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Summer Tips on Avoiding Trailering Misadventures

Tips on trailering safely this summer season.

With the approach of warm weather trailering season upon us, now is the time when all the boats, ATV’s and campers come out of storage. Before you hit the dusty trail there are a few tings you should consider.

First off is your vehicle ready? Are all filters clean? Is your anti-freeze full and clean? Are all your fluids ready? Transmission, engine oil, and driveline fluids all need to be in good condition so your vehicle can handle the extra demands placed upon it when pulling trailers.  

Lighting is also critical. Trailer wiring harnesses that have been exposed to the elements all winter will need to be cleaned or replaced so trailer lights work correctly. Small hint: A little dab of silicone grease on trailer connectors will keep them clean and functional for years.

Trailer hitches need to be checked also. Check for cracks or excessive rust and make sure mounting bolts are tight.

Now that your vehicle is ready, you can turn your attention to your trailer. Hook it up to your vehicle and check all lights. Hint: If none of the lights work, try checking the white ground wire going directly to the trailer frame. Make sure it is clean and tight. The quality of trailer wiring isn’t nearly as good as your vehicle wiring so problems with lighting are not unusual.

I personally feel the ultimate test of any marriage is launching a boat on a busy lake on a hot summer day.

Next, check all fasteners on the trailer for proper torque. Check tire condition and make sure they are at proper pressure. Maximum tire pressure is listed on the sidewall of the tire. Trailer tires usually blow out before they wear out because of limited usage. Look at the sidewall of the tire. If cracks are starting to appear, it may be time for new tires even though they have tread left on them.  

Lastly, don’t forget wheel bearings. On boat trailers this is very important because of wheels being submerged in water when launching. I recommend repacking boat trailer bearings every year before storing for winter. Trailers not exposed to water should only need repacking every 30,000 miles.

Finally, do a trial run with the trailer on before taking trips. Remember your stopping distance will increase with the extra weight being pulled. All trailers over 3,500 pounds are required to have trailer brakes. Make sure they work!  

Use common sense when pulling heavy trailers. Reduce your speed and don’t tow in overdrive. A transmission costs a lot more than the extra fuel you will consume doing this. It is a good idea to practice backing up ahead of time. Remember, you need to turn in the opposite direction with your vehicle to make the trailer go the direction it needs to. Make sure your mirrors are adequate so you can see behind you properly.

I personally feel the ultimate test of any marriage is launching a boat on a busy lake on a hot summer day. So take your time, do your prep work, and happy trailering to you until we meet again.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jeff May 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Great reminders John! When it comes to backing up the trailer, A handy tip I read in Popular Mechanics years ago is - Grab a hold of the bottom of the steering wheel (at 6 o'clock), and while holding the steering wheel at that point, if you steer the wheel to the left, the trailer will go left, and if you steer the wheel right, the trailer goes right. For those of us who do not use our trailers that often, it is a very easy way to get the trailer to go where we want it.
John Haunfelder May 18, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Jeff I like your description better than mine. Very helpful thanks.

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