Winterizing Your Pontoon Boat: All You Need To Know

The boating season has been enjoyable, but the winter months are approaching.

It is critical to safeguard your investment!

The methods for winterizing a pontoon boat might be intimidating for a first-time owner. Particularly if you want to save money by doing things yourself. Simply follow these simple preventative maintenance guidelines, and you’ll be able to enjoy your hobby for many years to come!

Always refer to your vessel’s manufacturer’s handbook for exact instructions.

Winterizing Your Pontoon Boat


Give her a thorough washing from bow to stern before diving in!

Ensure that any unmounted accessories are removed. Fishing equipment, depth finders, and gadgets, as well as flotation devices and skis, are all included. Not only will these objects be safe from harm, but reducing the clutter will allow you to continue through the next stages more quickly. The last remaining objects, including the carpet, should be fastened down!

Remove all dirt, dampness, and sunscreen from the seats by wiping them down. Avoid using anything excessively abrasive or soapy. Use a protective polish like this Meguiars interior detailer spray instead (check price on Amazon).

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Follow these five key tips if you own a trailer and before you pull anything out. In addition, make sure your tires, wheel bearings, and lights are all in good working order, and that you have a spare tire on hand.

Following the removal of your boat from the water, you should concentrate on the outside. Clean the †toons using this fantastic, economical pressure washer (see price on Amazon) and focus on removing any barnacles and silt build-up. If you land at a coastal marina or near salt water, this is very crucial.

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Finally, it’s critical to keep your pontoons clean and apply a shine to the metal.

The Engine

It’s always a good idea to check your owner’s handbook for detailed instructions, but this is especially true when it comes to your engine.

Outboard and inboard/outboard engines are the two types of engines to consider.

Outboard Engine

To start an outboard engine, unplug the battery first. Then, to avoid collecting rainwater, turn off the motor. Most manufacturers recommend fogging to lubricate the interior of the engine, and this applies to both types of engines.

Inboard/Outboard Engine

Drain the engine block according to the boat manufacturer’s instructions. Fogging applies to these engines as well. This comprehensive guide from Gold Eagle will teach you all you need to know about fogging oil. STA-BIL is one of the leading brands of fogging oil, as the name implies (check price on Amazon).

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The final step is to add antifreeze to the system. Remove the old coolant and replace it with Propylene Glycol-based coolant (check price on Amazon).

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Ethylene Glycol is used in certain antifreeze manufacturers, however most experts suggest Propylene. Furthermore, ethylene-based antifreeze has the potential to discharge hazardous chemicals into the water supply.

Oil and Fuel

Your gasoline tank should be around three-quarters full. Although some experts advocate more, this is a good compromise for reducing condensation within the tank.

The next step is to add a gasoline stabilizer.

Finally, turn off the valves and close the exhaust ports. This final stage protects the tank against interior corrosion.

Oil and filter replacement may now be done during winterization or de-winterization. The oil viscosity parameters may be found in your owner’s manual.

Lower Unit

The bottom unit oil must be drained for both types of engines. If you see a milky substance, this indicates that you’re getting water inside, which your mechanic should handle.

The Battery

You’ll need to decide whether you want to keep the battery on board or remove it for the season.

If you decide to remove it, you’ll need to keep it indoors, either in your garage or somewhere warm.

If you choose to leave the batteries in (as some people do if they leave their pontoon in the water), you must take extra precautions: Connect the battery to a trickle charger after disconnecting it (check price on Amazon).

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The trickle charger is a wise buy in any case, since it will come in useful when pontoon season returns.

Covers and Storage

The last thing you want is to discover a fracture in the hull of your pontoon. Taking your pontoon out of the water to dry dock, whether with a trailer or a dock lift, is the best way to maintain your investment. Hull repairs are time-consuming and might be expensive.

There are a variety of cover manufacturers to choose from. Make sure to compare them to see which one best suits your needs. Also, make certain you order the correct size.

To deter mice and other creatures from nibbling holes in the cover, some people propose spraying a repellant. Mice avoid peppermint if you seek a natural repellant. Spray the floor and any internal cracks with a solution of water and a few drops of peppermint oil. Plus, when you take your boat out for the following season, it’ll smell fantastic.

Fold the canvas cover back from front to back, line the snaps, and make sure the cover is taut but not ripped.

Another good idea is to put a couple center poles beneath to keep the air moving. Otherwise, by spring, you’ll have a mildew petri dish on your hands. Vico Marine’s center support poles (see price on Amazon) include an extra boat vent and a platform for support.

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You can’t go wrong with the Taylor Boat Cover Support System for complete support (check price on Amazon).

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Another option is to purchase a dehumidifier, such as the DryWave 1000 AirDryer (check price on Amazon).

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Shrink wrapping is an optional supplementary step that isn’t necessary. Because your project would be completely coated in plastic (rather than just a canvas cover), it would be even more protected from the weather.

It protects against severe winds, water leakage, dust, insects, and rats, even while docked indoors. It is feasible to buy a shrink-wrap kit and do it yourself, but if you are a novice and want it done correctly, it is advisable to hire a professional.

Theft and Security

Vandalism may occur everywhere, from public buildings to your own home, but it is readily avoidable. There are precautionary procedures and measures you may take to safeguard your pontoon, similar to latching windows and locking doors.

Electronics would be the first items to be taken. It’s quite easy for someone to rip out, unlike a complete boat, unless you’ve previously dismounted them.

If you’re storing your pontoon on land, put the trailer on blocks and take off the tires. This will ensure that your boat does not get towed away. Purchasing a tongue lock for the trailer is another technique to discourage.

One thing to keep in mind with boat insurance: basic property coverage only covers the theft of the boat and main equipment pieces like fuel tanks and engines. Accessories and anything that isn’t firmly connected aren’t covered. Consult your policy for further information, or contact your agent for more information.


Even if winter is over and you’re anxious to get out on the water, you’ll need to conduct a spring boat check.

First, look for major damage. Look for dents or leaks and, if you find any, take care of them right once.

Examine your bimini tops and coverings. You might need to fix a few tears or holes in your vinyl or canvas. Most canvas coverings come with their own bag, so make sure it’s completely dry before putting it away.

Reinstall your electronics and replace your attachments, but don’t forget to test them! You don’t want to be in the water when you realize your GPS system’s cables aren’t properly connected, or worse, has failed completely.

Give her aluminum another polish if it makes you happy.

It’s time to go back in the water!

Winterizing a boat needs some forethought.

If this is your first year owning a pontoon, make sure you take inventory and order the items you’ll need to get the job done. You’ll be an expert at winterizing your boat by next year!

More importantly, it takes time! However, the day you remove the cover from a well-maintained pontoon boat, you will be overjoyed.

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