No. 2 – You’ll probably need to get a jack just for the trailer

Scissors Jack
Great…you thought ahead and ordered your trailer with a spare tire (you did, didn’t you?). But have you figured out how you’re going to jack up the trailer to change the tire?

Nowadays, most cars and trucks come with a short hydraulic or scissors jack. These small jacks are designed to fit into a special recess in the vehicle frame or suspension arms.

Were you planning on using that jack to change a flat on the trailer? Surprise! You may find that your vehicle jack fails miserably at lifting your boat trailer.

Trailer frames are often farther off the ground than the tow vehicle’s jack lift points. As a result, if you place the tow vehicle’s jack under the trailer frame, you may find that that jack won’t extend far enough to let you change a tire.

How about placing the jack under the trailer axle? That might work. However, on a single axle trailer, the side with the flat will be very low to the ground. It’s likely that the tow vehicle’s jack will be to too tall to fit under the axle near the wheel, especially if the tire is totally trashed like the one in the previous page.

You might be able to fit it under the axle if you position the jack towards the center line of the trailer. But that may place the jack so far under the trailer that you won’t be able to work the handle. Passenger vehicle jacks usually use a short tire iron or crank rod to actuate the jack. Will you be able to reach it when it’s pushed back under the trailer?

We started out carrying a small scissors jack for the trailer, but discovered early on that:

  1. It wasn’t tall enough to lift the trailer using the frame, and
  2. The out-of-the-box handle was too short if we slid the jack under the axle

For a while we carried a 24″ piece of 1″ OD aluminum tubing that could be slipped over the factory handle. This extended the handle enough to make it usable when the jack was placed under the axle. We finally got around to buying a large scissors jack that could lift the trailer using the frame (it also had a much longer crank).

The main point: Don’t assume that your vehicle jack will work on your boat trailer. TRY IT BEFORE YOU NEED IT, and figure out what you’re going to do if it doesn’t work.