Posted: June 26, 2014
Towing a Boat, Car or Trailer? Here are 5 Essential Accessories You Will Need!
Truck accessories are essential for having while towingBy Travis Mai
It’s getting hotter by the day, and Americans are itching for summer travel. For many of us, that means dusting off the boat or trailer for a road trip or a day at the lake. Properly equipping your vehicle or trailer is essential to a smooth trip. Here is a roundup of five essential accessories needed to tow a boat, car or trailer.
1. Tow Mirror
What it is: A tow mirror is basically an extension of the side-view mirror. It gives a much clearer view of the entire vehicle and the trailer or boat in tow. Don’t assume you can eyeball it and still be safe. You are lugging a lot of weight, and the viewpoint from standard side-view and rearview mirrors can be deceptive.
How to choose the right one: Sizes and functionality are fairly standard from mirror to mirror, although types vary. For example, if you only occasionally tow a trailer (like for a family vacation), you might opt for a removable mirror. But if you expect to do frequent towing, you might consider a full replacement mirror. For removable mirrors, installation preferences may differ. Some are clipped on, and some slip over the existing mirror. The best way to determine the best fit is to try it onsite.
2. Bearing Protectors
What they are: Bearing protectors are simply caps that cover a trailer’s hubs, often used to replace the existing dust caps. They are essential, especially if you will be doing a lot of towing. The job of the bearing protector is to deflect water, dirt and grime with a spring that keeps constant pressure on bearings. Over time, debris build-up will prevent the bearings from rotating freely, resulting in the need to replace them in just a year or two. Bearing protectors are important for all towing trailers, but more so for trailers that will enter water during boat launches. The installation of bearing protectors ensures a smoother ride — definitely important for towing valuable or fragile equipment — and will extend the life of the trailer.
How to choose the right ones: Bearing protectors are standard pieces of protective equipment that vary by size. You will want to be sure that you know the size of the towing trailer’s hubs. But otherwise, parts and installation are fairly quick and simple — making this an easy yet essential purchase.
3. Wheel Chocks
What they are: Wheel chocks are simply wedges used to keep a trailer in place while parked. They typically are made of rubber or metal and are designed to grip the ground without slipping. Trailers, boats and cars want to roll, they are extremely heavy, and they exert enormous pressure on the vehicle to which they are attached. Wheel chocks are necessary not only to protect your property from getting away from you but for preventing serious injury or death. They’re small, simple, yet easy to overlook when purchasing towing accessories.
How to choose the right ones: Wheel chocks are one accessory where type certainly matters. They vary by height and material. The height is the most crucial feature when selecting wheel chocks, as they should be paired with the tires. As a rule of thumb, the chock should stand roughly one-quarter of the height of the tire. Wedge-style chocks are fairly standard; however, some people might prefer a “chock lock” style that is secured to the inside of the tire. You might prefer this option because it is more secure, or because the width can be expanded. While occasionally one chock will do the job, two are needed if the trailer is to rest on a 30 percent grade. For reference, the standard boat ramp is about 15 percent.
4. Safety Chains
What they are: Safety chains are your main failsafe when a boat, trailer or car is in tow on the road. While they do not take on the strain of the towing, they are used to reinforce the attachment to the vehicle and serve as a backup in case a ball mount unexpectedly fails.
How to choose the right ones: You have two options: chains or cables. Chains are heavy-duty metal links, while safety cables are just cables with no links. Chains are better for longer distances, as cables are only made to immediately prevent the loss of control. Both vary in the weight they can carry — from 2,000 pounds up to 10,000 pounds. Be sure the capacity exceeds the weight of the boat, trailer or vehicle. Similarly, look at a variety of hook types, such as S-hooks, slip hooks and quick links. This mostly comes down to personal preference, as some people don’t like that S-hooks can be noisier when they move around. It’s important to understand how to use them — for example, chains should be crossed and attached with hooks to the vehicle so that they may catch the tongue if it detaches.
5. Spare Tire Mount
What it is: It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s something that is easily overlooked. Flats happen, and when you’re lugging a trailer, that’s a few more tires to worry about. A flat can strand you and force you to leave your boat or trailer behind in search of a spare.
How to choose the right one: The simplest option is a spare tire carrier that attaches to the trailer or a front mount receiver hitch. Many can be situated directly beside the trailer jack for easy access. Other options include bumper mounts and mounts that attach to the tongue and frame — the latter being a popular option for boat trailers as they can be placed almost anywhere that does not interfere with the boat itself. Type and placement largely comes down to preference, but know that it is a crucial accessory.
About the author:
Travis Mai is the eCommerce Sales & Training Manager at CURT Manufacturing, a leading provider of towing and trailer accessories for the truck and automobile industry.