When it’s time to break out the summer equipment, you may not be able to just fire it up and go. Instead, many times you have to do some prep work and maintenance first. Whether it’s a motorcycle, boat, ATV, lawn mower or other gas-powered small engine that’s been parked for the winter, follow this checklist to minimize trouble and maximize your summer fun.
- Check your spark plugs to make sure your engine has a healthy combustion. For a two-stroke engine, a plug that is covered in gum or heavy carbon deposits indicates poor oil performance or that the gas is old. Also, you’ll want to inspect the plug wires, too. You may have to replace those to ensure a strong ignition.
- Look for contamination in the fuel. Water, gum, varnish and other deposits can all cause issues, such as clogged carburetor jets and filters, and can lead to starting difficulties, power loss and engine failure. Contaminated fuel should be discarded to avoid engine problems.
- Take a fuel sample and check for water contamination. Contaminated fuel should be discarded to avoid engine problems. Also, look for fuel deposits, a sign of oxidation, which can result in gum, varnish and other deposits that clog carburetor jets and filters — leading to starting difficulties, power loss or engine failure. That’s why using a quality fuel treatment prior to storage is essential for combatting potential problems.
- Check the oil to make sure it is still providing the necessary protection to critical moving parts. Most engine oil should be replaced prior to storage, so the engine has a fresh corrosion prevention treatment prior to the offseason. Consult your owner’s manual for the correct changing frequency.
- If you have an electric-start engine, make sure your battery has a full charge. Batteries that are suspect should be load tested. If the terminals are coated with corrosion, clean them with a wire brush or steel wool. You want a solid electrical connection, so perform the same routine on the cable connectors and fasteners, too.
- For your watercraft engines, check the lower-unit gear lube to ensure outboards and stern drives are properly filled. Changing the lube helps extend equipment life. Replace fuel filters periodically, too. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, which are set forth by the engineers who designed the products.
Finally, do a once-over everything. You’ll want to look for anything that looks out of place, is dirty, or seems to need adjustment. Cleaning the equipment and using a quality spray lubricant on all moving parts and cables will further help your summer tools and vehicles working in peak condition. When you’re finished, be sure to record the dates and work performed, so you don’t leave these important details to memory.