Don’t wait until you’re at the ramp to check your engine oil or propeller. Capt. Moe Newman of Journey South Outfitters shares five quick tips for a perfect pre-launch maintenance routine.
1. Check Your Oil
For inboard or outboard motors equipped with a dipstick, this step is simple. Operating an older two-stroke motor without a dipstick? Then checking your oil regularly is even more important. Two-stroke motors run on a mixture of fuel and oil, so you will need to add oil more often than compared to a four-stroke that uses oil only for lubrication.
When adding oil, only use what is recommended by the engine manufacturer.
2. Check Under the Hood
A regular look under the cowling is always a good idea. If your boat operates in saltwater, check for saltwater under the cowling as it is naturally corrosive to metals. Capt. Moe also recommends looking for any loose parts or debris.
3. Check Your Bilge
Your bilge should be clear of any junk, water, and fuel. Water in the bilge isn’t always a bad thing, but make sure you locate the source. If it's saltwater, get it out quickly because it's corrosive. Always keep your bilge clean of debris and get water out if you see any.
4. Check Your Prop
The prop is literally the driving force of the engine. You’ll want to make sure your prop spins freely and has no play in it. If there’s fishing line caught in the prop, it can eventually cut into the seal that keeps the lower unit oil inside and result in a costly repair.
5. Check Your Trailer Hubs
A blown hub could spell disaster on the highway. Check your trailer hubs before and after every trip, making sure they’re adequately greased, and the grease is not milky in color.
Also, be sure to check your tires (including spares) for air pressure and tread. Pack any tools you might need to change a tire or perform a quick fix on the road.
A trailer takes a beating from the road, but also in water, especially saltwater. Some cautious anglers spray down their trailer with fresh water after launching so the trailer doesn't soak in salt water all day while you are fishing. Consider doing this if you don't plan to replace corroded components quickly. Either way, check for salt water corrosion before or after every trip in case something needs to be repaired.