Summer has finally arrived in Minnesota, and with summer comes a flurry of activity. If you’re like most Minnesotans, the advent of sunshine and warmer temperatures bring summer fun outdoors. From our 10,000 + lakes to backyard BBQs, you may be ready to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and have some fun. If your plans include getting your boat to the cabin or on the lake down the road, then you may want to spend time on maintaining your boat trailer. Overlooking these 5 steps can result in damage to your trailer and a safety hazard as you tow your boat this summer. If you’re ready to get these to-do’s checked off so you can get your boat to the lake, then keep reading for the steps you should take to ensure your boat trailer is summer ready.
Check your boat trailer tires
Neglecting your trailer tires can leave you stranded by the side of the road or in an accident so it’s always an important first step to check your tires heading out. You’ll want to check your tire pressure as improperly inflated tires on your trailer can become an issue. Tires will naturally lose 1-2 pounds of air pressure per month, so if your trailer has been sitting idle over a long winter – it’s a good idea to check them. Inflate your tires to the maximum rating as listed on the tire or on the trailer capacity sticker which may be 60 psi or more.
While you’re down there checking your air pressure, it’s also a good idea to inspect the tires for wear and tear, and for any damage to the rims. If you notice any wear and tear, or it’s been over 6 years since you last replaced your tires, it’s a good idea to bring your car to your auto mechanic to replace them. One last safety check? Check your spare to make sure it’s inflated properly and if you don’t have one, get one mounted in case you have a flat.
Check your lights
Your trailer lights are a safety measure to let other drivers know you are carrying a boat and to keep a safe distance. In addition, driving with faulty lights can get you a hefty fine. You’ll want to inspect your lights to see if they are dim, flickering, or not working at all. Older trailers have lights that can get burnt out and will need replacing. While you are inspecting your lights, you’ll also want to inspect your connection to your towing vehicle. Our winter weather can cause the metal pins to malfunction or corrode, so you’ll want to clean it out before driving. For future use, it’s always a good idea to install a connection cover on your vehicle, which can be purchased at any auto parts store. Your connection cover will protect and extend the life of your connection for when you need it for towing.
Check your brakes
Most states require that you have installed brakes on at least one axle of your trailer for safety reasons. If your trailer weighs more than 3,000 lbs and you plan on using your vehicle’s brakes, your trailer will swerve causing a safety hazard on the road. Trailer brakes can attract dirt and debris, especially after being used. You’ll want to give your brakes a review and clean any dirt and debris you find. Your brake pads will also wear with use so while you’re cleaning out any debris, you’ll want to inspect your brake pads to make sure they are in working order. One last check will be to fill your brake fluid to the proper level.
Check the boat trailer wheel bearings
Old or worn out wheel bearings can be a cause for concern for boat trailers. Your bearings can get corroded or rusted if they are exposed to moisture. You’ll want to check your wheel bearings for any sign of rust. Left neglected this will prevent your wheels from turning properly and cause friction while towing. You also want to make sure your bearings are well greased, and if you don’t already have them, install wheel bearing covers to protect your bearings from any future damage.
Other safety measures
After this list, it’s a good idea to do a quick check of your safety chain. It should crisscross underneath your trailer tongue and attach to your vehicle for support – should your trailer become unhitched. One last thing to check? You’ll want to inspect your bunk rollers to make sure they are in good condition and can support your hull, otherwise they can scratch and damage your hull.
Once you’ve checked these maintenance tips off your list, you’ll be ready to get out on the lake and enjoy some summer fun.