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Tips for Boat Trailer Maintenance

Make sure your boat trailer won’t leave you stranded.

April 3, 2017
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boat on trailer
Conduct routine maintenance for your boat trailer. Capt. Dave Lear

Make sure your boat trailer won’t leave you stranded. Routine maintenance ensures you’ll be ready for the season ahead.

Visually check U-bolts, winch stands, axles, cross beams and hitch couplers to make sure all are secure. Tighten as necessary. If any need replacing, use stainless steel or galvanized parts and hardware to slow corrosion. Pull off a couple dozen feet of winch strap or cable and check for dry rot or fraying. Don’t forget about the transom straps, if you use them. Make sure the coupler safety chains are still good.

tire for boat trailer
Check all tires for pressure and more issues. Capt. Dave Lear

Check all tires. Inspect the sidewalls for cracks and dry rot. Worn or scalloped tread mean it’s time for replacement. Biased-ply tires are cheaper but they are prone to uneven wear and tread separation. Radial tires last longer and give a your boat a softer ride over bumpy roads. Check the tire pressure levels, including the spare(s). Also make sure the spare’s lug nuts can be loosened easily in case of a flat.

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tire for boat trailer
Lubricate all wheel hubs. Capt. Dave Lear

Lubricate all wheel hubs with waterproof grease. Don’t overfill, though, or the rear seals can be blown out. If the hub bearings haven’t been checked and re-packed in the last year, now is a good time. It’s never a good time for a smoked hub, but especially not when there’s a ripping tide. A quick spritz of water-displaying spray lube on the jack gear and hitch coupler will keep them operating smoothly as well.

boat trailer
Check the trailer for lights, turn signals and brake lights. Capt. Dave Lear

With the trailer hooked up to the tow vehicle, have someone watch while you check running lights, turn signals and brake lights. If trailer lights need to be replaced, opt for a set of waterproof LED lights. Prices are down considerably and the reliability of LEDS is worth it. Add a couple spare fuses to the tow vehicle tool kit.

Before embarking on that first fishing trip, verify the trailer tag registration. Ensure the trailer brakes are working properly. After the boat is launched, check bunks and guides for security. Replace bunk carpet or rollers as necessary.

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boat hooked to car on trailer
Verify the trailer tag registration is up to date before leaving for your trip. Capt. Dave Lear
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