Preparing a personal watercraft (PWC) for off-season storage both protects the craft from freeze damage and ensures it’s ready to ride for the next season. Even if temperatures where you live are unlikely to fall below freezing, it’s important for the long-term health of your PWC to follow the manufacturer’s long-term storage guidance.
The following tips should be considered general advice. Consult your operator’s manual for specific instructions for your watercraft model. If you don’t have the manual, you can probably get a copy from a dealer or find a digital copy on the manufacturer’s website.
Get your supplies together before you start the winterizing process.
At the end of the season try to run your fuel tank almost empty and then fill the tank with fresh fuel (ethanol-free if available) treated with a marine stabilizer product such as Quicksilver Quickstor® Fuel Stabilizer. Storing the PWC with a full tank of stabilized fuel will help prevent condensation from forming in the tank.
Four-stroke PWC engines typically require an oil and filter change either annually or every 100 hours of operation. Quicksilver® Marine Engine Oil products feature a blend of high-quality base stocks and additives formulated specifically for use in most four-stroke PWC marine engines. Quicksilver also offers oil filters to fit many watercraft engines. Check your operator’s manual for the correct grade of oil. Removing the old oil from the engine requires an oil extraction pump such as the Quicksilver Oil Drain Pump. Always dispose of waste oil properly at an oil recycling facility.
Pro Tip: It’s ideal to add fuel stabilizer to fresh fuel and then run the PWC for at least 10 minutes to get the treated fuel into the engine. Then pull the craft out of the water and change the oil. Warm oil flows out of the engine more easily than cold oil.
Most late-model PWC are equipped with a flushing port. Flushing helps remove salt, sand and debris from cooling passages in the engine and from the exhaust system. Carefully follow the flushing procedure as outlined in the operator’s manual. Failing to follow the instructions could cause water to enter the engine. Some PWC require purging all water from the exhaust using compressed air (per the owner’s manual).
Protect Internal Components: After you’re done flushing and running the engine, remove the spark plugs and spray about an ounce of corrosion inhibitor such as Quicksilver Storage Seal into each cylinder. This forms a protective barrier that prevents rust from forming on internal metal surfaces. Crank the engine through one revolution to distribute the lubricant throughout the cylinders and replace the spark plugs.
Rinse: Remove the drain plug from the hull and use your hose to rinse off the engine and the bilge. Elevate the bow of the craft by raising the trailer jack to encourage water to drain from the hull. If possible, leave the seat off of the PWC and park it in the sun for a few hours to help evaporate any remaining water around the engine. For additional corrosion protection apply Quicksilver Corrosion Guard Engine Protect to metal engine and exhaust components.
Fuel and Air Filters: Follow your operator’s manual and either inspect or replace the fuel and air filters.
Sacrificial Anodes: Per the operator’s manual, inspect the sacrificial anodes that protect the pump system from galvanic corrosion. Replace them if they are more than 50 percent eroded.
Lubrication: Per the operator’s manual, lubricate steering and shift cables with a quality marine grease such as Quicksilver 2-4-C Marine Grease.
Battery Storage: Before off-season storage, completely charge the battery and then disconnect the terminals so nothing can draw the battery down. If there’s power available at your storage site, connect the battery to a “smart” battery maintainer/charger through the off-season. Leave the charger connected to the battery. If there is no power at your storage site, remove the battery from the watercraft and store it where it can be connected to a maintenance charger.
Get Covered: The best storage option is a garage or indoor facility. If outdoor storage is your only option, a tight-fitting cover designed for your craft is the best choice for weather protection. Store the PWC with the drain plug removed and the bow elevated so any water that might enter the hull can drain. Secure the drain plug to the handlebar with a zip tie so you don’t forget to re-install it next season.
A properly stored watercraft will be safe from damage over the off-season, and ready to launch come spring. You’ll be back on the water and having fun in no time. Quicksilver marine lubricants and care products are formulated to maintain engine performance and reliability with uncompromising quality and durability. To learn more about Quicksilver go to Quicksilver-Products.com.