Trailer Tips and Tricks For Our Aluminum Boat Trailers

about.jpgThe customers of BoatTrailersDirect are the very proud owners of maintenance free aluminum boat trailers, built for long term performance and durability. However, when it's time to take your new aluminum trailer out on the roads, there are some aluminum trailer tips and tricks to keep in mind when loading and launching your aluminum trailer.

This basic information will keep you from abusing your towing vehicle by providing tips that you should know for the safe and comfortable transport of your boat and aluminum trailer.

  • 1. Check Weight & Weight Distribution +

    Be sure the trailer is properly loaded and balanced, with the center of gravity (CG) low, for optimum handling. Keep about 60% of the weight in the front 1/2, and around 40% of the weight in the rear. Be sure to keep within the limits of tongue weight capacity. Make sure the boat is balanced from side to side. Be sure not to have any side mounted fuel or water tanks filled during transport, as this will lead to poor maneuverability, and can wear out your tires unnecessarily. Be sure the boat is secured firmly with at least 2 ratchet type straps. One should be attached from the trailer to the stern eyes, and another from the rear of the aluminum trailer to the bow eye to keep the boat from shifting forward. You should also attach the bow eye to the aluminum trailer's winch, just forward of the bow.  
  • 2. Before Starting +

    Make sure you are comfortable driving your vehicle with a trailer in tow. Practice turning, stopping, and backing up your trailer away from traffic. Adjust mirrors so that your field of vision on both sides of the boat and aluminum trailer is clear. If you have trouble seeing with your current mirrors, look into getting modified mirrors for your tow vehicle. Check the aluminum trailer's tires for wear and tear, and air, and make sure the lug nuts are tightened. A partially flat trailer tire will heat up and eventually disintegrate. And, loosing a wheel can prove to be disastrous, especially if the loose wheel strikes another vehicle. Also if you have a dual wheeled vehicle, make sure to check for "hidden" flats. Be sure the vehicle you are towing with has working lights, turn signals, full oil and fuel, and that it has plenty of water in the radiator
  • 3. Backing Up +

    Use a guide outside the rear of the aluminum trailer to help you back up, and go slowly. Put one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and move it in the direction you want to move the aluminum trailer slowly. Make small steering inputs - slight movements result in greater movement in the back of the aluminum trailer. Always use your mirrors and watch both sides of the aluminum trailer.  
  • 4. Braking +

    Allow considerable distance for stopping with a boat and an aluminum trailer attached. If you have a manual brake controller, "lead" with the trailer brakes first if possible. To correct trailer side-sway touch the manual trailer brakes with out activating the tow vehicles brakes. Always try to steer as straight as possible when stopping. Turning while you are making a radical stop can cause the vehicles rear end to be pushed forward of the front - this is called "jackknifing".  
  • 5. Upgrades and Downgrades +

    Downshifting assists braking on downgrades and provides added power at the drive wheels when climbing hills.  
  • 6. Parking With a Trailer +

    Whenever possible, trailered vehicles should not park on an incline or grade. However, if it is absolutely necessary, place wheel chocks under the trailer's wheels as follows: Apply the foot service brakes and hold. Have another person place the wheel chocks under the trailer wheels on the downgrade side. Once the wheel chocks are in place, release the foot service brakes, making sure that the chocks are holding the tow vehicle and trailer. Apply the parking brake. E. Shift the transmission and make sure it is latched there. If your tow vehicle has a manual transmission, put the gearshift lever in reverse. Note: With 4-wheel drive, make sure the transfer case is not in neutral. To start again. Apply the foot service brake and hold. Shift the transmission into park on automatic transmissions and neutral on manual transmissions. Shift the transmission into gear and release the parking brake. 4. Release
  • 7. Acceleration and Passing +

    The added weight of the trailer can dramatically decrease the acceleration of the towing vehicle. Exercise caution. If you must pass a slower vehicle, be sure to allow extra distance.........remember, you also have the added length of the trailer which must clear the other vehicle before you can pull back into the lane. Make your pass on level terrain with plenty of clearance. If necessary, downshift for improved acceleration.
  • 8. Driving With an Automatic Overdrive Transmission +

    With certain automatic overdrive transmissions, towing, especially in hilly areas with heavier boats, may result in excessive shifting between overdrive and the next lowest gear. If this occurs, it is recommended that the overdrive gear be locked out to eliminate the condition and provide steadier performance. Note: See the tow vehicle's owner's manual for more information. When there is no excessive shifting, use the overdrive gear for optimum fuel economy. Overdrive also may be locked out to obtain braking on downgrades.  
  • 9. Driving With Speed Control +

    When driving uphill with a large boat, significant speed drops may occur. A speed drop of more than 8 to 14 miles per hour will automatically cancel the speed control device. Temporally resume manual control through the vehicle's accelerator pedal until the terrain levels off.  
  • 10. On the Road +

    After about 50 miles, stop in a protected area and double check: Trailer hitch attachment. Lights and electrical connections. Trailer wheel lug nuts for tightness. Engine oil.....check regularly throughout the trip. If a flat occurs on the tow vehicle, do not use a small "donut" type spare tire as this will drastically reduce the maneuverability of the rig.
  • 11. Launching the Boat +

    Evaluate the pitch and length of the ramp as compared to the length of the boat and trailer. Line the boat and tow vehicle up with the ramp in a straight line. Prepare a bow and stern line for easy retrieval and make sure any plugs are installed prior to launching. Back down the ramp slowly, using someone at the back of the boat to guide you. Make sure the wheels don't drop off the end of the ramp. Submerge the trailer only as much as necessary to float the boat or roll it off, depending on which type of trailer you have. Keep in mind that if you have a multiple axle trailer, if you back one or more of the axles over the edge of a drop off, the remaining axles will be supporting the weight of the boat, unless, of course, the boat is supported by its
  • 12. Retrieving the Boat +

    Evaluate the pitch and length of the ramp as compared to the length of the boat and trailer Line the tow vehicle and trailer up with the ramp and back down the ramp slowly Submerge the trailer only as much as necessary to float the or roll the boat on, depending on which type of trailer you have. Keep in mind that if you have a multiple axle trailer, if you back one or more of the axles over the edge of a drop off, the remaining axles will be supporting the weight of the boat, unless, of course, the boat is supported by its own buoyancy. Gently drive the boat onto the trailer as recommended by the manufacturer using the trailer's winch as directed by the type of trailer you own. - Once the boat is straight on the trailer, double check to make sure the bow is latched to
  • 13. Parking the Boat Trailer +

    Once the boat trailer is ready to be parked, make sure you pick an area which is well lit and free from falling debris, like tree leaves and other things which can clutter up you boat. After situating the boat trailer in the spot where you want it, place chocks at the front and rear of all the tires. Carefully disconnect the trailer coupling from the hitch, and unplug all connections.  
  • 14. Long Term Maintenance +

    After each use, the trailer's brakes should be flushed with fresh water, regardless of whether you submerged it in fresh or salt water. Use a petroleum based solution to wipe down the tires which will help to prevent dry rot. Periodically grease the axle hubs, making sure not to overfill grease retaining hubs. This could blow out the "o" ring seals and promote premature failure.
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