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Boat and Outboard Motor Preventive Maintenance: Fuel Treatment, Off-Season Care Guide

When it comes to trouble-free boat and outboard-motor performance, the care and maintenance steps you take during and at the end of the season are critical.

Over the past 20-plus years as a truck and boat owner, and knowing how unlucky I often am, I highly value preventative maintenance. It’s also amazing to me how many truck owners won’t miss an appointment to get the oil changed, but their boats don’t receive the same level of attention. And that’s where problems start.

There’s something special about the smell of outboard exhaust in the early morning light followed by the excitement of that first bass to hammer your topwater plug. Or the feeling of cool air in your lungs—bow in hand—as the November whitetail rut finally sets in. Those moments are very special to people like me, but without reliable, well-maintained outboards and pickup motors leaving the house or boat dock in the first place can be a problem.

The outdoor lifestyle is the best way to live, treat your most valuable investments like you believe that.

I live in the Upper Midwest where Ethanol-based fuel is the norm, sometimes finding straight unleaded gasoline can be a challenge. That sort of fuel could ultimately degenerate the gas lines in chainsaws, weed eaters, ATVs and especially boat engines. Because you typically use a truck on a regular basis, the gas runs through the lines quickly.

In each case, fuel treatment like Star brite’s Star Tron is a very easy additive that not only cleans fuel lines and removes potential moisture, but it rejuvenates stored fuel—for up to two years, in fact.

Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment - Classic Gas Formula
Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment - Classic Gas Formula (Thomas Allen photo)

I add Star Tron Fuel Treatment — Classic Gas Formula to my pickup about once a month to rejuvenate and stabilize the fuel and to keep the lines clean from moisture and build-up. This gives me the confidence that my motor will remain realizable, even after a temporary downtime or during the harshest winter weather. The Classic Gas Formula is available in three sizes: 8-, 16- and 32-ounce bottles—1 fluid ounce treats 6 gallons of fuel.

I apply the same attention to my boat’s motor and fuel lines during the season, and especially during winter storage. Star brite’s Star Tron Marine Enzyme Fuel Treatment gets the nod from me here. It eliminates carbon deposits, gum and varnish, prevents moisture buildup and phase separation and it cleans injectors, valves and more. The concentrated formula is available in 8-, 16-, 32-ounce bottles and up to 1-, 5- and 55-gallon measurements. One ounce treats 16 gallons of gas.

I can promise you that this step alone will add years of life to your truck and boat engines.

Boat & Outboard Motor Winterization/Storage Steps

There are also critical steps and necessary elements to consider when winterization is a part of life. Here in the North, our boats and motors will often sit in storage for up to 5 months, and there is nothing harder on an outboard. Take the proper steps in advance and you’ll enjoy years of stress-free use.

I highly recommend taking your rig to a paid professional at the end of the season for the complete winterization process. However, if you’re a competent wrench-turner, and if the boat will be stored indoors, there are four simple steps to adequate winterization that I handle each year on my own.

Star brite offers a list of winterization products that will make life a lot easier—and the job simple.

Star Tron Enzyme Marine Fuel Treatment
Star Tron Enzyme Marine Fuel Treatment (Thomas Allen photo)

First, I add Star Tron Enzyme Marine Fuel Treatment – Concentrated Gas Formula to the remaining gas in the tanks and fuel lines. Star Tron will stabilize the fuel for the off-season, and that’s straight-up confidence you can have awaiting your first soft-water run of the following season.


Star brite Damp Check Moisture Absorber
Star brite Damp Check Moisture Absorber (Thomas Allen photo)

Second, I like to place a few of Star brite’s Damp Check Moisture Absorber inside the rod locker, in the same compartment where I stored my raingear and anywhere on the main deck or cockpit whilst the cover is on the boat. The product is simple and very productive—any remaining moisture will be removed and greatly reduce the possibility of mold, mildew or rust from forming during the off-season.

Star brite Professional Grade Fogging Oil
Star brite Professional Grade Fogging Oil (Thomas Allen photo)

Third, I fog the cylinders for long-term storage with Star brite’s Professional Grade Fogging Oil. I pull the spark plugs, spray Star brite’s fogging oil in each cylinder, replace the plugs and wires and crank the motor (without firing) a few times to deploy the fogging oil fully and effectively.  The motor is now ready for storage. (Once the new season begins, I replace the spark plugs—this is a practice that eliminates any potential questions with new-season functionality.)

Star brite -50 Anti-Freeze
Star brite -50 Anti-Freeze (Thomas Allen photo)

And finally, I run half to a full gallon of Star brite’s -50 Anti-Freeze through the livewll pumps, hoses and bilge system. Any remaining water in the lines during storage could freeze and crack the plastic housings and lines. On top of all that, Star brite’s Winter Safe formula is alcohol-free and non-toxic, making it also ideal for use in tow-vehicle coolant systems, and especially livewells. A simple serving of Star brite’s anti-freeze will prevent frustrating problems.

The bottom line is simple: Investing in preventative maintenance is a great way to ensure years of use in your boat and tow vehicle.

Star brite gets you there.

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