The BoatU.S. Trailering Club has five hot tips to help prevent trailer boat owners from becoming a roadside statistic this summer:
- Make sure your trailer tires were made for trailering. A "ST" designation on the sidewall indicates "special trailer" used for boat trailers. These tires have stronger sidewalls than "P" (passenger) and "LT" (light truck tires). Also, never mix bias ply (commonly used for short trips or when a trailer is parked for long periods) with radial tires (preferred for high-mileage trips).
- Inflation is the most basic tire maintenance issue. Tires should be inflated while cold, before the trip -- not during. Buy a spare tire but be sure to bring a tire and rim combo when shopping for your spare as not all are alike. Ensure your jack can handle the trailer as well.
- A tire's worst enemy is dry rot caused by the sun's UV rays. If you store your boat and trailer outside during the winter, remove the tires and keep inside if possible. Tire covers can also help.
- Moisture can also doom a tire, especially if the trailer sits idle for a long time on grassy, damp ground. Again, removing the tire is best but parking on plywood can also help. If parking on a hard surface such as concrete, ensure that water freely drains away from the trailer after a rainstorm.
- Lastly, ensure that you know your boat and trailer weight, as overloading can lead to premature wear and potentially dangerous blowouts.
Of the thousands of requests for roadside assistance made by BoatU.S. Trailering Club members in 2005, the most common call for assistance was for flat tires. The percentages for all trailer breakdowns were: Flats: 47 percent; Bearings: 26 percent; Axle: 13 percent; Tow Vehicle: 9 percent; Miscellaneous: 5 percent.
The BoatU.S. Trailering Club offers up to $150 paid per trailer breakdown incident as well as a subscription to BoatU.S. Trailering magazine. The cost to join is just $10 for BoatU.S. members. For more information, visit http://www.BoatUS.com/trailerclub or call 1-800-245-6923.