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Leisure Craft Seasonal Oil Changes

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When it comes to oil changes for your boat’s engine, conflicting opinions exist about the timing for oil changes. A large group of people believe changing the oil while winterizing the boat in fall is key, primarily due to concerns about water or condensation that may have entered the engine while being removed, to prevent freezing or corrosion during winter.

Others believe spring changes are critical to provide the freshest lubricant for an engine when it needs it most, which is during operation.

The answer is both recommendations are correct. In addition to changing the oil every 50 – 250 hours (depending on manufacturer recommendation), it’s important to change oil in when winterizing in fall, as well as in spring.

In fall, oil will be dirty from use, so changing is recommended to prevent impurities from damaging the engine. In most marine engines, dirt and water accumulate during use, causing several issues. Water can cause development of caustic, corrosion-causing acids, which result in anything from rust to erosion of components. Dirt and oil breakdown can cause sludge buildup, resulting in difficulty starting the engine and removing all the old oil in spring, in addition to long-term engine damage.

However, oil that was fresh in fall in an unused motor all winter can pick up water via condensation and lose viscosity after sitting for months, which is also less than ideal for your boat’s engine life. Particulates may also remain from previous use. In any situation where the engine is not allowed to reach operating temperature for any length of time (such as with sailboat auxiliaries), due to condensed water turning into acid in the crankcase, as well as the inability to get any particulates into circulation where they can be removed by the oil filter, it is advisable to run the engine and change the oil.

Starting up and running the engine for at least a half hour in the spring will get the oil warmed up and circulating through the engine to help remove any accumulated water or particulates from winter storage. Warming the oil will also help with its removal from all parts of the engine.

Needless to say, changing the oil in spring and fall (at minimum) is also recommended for leisure craft being operated year-round.

When it comes to changing the oil, many users find it a cumbersome process. Although there are now many DIY tools that make the process easier for marine engines, such as extraction pumps, there’s something to be said for letting an expert take care of the “dirty work” for you. At PPG, we have over 50 years of experience with marine engine service, and we welcome your used oil (and any other type of service need) 24/7.

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