Proper Trailer Care - Your First Step to Fun on the Water

Coupler or Actuator and Tow Vehicle Hitch

1. For towing safety, you must be sure that the capacity of your tow vehicle, hitch and hitch ball meets or exceeds the requirements of your trailer!

a. refer to your tow vehicle manual or see your dealer to be sure your tow vehicle is sufficient to handle the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating found on your identification sticker with serial number) of your trailer.

    b. make sure the Class Rating of your hitch (and draw bar if used) is sufficient to handle the GVWR of your trailer.

    c. verify the size of your hitch ball matches the required size stamped on the coupler or actuator. For example, you can’t use a coupler for a 2” ball on a 1 7/8” hitch ball, you must use a 2” ball for proper fit.

    d. as a rule of thumb, use only a hitch ball that meets or exceeds the rated capacity of the coupler or actuator. At the minimum, your hitch ball rating must meet or exceed the GVWR of your trailer.

2. Verify that hitch ball is tightened. If you have a draw bar be sure that it is secured with a hitch pin and retainer clip.

3. Verify the coupler is free from debris.

4. Verify that the coupler or actuator latch is closed and trailer is securely attached to the tow vehicle.

5. If adjustment to the coupler is necessary do it away from the vehicle to prevent possible injury.

6. You should not attempt additional adjustments to the hitch.  See your dealer

Safety Cables


Your trailer is equipped with safety cables as a back up to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle if the coupler or actuator disconnects from the hitch.

To properly attach these cables from the trailer to the tow vehicle, first crisscross them under the trailer tongue and hook to the tow vehicle.

The crisscrossing is extremely important because it creates a basket effect to help support the trailer tongue if disconnected from tow vehicle.

If trailer is equipped with an actuator, the actuator has a safety cable that must be hooked to the tow vehicle. In case of trailer separation this cable is intended operate the emergency brake lever that will apply the brakes on the trailer.


1. Verify handle is securely fastened to winch and engaged.

2. Extend cable, rope or strap completely and verify that it is securely fastened to the winch barrel.

3. Visually inspect gears for signs of wear and replace gears as necessary.

4.  Make sure paw is always engaged on winch so the winch handle does not freewheel. This can cause serious injury.

  Please review proper winch operation with your dealer before towing.

5. Be sure your winchstand is adjusted so the bow eye on the boat is just below the bow roller on the winchstand. The winch cable, rope or strap must go UNDER the bow roller before attaching to the bow eye of the boat.

6. Your winchstand is equipped with a safety cable. Before towing, you must be sure that the safety cable is hooked into the boat’s bow eye.

Frame and Axle

Inspect your trailer routinely and especially before long trips to be sure all bolted connections are tight.

Trailer Brakes


Trailer brake laws vary by state but most states require brakes on all axles of trailers over 3000 lbs GVW. Check with your state’s Department of Transportation for laws in your state. 

Tidewater Trailers recommends brakes on all axles for trailers available with brakes.

WARNING: Only a trained mechanic should attempt brake maintenance.

  Improper adjustment, repair or maintenance voids the manufacturer’s warranty and may cause serious personal and property damage.  See your dealer immediately for any brake problem.

   1. Check the brake fluid on the actuator before each use and refill as necessary with DOT #3 approved brake fluid.

   2. Tidewater trailers equipped with disc brakes use a reverse lockout solenoid to facilitate backing up.  The solenoid wire is to be electrically activated by the tow vehicle’s back up lighting circuit when vehicle is put into reverse and must not to be connected to any other circuit.

The trailer with disc brakes uses a 5 way flat wire harness. The blue lead goes to the solenoid.

    a. If you have a 5 way connector installed in the tow vehicle, the prong closest to the edge of the plug (should be a blue wire) must be connected to the tow vehicle back up  lighting circuit.  This 5 way plug should match the 5 way plug on your trailer.

     b. Many vehicles come factory equipped with tow packages and most commonly have a 7 way round plug.

After verifying that the center pole in the round plug is the back up light circuit, the easiest solution is to buy a 7 to 5 way adapter plug that will plug into the tow vehicle and mate with the trailer harness.

    c. If you already have a 4 way flat plug on the tow vehicle it will mate with the 5 way plug on the trailer to operate the trailer lights leaving one unused socket on the trailer plug.

To activate the back up solenoid you will need to get a connecting wire from the tow vehicle back up lighting circuit that will plug into the unused in the trailer plug.

     d. If properly wired when you put the tow vehicle in reverse, the power that illuminates the tow vehicle’s backup lights also applies power to the solenoid.

The valve will click as it is energized. This blocks additional fluid pressure in the braking system allowing you to back up.

DO NOT BE HASTY. Be sure trailer is level. Also be aware that in any surge system there is residual pressure on the brakes when backing up an incline. 

Reverse lock out does not release this pressure.  Your actuator should be fully extended before backing up.  If you had just come to a hard stop, pull ahead slightly to relieve pressure on your brakes before putting tow vehicle in reverse. Allow up to 5 seconds before backing up to minimize system pressure.

     e. Not engaging the reverse solenoid will result in brakes being applied while backing-up the trailer and could cause damage to your trailer and your tow vehicle. 

