boatJuly and August are active months to take your boat on the road. Many boaters take their beloved boats and families to vacation destinations in the summer. This is the time to fish, dive, and snorkel or to just plain have fun. These trips usually take weeks of preparation getting the boat and gear in order, lodging secure and coordinating with friends that may be traveling with you. While all this planning is necessary for a successful vacation, one area that many mariners forget about is the service and maintenance required on their trailers before taking a journey out on the open road and trust me, the last thing you want to be involved with is a broken down trailer on the side of I-95. Trailer maintenance is not difficult do perform and if you follow these tips your chances for an event free time spent on the road will be hugely increased.

Boat trailers are a vital part of any boat package and are responsible for taking you and your boat safely in and out of the water. The trailer is also the place that a boat spends the bulk of its time during any given season, so why would you not want to take extra good care of it and its components? In addition to the routine washing of the trailer after each use, making sure your trailer is ready for the open road requires a little more attention.

First, take a few minutes to inspect the trailer just as it sits paying close attention to areas that are discolored or rusty as these could be problem spots. Now inspect both visually and with a gloved hand the U-bolts that support the trailer bunks and springs. You’re checking for excessive rusting or bolts that may be missing nuts, the glove will protect your hands from sharp metal that is normally present with U-bolts. While you’re under the boat checking the U-bolts also take a good look at the trailer springs. Springs are made of regular steel and will shown signs of rusting regardless of how old they are. You just want to make sure they aren’t missing chunks of the leafs or excessive rusting has taken place. Should you find any bolts or springs that are suspect to having a short life span, get them changed before the trip without exception.

Trailer hubs are located behind the tire and rim and contain the bearings that that allow the wheel to roll. These hubs will need to be inspected and greased before any trip and should be performed at least every 2-3 months. First jack up the trailer and remove the tire and wheel exposing the hub assembly. Look for signs of excessive grease leaking from either the front or back side of the hub indicating a seal failure. Located in the center of the hub is a zerk fitting for a grease gun. Using marine grade grease, apply about pump into the fitting or until the front rubber seal is full; remember overfilling is not a good thing and can cause other problems. After greasing re-inspect for any signs of leaking grease, if this is noted have them inspected by a certified repair facility. While the tire is off add grease to the studs that hold the tire on as this will make it easier to remove and prevent corrosion in the future. Check the air pressure in each tire to assure correct PSI.

Finally, you want to pay attention to the lights. While your vehicle is hooked to the trailer and the wiring harness is connected, turn your vehicles key to the run position and check each of the light functions. These functions include running lights, brake, turn and any marker lights that may be present. Having spare bulbs is also a good idea to carry along just in the event one bulb happens to fail.

Once you’ve performed each of these checks and you are satisfied of the results, you can rest easier when you travel hundreds of miles away from home with your boat in tow.