It's pretty easy to take your boat trailer for granted. It's like a workhorse with few mechanical problems -- and not many demands.
One demand that it does have, however, and is often overlooked or taken for granted is its tires. Since the trailer might not be used all that much -- maybe just on weekend jaunts, or on a summer outing -- the tire tread can look good for years, but looks can be deceiving.
When the trailer just sits while your boat is being stored, the tires can undergo a lot of stress and strain and develop cracks and seams that might be hard to notice.
That's why you should move your boat frequently while in storage, or as some recommend, jack the trailer up and take the pressure off the tires while the boat floats peacefully above.
A boating enthuasit -- and tire dealer, of all people -- recently blogged about how he was caught out on a wilderness road while one of the tires on his boat trailer went flat. Being isolated was both good and bad -- good because there was little traffic to interfere while he tried to change the trailer tire, bad because if it he couldn't change the tire, he'd be miles from any repair help.
This man (a tire dealer, remember) didn't even carry a lug wrench for his trailer tries, but fortunately both his car jack and lug wrench worked on his trailer, and he was able to plop on a spare. But it too was nearly flat, and he had to hobble miles to a gas station to fill it up with air!
This story contains a few cautionary notes for you: Always carry a jack and lug wrench for your trailer tires, and make sure you a) actually have a spare amd b) ensure the spare is properly inflated and in good shape.
The other moral here is that trailer tires, though their tread may look good, generally wear out with old age. This man's tires were six years old, and well past their prime. Though they had good tread, they should have been replaced well before the incident took place.
Each tire has a DOT (Department of Transportation) manufacturing number on it, informing you of when it was constructed. For instance, if the DOT number is 5101, that means it was put together in the 51st week of the year 2001. Likewise, 4306 would mean the 43rd week of 2006.
If you store your boat at a valet-service facility such as Premier Indoor Storage in Corona, Calif., your tires will be routinely inspected, inflated and taken care of in a preventative way, so you can feel safe each time you take your boat out.
Places like Premier are your best bet, but if you choose to store your boat at home or elsewhere where no mechanics are on duty, it's a good idea to follow the suggestions given above.