Maintaining your boat trailer may not be the most enjoyable part of owning a boat, but it's necessary if you want to be able to actually get your boat to the water and back again. Just like cleaning the boat itself and doing some maintenance on your outboard motor, performing a few simple checks and maintenance steps can mean keeping your trailer in good working order all season long. Note a few quick tips on how to do this for your boat trailer.
1. Flush the brakes
This is especially important if you go boating in saltwater, as the salt from the water can seep into the brake drums and other components and cause rust and other damage. The brakes may also have seaweed and debris that get caught on them every time you put your trailer in the water, which is why you want to flush them after every trip out.
Even with regular flushing, you can be prepared to replace the brakes of your trailer every few years because of the wear and tear of being exposed to the lake or ocean and everything that clings to them, so consider having a fresh set of brake pads, the backing assembly, wheel cylinders and other trailer spare parts on hand.
2. Check the bearings
The wheel bearings often wear out on a boating trailer because of the weight they pull and the rocking motion often used to get the trailer and vehicle up a ramp after a boat is loaded. Installing bearing caps can protect them from the elements, but check the outer spring. If it's compressed, it has enough grease but if it's extended, it needs more grease.
3. Inspect the wiring and electrical systems
Because a boat trailer is often partially submerged when you take your boat on the water, you'll want to inspect the wiring and electrical systems often. One good thing to note is if the rubber grommets around where the wiring enters the trailer are worn or seem thin. If so, this can allow the wiring to become frayed and bare. Have some of these on hand at all times for a quick replacement.
It's also good to check all electrical systems from outside the trailer; have someone else step on the brakes and use the turn indicators. If the lights for any of these fail, first replace the bulb to see if that addresses the problem. If not, you may need to replace the wiring from the hitch to the trailer.