Quick Fixes To Keep Your Trailer On The Road

Keeping your rig on the road will make for a better day's boating.

All About Chains

If the coupler, receiver, or ball fails, then the tongue of the trailer will be caught by the safety chains, instead of hitting the ground and digging into the pavement. If you don't cross the chains, the tongue will fall right through! Safety chains aren't always the right length. If yours are too long, throw a couple of twists in each one to shorten them up, then just connect as normal. If they're too short, either replace them, or add a positive locking carabineer-style ring to the hook.

What Now? A Seized Nut?

I always carry a big wrench, small floor jack, and other necessary tools. But I never thought to check the lug nuts that hold the spare tire, until a flat had me stopped on a busy stretch of Interstate 26 in South Carolina. I jacked up the trailer and removed the flat tire in record time. But my work screeched to a halt when one of two nuts that held the spare refused to budge. Luckily, my buddy returned with his spare to get me underway. It eventually took an impact wrench to loosen the seized nut. Now, at least once per season, I make sure they turn loose. And before I snug them back up, I dab some anti-seize compound on the bolt threads.

Don't Go Too Far

Never allow your rig to come close to a jackknife position when backing. Once this has occurred you often cannot simply get out of it by going forward. Always pull forward and start again before this happens.

Five Steps For Changing Your Trailer Tire

  •  Pull safely to the side of the road or side street if possible. Use reflective safety triangles or road flares so motorists see you. Better yet, move to a parking lot.
  •  Leave your trailer attached to the tow vehicle, which should be in Park with the parking brake on. Block the other trailer wheels to prevent the trailer from rolling. Loosen the lug nuts before you jack up the trailer.
  •  Place the jack on a solid surface and raise the trailer with the jack positioned in an appropriate place under the axle unless a better spot is recommended by the manufacturer. Avoid jacking it up by the frame, as this could potentially twist the frame.
  •  Replace the tire and wheel assembly and check for any road hazard that may have lodged in the fender well. You don't want another flat.
  •  Replace the lug nuts and hand-tighten in a star pattern. Lower the jack and continue to tighten each lug nut in the same pattern. Use a torque wrench if you have one, and know the recommended torque. 


— Published: Fall 2015


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