Tires: Where Rubber Meets
The Road

Published: Fall 2013

Pay attention to your tires — that thin layer of rubber can make the difference between a day on the water and a day by the side of the road.

Photo of a trailer tire and fender
Photo: Michael Vatalaro

Tire SOS Kit

I carry a tire "ramp," air pump, tool kit, and wrenches. For longer trips I include a tire plug kit, kneeling pad, 1/2-inch breaker bar with deep lug socket, Li-Ion battery impact wrench, 1/2-inch torque wrench, flags and flares, 20-ton bottle jack, and first aid kit. All this is a result of thinking about what I wished I had in the truck after changing a tire. I also include 16-ounce red plastic beer cups and hose clamps that will work as a temp fix for a lost dust cover on a hub.

 

Calling For Help

When calling BoatUS Roadside Assistance to fix a bearing or a tire, it's helpful to know your bearing, tire, and wheel size so they can bring the proper parts with them and get you back on your way quickly.

 

Uneven Wear

That flat tire you'll inevitably get one day will derail you if you have a single axle. My triple axle has had flats and I didn't even know it until a passing motorist waved me over. The more axles you have, the safer you are, and the easier it is to back up. Plus, single axles are notoriously squirrelly. Triple axles are forgiving and easy to correct. For larger trailerable boats, I'd say dual axle is a fair compromise. But I wouldn't trade my triple axle.

 

Sunscreen For Tires

Protect your sunny-side trailer tire (and spare) from the sun to avoid ultraviolet damage and dry rot, which significantly shorten the life of the tires. I use an old garbage can top, but you can use anything — commercial tire covers, plywood. Improvise!

 

Trailer Tires

Don't ever purchase a tire for your trailer that isn't specifically rated for a trailer. It will typically indicate either "Trailer Use Only" or be stamped with "ST," which stands for "Special Trailer."

 

Tire Storage

Extend tire life by removing tires and storing them inside if your trailer will be unattended for long periods of time. This will also prevent theft of the boat and trailer.

 

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How To Handle A Blowout

Photo of a shredded tire

1. Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Do NOT slam on your brakes.

2. Accelerate lightly for an instant to preserve vehicle momentum (or at least maintain constant accelerator pedal pressure).

3. At the same time, steer gently away from the side of the flat to offset the pulling caused by the blown tire and to keep the vehicle in its lane.

4. Once you've stabilized your vehicle, turn on your hazard flashers.

5. Brake slowly and lightly to slow down. Again, do not slam on the brakes.

6. Make your way carefully to the side of the road.

7. Reduce speed to 15 mph or less before leaving the pavement and pulling onto an unpaved shoulder.

8. Park your rig as far off to the side of the shoulder as possible to allow yourself room to change the blown tire without your backside hanging out in the travel lane.

9. Set out the emergency road triangle found in your vehicle safety kit (you have one, right?) to warn other drivers that your vehicle is stopped.

10. Proceed to change the flat.