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Boat Trailer Maintenance 101

You take great care of your truck and shiny, sleek boat, so they're ready for anything. But what about your boat trailer? Maintenance is equally necessary for it, otherwise you and your family could get stuck waiting for help to arrive because it had a mechanical breakdown. Could you prevent that from happening? Most often, that answer is YES. With regular boat trailer maintenance, you can rest assured it will stay in good working order for a long time.

Basic Trailer Maintenance Before You Leave Home

You probably know when you'll be taking the boat out on the water, so take a little time before you pull out of the driveway to do some preventative trailer maintenance. There are several items to inspect to make sure you're safe and ready for your trip. Here is a start to creating a personalized trailer maintenance checklist:

  • Check the hitch ball: If you only use one, be sure to check for rust or cracks that could lead to bigger problems later. If you use a multi-sided hitch ball, be certain the correct size is in position.
  • Check the transom: Want to protect your boat's transom? Then you should know the transom takes a different kind of stress riding on the trailer than it does in the water. You need to have a transom saver, also called a motor brace, at the ready. Connect it now before you forget.
  • Check those lights: Be sure every light is functioning properly and there is no visible damage. Check the brake lights (with a helper). Every trailer maintenance checklist should list the types of lights you have in case you need to buy replacement parts.
  • Check the bow eye and winch strap hook: Make sure the bolts are tight and you can easily grip the bough eye to maneuver the boat for launching and retrieving. The winch strap hook should be locked down tightly.
  • Check for invasive species: Know the exotic water plants and mussels common to your area, and be sure none have found a home on your trailer. This should be checked again before you leave the lake for home.
  • Check and protect the coupler: You want to criss-cross the chains under the hitch. The chain on the right side of the trailer should connect to the hitch's left side and vice-versa. This will protect the coupler from hitting the road surface in the event of an accident.
  • Check for loose items: Anything not stashed in a cabinet or strapped down should be secured before leaving. Make sure weight is evenly distributed on the boat for better and safer handling on the road.
  • Check the Bimini top: If your boat has a Bimini top, fold and secure it before driving off.
  • Check the tires: Inspect the trailer tires for wear and damage, and inflate them to the correct psi while they are cold. Once home, place a flat piece of wood or rubber under the trailer tires, or put tire covers around them. They can be damaged sitting on the ground under the boat's weight for an extended period.
  • Check the chocks: Be sure they're with you if you own a pair. If you don't, buy them, they're back-savers!
  • Check your tools: Make yourself a tool kit with emergency flares and reflectors, a four-way lug wrench, tarp, trailer jack, tire-puncture kit and an air pump. Be sure to have a spare drain plug among them.

General Trailer Maintenance

When you plan a boating trip, you may not think too much about boat trailer maintenance between your home and the water. But there are a few things to consider that will make your life easier:

  • Check the wheel bearings: You can do this when you stop for a bathroom break or to get gasoline. See if the bearings are overly hot to the touch. Carry a set of spare wheel bearings just in case they need to be replaced before your trip is over.
  • Check for trailer room: As you approach an unknown parking lot at a gas station or convenience store, make sure parking is accessible for your vehicle and trailer. See if there's room to maneuver as well as an exit you can navigate. If not, keep going and stop somewhere else.
  • Check that fuel gauge: You're probably going to stop at a gas station or convenience store at some point along your route. But don't fill up on gasoline until you get close to your destination. Gasoline weighs about six pounds per gallon. That's a lot of extra weight on the trailer, and your vehicle will get lousy mileage.

Routine Boat Trailer Maintenance Tips

Boat trailer maintenance begins with prevention, so you'll need to inspect the unburdened trailer for several things:

  • Check the bunks: Look for wear and tear or bald spots on the bunks that could scrape the boat's surface or cause it to sway when moving. Replace any worn bunks immediately.
  • Check the rollers: They should all move freely and provide your boat easy launching and retrieving. You can replace the rubber ones with poly rollers for better overall performance.
  • Check the axles: Potholes, corrosion, overloading and general wear all hit your trailer axles hard. Fortunately, they can take a lot of abuse. You'll want to check these every season or two. You do NOT want an axle breaking on the turnpike!
  • Check the frame: Everything rides on it. It has to perform flawlessly! Look for rusty, sagging or broken weld joints. A frame-straightening and welding expert should handle this. Not for home-repair.
  • Check the tires and lugs: Although inspected for general wear and tear before a trip, you'll have a better look at them without the boat. Be sure to check for straightness — remember that curb you hit?
  • Check the brakes: Look for low fluid levels, corrosion, crimped brake lines and worn shoes or pads. The rotors or drums may need replacing if the pads or shoes have cut grooves into their surfaces.

Boat Trailer Winch Maintenance & Servicing

When you're launching and retrieving your boat, or driving down the highway with your boat in tow, you rely on your winch system to hold your boat steady. You need to keep that winch system in good working order, and we've got the parts and supplies you need to do just that.

From winch connectors to electric winches, winch remotes and much more, Husky Trailer & Parts Co. has the parts you need at the prices you'll love!


Your Personalized Trailer Maintenance Checklist

Perhaps the best trailer maintenance checklist is the one you make yourself. You can use the checklist we've given you here and add in more points as you become a seasoned boat trailer pro.

You're also going to want to add a "parts needed" section. Feel free to add them when you first make the checklist or as you go along, and keep the part numbers on hand so it's easy to reorder them. Remember, Husky Trailer & Parts Co. has everything you need for boat trailer maintenance. We'd love to hear from you, so contact us or call 936-295-9900 if you have any questions.