When warm weather finally hits, the first thing you want to do is take your favorite toy—motorcycle, boat or RV—out for a spin.
But if your bike has spent all of 2017 in the garage, or your boat or RV hasn’t left the driveway since last summer, it’s time to de-winterize your ride. That’s because after a winter of hibernation, your machine won’t perform at it’s best unless you perform a few quick maintenance moves.
Check out the important steps below you need to take to stay safe.
It’s normal to feel rusty after a long winter. Taking a refresher course or practicing in a parking lot will help you dust off skills lost during the off-season.
Wearing a motorcycle jacket and pants constructed of abrasion-resistant material containing impact-absorbing padding is strongly encouraged.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends following the T-CLOCS acronym when prepping your bike for the road: Tires, Controls, Lights (and electrics), Oils (and other fluids), Chassis and Stands.
With an RV, you have to be mindful of the roads you’re traveling down. Narrow streets and construction zones can prove difficult to navigate in an RV, so it pays to map the roads and streets on your route.
Towing a camper, car or other recreational gear? Make sure you take stock of how much weight is on your trailer and never exceed the recommended load. RVs are heavy and high temperatures can put a lot of stress on tires. Before heading out, ensure they’re properly inflated and still have plenty of tread.
Make sure everything from awnings to TV antennas are retracted or stowed, and all compartments are shut and secured. If you’ve been cooking, turn off the propane tank. Before pulling away, check for loose items that could be underneath your RV.
Always have a float plan. Inform a family member or marina employee of your itinerary, boat type and registration information. Include names and phone numbers of all passengers. (Get more tips about how to de-winterize your boat.)
Beyond the basics mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard like life jackets and fire extinguishers, your state might require some additional items: First-aid kit, watersports flag and more. Consult your local marina for more information. At the start of each season, inspect your fire extinguishers for expiration dates, grab rails for corrosion, fuel tanks for rust, and hoses for leaks.
A smart sailor always goes though a comprehensive checklist before hitting the water. The U.S. Coast Guard offers a printable Vessel Safety Check form and free vessel safety checks on uscgaux.org. The American Boating Association suggests following the BESAFE acronym: Boat information, Equipment, Safety and personal floatation devices, Alcohol limits, First aid and emergency procedures, and Environment (area and weather).
By Nicole Price Fasig
Read more: How to de-winterize your vehicle