The following are basic boat maintenance tips to make the recreational season fun and headache free.
It’s a good idea to flush your boat’s engines after every use. You can attach garden hoses with fresh water to four-stroke systems or use rabbit ears on two-stroke models (especially if you’re running in the salt water). Then, while your engine is on the rinse cycle; check the oil levels, fuel tank clamps, filtration and coolant. Heavier use requires a top off of fluids to ensure your engine is running properly.
Temperature changes will cause waterproof connectors to shrink and expand. Any water that gets can corrode a terminal. A wire brush or steel wool can be used to clean any corroded terminals. Once they have been scoured, you can further protect them with a water-repellant grease to keep connections intact.
It should go without saying to check your trailer tires for uneven wear and keep them properly inflated. A good rule of thumb is to rotate them every 6 months or 5,000 miles and fill them with air when necessary. Always check your trailer hitch and ball for proper fit/smooth operation, and replace rusted safety chains immediately.
Ensure that all electrical connections are working, that corroded terminals are cleaned, damaged wires are replaced, and that bulbs are in working order and visible to other motorists. Pack wheel bearings with bearing grease every time you embark on a long road trip to the lake, river or ocean. Rollers and bunk brackets rust from repeated launch/hauls; (particularly in salt water). Obviously the best time to check them is when your boat is off the trailer.
Despite these common-sense precautions; breakdowns will occur from time to time, so it never hurts to pack a road side emergency kit. Some common items to include are a jack and tire iron (that can accommodate a fully loaded trailer), spare tires, spare light bulbs, tie-down straps, grease, and a wire brush for cleaning terminals. Lastly, don’t forget to register your boat within your state of residence before hitting the road or launching your boat!