Boat Towing Tips

Boat towing can turn into a messy, expensive disaster if you try to cut corners. Always do a pre-trip check before you tow, even if you keep up the maintenance on your trailer on a regular basis. Be sure your boat towing insurance is paid up, and use these tips to get your boat to the water safely.

Regular Checks
At least once a month, you should give the trailer a thorough inspection. The night before you leave, check the trailer for low tires, broken wiring, broken lights or loose parts. The trailer ball should be replaced every three years. Trailer tires should be rotated and balanced every 10,000 miles to help keep the trailer from swaying and pulling roughly.

Tires
Trailer tires are very important, especially tire pressure. Make sure there is no dry rot in the tires and that they all have the same pressure. If one tire is lower than the other on a dual-axle pair, weight is shifted to the other wheel. This causes stress on the wheel bearings and the lug nuts, which lowers the lifespan of the bearings and could possibly snap a lug nut. Every time you take the boat out, check the air pressure on the tires.

Make sure the pressure gauge you use is a good gauge, not one of the cheap "pencil" gauges. Keep a portable 12-volt compressor with you as part of your tool kit. The portable compressor allows you to correct the pressure in the tires without having to tow the trailer with low tires. Gas station air pumps are not always available or working when you need them.

Inspect tires thoroughly for signs of wear, including blisters and low tread. You can use the quarter test to check the treads. Hold a quarter so that Washington's head is facing down, and insert it into the treads on your tires. If you see the top of Washington's head, it's time to replace the tires.

Bearings
Switch to oil-filled bearings and keep them maintained. Oil-filled bearings last longer than grease-filled bearings. Keeping the tires maintained also helps the bearings last longer.

Driving
When towing a trailer, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Many drivers do not watch out for someone towing, so you have to watch out for yourself. Make sure you leave extra following distance; the heavier load of the trailer increases your stopping distance. You will save a lot of wear on the trailer brakes if you do not have to come to sudden stops. Learn to swing wide where you can when towing, to keep from running over curbs or potholes in the edge of the road.

When making lane changes, be sure to use your signals and to signal well ahead of time. Make sure the mirrors are adjusted so that you have an unobstructed view of traffic behind you and to the sides. Get in the habit of using your mirrors often to look for danger. 

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