Bob Garlock of Davenport Boat readies an outboard motor for the upcoming season.

Dan Galusha photo

Each year, anglers get their boats ready to store for the winter, but many don’t think about things that might need to be done at the beginning of the season. In fact, a well-rounded maintenance program that carries throughout the entire year is very important in maintaining the complete rig in top running condition for many years.

I spoke with Bob Garlock of Davenport Boat, with whom I’ve work through the Mercury Pro Team program for several years. Bob is very knowledgeable on all aspects of boat and motor care for several manufacturers’ products. I asked Bob these questions: 

Q. As spring approaches, what is the single most important thing to do in preparing for the season?

A. Charge all batteries and make sure all terminal connections are clean and tight.

Q. What should be done to outboard motors (small and large HP)?

A. For a 4-stroke motor, change oil, filter and gear case lube if it wasn’t done in the fall. For a 2-stroke outboard, change gear case lube and top off the oil tank if it was not done in the fall.

Q. What, if anything, should be done to boats -- aluminum and fiberglass; jon, bass boats and runabouts?

A. For fiberglass boats, I would recommend a fresh wax job at the beginning of the season to help eliminate water spots and grime build up. I also like to apply some type of sun or UV protecting product to all vinyl surfaces, including seats. The same procedure should be followed for a painted aluminum boat.

Q. What needs to be done to trailers?

A. Trailer tire air pressures should be inflated to recommended maximum capacity. Don’t forget to check the spare, also. Check trailer hubs for grease leaking from the seal area on the back side of the rim, which can be an indication of possible bearing trouble coming soon. Test all trailer light functions.

Q. What needs to be done to an electric trolling motor?

A. Trolling motors should be checked for fish line or weeds around the prop shaft by removing the prop. Also make sure the mounting hardware is tight.

Q. Batteries?

A. As previously stated, charge and clean and tighten connections.

Q. Gasoline and fluids?

A. If the fuel is less than a year old and has stabilizer in it, it will be OK to run your motor on. If it is more than six months old with no stabilizer, you might want to consider having it disposed of and start with fresh fuel. If the tank is less than half full, you can normally top off the tank with fresh fuel and burn it OK. What most people don’t understand is that is does no good to treat old fuel with stabilizer. Stabilizer needs to be added to fuel within three weeks of purchasing it or its effectiveness is very limited. Mercury Marine says fuel starts to phase separate in as little as three weeks after purchase. Nearly 70 percent of our service work is caused by fuel problems.

Until next time, get out on the water, and enjoy a great day of fishing.

Dan Galusha caught his first solo fish at the age of 3, started his fishing career in 1973. In 2012, he was inducted as a Legendary Communicator in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.