Spring Prep: Trailers

By Kathryn Jelinek, Last updated: 1/14/2021 

Boat trailer

Ensure your trailer is ready for the road and the water.

Your trailer needs to be in good condition if you want to get your boat safely to the water, launched, re-trailered and back home. Before the boating season begins, we suggest you give your trailer a thorough inspection and perform necessary maintenance to ensure that it is ready for use. The following checklist will help you in this endeavor. You will find additional help in the form of West Advisor articles to which we link throughout this article.

Trailer Prep Checklist

  • Inspect and if necessary, repack wheel bearings with marine grease.
  • Inspect tire condition. Look for cracks in the sidewalls and ensure that the tires have adequate tread and are inflated to the correct pressure. Replace trailer tires as necessary.
  • Test brake lights and turn signal lights. Replace if not functioning. Secure all trailer light wires against abrasion and rewire if exposed and damaged.
  • Check your trailer fenders and steps for damage. Replace if needed.
  • Examine winch straps and cables along their entire length for fraying or corrosion. Replace if necessary.
  • Replace any damaged wheel chocks.
  • Replace any corroded or weakened safety chains.
  • Inspect the brake pads and shoes for wear, adjust drum brakes, lubricate caliper pins and brake coupler moving parts.

Related West Advisor Articles

Marine Bearing Grease

Keep your bearings packed with marine grease, which will prevent corrosion.

Wheel Bearings

Your trailer’s wheel bearings depend on marine grease to avoid rust caused by water collected during launch. That being said, it is important not to overpack the bearings or bearing protectors. To learn more about how bearings work, how they can become damaged and how to repack them, see our article Safe and Trouble-free Trailering.

Trailer Tires

The Safe and Trouble-free Trailering article also provides advice on checking your tires, which are different from car tires and may show damage differently. Trailer Tire Basics provides more information on what those differences are.

Trailer Lights

If you are unfamiliar with your trailer light system, or if anything appears damaged in your checkup, our article Your Trailer’s Light System explains trailer lights in detail, as well as trailer light wiring so you can perform safe repairs and maintenance.

Trailer Brakes

When inspecting your breaks, it is important to know what type of brakes you have. Check to see if you have disc brakes or drum brakes, and find out what braking system they’re connected to. You’ll want to lubricate moving parts and caliper pins, check the wear of pads and shoes and ensure the brakes are connected properly by testing them. If you want to learn more about trailer brakes, or if you’re interested in upgrading or replacing yours, our article Selecting Trailer Brakes covers everything you need to know.

If you’re entirely new to trailering, or if you have purchased a used trailer, we also have a Trailering Checklist that walks you through everyday use and maintenance to help you avoid bigger issues caused by neglect.

Additional Maintenance

Trailer guide-ons

Adding guide-on posts can make retrailering your boat much easier, and those with lights are helpful when you want to extend your time on the water.

If your trailer has been idle for an extended period, it might be time for a major overhaul. Before you use it again, do a spot check for rust; if you have a painted trailer, consider sanding and repainting it to protect the metal. Check your bunk carpet and supports for mold and damage, and consider making replacements to better protect the bottom of your boat. Rollers and bow stops should be free of cracks and rotate easily. If your trailer doesn’t already have them, consider installing guide-ons to make it easier to get your boat back on the trailer at the end of the day. If you’re looking to upgrade your trailer, now is the time. For more ideas, read Upgrading Your Boat’s Trailer for ideas to get you started. Find replacement and upgrade parts online or in stores to get your trailer up to speed.

Further Reading