The boat trailer is often overlooked when it comes to maintaining your boat. With so much exposure to salt and water, it is crucial to ensure that your trailer is in top working order so you can enjoy a great day out on the water.
In this post, we're going to examine the most important aspects of boat trailer maintenance.
One of the most important parts to check regularly on your boat trailer is the wheel bearings. It is essential to lubricate the wheel bearings regularly with good quality marine grease. If you submerge the wheel bearings when launching or retrieving your boat, there is a good chance water will work its way into the bearing cavity, which will ultimately cause them to fail. Using bearing protectors is a great way to help prevent water entering your wheel bearings. Also give the bearings a chance to cooldown a little after driving to the ramp. Heat from the bearings can create a vacuum when submerged into cold water, sucking water into the bearing cavity.
There are two quick ways to check if your wheel bearings need replacing.
First, jack the
trailer up so that the wheel can spin freely. If it rotates with ease on the
axle without any noise, the bearings are in good working order.
Second, with the wheel of the ground, place a hand on either side of the wheel and push and pull on the wheel. If you notice any movement, it is a sure sign that the wheel bearing needs adjusting or replacing.
Galvanising trailers creates a layer of protection against rust. Yet continuous exposure to salt will eventually eat away at the protective layer, resulting in development of rust. Hosing the trailer off with water will remove some of the salt, however, to get all the salt off, you need to use some additives containing salt removing properties. Make certain that you wash off the boat trailer regularly to extend the life of your boat trailer.
We recommend using Star Brite’s Salt Remover to wash off buildup of salt as well as leaving a protective PTEF film to prevent future salt damage. Spray the salt remover solution onto the trailer and let it soak for a few minutes before hosing off with water.
Don’t forget to flush out the inside of the frame as well, as salt can create corrosion from the inside. Rust on the frame is a common killer for boat trailers. Another important part that is often forgotten is the brake discs and calipers. Make certain that you wash out the brake discs and calipers to increase the life of the brake pads, discs and calipers.
Check for rust on brackets and leaf springs. Rust will damage the integrity of your trailer parts. We recommend spraying anti-corrosion lubricants on leaf springs after washing the trailer. Lanoline products are great for this.
Lights are another part of the trailer that often gives trouble. Most trailer lights today are LED, but this does not mean all lights are submersible. We have a wide range of submersible led lights. Some of them are available with 8 meters of cable attached meaning there is no need to join wires at the back of the trailer. Joins at the back of the trailer can be trouble as they are always getting wet, leading to corrosion and connection failure.
The number one reason for trailers breaking down is flat tyres. Before leaving on a trip, check the tyre pressure on your trailer tyres. Low pressure will cause excess sidewall flex and buildup of heat. Also check for low tread and sidewall cracks caused by age and deterioration.
Always keep a spare tyre for the trailer on your spare wheel carrier for emergencies.
What state are your rollers in? Check your rollers for wear-and-tear to see if they need replacing. Worn rollers make it harder to retrieve your boat and can potentially scratch and damage. Rollers need to be replaced at different intervals depending on the amount of use and the type of material the roller is made of. Black rollers are made from rubber and are gentler on boats but can wear out a lot faster. They may also leave black marks behind, especially on fiberglass boats. Red polyurethane rollers are recommended for fiberglass hulls and have greater longevity than the black ones, and will not leave any marks behind. The blue rollers are made from polypropylene and are the firmest and longest lasting. However, these are only recommended for aluminium hulls as they can cause damage to fibreglass boats. If your trailer also has wobble rollers, the colors of these does not follow the logic above. All of the wobble rollers in our range are suitable for all boat types. The colored rollers are normally used to match colors on the boat.
Unfortunately, theft of boat trailers occurs with trailers at the boat ramp being an easy target. Even storing the trailer and boat in the front yard is risky if not secured properly. Boating & RV recommend using Klamp It Wheel Clamps when storing trailers in easily accessible areas. These anti-theft devices have the stamp of approval from the insurance industry and only take 30 seconds to fit. They are a cheap investment for peace-of-mind.
With proper and regular maintenance of your trailer, you can ensure a longer lifespan saving you expensive repairs and upgrades, as well as a safe and care-free ride.