Trailer maintenance is a crucial piece to the boating puzzle. Just as with anything, proper care will increase the life of your trailer, and avoid problems when in tow. Try out these maintenance tips for best results.
Rinse, Rinse, Rinse
The hose is a necessity when it comes to proper trailer maintenance. All of the salt from the boat tends to run down onto the trailer when washed, so I like to rinse mine off after the boat is clean. A strong hose nozzle is also crucial. Give the complete trailer a good spray, and give the rims, and hubs a little more love than the rest. Don’t be afraid to get under the trailer either, spraying the backside of the hubs, U-bolts, axle and bunk brackets. Even better, if you have a fresh water ramp nearby, give the trailer a quick dunk. This works two-fold, removing all salt, and allowing you to flush your motor as well.
Prepare and Protect
A spare tire (if not two), lug nuts and wrench, marine grease, and even a spare hub should be in your trailer repair arsenal, especially when traveling long distances. When not in use, be sure to cover or store your spares inside. We all know what direct sunlight does to a tire. Be sure to check your tires on the trailer for cracks and dry rot as well.
When it comes to hubs, be sure they are well greased. Using waterproof marine grease, add and repack the bearings every year or so. Be sure not to over fill though, this grease will expand with heat, often slinging grease all over your rim when trailering. Keeping a spare hub on hand can make a roadside swap much easier, instead of trying to repack the bearings.
If running a trailer with brakes, be sure to check the brake fluid reservoir level before embarking on your trip. Broken brake lines can lead to fluid leakage and ultimately brake failure. You don’t need brake failure when the person in front of you decides to slam on their brakes.
Lights and More
Lights seem to be the most common problem when it comes to boat trailers. Many trailer companies have strayed away from the old-school bulb lights, converting over to waterproof LED’s. If you haven’t made the switch, it’s never a bad idea. Prices are lower than ever for LED’s, I recently picked up a pair for $20 on Amazon.com.
When hooking up lights, BE SURE to use heat-shrink butt connectors. These will create a seal, not allowing water into the connection, preventing corrosion. These are a common reason for trailer light failure, and a cheap fix. Fuses are another common failure point. These typically pop when the trailer is not grounded well. Be sure there is no corrosion and the ground wire is secured well. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you make have a short throughout the trailer. It’s a good idea to keep both butt connectors and fuses on hand at all times.