Tow Ready

Published in the September 2012 Issue September 2012 Ask The Expert
Having the right tow vehicle is only the beginning. Whether you're towing your boat 10 minutes to your local lake or 10 hours to your next family vacation, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure you safely arrive without any delays or mishaps.


Step 1: Inspection

The first thing to note is that a thorough inspection of your trailer and towing vehicle are mandatory. Check your tires, all of them. You need to look at the tires currently on your truck and trailer to make sure there is no undue wear and tear. If there are any doubts as to whether they can survive the trip, replace them. Also check the spare tires to ensure they are properly inflated and ready to work if the situation arises.

Step 2: Tighten

As long as you're inspecting the tires, tighten the lug nuts to make sure they`re not loose. Losing a nut at 65 miles per hour is not a pleasant experience, and can lead to catastrophe under the right circumstances.

Step 3: Grease

Be sure to grease the wheel bearings, as prolonged use can magnify any rough patches in this area. You may even want to repack the bearings. You may need a professional to do this for you, but taking the time and money to get it done now is much better than seeing a wheel come bouncing off your trailer.

Step 4: Air

Make sure the tire pressure is at the recommended pound per square inch (PSI) for your vehicle and trailer. It's not only safer, but properly inflated tires will give you better fuel mileage.

Step 5: Inventory Check

Double check to make sure you have a jack for the vehicle and for the trailer. You don't want to be on the side of road with a flat when you realize you don't have the right jack. Along these lines, ensure you have a lug wrench that fits the nuts on your trailer as well as your truck.

Step 6: Lights

Check to see that the lights for the trailer are working. For those who only take short trips and never check to see if the turning and brake signals are functional, it's time to change your bad habit. You might think you can get away with this around town, but you need to ensure everything is good to go before leaving on a long journey. Besides being safe, it's the law to always check.

Step 7: Secure It

Use the safety chains to ensure your trailer will stay behind the boat if the ball hitch should happen to fail. When making short trips you may think it's acceptable to only rely on the ball to keep everything secure, but if that ball does fail you'll be glad you had a backup system.

Step 8: Strap It

Finally, make sure your boat is strapped securely to the trailer. Use ratcheting tie downs to secure the back end of your boat to the trailer. This will help ensure your boat doesn't bounce off the bunks if you happen to hit a large bump in the road or need to swerve quickly.

Following these towing safety tips can help avoid delays, which means more time can be spent on the lake, instead of on the way to the lake.

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