Maintaining Your Boat Trailer
The parts of a boat trailer were covered in detail in our boat trailer parts section, this page being devoted to how these parts need to be maintained, the advice here being particularly important if you are using your boat on the sea.
Wash your trailer down after every use, especially if this was in saltwater, and make sure you do this every time. Rinse every part of the trailer with lots of fresh water, concentrating on the suspension and behind the road wheels. If you have a trailer with a brake flushing system, then use this as saltwater is very corrosive and will stay inside the road wheels far longer than you think. Taking the time to rinse your trailer will greatly prolong it's life.
Protect your trailer hardware with an Anti Corrosion spray, spraying the nuts, bolts, leaf-springs, winch gears and all other hardware.
It is also recommended that you have your trailer serviced at least once a year, boat trailers needing far more maintenance than others due to the way they are used (in water).
Protecting Your Trailer Lights
This should be obvious but remember to disconnect and remove your light board prior to launching. Failure to do this could result in blowing fuses or shorting circuits.
Protecting Your Wheels and Brakes
The basic advice above covered the fact that any saltwater needs to be flushed out of the wheels and brakes, but it is also vitally important to keep the wheel bearings in good order. These days, with bearings becoming so cheap, it can be good idea to replace them every year. But if you want to improve the life of your bearings, then please see our advice on using your trailer section. Remember, when you have been driving that the bearings should be no hotter than a good cup of tea, any hotter and that is a sign of trouble. With the advent of sealed for life units the bearings are either working or they are not. Lift the wheel off the ground and give it a spin – if it grumbles consider changing it.
The wheel nuts also need attention, make sure you apply plenty of WD40 (or similar) frequently here, as there is nothing worse than trying to replace a flat tyre (in the rain) when you can't remove the wheel nuts. That said check wheel nuts and all other fixings to ensure they are done up to the correct torque.
Remember to keep the tyres at the right pressure, trailer tyres are built differently to those for cars, more often than not needing to be kept at a higher pressure. Failure to keep your tyres properly inflated will result in excessive tyre wear (both the tread and side walls) and can also be extremely dangerous.
On a side note, remember too that sunlight degrades rubber, as does being in contact with the ground, so, if you are going to be storing your trailer for some time, consider jacking it up and removing the wheels, or at the very least, shading the tyres from the sun.
The Tie Downs and Tie Straps
Always use tie down straps, these inexpensive ratchet-type straps are the main way of securing your boat to it's trailer, so use as many as necessary and keep a close eye on them for wear and tear. Your boat should be secured with many of these straps and always make sure that the transom and the bow (this even if your winch strap is being used - your winch strap is not a tie down strap!) are well and truly strapped up. Besides the obvious safety aspects, many find that their boats tow better with straps than without.
Advice on Using Your Boat Trailer
Before setting off on your journey:-
- make sure that the trailer is loaded properly and that the load is balanced
(remember don't exceed the hitch weight for your towing vehicle)
- check that the boat is fastened securely to the trailer and that it cannot move up, down, forwards or backwards
- be sure to attach the 'break away cable' from the trailer to the towing vehicle (as otherwise you may well receive up to 4 points on your driving licence)
- check your trailer lights
- check that your number plate is attached and is visible
- check that your tyres are undamaged and pumped up to the correct pressure
- make sure that the jockey wheel is lifted and secured
- check your mudguards as these must cover the wheels (a legal requirement)
- make sure that you have a bag over your boats propeller (another legal requirement)
And when you have been driving for a while:-
- Double check all of the above, plus see how hot the wheel bearings have got, too warm and it is a sign of trouble ahead
Also remember that there is a maximum speed limit when towing, 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways (unless there are signs to the contrary). If you are thinking of towing abroad it is best to check on any local laws and speed limits before you go.
The issue of 'snaking' is something that haunts the mind of anyone who has ever towed, as if this gets out of hand the trailer (and its precious load) will eventually part company with the towing vehicle, the result more often than not being disastrous to say the least. So, if your trailer starts to snake when on a level road take your foot off the accelerator and thus slowly bring your speed down, DO not touch the brakes. If however you are driving down a hill then drop a gear and accelerate in order to pull the trailer straight. In both cases, once you have the trailer safely under control it is best to stop and work out why the reason for the snaking, making adjustments to the trailer's load as needed.
And when you have reached your destination:-
- When you arrive allow at least 10-20 minutes to prepare the boat before going into the water, this entailing removing the straps, insert bungs etc. You will also need to check over the boat and to put your personal boating kit on.
- Only then is it time to disconnect the electrics, remove the lighting board and to push the trailer into the water. This delay achieves three things; firstly it ensures that the trailer spends as little time as possible in the (salt) water and secondly it allows time for the bearings and brakes to cool, before they get submerged. This is important, as if the bearings are still hot then the grease inside them is more viscous and can easily find its way past seals in the bearings, thus substantially reducing their life. The third element is that it gives you time to do all of the above properly and not get carried away with the joy of launching your boat. This is one instance where taking that little bit of extra time can really pay dividends later on.
SBS Boat Trailers
At SBS boats we can refurbish your boat trailer, using original parts
(we can repair Snipe, Indespension and Bramber trailers amongst others), but can also advise if it is more cost effective to buy a new trailer, and if this is case, can supply you with a top quality trailer at very reasonable prices (see our choosing a new boat trailer advice page)..
SBS can therefore:-
- provide a quote to see how much it would cost to refurbish / repair your existing trailer
- offer competitive prices on a new trailer
Some of the boats and boat suppliers our trailers are used for today:-