Boat Trailer Maintenance & Safety Checklist

With summer here and in full swing, we want to make sure that our customers are aware of what is required to take care of their boat trailers. This helpful checklist will make sure that you are prepared for the summer season.

According to Transport Canada, boat trailers are classified as motor vehicles, therefore, trailers must be manufactured and assembled within Transport Canada’s guidelines. All approved trailers will have a Transport Canada approval label visible on them

1. Check EVERYTHING!!

When you are planning your trip, you will know how many kilometers you are travelling, well your boat trailer is travelling those as well. Depending on where you are going some of those KM’s could be highway or they could be rugged backroads, which can definitely take a toll.

You should check these things before, after and even during a trip:

  • The coupler, is it in good condition? Does it fit snugly over the hitch ball?
  • What about the tongue jack? Is it properly lubricated? Many trailers have grease fittings for the rack/pinion inside. If there is a lock pin with a spring-loaded ball, make sure to properly grease that as well.
  • Did you check your safety chains? Are they in good condition and fastened securely?
  • Do the bunks look good? Is the carpeting torn or frayed?
  • What about the leaf springs? Do they have any corrosion, or are they heavily rusted or cracked? Any one of these can cause major issues, make sure to check them very closely throughout the season.
  • Always check for stress cracks, rusted or loose nuts/bolts

2. Keep the Tires Inflated – Properly

Most trailers have a sticker plate that indicates the proper size of tire for the trailer and the tire itself will indicate the maximum PSI on the sidewall. A sign of low PSI can include wear on the inside and outside edges of the tire, when the PSI is to high, the exact opposite occurs and the tread will wear in the center of the tread.

There are many types of tires on the market, the most common are the bias-ply and radial, it is important to know the difference when preparing your trailer. Bias-ply sidewalls have a stiffer design that can aid with trailer sway, these are more economical but are suited for shorter trips. Radial tires cost more but tend to reduce the heat buildup and have more load capacity, they also create less road noise. 

Regardless of which one you choose, there are a few small steps that are important to do for the safety of your trailer:

  • Try to NOT let the tires sit on bare ground when not in use, you can lay a sheet of plywood underneath or park on concrete
  • Use tire covers when your trailer will have to sit for a longer period in the sun
  • Remember to check the tire stems periodically just to ensure they are in tact

3. Look For Bad Bearings

Trailer bearings allow the wheel to spin with minimum friction and a constant supply of grease, without the grease the bearings will generate heat, which can ruin the bearings, wheel and even the axles. You should replace the bearings when:

  • Grease forms around the wheel hubs exterior, this means that grease that once was lubricating the bearings has seeped out and they need to be re-greased.
  • If there are squeaks or grinding noises
  • If the wheel will not spin freely, or there is some resistance

4. Check the Lights

Transport Canada has federal guidelines regarding lighting on trailers. They state “Every lamp, reflex reflector, and conspicuity treatment must be permanently attached in the location that was specified when manufactured”.

When you are checking your trailer lights, you should be checking for:

  • Burnt out bulbs
  • Cracked or damaged wires or connections
  • Cracked or loose lenses
  • Functioning fuses, make sure that the electricity from the tow vehicle to the trailer is good. If the fuse fails, the lights will fail
  • Ensure there is a sufficient amount of electrical grease to protect any of the connectors

5. Making Sure Everything is Connected Securely

After a long winter, it is important to double check these things on your boat trailer, this is also help freshen up your trailering skills:

  • Make sure that the tie-down straps are secure and in place
  • Check the trailer brakes and make sure they are road ready
  • The electrical should be properly connected and in working order
  • Ensure that the tow vehicle has the proper tire pressure, keeping a tire gauge in the vehicle is probably a good idea
  • Make sure to distribute the gear in the boat evenly, this will make for a balanced load and smoother travel
  • Carry a tool kit, and a spare trailer tire just in case

Now you will be ready to go, and enjoy your boating this summer. If you do have any concerns, taking your trailer to a dealer or other professional just to ensure that you are keeping yourself and others safe on the road. Most importantly have fun and stay safe.

Reference Links:

https://www.nmma.ca/advocacy/regulations/trailer-regulations

https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-transportation/motor-vehicle-safety/trailer-information-guide-0

https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-transportation/getting-started-safe-boating/buying-pleasure-craft

https://tc.canada.ca/en/trailers-federal-lighting-equipment-location-requirements

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.