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How long can you leave a boat winterized

How long can you leave a boat winterized

You could reasonably expect to be able to leave a boat winterized for 6 months before requiring additional maintenance and repairs; however, many factors can affect this timeline along the way.

Some of the factors that will determine how long you can leave your boat in storage after it has been winterized are:

  • The type of winterization method you used
  • The quality of the winterization materials you used
  • The climate where your boat was stored
  • The maintenance (If any) you performed during winterization 

As a general rule, most boating industry standards recommend that you winterize a boat for no longer than six months. 

In colder climates (Or where the weather is harsher), it’s wise to err on the side of caution and de-winterize after only three months, 

Or, at the very least: 

Thoroughly inspect your boat after only three months.

What can go wrong if you leave your boat winterized for too long

So, what can go wrong if you leave your boat winterized or in storage for too long? Here are several potential problems that can arise: 

Battery failure

If a boat’s battery is not charged regularly while in storage, it will only last between six to nine months. 

To prevent your battery from going bad:

  • Disconnect your battery
  • Store your battery in your home or somewhere where the climate is controlled.
  • Put a trickle charger on your battery

Fuel system problems: 

  • Gasoline and Diesel that have been left in a boat’s fuel system for an extended period of time can become stale and clog carburetors and fuel injectors, making it difficult or impossible to start your engine.
  • Gasoline: Gasoline not treated with a fuel stabilizer will only last three to six months.  If you used a fuel stabilizer while winterizing your gas, it could last anywhere from a year up to 18 months.
  • Diesel: Diesel that has not been treated can last anywhere from six to twelve months, but if you treat diesel with a stabilizer, it can last up to two years!

Tip:  The key to fuel storage is the climate you store your boat in.  The hotter and more humid it is, the shorter the lifespan of your fuel.  

Engine damage

  • Engines that are left unused for extended periods of time can develop problems, including corrosion, rust, and carbon buildup. 
  • Engine damage can occur within 6 to 12 months if the engine is not run regularly or if proper winterization procedures are not followed.

Tip: If you plan to store your boat after the winter and for longer than 6 months, find a way to de-winterize and run your engine.

Mold and Mildew Build Up

  • Mold and mildew can start to form within a matter of days if proper ventilation and dehumidifying procedures are not followed during winterization.
  • Moisture buildup in your boat’s interior can lead to mold and mildew growth, which can be difficult and expensive to remove. 

Upholstery and canvas deterioration

  • Sun exposure and other environmental factors can cause your boat’s upholstery and canvas to deteriorate, making it less comfortable and less attractive. 
  • Upholstery and canvas can start to deteriorate within a few weeks if not properly protected during winterization.

Rodent damage

  • Rodents, such as mice and rats, can gnaw on boat insulation, electrical wiring, hoses, and other materials, causing significant damage to your boat while in storage. 
  • To prevent rodent damage, it is recommended to store your boat in a secure area that is frequently treated with pest control.
  • You can also use rodent deterrents and traps on your boat for added protection.

Tire damage 

  • If your boat is stored on a trailer, the tires can suffer damage due to flat-spotting or dry out from exposure to the elements. 
  • To prevent tire damage, it is recommended to use tire covers, store your boat in a climate-controlled environment, or store the boat on blocks rather than on the tires. 
  • If you do store your boat on tires, try to move the trailer slightly from time to time to prevent flat spots on your tires.

Gel coat damage 

  • UV exposure, acid rain, and other environmental factors can cause gel coat damage, leading to fading, cracking, and other forms of degradation. 
  • To prevent gel coat damage, it is recommended to use a cover or to store the boat in a covered or enclosed facility.  

Dust and dirt buildup 

  • Dust and dirt can accumulate on your boat’s surfaces, causing damage or staining, making it more difficult to clean. 
  • To prevent dust and dirt buildup, it is recommended to clean your boat thoroughly before storing it and to cover it with a boat cover.  


In conclusion, winterization is an important part of boat maintenance, but it’s important not to get too busy to de-winterize your boat after an extended period of time.  Follow industry standards and check on/de-winterize your boat when the weather conditions start to change.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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