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Nearly two-thirds of boat trailer failures happen for two reasons - Here's how to eliminate them

by Scott Croft 3 Aug 2021 18:10 UTC
Boat owners with BoatUS Trailer Assist get the help they need when their rig breaks down. © Scott Croft

To a boater, it's a cringeworthy sight - a boat sitting on a disabled trailer unattended on the side of the road, typically because the boat's owner has gone to seek help.

While it's likely many of these incidents go unnoticed by the public, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) 24-hour dispatch centers reported 6,635 requests for BoatUS Trailer Assist roadside assistance service in 2020.

With the summer boat trailering season at its peak, the national advocacy, services and safety group looked into the top five reasons boat trailers break down. Surprisingly, just two preventive measures could eliminate nearly two-thirds of all potential breakdowns.

BoatUS reports the No. 1 reason (44%) BoatUS members requested roadside assistance was for trailer tire troubles, including owners who failed to carry a spare tire. Low tire pressure is the leading cause of a trailer tire's early demise, so check the pressure often, and never leave home without a serviceable spare. (Don't forget to check the pressure in the spare, too!)

Wheel bearings (21%) were the second largest cause of roadside assistance requests. If your hubs are submerged, bearing protectors are critical to prevent water intrusion and resulting bearing failure. At a minimum, bearings need to be inspected and repacked once a year.

While focusing on these two items alone can potentially prevent 65% of all trailer mishaps, boat owners should additionally be aware that the No. 3 reason to request roadside BoatUS Trailer Assist service was trailer axle issues (11%), followed by trailer failure (6%) and tow vehicle failure (5%). Periodic inspections and routine maintenance are the best ways to reduce the chances for these types of breakdowns.

Added to a Basic BoatUS Membership ($25) for $15, BoatUS Trailer Assist will tow your towing vehicle and boat trailer to the nearest repair facility or safe location up to 100 miles from the location of breakdown. Boat launch ramp winching, fuel drop-off and lock-out services are included. Known as the Boat Owners Auto Club, BoatUS Trailer Assist also provides coverage to the tow vehicle while towing.

BoatUS offers a short video safety checklist to prevent boat trailer breakdowns, and for more information on BoatUS Trailer Assist go to

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