to winterize and store all of your mild-weather toys – and that includes your Jet Ski or Waverunner. It’s a sad fact, but you just can’t use your personal watercraft (a.k.a. PWC) all year. With a price tag of $10,000 to $15,000, the fun of a PWC doesn’t come cheap. Make sure you get the most out of your investment by keeping it safe throughout the winter. Here are a few easy ways to ensure your Jet Ski stays in pristine condition until you can haul it out again in the spring:
Drain the Engine
Before you winterize your favorite summer toy, take it out for one final spin. You’ll miss this in the winter, so be sure to soak it in. When you get back to the loading dock, tilt the PWC up onto the trailer so that the stern (back) is lower than the bow (front). Start the engine a few times, being sure not to run it for more than 30 seconds to prevent overheating. While the engine is running, turn the handle back and forth as many times as you can. This will force any excess water out of the engine.
Wash It Down
Next, wash down the exterior of the PWC. Use a car safe soap (not dishwater or hand soap) and a scratch-free cloth. Wipe down the entire vehicle, paying extra attention to the bottom where slime and algae can accumulate. Allow to dry completely. Then finish with a buff and wax using a regular high-shine protectant car wax.
Fill the Gas Tank
Next, top off the fuel tank. Use a fuel stabilizer, such as STA-BIL Ethanol Fuel Treatment & Stabilizer, to prevent corrosion and Ethanol buildup. Follow the directions on the bottle for the correct ratio of fuel to solution. Start up the engine again for short 30 second intervals to allow the treatment to clean out the engine and carburetors. While you’re at it, check for any leaks or cracks that may need repair.
Change the Oil
A quick oil change will ensure that your engine stays clean and lubricated throughout the winter. Use fresh synthetic oil and a brand-new oil filter to ensure that your PWC will start right up in the spring. Also oil any moving parts of your vehicle, such as the steering nozzle pivot points and braking mechanisms, to avoid corrosion over the long winter. Use a spray lubricant, such as Sea Doo XPS Lube to make the job easier.
Disconnect the Battery
Batteries can lose their charge over time so it’s important to remove the battery from your PWC to ensure that there is no draw over the winter. Store the battery indoors in a shed or garage, away from flammable substances. Attach the battery to an automatic battery charger to keep it fresh and healthy throughout the months of storage.
Now that your PWC is properly winterized, you will need to find a safe location to store it. Remember to keep it away from flammable substances as your PWC will have a full tank of gas. You may choose to remove the tires off of your trailer to prevent dry rot. In this case, use concrete blocks to hold the trailer in place. If not, place the tires of your trailer on blocks of wood to keep corrosion at bay. Next, place a rag inside the exhaust pipe to prevent any nesting animals from staying there. Finally, use your cover to keep your Jet Ski clean and protected.
While these are general tips, be sure to read your owner’s manual to ensure you take all the necessary steps for winterizing your particular vehicle.
Following these easy steps can protect your Jet Ski or Waverunner from serious damage over the winter. How do you winterize and store your PWC each year?
Taking the proper precautions is very important if you want your boat to be ready to use when spring comes. Failure to winterize your boat can cause significant damage such as cracks, leaks, corrosion, and frozen pipes. Freezing, dormancy, moisture, and corrosion can lead to large repair bills. In order to avoid costly repairs in the spring, it is important to take the proper precautions in the fall.
Here are some necessary steps to take when winterizing your boat:
Find a storage location
Your options are storing in your garage, in your driveway or backyard, rack storage, a marina, or a storage facility. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for rules on safety, instructions on towing capacity, and storage tips.
Be sure to give your boat a thorough cleaning inside and out. This will also let you discover anything that might need repair before putting your boat away until the spring. It will let you take care of any spills or messes that you may not have been aware of, and thus let you avoid having to uncover any mysterious odors in the spring. Clean your boat and apply a rust inhibitor on your steering and control cables and on the metal hardware.
It is best to handle anything that is broken, worn, or damaged in the fall when boatyards are less busy than in the springtime rush. You also don’t want to leave something like a crack sitting all winter long, as damage could become worse.
All electronics should be removed and stored in a safe, dry, and warm place.
Things such as cushions, curtains, sails, personal flotation devices, and fire extinguishers should also be stored. Lockers and drawers should be propped open to air out, and the refrigerator should be emptied out. To avoid mildew, keep the moisture inside your boat in suspension and on the move. A dehumidifier can help increase the interior air temperature and prevent moisture, as it keeps the air circulating inside the boat. Be sure to place some boxes of baking soda throughout your boat to absorb moisture.
Drain the fluid from your manifolds and engine blocks, water pumps, and coolers. Be sure to drain and fill the gearcase with gearcase lubricants. Drain the port-a-potty, fresh water tank, and hot water heater. Add non-toxic antifreeze to your water tank, hot water heater, and port-a-potty.
Fuel and antifreeze
Fill the gas tank to prevent condensation, oxidation, and gas spoilage. Be sure to add stabilizer to preserve the gas and prevent damage to the fuel system. Run the engine for about 15 minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the gas in your fuel lines. Put antifreeze into the cooling system and into the supply lines for the water faucets and shower.
Run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. Dirty engine oil can thicken after long-term storage and make it difficult to start the boat when you are done storing it. Be sure to change the oil filter, too.
Prepare the engine
You’ll also want to change the transmission fluid, remove spark plugs, and use “fogging oil” on each cylinder. Spray a towel with fogging oil or WD-40 and wipe down the engine.
Sand the bottom of the boat and repaint it to prevent rust.
Prepare the battery
Disconnect the battery cables and remove the battery. Clean the terminal ends, wash the battery with a solution of water and baking soda, and rinse it with distilled water. Apply a light coating of grease to the terminal ends of the battery and cables. Be sure to use a trickle charger to keep the battery charged. Store it in a dry, safe place and off of concrete.
Inspect the stern drive
Thoroughly inspect the stern drive and remove any plants or barnacles from the lower unit. For stern drives with rubber boots, be sure to check for cracks or holes. Make sure you grease all fittings and check your fluid levels.
Bilges should be clean and dry. Use soap, hot water, and a stiff brush to clean up any spills from oil. Once the bilges are clean, spray them with a moisture-displacing lubricant and add antifreeze to prevent water from freezing.
Choose a proper cover
Be sure to cover your boat tightly before storing it, even if it is being stored indoors. Make sure that whatever cover you choose has good ventilation. Also be certain there are no tears or damages to the cover.
Most insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by lack of maintenance, so winterizing is very important. The best way to winterize your boat is to check your owner’s manual; every boat is different. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help and ask lots of questions if you have never winterized before. It’s better to be safe than sorry.