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Trailer Maintenance Protects You and Your Boat


People with trailerable boats have differing opinions on the best way to enjoy their favorite boating activities. Some like to boat out of the same location, keeping the boat docked or on a lift, and others prefer to store the boat on land and trailer it to ramps both near and far away. It is important to keep your trailer in good working order, because a flat tire, locked brake, or bad ball bearing could lead to problems on the road and increased risk of damage to your boat.


While a trailer appears to be a relatively simple piece of equipment, the duty it performs is complex–supporting and moving thousands of pounds of weight. In reality, your first and most important maintenance starts not when you need the trailer, but when you store the trailer after leaving the ramp, with or without the boat. When loading and unloading your boat, you submerge the trailer in water, subjecting it to a variety of contaminants which can degrade the various parts. A simple way to prevent any deterioration from exposure to these elements is to hose down the entire trailer when you return. Be sure to get the back side of the wheels where your brake housings are located, not just the areas that are easily visible and accessible.


Pre-Departure Trailer Checklist

  1. Tires
       a. Before you start rolling, check the pressure of each tire ensuring it is at the recommended psi
          (you will find that information on the side wall of the tire).
       b. Check for cracking on the tire walls–an indication the tires may be dry rotting.
       c. Confirm the tire treads have not been worn down to ensure you have good traction at the ramp or when driving on wet roads.
       d. Be sure all the lug nuts are tightened.
       e. Check the tire wells to see if there is any excess grease which may indicate a bearing seal has gone bad.
  2. Lights – have someone stand behind the trailer and make sure the brake lights and turn signals are all working properly.
  3. Winch – be sure the strap is not frayed or damaged.
  4. Brakes – if you have automatic brakes be sure to drive the trailer both forward and in reverse to be sure they have not become locked in either position.


Discover Boating offers this ultimate trailering checklist that includes items to check on your trailer and boat before you leave the ramp. These are good ways to prevent mishaps on the road.


If you’re new to boat trailering, you may want to read this article on trailering safety.