Trailering your Boat
Trailering can add new dimensions to the sense of freedom that comes with boating and that's one of the reason's it is so popular. With a trailerable boat you're free to boat just about anywhere. Trailering is a great way to explore different waterways in your state or region. Using a boat trailer is also the most affordable way to store a boat.
There are several things you need to consider. First is the towing capacity of your car, truck or SUV. You can find this information in your vehicle's owner's manual. Generally, small family sedans are not safe options for towing, although a small, aluminum fishing boat may not present a problem, provided you have appropriate towing equipment installed on the car. Most standard pick-up trucks and SUVs can tow boats up to 26 feet, but again, consult your vehicle owner's manual for limitations.
- Before hooking up to the trailer, make sure your tow vehicle is full of oil and fuel. Remember, it is a lot easier to fuel your tow vehicle at a gas station without a boat and trailer attached. You should also make sure the vehicle has plenty of water in the radiator and fluid in the transmission. Towing a large load can often times heat up a motor and strain a transmission. If you haven't already done so, look into installing a transmission cooler on your tow vehicle.
- Check the tow vehicle's tires for proper inflation. If you have a dual wheeled vehicle make sure there aren't any "hidden" flats.
- Connect the safety chains, and if equipped, attach the safety brake chain.
- Before starting out on a trip, practice turning, stopping and backing up your trailer in an area away from traffic. Make sure your mirrors give you ample vision around both sides of the boat and trailer and if not, look into getting modified mirrors for your tow vehicle.
- Check the trailer's turn signal, running and brake lights.
- Check the trailer's tires and make sure the lug nuts are tightened. A partially flat trailer tire will heat up and eventually disintegrate. And, losing a wheel can prove to be disastrous, especially if the loose wheel strikes another vehicle.
- Double check that the boat is secured properly to the trailer.
- Check the reservoir on the trailer's surge brakes.
- Check the trailer's connection to the hitch to make sure it is fastened properly and latched. A pin, such as a cotter pin or a bolt should be placed through the latch itself to prevent it from coming loose or being undone by vandals while the vehicle is parked.
- Check to make sure the trailer ball on your tow vehicle matches the coupler on your trailer. The three major sizes of trailer balls are: 1-7/8", 2", and 2-5/16". Make sure the ball is fastened properly to the tow vehicle and that the mounting will handle the capacity equal to or greater than the weight of the trailer and boat. If you have a receiver type hitch, make sure the insert (the bar the ball attaches to) is secured with a retaining pin and that it has a locking clevis pin on it.
- Consult your state towing laws. Laws differ somewhat from state to state and often are based on weight and beam.
Boat Trailer Maintenance
Trailer hubs and lights get dunked twice every time you go boating. You need to pamper them as you would your boat- this is an essential element of boat trailer maintenance.
Do an occasional inspection by popping off the cap with a screwdriver. If the bearings are dry, add grease. It's simple. If your trailer has the new oil bath hubs simply look at the oil level and color in the view window. If you notice that it is low or discolored refill.
Conduct routine maintenance by having a friend or family member occasionally stand behind your trailer and make sure the brake lights, taillights and turn signals are in good working order.
As with your boat, a thorough freshwater wash down of your trailer after each use will extend the life of your hubs and lights. It's also a great boat maintenance idea to invest in a spare wheel, just in case.