Basic Boat Maintenance and Care Tips

To get the most out of your beloved boat, you want to give it the proper TLC it needs and deserves. Like our cars, it is all too easy to neglect these tasks, and end up with big, expensive problems that could have been avoided, or greatly minimized with proper maintenance.

Cleaning and Protective Measures

The wear and tear from mere exposure to the elements can be greatly minimized with regular cleaning. Anti-fouling paint and routine waxing are other important tools. A quality boat cover will protect your boat from the cumulative effects of dirty, water, leaves and bird droppings, which can lead to damage over time. Its protection against UV rays can also prevent fading carpets and upholstery, as well as the break down of hoses. If you live in an area with more extreme weather conditions, such as the harsh heat of the Southwest, or where winters are bitter, you might want to consider renting a storage unit for a boat when you won’t be using it.

Regular Inspection

Regular inspections are what keeps minor problems that are relatively simple and inexpensive to fix, from becoming big, costly issues down the line. Always keep your eye on all aspects of the boat, from fraying ropes to loose fittings. Consider areas that require extra special attention and make a note to take a look regularly to see if any repairs or replacements are needed. All too often, the most common forms of damage could have been easily prevented, or greatly minimized, by giving the vessel a regular ‘once-over.’ You might also consider a professional inspection.

Basic Boat Maintenance and Care Tips

Maintaining the Motor

Regularly inspect every aspect of the motor, from the clamps on the fuel line to the tanks, for corrosion, rust and other types of damage. You should flush the engine after each excursion. Make sure the cooling system is functioning properly, and keep an eye on oil levels, cleanliness and filtration.

Battery Care

For optimal battery life, protect it from dirt and dampness, which can drain it more quickly. Make sure the fluid levels are correct and it is properly charged.

Properly Functioning Bilge Pumps

Paying mind to the bilge pump is particularly important given a serious problem with it can cause the boat to sink—can’t think of a bigger problem than that. When you need to use the pump, check the battery system has enough power to run it for a prolonged amount of time.

Electrical System

Corroded electrical systems are the cause of many boating failures, so keeping components dry is an important part of proper boat maintenance. You have a few options to protect electrical fittings, including a corrosion inhibitor, water-repellant or non-conductive grease.


The more you know, the more effectively you will maintain your boat. Read the owner’s manual for in-depth guidelines. If you are new to the boating scene, a training course that deals with your type of boat specifically is a really good idea. Learn boating terms and definitions.