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How to operate an outboard motor in freezing temperatures

How to operate an outboard motor in freezing temperatures

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Table of Contents

Can I Use My Outboard in Freezing Temperatures?

Avid duck hunters and fishers alike will brave temperatures below freezing and get out on the water. Whether its spring fever begging you to get out there early or an early freeze in the fall, outboard motors are designed to operate in harsh conditions and should function perfectly.

We often get questions asking:
-At what temperature will my motor freeze?
-Can I use my outboard motor in freezing temperatures outside?
-At what temperature can I operate my outboard motor?

The answer: Your boat motor is designed to operate in below freezing temperatures. The trick here is to prevent ice from building up on surfaces while using the motor and afterwards. So, you can use your motor at temps below freezing or 32 degrees. Read the rest of the article below for suggestions on how to make your cold temperature boat outing a success.

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On the Boat Ramp

-While backing your trailer down the ramp, keep your safety chain in place until your boat is floating. Ice may have formed between your boat and the trailer causing the boat to slide off prematurely. The safety chain will prevent this from happening.

-Close the valves to the live well before boat is in the water or valves may freeze up, preventing you from draining the water out at the end of the day.

-When the boat is launched and you are ready to pull the trailer out of the water, let the trailer drain at the edge of the lake for a minute or two. The reason for this is twofold. First, the incline allows the water to drain off of the trailer, preventing ice build up that may cause problems when you load back up. Secondly, draining the water at the lake’s edge allows the water to go back to the lake, preventing ice on the ramp.


Once on the water

-Let motor warm up for several minutes to get oil and lubricants warm and functioning properly.

-Let your fish and net drain before you pull on board to prevent water drips from freezing on your surfaces.

-Trolling motor: to prevent freezing on shaft consistently wipe down with wd40 and a rag. The WD40 should keeps water off shaft. Another idea is to keep your tolling motor in the water when possible while cold weather boating.

Heading out of the water

-Replace the safety chain before pulling the trailer out of the water. This is something you should do no matter what the temps are outside however, ice on the trailer may make the surface especially slippery.

-Trim motor completely down once pulled out so all the water drains out. Give it a few minutes while you put your stuff away. Put your transom saver on.
Some boaters may think its a good idea to run your motor out of the water to disperse water that may freeze. Do not run motor out of the water, your water pump will burn up. Outboards are designed to drain as mentioned above so there is no need for additional steps. If you want to read more about winterizing your boat motor, read our blog article here.

In conclusion, you may operate your outboard motor in below freezing temperatures if you are brave enough to be out in the cold. Watch for wet surfaces that can ice up and take steps to prevent that from happening. The pay off is a few hours of peace out on the quiet water.