A Boat Trailer
Trailering Magazine Archives - Featured Articles
By Patrick Piper
So you think you're set? Here are 10 items to inspect before your rig hits the road Do a walk-around. Before every flight, an airline pilot does a walk-around of the plane he or she is about to fly to catch any potential problems. This works for boat trailers, too. Here are 10 things to put on your checklist:
1) Are the safety chains properly criss-crossed? Safety chains will catch the trailer tongue in the unlikely event the trailer becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle and keep it from hitting the pavement, which can result in damage to the boat, the trailer, and, yes, the tow vehicle. "S" hooks are popular but stainless steel shackles guarantee that the chains won't come off the trailer or tow vehicle.
2) Make sure the coupler is secured to the hitch ball. The locking lever must be in the down position on the ball and a pin placed through the lever to keep it locked.
3) Now, carefully inspect the actuator to see if any brake fluid has leaked out. Fill, if needed.
4) Check all the tie-downs around the boat to see that they're secured to the trailer. Then, inspect for slippage in brackets or wear in the tie-down fabric. Next make sure that the winch cable is secured tight with the boat's bow eye. Inspect the condition of the winch strap.
5) Look at
the tires. Check the psi of each
tire (and remember boat trailer tires
always have a higher psi than your
car or tow vehicle tires; most trailer
tires are about 50 psi). Look at the
tires for signs of dry rot and spider cracks, and inspect the
tread to make sure it's wearing evenly. Do you have a spare? Trailer tires have "ST" on the sidewall.
6) Look at the bearings and check the oil level in the
hubs if applicable.
Kneel down and
look behind the
tire for any grease
that may be on the
frame near the tire.
This is evidence
of an impending
7) Check to see if the outdrive or outboard is in the raised position. If you have a transom saver, be sure it is properly attached.
8) Find an assistant to help you test your trailer lights. Have them turn on the tow vehicle lights. While you stand behind the boat trailer, tell them to step on the brakes. Make sure both trailer brake lights illuminate. Now do the same with the left and right turn signals. Finally, inspect each light along the side of the trailer if applicable. If any light isn't working properly, get it fixed. Remember, police can pull you over if a light is out. It's much better to deal with this now rather than later.
9) Where is the drain plug? This might be a good time to put it in the boat unless you are going to be driving through a rainstorm for an extended period of time.
10) Legal is good. Inspect the license plate to ensure it's attached to the boat trailer. There are, unfortunately, a number of police reports about stolen plates so take the time to know it's where it's supposed to be. Also, while most states allow a 102-inch width for trailerable boats without requiring a wide-load permit, every state has a different law. Check if you're legal here: www.boatus.com/trailerclub/trailering_laws.asp And if you need a special permit for a wide boat on the trailer, here's a list of contacts in every state: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/webstate.cfm. Note too, that some states require brakes on trailers carrying more than 2,000 pounds (including the trailer weight) while other states require brakes on each< boat trailer axle.
NOTE: Keep your BoatU.S. member card in your wallet in case you need to take advantage of Trailer Assist.