A boat trailer isn’t one of the sexiest items, but it is essential if you really want to have an enjoyable boating experience. So, why are trailers overlooked so often when it comes to caring for boating equipment sometimes even by avid boaters?
Surprisingly, boat owners will happily spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars keeping the boat launching wheels, speedometers, outboard motors, and other boating equipment in good shape but often forget the very item that adds so much pride and joy to their rides.
Boat trailer maintenance is important especially if you are visiting and traveling to new places all the time. Sure, it may take a little time and effort but you need it to keep your equipment functioning right and to make sure that you reach your destination safely.
To make it easier for you, we have prepared this simple guide with tips and tricks for caring for your boat trailer. This will help you keep things up to snuff before your next tow.
Quick Do-It-Yourself Advice For Boat Trailer Maintenance
A boat trailer maintenance checklist can be a long one, so we are going to stick to the basics. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
1. Check The Condition Of Your Trailer
Hauling your boat trailer through bumpy roads or countless highway miles can hurt your equipment. The components will start wearing down slowly by slowly or even faster, depending on how rugged the roadway is. You, therefore, need to give your trailer a good checkup before towing so you don’t get any surprises along the way.
Check to see that the trailer coupler is in good working condition and fits snuggly on the hitch ball. See if the boat trailer tongue jack is properly greased too. If the lock pin has a spring-loaded ball, get this lubricated as well.
Make sure the safety chains are working fine and fastened securely. Inspect the leaf springs thoroughly too. Heavily corroded or cracked leaf springs need to be fixed as they can cause serious issues later on.
Check the accessories too. These include dollies and winches. A well-maintained boat trailer dolly will make moving your trailer a cakewalk. Similarly, keeping your boat trailer winch in good shape will make loading your vessel back on the trailer much easier.
Examine your boat trailer regularly for rust, especially if you are using an older one. Rust is a known trailer killer and one of the reasons why many boats end up being thrown out on the deck. A boat is a huge investment and to get the maximum value for your money, you must learn to care for any item and equipment associated with it, and that includes the trailer.
These simple boat trailer inspections will help you identify issues and resolve them before they escalate into something that can’t be repaired.
2. Inflate Your Tires Properly
Your tires will play the biggest role in moving you to your destination and should not be ignored during your boat trailer maintenance. A blown-out boat trailer tire, incorrect PSI, and worn out bearings could all get you into serious trouble.
And just like any road vehicle, inflating your tires properly is essential. If your tires have a low PSI, they will start wearing out both on the outside and on the inside. And when they have too much PSI, they will wear out on the core of the tread. To have the right inflation, use the owner’s manual recommended PSI rating.
Aside from doing the inflation right, make sure your tires never get “tired”. It would be best to invest in quality ones to reduce the cost of maintenance.
The two commonly used boat trailer tires are bias-ply sidewalls and radial. Bias-ply are stiffer and more economical and will work well on short trips. Radial tires on the other hand can support more load, can minimize heat buildup, and make less noise on the road. They come with a higher price tag though.
No matter what tires you buy for your trailer, make sure to have them maintained regularly. For instance, always lay something underneath the tires when not in use. Alternatively, just park your boat trailer on concrete. If your tires will be sitting in the sun for a long, use tire covers, and even then make sure to inspect them regularly.
3. Check The Wheel Bearings
Wheel bearings are among the most vulnerable parts of your boat trailer, so make sure they are always well lubricated and shielded from elements. Install “bearing buddies” to keep the bearings from moisture and obtain a lubricant nipple for easy lubrication. You can also buy dust covers for the bearing buddies.
If you haven’t used your trailer for a while, keep checking the hubs for heat as you tow. Any heat buildup indicates an issue with the bearing. If you had greased your bearings and they are still heating up, you may want to repack.
A good boat trailer maintenance practice is to repack your bearings at least once a year. If your bearings have been generating excessive heat, you may consider doing your repacking more often and making sure they are greased properly.
Replace your bearings if you hear grinding noises or if the wheel does not spin freely even after lubricating. You can easily do this on your own but if you trust only a professional, reach out to your retailer.
4. Inspect Your Lights
Don’t forget your boat trailer lights including taillights, brake lights, reflectors, and turn signals. Make sure these are working as required. If your trailer is above 30ft long or 80 inches wide, you may require additional reflectors and lights.
While examining your trailer lights, be on the lookout for any burnt out bulbs, damaged or cracked connectors and wires, and loose or cracked lenses. Make sure your fuse is functioning properly too because if it fails, your trailer lights fail too.
5. Have Everything Secured And Connected Right
Just like practicing boating safety keeps you out of harm while on the water, you should also observe road safety when towing to stay out of danger, and yeah, you also don’t want to get into trouble with the law.
Most of this is common sense though, as to stay safe on the road, you will need to prepare enough before you go. This is especially crucial if you have not taken a boating trip for a while and need to revitalize your towing skills.
Check to see that the trailer brakes are functional and all electrical is connected properly. The vehicle you are using to tow must also have proper tire pressure. Have a tire pressure gauge handy to make sure that you are maintaining the right PSI ratings.
Your boat gear should be evenly distributed too to have a well-balanced load. Don’t forget to bring important spare parts – things like fully inflated trailer tires, wheel bearings, lubricant, grease gun, light bulbs, fuses, etc. You may also need to bring a flashlight and road flares if you are hauling the boat at night. A toolbox will also be an important gear on this trip. Hook these onto your tire carrier for added convenience.
Tips For Safe Boat Trailer Use
- Always make sure that the tie-down you use to secure your vessel to the trailer is sturdy enough
- At stops when trailering, check both the boat and the trailer to ensure that the tie-downs and winch straps are still intact. Feel the wheels too for heat buildup, as this will indicate a problem with the bearing.
- Once you have arrived at your destination, take a few minutes before dipping the wheels into the cold water. This will allow the bearings to cool, as immersing the wheels immediately could cause sudden contraction, which could suck water and dirt into the bearings.
- Before launching your boat, have the trailer lights unplugged.
Globo Surf Overview
There you have it – the simplest, easiest, and quickest boat trailer maintenance checklist. Whether you are headed for a butt-kicking fishing trip or just taking a boat ride with your buddies, a well-maintained boat trailer will make your towing safe and more enjoyable.
By ensuring your trailer wheels, bearing, lights, and accessories are in good condition and keeping rust at bay, you can rest assured that your equipment will give you the best service. As a result, you will have a hassle-free launch and retrieval, which will get you stressing less and focusing more on your boating adventure.
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- Boat And Trailer Maintenance Checklist, boatus.com