Essential Boat Trailer Parts and Accessories
If you’re new to boating, you may not be familiar with all the parts and accessories on a boat trailer. And that’s ok, because there’s a bunch of components that make up a trailer.
A boat trailer is just as important as the boat itself, since it transports the vessel to the water safely. And just like a boat, trailers require maintenance and replacement parts. Accessories are also available to protect the trailer and the boat it carries. With that in mind, here are some essential boat trailer parts and accessories we think you should know about.
Boat Trailer Jack
Trailer jacks raise the trailer and stabilize it for connection to the towing vehicle. These jacks come in varieties such as swivel jacks, which have a base that folds up when not in use. Trailer jacks can be manual or electric, with the latter saving time and energy by not having to be cranked manually. These jacks also serve to lift the trailer for changing out flat trailer tires.
Boat Trailer Spare Tire
Speaking of flat trailer tires, you should always have spare tires available in case of a blowout on your way to or from the water. It’s always a good idea to check the tread and the air in all of your trailer’s tires, including the spares, to prevent ruining your boating day. Dry rot is common for trailer tires, as they constantly dip into and out of the water in the heat, so spares are essential.
Boat Trailer Bearings
Bearings allow the trailer wheels to spin freely without friction or damage. They’re tightly packed with grease, and rely on waterproof seals. Trailer wheel bearings also take a lot of punishment from dipping in and out of the water, especially since they get hot. The heating and cooling off of the bearings can make them wear quickly, so make sure you inspect and maintain them and replace them if necessary.
Boat Trailer Fenders
Fenders protect the trailer’s tires from rusting and from sunlight. Each fender should cover the entire width of each tire. Fenders are also stepped on frequently, so you should inspect them often for damage as well as for rusting.
Boat Trailer Lights
Trailer lights have a tendency to get wet and short out, so they too need to be inspected and changed often. Wiring boat trailer lights correctly is the key, as they’re notoriously difficult to replace if you’re not electrically savvy. Because the wiring can get wet, make sure you use the right heat shrink tubing or liquid electrical tape to make watertight connections.
Check your local laws for trailer light requirements, including what types of lights are required, such as brake lights and turn signals, as well as the quantity and colors of the lights. Guide post lights may also be required by your state, so make sure your boat’s trailer is properly equipped.
Boat Trailer Electrical Connections
We mentioned trailer light wiring earlier, but you also need to make sure any and all wiring and electrical connections to your trailer are in working order. This includes the connections between the trailer and tow vehicle, which should all be watertight.
Boat Trailer Reflective Tape
Your state may also require that your boat’s trailer be equipped with reflective tape for added visibility at night. Reflective tape makes boat trailers much more visible to other drivers so they can react accordingly to distance and speed. Use reflective tape on the back and bottom sides of the trailer, covering at least half the length of the trailer.
Boat Trailer Bunk Carpeting
The bunk of the boat trailer is where the boat sits when it's in tow. Bunk carpeting provides a cushioning barrier between the boat and trailer to protect both from any damage from contact with each other, as well as from bumps and vibrations from road travel.
Boat Trailer Winches
A trailer winch serves to retrieve a heavy boat from the water for loading onto the trailer. Therefore, it’s important to get a quality, heavy duty winch that’s up to the task.
Boat trailer winches come in manual and electric options. If you get a manual winch, be ready for a workout, as it requires some muscle power to reel in a boat cranking the winch by hand. An electric winch, on the other hand, is hooked up to a battery and does all the heavy lifting for you, but can also short out if it gets pushed too hard or gets too wet, so make sure you buy a waterproof winch.
Boat Trailer Tie Downs
Tie down straps keep the boat securely attached to the trailer. Their main function is to prevent the boat from getting separated from the trailer. These straps need to be inspected frequently to make sure they’re sturdy, as exposure to the elements can weather them down and corrode them, causing them to snap.
Boat Trailer Guides
Guides serve to keep the boat centered during the towing and loading/unloading process. They also prevent the boat from swaying during trailering, and keep the boat positioned properly.
Boat Trailer Rollers
Rollers on a trailer support the boat, and allow for easy loading and unloading, as well as provide friction protection during trips to and from the water. Quality boat trailer rollers should be strong and able to support the boat’s weight, and should spin easily during loading and unloading.
Boat Trailer Safety Chains
Trailer safety chains protect the coupler from dragging along the road in case of an accidental disconnect during towing. They’re usually secured to the coupler latch with a padlock or safety pin.
Boat Trailer Hitch
A trailer hitch, along with a coupler, connects a boat trailer to the towing vehicle. The hitch is attached to the towing vehicle to provide a hook-up point for the boat trailer. When buying a trailer hitch, keep in mind that they’re not one-size-fits-all, so make sure the one you choose is compatible with your tow vehicle.
Boat Trailer Coupler
As already mentioned, couplers unite the tow hitch with the boat trailer. When buying a coupler, make sure it’s compatible with the approved ball size and capacity of the trailer hitch, which should be marked on the coupler’s tongue.
Boat Trailer Brakes
There’s not much to say as far as trailer brakes go, except that state requirements may vary on what type of brakes are required based on the weight the trailer transports. Some states may even require having brakes for each axle on the trailer. Check your state’s requirements for what type of brake your boat’s trailer needs and how many.
Boat Trailer Springs
Often referred to as trailer leaf springs, these essential pieces of equipment provide additional cushioning and shock absorption for your boat against road vibrations and bumps. They come in a variety of types and sizes. Each trailer tire needs its own set of springs, and like pretty much everything else in this article, they too should be inspected, maintained, and replaced if necessary.
License Plate Bracket
One boat trailer accessory that your state may or may not require is a license plate if the law calls for your boat’s trailer to be registered. Whether your state requires it or not, you should register your boat’s trailer anyway in case it gets stolen. And you should get a license plate bracket as well.
Last but not least as far as accessories go are trailer locks, which are designed mainly to protect your boat’s trailer from theft. There are various types of locks made for trailers, including hitch locks, coupler locks and trailering locks to secure outboard motors while they’re being trailered.