Safety & Maintenance Of Your Boat Trailer

Boat trailer maintenance is an essential part of your yearly routine and is best done before and after the boating season. There are also several things to check for during or before each time you take your trailer out on the road. Neglecting to follow the rules of trailer maintenance and safety can lead to disaster and can even be deadly.


Let’s begin with a rundown or checklist of things to check before heading out onto the road:

  • Ensure your trailers safety chains are crossed and in good mechanical order. No rust or loose connection bolts

  • Jack up that trailer tongue. Make sure it’s locked away or folded up completely. Neglect this and it could catch on a bump or uneven surface and possibly cause your trailer come loose.

  • Torque all the bolts on the wheels to 85 lbs. Check this religiously.

  • Ensure that all tie-down or transom straps are properly attached to your boat. Make sure they are rot free and strong.

  • Check the tire pressure on your boat trailer. Remember, they must be inflated to around 50 psi, which is much higher than your vehicle tires. This is too stop the trailer from bouncing unnecessarily.

  • Check you trailer lights and ensure they work in unison with those of your vehicle.

  • If your trailer has it’s own brakes, test them at home, not on the road.

  • Never use a trailer ball that doesn’t fit the hitch perfectly. Even the smallest play in tolerance can be intensified at speed and under load.

Proper Maintenance Of Your Boat Trailer

  • If you fish in salt water, then corrosion is a major worry. Ensure you spray down the entire trailer with fresh water after dunking it in the salty stuff. The same goes for your boat engine and fishing gear!

  • Spray all on-galvanized parts on your trailer with a rust inhibitor, reapplying regularly to keep the parts rust-free.

  • Your trailer runs on wheels with small ball bearings. These bearings require a tight seal and grease. If you notice a milky discharge coming from the bearing, chances are that water has contaminated the inside. This means you need to strip off the seal, flush the bearing and repack with a thick, tough marine grease. Do not add too much grease or the bearing seal will not sit tightly.

  • I fish in the south, where this is a lot of sun, so I spray my trailer tires with Armor All or a UV protectant for rubber. This will keep your tires from drying out and cracking, adding to the longevity of the contact surfaces.

  • If storing your trailer, place it up on blocks or axle stands to ensure your tires are not rotting or getting flat spotted from sitting in one place for time.

  • If your trailer has it’s own braking system, ensure that the brake fluid is topped up and clean. Also check the brake lines for weak points as they can rust easily, especially in a salty environment. It is a good practice to coat the brake lines in waterproof paint or other sealant to keep the salt water from getting inside the mesh casing.

  • If possible, keep your trailer wiring out of the water by elevating them or placing them inside a waterproof conduit.

  • Unplug trailer lights before entering the water, as having them running under water will speed up corrosion ten fold.

  • Ensure your trailers weight rating and your vehicles tow rating are in accordance with the load you plan on pulling. Failure to meet the guidelines will result in an unbalanced load where the trailer is able to push or pull your vehicle. Overweight towing also puts immense strain on your vehicles suspensions, engine, transmission and brakes. This will cause excessive wear and can lead to you needing to replace your vehicle sooner than wanted.

Following these simple guidelines can help ensure your boating experience is safe, enjoyable and cost effective in the long run. No point in wasting money on trailer repair when it wouldn’t have broken with proper preventative.