If you’re a boat owner, you probably take good care of it.  However, you may not give your trailer as much thought.  Here are some tips for keeping your trailer as well as your boat in tip-top shape.

One essential element of trailer maintenance is to occasionally inspect the grease fittings on the hubs.  Hubs and lights are submerged in water twice each time you go boating, after all.  To check the grease fittings, remove the rubber cap if there is one, and try to rock the fitting back and forth.  If it moves, you probably need more grease, which can be quickly and inexpensively added at any garage.  It’s also smart, when hauling your boat, to stop periodically and give the wheel hubs a quick pat—but be careful, they may be hot.  If they’re too hot to touch, you definitely need grease, and possibly a replacement.

Lights and signals are important for safety, and repeated submersion can damage them eventually.  Checking your lights should be a routine part of maintenance.  Simply have a friend or family member stand behind your trailer while you turn on turn signals and headlights, and step on the brakes to check brake lights. If anything doesn’t work, replace it before you take your trailer on the open road. 

Trailers never come with a jack, and some don’t come with a spare tire.  This can be a real problem if you have a flat.  Make sure you invest in a spare, and if you plan on using your car’s jack and tire tool, make sure the jack will lift the trailer and boat, and that the tire tool fits the lug nuts and will loosen them. 

Salt water, just like winter road salt, can be damaging to vehicles.  If you boat in salt water, rinse your trailer thoroughly to remove salt; brakes, axles, hubs and bunk mounts need special attention.  And to keep your boat from sustaining any damage, give the trailer a thorough inspection after unloading to make sure the padding isn’t worn, or contaminated with grit or gravel that can scratch and mar your boat.

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