How to Winterize a Four-Stroke Outboard: Video

Senior Editor Lenny Rudow clears up the confusion about how to winterize a four-stroke outboard. And here are some of our other winterizing tips that cover fuel, diesels, and mistakes to avoid.

18th October 2012.
By Lenny Rudow

Four-stroke outboards are by far the most popular on the market. But there’s a lot of confusion about how to properly winterize a four-stroke. Let’s end it, right now.

1. Give the motor a good freshwater flush. In some cases you’ll need  set of earmuffs; in other cases, you can thread the hose right into the outboard. Let the water flow for a good five or ten minutes.

Now that she’s flushed out we’re going to remove the cowl and rinse away any salt buildup that we find inside.

2. Change the lower unit oil. Even if it’s fresh you still want to change it, just in case any water got in there, because water can freeze and expand and cause serious damage. (Watch How to Change the Lower Unit Oil)

3. Since the introduction of ethanol, adding a fuel stabilizer for the winter is an absolute must.

How to winterize a four stroke outboard4. Hook up the water again and run the motor for a good ten to fifteen minutes, to work the stabilized fuel through the motor.

5. Next, and this is very important: tilt the motor all the way up and all the way down. You want to make absolutely sure that every drop of water is out of the motor. Otherwise it could freeze and break something.

6. Traditionally the next step is to fog the engine. But many tech heads (myself included) believe it’s better just to start it every three weeks or so. That way you don’t have to fog it.

Can that really be all there is to winterizing a four stroke? Wait a minute, what about… the antifreeze?

Since no water should remain in the engine, which is tilted down to drain, you don’t need antifreeze—even though your mechanic might suggest it as a way to give you another bill.

Lenny Rudow


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About the author:

Lenny Rudow

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Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including Boats.com and Yachtworld.com. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design who has won 28 BWI and OWAA writing awards.
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