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Boat Trailer Maintenance Considerations

Most times, the last things that get any TLC is our boat trailers. Without them, getting from one lake to another would be nearly impossible. For the most part they don’t need much maintenance but when something does go wrong, it’s often expensive. 

General maintenance of the trailer should be ongoing, but once a year—at least—there are a few things worth doing.

Below are a few things I do to make sure my trailer lasts.

Inspect the trailer when purchasing a boat

Most are designed exclusively for the boat, but manufacturers often look at them as an afterthought, too. Little things like lights and wiring should be inspected out of the gate. I personally always want LED trailer lights. They can be dipped in the water without fear of burning out a bulb, they use less power and are much brighter. Request LEDs whenever possible. 

Check the trailer plug-in periodically for wear and nicks

I use wire wrap on the wiring between the trailer and the tow vehicle for added protection. It is inexpensive and can assure that wear and tear is reduced. If your trailer has brakes, the plug can either be a 4 or 5 plug end. Even on a new boat, I give the plug a small dab of dielectric grease on each connector. If you don’t have dielectric grease, a small amount of Lucas Marine Grease on a Q-Tip works equally well. 

Don’t forget the plug-in on the tow vehicle, either. Round adapter plugs need a shot of Tool Box Buddy or light oil a few times per year both on the plug and the receiver. 

Make sure to check the truck receiver and ball

A shot of Tool Box Buddy on both the male and female side of the receiver will keep it from rusting and can take some of the noise out of the hitch too. I lightly coat the mail end of the receiver with marine grease a couple times each year and will sand and give it a fresh coat of paint each winter. Make sure the ball is oiled as it provides ground for the trailer. I will spray paint the inside of the female end and do the same thing with the hitch on the trailer. Lubrication means less corrosion. 

Lubricate the trailer wheel

Marine grease and a good shot of silicone spray on both the wheel assembly and the wheel itself makes it easier to maneuver in the garage and parking lot. Routinely check the winch assembly and the winch strap for wear at this time as well. Tighten anything loose and a little light oil can go a long way. 

I spray the bunks of the trailer a few times a year with Slick Mist. It allows the boat to slide on and off easier and will keep mildew, grass and mussels from attaching to it. It will also keep the carpet fresh longer allowing it to last. Check the bolts on both the bottom and side bunks now and again and do not overtighten when wet. That will cause them to wallow out from vibration. 

Always use a motor-totor and rod buckles

This takes the vibration out of the two components and gives it a single feel pulled down the road. Silicone the retractable rod buckles, too. The totor takes pressure off the transom from the weight of the engine and keeps you from scarring the skeg.

Cross members should be coated

Bed liner or flex-type coatings are a great fit and can be color matched. After they are sprayed with color, a can of quick-drying clear enamel will lock in the color and add to the protection. Make sure the flex coating is dry before applying. 

Additional considerations

Make sure your bearings are packed or greased at least once per year and it’s good to check them throughout the fishing season. Check tires for wear and pressure and check your spare for tire pressure at the same time. Low pressure can cause the tires to wear faster. 

Costs to maintain a trailer are minimal but watching over it can eliminate a bad experience traveling to your favorite fishing spot. I always carry a can of Fix-a-Flat, wheel wrench and tools in my Leer Locker, too. It’s always better to be prepared than stranded along the road.