Boat Trailer Maintenance

Boat Trailer Maintenance

Boat Trailer Maintenance

A little time throughout the year on basic trailer maintenance we could avoid a ticket or worse, a breakdown on the side of some lonely unlit back-road at night!

Most folks who own a bass boat will tend to take care of their investment by wiping it down, fixing little problems, and ensuring you have oil in the gas or in the on-board tank. But how many of us actually spend any time on the rig that gets our boats to the water, the trailer??  If we would spend a little time throughout the year on basic trailer maintenance we could avoid a ticket or worse, a breakdown on the side of some lonely unlit back-road at night!

One of the most important safety items to check, which should be performed every time we hook up the boat, are the lights. Take a minute after everything is plugged in to ensure all your lights are in working order. Do a quick walk around and then have someone apply the brakes and each turn signal, you just might be surprised by the results. It’s also a good time to make sure all your lug nuts are still there and tight! Same for the safety chains!

When was the last time you actually checked the air pressure in your tires instead of just looking at them? Low tire pressure can cause poor trailer handling and lead to an accident. Properly inflated tires contribute to safe handling, good tread wear, and increased gas mileage!!

Have you ever driven behind a trailer where all the lights seemed to flicker to the beat of some unheard song? Yours might be doing the same thing! Nine times out of ten it is a missing or loose ground wire on the trailer or tow vehicle. If the white wire in your harness is not securely connected to a good ground on both sides all you have for a ground is the hitch ball. And we all know that coupler isn’t firmly seated in the receiver!

After you drop the boat in the lake and park the vehicle, take a minute to inspect your bunk boards. Are they tight? Is the carpet peeling off? Anything rotted away? Find these answers before the bunks fail and put a hole in the bottom of your fine bass boat!

At least once a year you need to clean and repack your hub bearings with fresh marine grade grease. This will help to make sure all your wheels and tires make it home! It’s a fairly straight forward project. Start by loosening the lug nuts on one side, jack that side of the trailer up and place a jack-stand beneath the axle(s). Now remove the lug nuts and wheel assembly.

At this point it’s a good idea to inspect under the trailer for loose parts, bent axle shafts, cracks in welds, wires chafing metal, rusted out tubes, and broken springs. Replace or repair anything that looks suspicious.

Now you can remove the center cap or bearing buddy by prying them off. Underneath you will find a castle nut held in place by a cotter pin. Remove the pin, nut, and washer. Your hub should now slip off along with the front bearing. Clean and inspect the axle for any signs of abnormal wear. You’ll need a punch to knock out the rear seal to allow you to get to the rear bearing. Clean and inspect the races on the hub (the smooth area where the bearings ride), have new ones pressed in if they are worn. Same thing on the bearings, clean and inspect them, replacing as needed.

Okay, time to put it all back together. Pack fresh grease into the rear bearing and place it in the hub. Install a new rear seal by putting a light coat of grease on the hub and around the rubber part of the seal. The spring side of the seal should face toward the inside of the hub. Take a hammer and lightly tap around the perimeter of the seal until it seats. Install the hub back onto the axle being careful not to pinch the seal. Now install your front bearing (that you packed with grease), the washer, and nut. Tighten the nut down until the hub is hard to turn, this seats the bearings. Now back off the nut until the hub spins fairly easily (it shouldn’t have any movement by pulling on it). Install the cotter pin, dust cap (or bearing buddy), and wheel. Let it down off the jack stands and tighten the lug nuts firmly. You’re now half-way there, just perform the same steps on the other side of the trailer.

These simple maintenance items will help keep you, your boat, and others on the road, safe. And let’s face it, you can’t catch the bass of a lifetime from the hospital!!

Steve Reneau is a Community Diplomat and Moderator Team Leader 3 here at  He can be reached at

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