We all know how important it is to maintain your watercraft whether it’s a $100,000+ yacht or a few hundred dollar kayak, preventative boat maintenance goes a long way when it comes to protecting your investment. Not only that, but there’s a sense of pride when it comes to keeping your rig shiny and clean.
But one thing boat owners tend to overlook or even neglect all together is their boat trailer. It is just as important in keeping your trailer maintained as your boat since, well, what’s the use of having a beautiful, shiny, smooth running boat if you can’t haul it to your favorite watering hole? But we’re here to help. Follow these guidelines to keep that trailer running smoothly and your boat riding high!
Let’s begin with the most important aspect of your trailer: the wheel bearings. These are the most vulnerable part of your trailer, so be sure to keep them protected and well greased. Be sure to install bearing buddies over each hub and to install a zerk fitting, or grease nipple, to allow for easy grease application.
You’ll then want to install a dust cover over the bearing buddies to keep out dirt and grime. Be sure to add bearing grease before starting out on the road, but be sure to not over grease it, you do not want the rear seals pushing out.
If it’s been a while since the trailer has rolled, stop after a short distance and feel the hubs for heat, excessive heat is a strong indicator that there may be a problem. Repacking of the bearings with grease may be necessary. Consult your local professional.
Ok, so now that the bearings are checked off, let’s look at a short and simple checklist that you should follow each and every time before hitting the road:
- Check tires for uneven wear, cracks, and proper inflation. Trailer tires typically call for 50 or psi, unlike your vehicle tires which call for somewhere around 35 psi. This psi recommendation should be printed on the sidewall of the tire. Also check to be sure that lug nuts are tight.
- Check your rollers and runners for damage and make sure that the rollers are spinning smoothly and not binding up
- Check condition of the winch, hook and strap. Be sure that the strap isn’t frayed or rotting and that the winch is working smoothly.
- Check trailer lights, including brakes, running lights and turn signals.
- Be sure that the trailer ball is attached tightly and the correct size for the trailer. Be sure the hitch coupler is locked down and secured with a bolt, pin or lock. Be sure the safety chains are hooked and crossed. And finally, make sure the tongue jack is locked up and out of the way.
Once the above checklist has been gone over, you are then road ready. But, there is routine maintenance that should be performed from time to time. Things such as protecting the tires with an armor all type substance to protect from dry rot, checking the trailer for rust, and of course rinsing the trailer off with freshwater after being submerged in saltwater.
Following these basic maintenance trailer tips will help ensure that your beloved boat gets to and from the water safely. It will also help prevent possible catastrophic failure while traveling and keep you and everyone else on the roadway safe and happy. Happy boating!