You waited 6 months for the right weather, the time off from work and a special friend to share the day. On the way to the boat launch, you heard a noise and felt a jerking of the trailer. With smoke coming from the right trailer wheel, you had the sickening feeling that there would be no fishing today. So how can we avoid the disappointment of a broken trailer? Care of a boat or utility trailer will include the tires, axle alignment, bearings and seals, brakes, wiring and lights.
Tires will age and deteriorate from exposure to sunlight. Often trailer tires will need to be changed, even if they still have sufficient tread. Tires over 5-7 years old should be inspected for surface cracking, sidewall bulges or uneven wear patterns. Maintaining proper inflation with nitrogen (available at most tire stores) will extend the life of the tires by reducing the destructive oxidation of regular compressed air. (For More Info - http://goo.gl/1LKIU1)
Trailer axles need to be checked for alignment. This includes the camber and toe-in of the wheels. Camber will be affected by weak springs, age of the axle or increased carrying load weight. Toe-in is the difference in measurement of the distance between the front of the tires and the rear edge. The tires need to be 1/16 – 1/8” inch closer in the front. Toe-in can be changed by hitting potholes on the roadway or “snagging” a curb when turning right in a parking lot. As little as a 1/4" change in toe-in can quickly destroy a tire. An experienced alignment technician can properly set the camber and toe-in for optimum tire wear.
Trailer hubs on boat trailers are always under assault from lake water intrusion when loading and unloading the boat. Inspect bearings annually for roughness or grinding noise and checking to see if the bearing grease has mixed with water. Grease takes on a milky appearance when contaminated by water. Rough or noisy bearings need to be replaced. Clean all bearing and hub surfaces and reassemble with fresh grease and new axle seals. (For More Info - http://goo.gl/pq2jOR)
Trailer brakes can suffer from long periods of inactivity as moisture corrodes drums, pads and control mechanisms. Inspect, clean, lubricate and adjust.
Safe use of a trailer is dependent on other vehicles properly seeing your actions when hauling. Side marker lights are vital at night. Brake lights and signals will prevent a rear end collision. Inspect all lights for broken lenses, burned bulbs, corroded wiring or broken grounding wires.
Maintenance before the fishing trip can guarantee a safe travel and fish in the box. Happy trailering!