Get That Trailer Ready!

Avoid situations like this; don’t neglect your trailer!

The fish are biting and you’ve got your boat loaded to the hilt with all your gear, food, bait, ice and more. The kids have been up since dawn, too excited to sleep in anticipation of an exciting day on the water. You’re hooked up and ready to go, but as you pull away you notice a loud grinding noise coming from behind the truck. You know instantly what it is; a bad trailer bearing…a $10 part has just put the skids on what was going to be an awesome day!

This situation represents the loss or the delay of a day’s fishing and boating, but the dangers of towing a boat on a degraded trailer are real. Early one morning years ago, I was following a friend to a lake in Georgia when all of the sudden his left trailer tire started raging with sparks and fire. In a moment, the tire came off the hub, and passed his truck as it careened down the highway bouncing into oncoming traffic. It literally bounced over one car, sped off the side of the road and was finally stopped by a new Cadillac Escalade parked in a dealer’s lot. That

Cadillac’s door did not fare well, but it was a noble deed it did in stopping that runaway tire. The results could’ve been much worse that morning, but this could’ve been avoided all together had my friend invested just a little time and money in maintaining his trailer.

Bearings are easy to maintain yet so many fail to keep them greased. A bass boat I bought new in 2006, had the exact same bearings in it when I sold it 2017 and I trailered that boat close to 200K miles. It was equipped with easy access grease fittings and I always kept the bearings well-lubed.

The saltwater environment here takes its toll on any trailer regardless of how well you take care of it so if you launch in salty water regularly, you need to go the extra mile in cleaning and maintaining your trailer if you want it to last and perform long-term.

Don’t wait to tackle the simple job of getting your boat trailer ready for the season. Trailer parts are readily available right here in town at Hi-Tech Marine and most trailers are fairly simple to work on. If you’re like me and don’t have the time or skills to do it yourself, let the experts here do it for you. Brad and Christian Aufdencamp have been building the highest quality boat trailers, right here in Panama City, for generations. If you pay attention, you’ll see their trailers all over the place…and if you do, be sure to ask the owner about it. The craftsmanship built into their trailers is undeniable and their customers are always satisfied. Hi Tech Marine is the premier boat trailer manufacturer and servicing center in Panama City and I trust them with all my trailering needs…you can too.

Check out Brad’s tips for getting the best performance out of your trailer:

  • Grease the wheel bearings before use.
  • Check that tires are properly inflated (usually around 50 lbs pressure, not 30-35 like most auto tires) and wheel lug nuts are tight; check tire tread for wear and sidewalls for spider cracks that may indicate dry rot.
  • Inspect the whole trailer for cracks or severely rusted areas that may have become weak, including the springs and axles.
  • Check rollers and runners for cracks or breaks; ensure rollers are clean and have not locked up.
  • Check the winch’s operation and the condition of the strap or cable.
  • Check that the trailer ball is tightly mounted and the right size for the hitch; clean any debris from both before seating the hitch on the ball.
  • Ensure that the hitch coupler is locked in place and secured with a bolt or lock.
  • Cross the trailer safety chains before securing them to the tow vehicle (the crossed chains “cradle” the trailer hitch if it comes free from the ball.)
  • Ensure the trailer tongue jack is completely rotated up and locked in place.
  • Ensure the trailer lights are working, including brake lights and turn signals.
  • If the trailer has brakes, test that they are working.
  • Avoid overloading the trailer by removing heavy items from the boat and transporting them inside the tow vehicle. Remove boat drain plug.

For more information call Hi-Tech Marine at (850) 215-8324 or see:

~ Capt. Randy (C-note) Cnota