Trailer maintenance tips

Written on 07/07/2024
Bud Fields, Outdoors with Bud

I just wanted to share some important suggestions with you about preparing your trailer for use. Many people will neglect their trailer and just take for granted that everything is fine. Then, when they least expect it, they pull out of their driveway and head for the lake and experience a breakdown. I am discussing a boat trailer, but the same applies for a utility trailer or a camping trailer.

The trailer is the most commonly overlooked consideration, but I consider it the most important item. You have to consider the fact it has to transport and carry your boat from Point A to Point B. I highly recommend you check, repair or replace any item that appears to be worn or distressed.

For instance, tires need to be properly inflated, balanced, and have excellent tread. I recommend carrying a reliable tire gauge and use it before you leave the driveway. If you notice any unusual defect in the tread or the sidewalls, take care of that issue.

Check the valve stems for dry rotting or cracking. Be sure to have your spare checked and ready for any emergency. I also recommend having a good four-way lug wrench and a small floor jack for changing a tire along the side of a road.

Inspect and lubricate the suspension, hitch, and other towing components. Check the springs for weak leaves, and I also recommend you have the axle/axles checked for proper alignment and straightened if necessary.

Check and use some WD40 or other lubricant on any moving part, such as side rollers on the trailer for loading and unloading your boat and check the trailer tongue jack for proper grease content.

While you are at it, check the electrical wiring. It seems like the "light gremlins" have a great time cursing your wiring during the off-season. Check your wires for not being corroded, and if they are, clean them off and check all connections on the couplers of the trailer and tow vehicle.

I suggest you apply some electrical grease or lubricant to the connectors and be sure to inspect the ground wire. If you need to replace any bulbs, do so before you leave.

If you have a boat trailer, also check the bunk boards that have a tendency to rot and crack from being submerged in water as you load and unload your boat. Most trailer bunk boards are covered with carpet and damage will go undetected. Inspect your trailer safety chains as well.

Wheel bearing assemblies are notorious for going bad. The tires and wheels go underwater, and wheel bearing, races, and grease cups have a tendency to rust and deteriorate and can be responsible for going out on the road. I suggest checking your wheel bearings a couple times a season.

I have added "Bearing Buddies" to my wheels so I can attach the grease gun to the zert and add wheel bearing grease to the system in a short amount of time, eliminating a lot of issues.

You also need to also have your trailer license plates and registration available at all times. And I suggest replacing the trailer hitch ball every two or three years and check the hitch ball for proper tightness before leaving your driveway.

Pulling a trailer of any kind can be nerve-wracking, and it takes a period of time to get used to towing one. Backing a trailer can be a nightmare, so I highly recommend connecting and disconnecting a trailer several times to get used to the task. Practice backing a trailer, and you will enjoy it so much more. You can eliminate a lot of issues and problems before you get on the road.