Trailers are hard-working pieces of equipment that are easy to overlook. They not only travel like your vehicle, but generally do so bearing a much heavier load. Giving your trailer the proper TLC will help ensure it’s ready for all your hauling needs. It’s Trailer Week at Carsforsale.com, so we reviewed five core trailer maintenance tips to ensure your trailer stays on the roads for as many miles as possible.
Trailer maintenance starts with the tires. Monitoring tire pressure is simple and effective. Proper tire inflation will ensure tire longevity and reduce uneven tire wear, saving you money in the long run. Be sure to only check tires before driving, as towing builds up heat, increasing tire pressure. Before hitting the road, take a brief look at the sidewall of the tires. Look for small cracks and feathering. These are red flags indicating it may be time to replace your tires. If you notice uneven tire wear despite proper inflation, that could indicate a problem with the undercarriage, axle alignment, suspension or another part of the trailer.
Secondly, make sure tire bearings are properly maintained. If you see streaks on the tire coming from the center, this is a sign that wheel bearing grease needs to be repacked. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or a professional on how and when to grease your trailer tires. For safety, be sure set a block or stop on the wheel to keep the trailer from rolling.
No matter how well you maintain your tires, eventually they will need to be replaced. Exact longevity of tires depends on what you haul, maintenance and miles. Even with no visible signs that a replacement is necessary, after six or seven years, it is wise to look at replacement options.
To find tire age, the sidewall should have a DOT ID if it was made within the last decade. Look for four numbers. Those indicate the week and the year that the tire was made. For example, 1015 would mean the tire was made on the 10th week of 2015.
Finally, never neglect the spare tire. Maintain it like your other tires. A solid spare tire can prevent a ruined weekend, an unfinished job or hours of wasted time.
If you have a wooden floor, particularly with a livestock trailer, check the quality of the floor twice a year. To do this, poke the floor with a sharp knife. If the knife is unable to penetrate the wood, that means the floor is solid and in great shape. If the knife is easily buried into the wood, that may indicate the wood is rotting.
Many floor failures are the result of excessive moisture content in the wood. Avoid exposing trailers to moisture whenever possible. Cleaning the trailer is important, but perhaps try using a broom and compressed air rather than a pressure washer when possible. If you can, it’s always a good idea to keep the trailer in a garage or shed.
First, check inside your electrical plug. Look for cobwebs, dirt or debris that could cause a bad connection. If you find anything that doesn’t belong, clean it out or remove it with compressed air. It’s important to always test the lighting before a trip. Plug your trailer into your truck and turn on hazard lights and head lights. This gives you the chance to ensure all lights are functioning properly.
If a light isn’t working, double check the plug to make sure it is secure. If the plug is connected properly, look at the bulb. If the bulb is in good shape, use a circuit tester to test wiring as it can rot away over time. Contacts can become loose and corrode with use. The time invested in fixing broken trailer lights will help you stay safe and avoid an expensive ticket.
Next, protect your electrical cords while not in use. If you have a hand crank on your trailer, wrap the chord around the crank and cover it with a 5-gallon bucket. This is an extremely simple way to ensure longevity of trailer electrical systems.
Checking for rust in a trailer’s paint may seem like an aesthetic concern, but rust will deteriorate a trailers value and strength of the metal. If rust develops, remove it and/or treat it with a rust eating agent and repaint whenever possible. Rust spreads, so stopping the issue early will help minimize damage. To protect the paint and metal before rust starts, automotive wax can help.
If your trailer has brakes, make sure to check them periodically. Trailer brakes take a big load off of your vehicle. Check brake pads, disks and drums. This can be a more complex aspect of trailer maintenance, so be sure to consult a professional if checking the brakes is beyond you experience or knowledge.
These five core trailer maintenance tips will increase the longevity of your trailer, saving you time and money. Each trailer type has a different set of maintenance requirements, so always refer to the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. Looking for a great deal on a trailer in your area? There are trailers for sale on Carsforsale.com for every job out there.
Do you have any trailer maintenance tips that have been helpful to you over the years? Share them with us in the comments below!