The days of summer are long gone, and with them the opportunities to haul your boat to the nearest waterway for a few laps on the water skis or lazy hours spent fishing. Before winter is firmly entrenched, you need to put your boat in dry dock storage or prep it for storage in your garage throughout the winter months.
However, you also have to figure out what to do with your trailer until next summer. Leaving it outside under a tarp all winter is a mistake. If you want to ensure the greatest longevity, it’s crucial to properly winterize your trailer.
Even rolling it into the garage isn’t enough. Before you let your trailer sit, you need to make sure it has been properly inspected and prepared. Here are a few critical tasks to attend to when it comes to winter maintenance for your trailer.
The first step is to conduct a thorough inspection. If you don’t feel confident about your ability to perform a comprehensive inspection, you can always ask your mechanic or a knowledgeable friend to give your rig a once-over.
That said, if you’re relatively familiar with your trailer, inspecting it shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with the aid of online tutorials. You’ll want to check parts like the trailer bunks, the winch, the wiring harness, and so on for damage. These parts see a lot of use during the boating season and they can get dinged up pretty easily.
Naturally, you’ll want to check the tires, as well, by jacking up the rig and spinning the wheels to make sure they’re rotating freely and they aren’t making any abnormal noises, like grating that could indicate issues with the bearings, just for example. Even so, it’s probably best to grease the assembly at least annually, and this is an ideal time to do so, since you’ve got your rig jacked up anyway. You should also check tires for wear and make sure air pressure is appropriate.
Trailers are definitely going to get wet from hauling your boat, and especially from going down boat ramps into the water. The bulk of your trailer will probably dry on its own, but there are some parts that could easily get waterlogged and suffer damage as a result.
Many owners never think to check the lights fixtures for water, for example. Cold temperatures cause water to freeze and expand. If you leave sitting water in fixtures, it could cause cracks and electrical issues, along with attendant costs for repair or replacement.
You can easily prevent these common problems by opening up fixtures, pulling bulbs, spraying moisture repellent, and making sure everything seals tightly.
Before covering your trailer with a tarp to protect it from dust, pests, and so on in your garage, you should put it on blocks and remove the wheels to prevent the formation of flat spots. Don’t forget to cap your connectors after applying a bit of electrical grease (or petroleum jelly) to protect them from moisture.