Boat Trailer Maintenance
Boat Trailer Maintenance
There’s little point in ensuring your boat is in mint condition if your means of getting it to the water is compromised.
Boat trailers deserve plenty of love. After all, when you consider the whole boating package it’s boat trailers that are the most vulnerable to corrosion. Over a period of time, rust and corrosion will eat your trailer from within unless washed thoroughly every time you launch the boat in salt water.
Many people store their boats away over winter, so while not in use, it’s a perfect time to inspect your boat trailer. Of course, this inspection involves more than checking for corrosion.
- Start by spending some time washing down the trailer frame after use, getting into all the little nooks and crannies as a little extra time spent here could save a lot of money in the long run. Thorough washing may not stop corrosion, but it will slow it down
- Consider using fit-for-purpose products for cleaning. These include Salt Away or Mac’s Salt-Enz which are salt killing solutions that come with dispensers that can be attached to your garden hose allowing you to spray deep into the box sections). Spray from both the front and rear of the trailer to penetrate the areas where salt can settle
- Keep your trailer brakes clean and have your brake pads or shoes inspected every few seasons. If you launch your boat in saltwater, it’s important to rinse the trailer brakes as soon as possible after you retrieve the boat. Also, keep an eye on the brake fluid reservoir in the master cylinder
- Check out the rollers for cracks and wear. Occasionally it might pay to spray some lube, into the joint of the pivot bar that holds the rollers
- Ensure trailer lights are in good working order. Unscrew and take off both sets of lens covers looking for blown bulbs and corrosion on exposed wiring. Corrosion can be mostly removed by spraying with a product like Inox. (By the way, according to Club Marine, one of the worst things you can do is paint directly over rust or corrosion, so avoid doing this at all costs). After a few hours give the wiring a scrub with an old stiff toothbrush. Rub a little Vaseline around the lens covers to seal them against water. Ensure joints and connections around light wiring are sealed and if you're unsure, take your trailer to a reliable mechanic. Keep the trailer light connection on your tow vehicle covered when not towing to prevent corrosion. It’s a good habit to check your trailer lights every time you hook it up for use
- The winch can also do with some basic maintenance. Apply some grease on the cogs and oil on the moving shafts a couple of times a year (including winter). Pull out all the winch rope and check to see if it needs replacing. Grease both internal sides of the rope drum while the rope is unwound as a lot of salt water comes in on the rope, which then lies against the drum causing it to rust
- The jockey wheel requires similar attention – ensure the main shaft and the mechanism it pivots on is always greased. Oil the handle knob and check the tyre for cracks where the shaft goes through (apply some grease to the shaft as well). If the tyre is an inflatable type keep it inflated
- It’s also important too that tow couplings are in proper working order. Grease and oil all moving parts and look inside the coupling for any wear that may prevent it locking down on the two balls. Check the bolts and welds holding the coupling to the trailer frame and check out the safety chain with its D-shackle
- Check your tyre pressure at least once a month and always carry a spare tyre. Some people mistakenly inflate their trailer tyres to the same level as their car tyres, but load weight and distribution differ. The recommended tyre pressure is engraved onto the ID plate on the drawbar of most trailers (otherwise talk to an expert at a tyre shop). Periodically check your tyres for wear too
- Use wheel bearing protectors, but as for checking your wheel bearings – we recommend this is a job best left to a mechanic. Put this on your “to-do” list
- Wheel nuts should be checked regularly to ensure that each nut is fitted to the correct torque setting. It is essential that wheel nuts should be re-torqued manually with a high-quality torque wrench after an initial run-in period of at least 50km.
For more in-depth instructions (especially for safety’s sake) regarding the points above Fishing.net.nz is an excellent port of call. Editor Grant Dixon’s advice is set out as a quick guide to six-monthly trailer health check-ups.
In this column, Grant (speaking from experience) points out that trailer issues may be as simple as all the air having rushed to the top of the tyre, but it could be something much worse: a failed wheel bearing, broken stub axle, locked brakes, or even a disintegrating trailer frame or towbar.
Trailer maintenance is not something to disregard. Failure to maintain your trailer can have dire consequences.
On average, seven people are killed and 45 seriously injured each year in New Zealand as a result of crashes involving a light vehicle towing a trailer, according to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA).
“Along with poor maintenance, among the leading causes of trailer-related accidents are ineffective or poorly fitted tow bars, overloading, and poor weight distribution,” Grant says. Drivers can do much to minimise the dangers with proper preparation and by following a few simple safety steps, he says. Remember, prevention trumps treatment. Taking note of the points mentioned above, and clicking on the suggested links, will equip boat owners with extensive trailer maintenance know-how.
Looking for the right cover on the water in New Zealand in 2021?
No matter what your plans are on the water in 2021, Mariner Insurance is here to support you. We have been offering Kiwis specialist marine insurance in New Zealand for over a decade with cover for all types of boats and watercraft. Just talk to us about what you’re doing on the water, and we can tailor one of our insurance policies to fit.
ArchiveOctober 2021 (4) September 2021 (4) August 2021 (4) July 2021 (4) June 2021 (4) May 2021 (4) April 2021 (5) March 2021 (5) February 2021 (5) January 2021 (4) December 2020 (3) November 2020 (7) October 2020 (2) July 2020 (1) April 2020 (1) September 2019 (1) February 2019 (3) January 2019 (1) December 2018 (2) October 2018 (2) July 2018 (1) June 2018 (1) May 2018 (2) March 2018 (2) February 2018 (1) December 2017 (1) October 2017 (1) September 2017 (1) August 2017 (1)
Other articles you might be interested in
It’s every boaty’s nightmare and is unfortunately the cause of many insurance claims.
The good news is, boat insurance in New Zealand is a lot cheaper than insuring a car! How much you’ll pay to insure your boat depends on a few important factors.
Launching situations may depend on each boat ramp and with different tide and water levels. Launching must progress slowly until you are familiar with the water and ramp levels. You should adapt the following steps for your s...
We’ve done some research and built an ultimate list of fishing apps for you. Use this guide to build the perfect combination of apps to help you catch more fish.