3. If you are unable to back-up:

     a. Check connection to tow vehicle back-up light circuit. Connection should be free from dirt, water and debris.

     b. Check trailer ground connection (although trailer should be on the hitch, do not depend on hitch ball connection to provide sufficient ground).

Trailer should have dedicated ground wire from the harness (white) connected to grounding screw and plug on tow vehicle should be properly grounded. If the reverse lock out solenoid has a ground wire, be sure it is properly attached to the trailer.

     c. If you can not resolve the problem, contact your dealer.

Trailer Tires

Your trailer is equipped with high quality “ST” trailer rated bias ply tires. The most common problems with tires result from lack of care:

1. keep tires evenly inflated to recommended pressure shown on the tire sidewall.

Monitoring inflation pressure (when tires are cool) is especially important on trailer tires. An under-inflated tire builds up heat quickly, which can cause the layers or “plies” to delaminate.

2. check lug nuts on wheels often on your trips making sure they are tightened to recommended torque

3. inspect tires before trips for tread wear, cracks, splits or cuts The biggest detriment to trailer tires is not use, but rather the lack thereof. 

Trailers sitting for long periods of time may experience damage from the elements. Keep in mind that trailer tires sometimes need replacing long before the treads wear out.

Spider-web cracks on the sidewall are an indication that the tire is dry rotting and can no longer be relied on to carry heavy loads.

4. Repair or replace a tire with a slow leak. Only replace with equivalent trailer rated tires.

5. Never mix bias ply and radial tires on a trailer. Use tires built specifically for use on trailers. Passenger tires do not carry the same loads.

Spare Tires

Would you even consider driving your car without a spare?  A trailer should be no different.  Tidewater Trailers strongly recommends you always carry a spare. 

Ask your dealer about our "Tidewaterize It" options that offer a spare tire, spare tire carrier and a Tidewater spare tire cover all at one low price!

Note: a typical car jack will not work on a trailer, so you’ll need to get a scissors jack that is large enough to handle the load.

Hubs and Bearings

Proper attention to your hub lubrication will maximize the life of your bearings and reduce your chances of a breakdown on the road.

When it comes to protection, nothing beats the patented power of Sure Lube. It’s a time saver, too. Super Lube lets you grease or repack bearings with just a hand grease gun and without disassembly.

To ensure proper lubrication for your system, each unit should be lubricated with a high quality, lithium based wheel bearing grease. This should be applied with a hand operated grease gun every three months, 1000 miles, or as use requires.

Using 1½ - 2 ounces will give proper lubrication, and 5 - 7 ounces will completely exchange the grease throughout the wheel hub. 

The grease seals that are used in the hubs equipped with the Sure Lube System must be a “Transcom” Brand of grease seal. These seals can be purchased direct from the factory.

For further information on your system visit

Hubs could become warm during operation and brake rotors in particular could become hot from intense braking. If you suspect there is excessive heat, DO NOT TOUCH THESE PARTS until the trailer has been idle for awhile.

After the hub has cooled:
1. Be sure axle system is fully greased.
2. Verify brake fluid levels.
3. Verify reverse solenoid (if equipped with disc brakes) is properly operating.
4. If these are OK and you think problem persists, see your dealer.

Lights and Electrical

Your trailer lighting system is a 12V grounded system with sealed lights.   To extend lighting life, always unplug the trailer harness from the tow vehicle before launching and loading. Doing so will help prevent thermal shock failure.

For your safety always check trailer lighting for proper operation before heading out on the road.

If lights don’t work:
1. Verify wire harnesses are free of dirt, debris and water and are properly attached.  Verify that the tow vehicle harness and trailer harness properly mate (are the same type).

2. Be sure trailer ground wire is intact.

3. Check that towing vehicle lights work.

4. Check fuses in tow vehicle

5. Look for any pinched, frayed or cut wires and replace as necessary.  Before replacing, disconnect the trailer harness from the tow vehicle.

6. Check bulbs and/or sealed capsules and replace as necessary.

Winterizing Your Trailer
1. Park in a protected area or cover your trailer with a boat cover or tarp. Cover tires to protect from UV rays of the sun.

2. Block the wheels, or better, jack up the trailer so the tires do not come in contact with the ground

3. Fill / repack wheel bearings via Sure Lube. Moisture can cause rust and possible bearing damage, especially when a trailer sits idle.

4. Lubricate moving parts such as roller bushings, winches and other rolling parts with lightweight household oil.

5. Tighten loose nuts and bolts.
6. Block the tongue and crank the tongue jack to the completely closed position.

Removing Your Trailer from Storage

1. Apply lightweight oil to winch gears.

2. Verify tightness of lug nuts.

3. Check air pressure in tires and inflate to specs on tire.

4. Check tread and general appearance of tires.

5. Verify brake fluid levels.

6. Check that brake system is in good condition and not leaking.

7. Complete a full electrical check (as defined previously).

8. Be sure bearings are fully greased.

Tidewater Trailers     776 Creek Road  Bellmawr, NJ 08031 Sales 215-736-8433    Factory 856-933-3914   Fax: 856-933-3071