Normally, we don’t give geography lessons, but two interesting facts deserve your attention: “Canada is the second-largest country in the world.” and “Canada has more than 50% of the world’s lakes.” If you love the water, just let that soak in for a minute and then ask yourself why you aren’t trailering your boat or PWC to more of Canada’s lakes, nearly 32,000 with a surface area of more than 3 million km2. If you plan on trailering your bass boat, party barge, cruiser, or jet-ski, get your trailer ready for the trip.
Those who fail to prepare are often sidelined by breakdowns at the worst possible time. In fact, over three-quarters of roadside assistance requests are related to trailer breakdowns. Of all trailer problems reported, about half are for flat tires and blowouts, another quarter for failed wheel bearings, and an eighth for axle failure! Here are a few tips to help you get your boat trailer ready for launch.
Check Your Tires
Your tires are perhaps the most critical part of your boat trailer, subject to wear, UV exposure, and neglect. Paying attention to your tires will help you recognize problems before they leave you stranded – 43% of trailer breakdowns are due to flat tires. Trailer tires undergo tremendously fast spinning speeds, so they need to be in top condition to withstand this environment.
Check and adjust tire pressures. Any tire showing evidence of dry rot should be replaced. Also, any tire over five years of age should be replaced, no matter how much tread depth remains.
Special Care for Wheel Bearings
Oil and water don’t mix, which puts boat trailer wheel bearings in a difficult situation. Every time you launch and load your boat, you dunk your trailer wheels, axles, and wheel bearings in the water. If wheel bearings are poorly packed or poorly sealed, water can enter and wash out the bearings, leading to overheating and bearing failure – 22% of trailer breakdowns are due to bearing failure. Wheel bearings can weld themselves solid for lack of lubrication, most often due to washout.
On new boat trailers, apply a couple pumps of wheel bearing grease every time you go out, being sure to use manufacturer-recommended grease. Using an incompatible grease could accelerate dropout, leading to lack of lubrication and bearing failure.
On used boat trailers, you may have no idea what grease is in the wheel bearings. The best thing to do is start over to eliminate the possibility of using incompatible grease and causing future damage.
- Disassemble the wheel bearings and use Shrader’s Citrus-Based Parts Cleaner to clean the wheel bearings, spindle, and hubs thoroughly. Clean the seals if you plan on reusing them.
- Use Shrader’s Heavy Duty Brake Cleaner to remove any solvent residue and clean the brake shoes and drums, if so equipped.
- Once everything is clean and dry, repack the wheel bearings with Shrader’s High-Speed Extreme Pressure Wheel Bearing Grease and reassemble. Only use the same grease for topping off from this point forward.
Axle, Spring, and Frame Care
When checking over your boat trailer for fitness, be especially wary of rust on the axle, springs, and frame, and don’t be fooled by the exterior looking great – rust may be internal. To check for rust, tap with a hammer. Solid steel will have a nice ring to it, while rusty spots will respond with a dull thud. Replace any axle or repair any frame member that has been compromised by rust – 12% of trailer breakdowns are due to axle failure.
To prevent corrosion from weakening hollow frame and axle members, allow them to drain and dry, then spray Shrader’s Flexi-Film inside. Flexi-Film displaces moisture and leaves a water-resistant coating to prevent corrosion.
Keeping the Winch Pulling
Though it is never submerged, the boat winch and cable are exposed and prone to corrosion, accelerated by rain and proximity to water.
- Use Shrader’s Chain Lube to protect the winch cable. The thin formula seeps between the strands and leaves a lubricant film, preventing winch cable corrosion.
- Shrader’s Synthetic Lube Spray is a good, clean lubricant that will keep the crank, gears, and pawl moving smoothly and preventing corrosion.
Water also puts your boat trailer electrical system at risk. Water accelerates corrosion, which can easily interrupt power flow to lights, winches, and electric brake systems. Short circuits could lead to lighting malfunctions or cause electrical problems with the tow vehicle. An electric winch may not function at all, making boat launching and loading difficult, if not impossible. If the electric brake system fails, it will negatively impact your ability to stop safely.
On electrical connections, use Shrader’s Electrical Contact Cleaner to clean the contact surfaces and pins. Shake out any residual water then apply dielectric grease to prevent future water entry and short circuits. Clean grounding screws to the bare metal, reconnect the ground, then paint over with primer and paint to match.
To get your boat on and off the trailer, the rollers and winch need to roll freely and easily. Free-rolling boat rollers make launching and loading your boat easier but, if they get stuck, it makes things difficult. Keep those rollers rolling freely with Shrader’s White Lithium Grease. White Lithium Grease, sometimes just called “white” or “lithium” grease, goes on “wet” and sets up quickly, leaving a lubricant coating that is resistant to washout during launching and loading your boat.
Why Choose Shrader?
If you enjoy boating, chances are you would rather be on the water. Trailering your boat can open up whole new opportunities for fun, fishing, and pleasure, but also comes with certain risks. Take some time to get your boat trailer ready for launch, avoid getting stuck on the side of the road, and get back to boating!
Shrader Canada works with multiple industries to develop cleaners, lubricants, and protectants for dozens of applications. We’ve been working with the automotive and boating industry for over sixty years, and over 150 of our products are manufacturer tested and approved. To keep your boat trailer rolling all season and next, protect it with Shrader.