Marine News from the Great Lakes

Safety First: Check Your Trailer Before Hauling This Fall

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017

Given that this issue highlights hauling, winterizing, and storage, I thought I would generate some good information for you readers to apply before pulling the boat this fall and putting it on the trailer.

Safety is the most important aspect when it comes to hauling your boat. The consequence of cutting corners in terms of payload ratings, maintenance, and a wellness check of your trailer can be catastrophic. Too often, boaters focus on the health and well-being of their beloved boat, but fail to ensure their trailer is in good condition to safely tow it.

A few key items to check before hitting the road this fall:

Check the tires for dry rot, pitting, uneven wear, tread, etc. Always tighten your lug nuts and be sure to set the tire pressure to the correct specifications.

  • Inspect your trailer for structural, internal, or excessive external rust. If your trailer is made of aluminum I-beam, check the points of contact between the aluminum frame and galvanized cross-members and axles for electrolysis. You want to make sure your trailer is structurally sound from inside, out.
  • Inspect and grease your bearings. Be sure to get rid of excess grease before putting your rubber plug/cap back on the trailer. You will want to be sure to grease all the bearings before tucking your trailer away for the winter to remove any built up condensation from within.
  • Check your brake pads/shoes and ensure all brakes, lights, and wiring harnesses are functioning properly.
  • Always make sure your boat’s loaded weight does not exceed the Payload (not GVWR) of the trailer!
  • Be sure to tie your boat down properly to the trailer in both the front and the back.
  • If you store your trailer outside, be sure to cover your trailer’s tires and wheels, winch strap, etc. to prevent dry rot. This is a key factor in getting the longest life possible out of your tires and ensuring your winch strap does not shred from dry rot due to constant sun exposure.
  • It is always a good idea to check all of the bunks/rollers/screwpads on your trailer to ensure they are all tight and secure.  Also, check your bunks for any signs of rotting or split wood.

By no means is this article all-inclusive of all the possible safety checks required to properly take care of and service your trailer. However, it is a good starting point. The trailer underneath your boat is similar to the foundation underneath your house. You want to be sure it is strong, reliable, and designed to keep you safe - all while protecting your larger investment!

Happy Boating! I hope to see you on the water!

Have a question on trailering or boat trailers? Please feel free to email me at [email protected].

tags: Boating 101, Safety, Trailers

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