Boat trailering tips gas house edwards co


Over 95% of recreational boats in the U. S. are trailerable. If you’re a trailer-boater like me, you know that our recurring nightmare is looking into the rear view mirror and seeing our trailer, with boat astride, departing company with our tow vehicle. I’ve had friends lose their rigs, one on an interstate highway as he watched his 28 footer rolling through the median. So if you don’t think TRAILER SAFETY has a place in a notebook devoted to BOATING SAFETY, you probably have never towed a boat!

The ability to easily explore new cruising grounds and filling up on the fly are synonymous with trailer boating. But filling up at a gas station requires a special set of precautions, says Caroline Ajootian, director of the BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau.

Where is my gas tank vent? Is the vent forward or near the transom? Understand how your filler tube, tank and vent are installed. If your boat is not level on its trailer you may find fuel inadvertently exiting the vent, or unable to fill tanks completely.

Always check the hubs: Every gas station fill-up gives you an easy opportunity perform a trailer hub check by placing your hand on the hub and inspecting for excessive warmth. Most hub failures could have been prevented with periodic inspections. And while you are there, check the tires, too.

#1 reason: Flat Tires: You can take care of your tires but you can’t always take good care of the road surfaces your tires travel upon. Almost half (43%) of all calls for assistance can be chocked up to the simple but age old problem of flat tires. Ironically, it’s one of the easiest to fix when you have prepared for it. Have both a trailer and tow vehicle spare with you and practice changing them. For example, a tandem axle trailer can easily be driven up on a curb so the flat tire is off the pavement.

#2 reason: Bearing Failures: The second most common reason (20% of all calls for roadside assistance) is trailer bearing failures. The BoatU.S. Trailering club recommends that bearings be inspected and repacked at a minimum each time the tow vehicle has its oil changed. A trailer that is rarely used may need to have bearings inspected and repacked as often as one that is used often. When traveling long distances, bearings should be inspected at every gas station fill up and checked for leaking grease, hub heat buildup, smoking or wheel noise – indicators that something is not right.

#3 reason: Tow Vehicle Problems: The third most common problem phoned in to the BoatU.S. 24-hour Dispatch Center doesn’t involve the trailer, but the tow vehicle. Fifteen percent of all cases were the result of running out of fuel, being locked out of the vehicle, or the need for a jump start.

“The findings show that some breakdowns are preventable and some are not,” said BoatU.S. Trailering’s Associate Publisher, Beth McCann. “The best way to protect yourself is to ensure your on-the-road ‘motor club’ provides for both a trailer and tow vehicle.”

• Call your insurance agent and make sure your auto and/or boat policies cover your liability while pulling your boat trailer, as well as covering damage to your own car, boat and trailer. If you’re in the process of getting home and auto insurance quotes, you’ll need to know the boat’s length, whether it has an inboard or outboard motor, and the horsepower of the motor as smaller boats can often be added to homeowners policies.

• Make certain your tow vehicle has the horsepower to do the job. If it doesn’t have and an oil cooling system to help keep it from overheating, put one in. A burned-out transmission or jeopardizing safety is not a good trade-off for a reliable towing vehicle, even if you have to spend a little more.

• Consider the size, weight, and length of your boat and capacity of the new trailers for sale when you’re shopping for a tow vehicle. And remember…a rear drive vehicle is superior to a front wheel drive vehicle when it comes to getting your boat in and out of a slippery boat ramp.

• Check the metal or plastic certification label attached by the trailer manufacturer to the left forward side of your trailer. It may show the maximum load-carrying capacity of the trailer. It is required to show the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which is the load-carrying capacity PLUS the weight of the trailer itself. Be sure that the total weight of your boat, engine, gear, and trailer do not exceed the GVWR.

• Find a wide open space somewhere, like an empty parking lot, and practice backing, turning, and maneuvering your trailer. Set up some empty milk jugs to look like the edges of a boat ramp. If you make a mistake here, you lose an empty milk jug.

• Periodically, check your trailer for cracks in the welds, and tighten any bolts that may have worked loose. Trailers take a real beating on rougher roads, and through roads seem to lead to roads that lead to lakeside launch ramps are usually rougher than normal for some reason.

• Make sure the electrical connections to the lights and brakes are operating. And before you back a trailer into the water, unplug the lights. It’ll help save your bulbs. Just don’t forget to plug them back together before you take off again.

• Safety chains should be crossed underneath the hitch before attaching them. Use bolted connections rather than “S” hooks, which can actually s-t-r-e-t-c-h under severe strain. Adjust the chains if necessary to keep them from dragging along the ground.

• Attach a chain or extra heavy-duty strap from the back of the boat to the trailer to keep the boat from lurching forward into the rear of the tow vehicle if you need to stop quickly. The bow of your boat sticking through the back of your tow vehicle is not a pretty sight!

• Before leaving home or leaving the launch ramp, open a can of pop and take a leisurely stroll around the trailer and the tow vehicle. Make sure everything is hooked up properly, locked, strapped down, secure, and if your trailer has a spare tire, make sure it’s fully inflated.

• When you get to the launch ramp, take your time getting the boat squared away before launching. These minutes you spend making sure all your boating safety equipment is ready will give your wheels and bearings a chance to cool down. If they’re hot when you dip them into that cold water, you’re taking a risk of seizing the bearings.

• Make sure the tire jack you intend to use in an emergency will fit properly beneath the axles or lifting points BEFORE you have to use it. Don’t assume that the same jack and lug wrench that works with your tow vehicle will work with your boat.

• Keep a fire extinguisher in the tow vehicle or on the winch stem when trailering. Lots of things can happen to put it to good use…a bearing catching fire, someone throwing a cigarette into or onto your boat when you’re stopped for lunch…use your imagination.