By Capt. Ed Kopp
Y ou have a $40,000 truck, a $45,000 boat, and a $2,500 trailer to carry it all. Think about this: The wheel bearings on your boat trailer spin at a mind-numbing speed while carrying the entire load of your boat and trailer. They’re submerged time and time again under salt water. All that stands between you and a roadside breakdown is a little bit of grease or oil to keep the bearings lubricated. Hopefully they will continue to do their job quietly and smoothly mile after mile. We have had many trailers come into our shop carried on a flatbed tow truck with the bearings seized up — or, even worse, the whole spindle, tire, and wheel missing. To keep this from happening to you, proper maintenance is needed on your all-important wheel bearings.
You should always rinse the salt water from your trailer and spray it with a quality corrosion protectant after every use, but this will not protect the internal workings of the bearing assemblies, seals and spindles. You should familiarize yourself with how these components are assembled and how to properly lubricate them. Most failures of trailer bearings are due to lack of proper periodic maintenance and not noticing the simple warning signs. Boat trailer bearings are also damaged by being immersed into cool water at the boat ramp too soon after they have been running warm during the trip to the ramp. Metal expands when heated, and sudden cooling can cause rapid contraction, allowing water into the bearings.
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