Maintenance tips for your boat trailer
Last updated: January 1
If you own a boat, there’s a good chance you also own a boat trailer. You likely use that trailer to get your boat to and from various waterways and into and out of the water, and it may also be how you store the boat while it’s not in use. To help keep your boat trailer in good repair, consider these maintenance tips:
Check the tires
Between the miles traveled, the weight they're carrying and exposure to the elements, your trailer's tires can take a beating. Before you hitch that trailer up and head out, it's important to check its tires over thoroughly. Boating Magazine recommends that you:
- Check tire pressure. Make sure the tires are filled to the recommended air pressure, which is typically noted on the tire's sidewall. If the pressure is too low, it may lead to tire failure due to excessive flexing and heat buildup. Salt Water Sportsman says you should also check the pressure on spare tires.
- Inspect tire tread and sidewalls. If you notice bulges, separation or cracks, it's time to replace the tire. You should also look for dry rot, says Salt Water Sportsman.
- Have the tires balanced. To help prevent uneven wear and to keep the tires moving smoothly, get them balanced regularly.
Maintain wheel hubs and bearings
Your trailer's wheel hubs are submerged into water every time you put the boat into the water and every time you pull it out again, which can make them vulnerable to corrosion. Discover Boating says this is why it's very important to check and maintain the hubs and wheel bearings. To help keep these in working order:
- Rinse the trailer with fresh water, including the hubs, after it has been in saltwater, says Discover Boating.
- At the beginning of boating season, take apart the wheel bearings. If you see signs of overheating (you'll notice discoloration on the race, which is the surface the bearings spin against) or other wear, replace them, says Boating Magazine.
- Grease the bearings to help protect them, says Boating Magazine.
Protect the axles
The axles on your trailer are also vulnerable to rust and corrosion, which could cause them to eventually fail. If you see rust stains or bubbling paint on your axles, Boating Magazine recommends:
- Use a wire brush or angle grinder to scrape off surface rust.
- For pitted metal, use a rust inhibitor and then cover it with top coat.
- Replace the axle if the rust has gone deeper than the metal's surface.
Other parts to check
There are some other trailer parts you should inspect throughout the boating season. To keep up with overall maintenance:
- Replace torn bunk carpeting, says BoatTrader.com.
- Check the headlights, taillights, turn signals and brake lights before each trip, says Discover Boating.
- Grease the coupler and tongue jack several times during the boating season, says BoatTrader.com.
- Make sure the trailer brakes are working before you start any trip, says Salt Water Sportsman.
Your boat trailer is an essential part of your boating season. With a little maintenance, you can keep it running well so that you can spend more time on the water.