Welcome to our guide on the best practices for maintaining your car trailer. Many business owners with small to medium enterprises use car trailers as a means of transportation for their goods and products. However, keeping these trailers in top shape can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t have the right knowledge and tools. This article will provide you with essential maintenance tips to help prolong the longevity of your car trailer and keep it in optimal condition.
Importance of Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance is crucial for the proper functioning and longevity of any vehicle, including car trailers. Neglecting to perform routine checks and maintenance can lead to costly repairs, breakdowns, and even accidents on the road. By following a regular maintenance schedule, you can avoid these issues and ensure your car trailer is always in top condition.
Essential Maintenance Tips
Ensuring safety is the primary motivation behind implementing a regular maintenance schedule for your trailer. The aim is to instill confidence and a sense of security every time you hit the road. Establishing a routine safety maintenance schedule not only enhances the safety aspect but also contributes to prolonging the life of your trailer as a valuable investment, safeguarding its resale value.
The slower winter months serve as an opportune period for a comprehensive trailer inspection. Tackling any identified issues or safety concerns during this time sets the stage for a confident commencement of your next busy work season, particularly as spring approaches. Additionally, addressing concerns before the end of the tax year can be advantageous, potentially enabling you to leverage more business deductions.
Outlined below are key aspects to focus on during routine trailer maintenance.
Tires constitute a critical component of a trailer, and their inspection is paramount due to their distinct construction compared to truck or car tires, rendering them less durable. Exposed to the elements, trailer tires are susceptible to cracking and weathering. Proper maintenance and awareness of what to inspect can result in significant time and cost savings. When uncertain, seeking guidance from a reliable professional is advisable. Below are key aspects to examine for extending the lifespan of your trailer tires.
Check the recommended cold tire pressure, typically indicated on the tire itself. Different tire sizes have varying pressure requirements. Ensure that the tire pressure, whether in use or in storage, adheres to the specified recommendations.
Inspect the tire tread for deep cracks or signs of deterioration. Trailer tires are prone to internal issues, so examine for any bulging. Run your hand over the tire surface to detect irregularities or lumps. Excessive bouncing or instability while towing may indicate a tire issue, necessitating replacement.
Cracking or weathering is a common occurrence in tires and signals the need for replacement. Factors such as temperature, weather conditions, and exposure to sunlight contribute to cracks on the sidewalls and the base of the tread grooves. Incorrect tire inflation, either over or under, accelerates aging and deepens minor cracks. Many tire manufacturers provide warranties, and if cracks develop within the warranty period, consider having them replaced.
Always remember to inspect your spare tire. During the hectic season, a spare tire might have been utilized and stored without proper examination. It’s inconvenient to rely on a spare only to find it in poor condition. Check the tread wear on your spare and ensure it is adequately inflated.
Proper trailer storage significantly impacts the longevity of its tires. Ideally, store vehicles on petroleum-free surfaces like concrete, preferably indoors. Avoiding exposure to extreme weather conditions will enhance tire life. If your trailer will be on frozen ground for extended periods, place a barrier under the tires to prevent freezing. Protect tires from direct sunlight during hot weather, and use covers to prevent damage from ultraviolet rays.
Ensuring your trailer’s lighting is functional is crucial for legality and safety. Regularly inspect and test the lights as part of routine maintenance. A comprehensive end-of-season inspection and prompt issue resolution will contribute to a smoother start to the next season. Consider the following aspects when checking your lighting:
Conduct a routine check with assistance to ensure all lights (running lights, brake lights, blinkers on both sides, and reverse lights) are working properly.
Inspect the wiring plug at the coupler end. Clean the contacts using 400-grit sandpaper, and apply dielectric grease or contact cleaner for lubrication.
Regularly examine every inch of your wiring, especially at the end of the season. Ensure secure attachment to the frame, check the condition of wire ties or cable clamps, and look for nicks in exposed wiring that could lead to a short circuit.
Lugnuts, Bolts, Screws
Routine checks of lugnuts for damage and proper torque are essential for safety. Over time, bolts and screws may loosen or become damaged. Periodic checks, especially at the end of the season, can prevent issues during operation. Replace damaged components and tighten any loose ones.
Couplers, Safety Chains & Jacks
For effective trailer maintenance and safety, routinely inspect the condition of couplers, safety chains, and jacks. Ensure the coupler is properly adjusted, securely clamping onto the ball, with minimal play to avoid the risk of disconnection. Confirm the presence and proper fastening of safety chains. Additionally, perform a yearly maintenance check on the tongue and jacks to ensure functionality, proper lubrication, and overall safety.
Brakes & Breakaway System
Regularly examine the breakaway system to ensure it engages the battery in case of disconnection, locking up the trailer brakes. Dual axle trailers with brakes should have a standard breakaway system; smaller utility trailers may not. Test the battery annually for operational status using a voltmeter or by pulling the plunger, and promptly reinstall the plunger. Note that breakaway batteries have a limited lifespan. For tandem axle trailers, a brake controller on the truck is essential.
To verify brake functionality, engage the brake controller while driving. Turning the brake control to the maximum setting should lock up the brakes if they are working, allowing for subsequent adjustments. Adjust the trailer brake strength based on load weight. When empty, set it at a lower level, ensuring a slight nudge upon pulling away. The brake controller responds to pressure, so consider the load weight when adjusting. As cargo weight increases, adjust the brakes to a level where you can feel them. Aim to stop using manual brakes at 5 to 10 mph with any load, providing a controlled, albeit not immediate, stop. This approach prevents brakes from locking up, maintaining optimal traction.
Two major contributors to trailer damage are insufficient grease and over-greasing of wheel bearings. A straightforward method to assess wheel bearings is lifting the tire to check for any play. If there’s more than 1/4 to 1/2 inch of play, repacking the bearings is advisable before the next load. For regular trailer users (two to three times a week), consider adding a few grease pumps every six months, but limit it to three or four. Additionally, inspect the color of the grease; if it appears burnt or runny, addressing potential damage is essential.
Regular upkeep is crucial. Promptly address any scratches, nicks, or dents to prevent further deterioration. Trailers covered in dirt and grime are prone to faster rusting. Treat any wooden components on the trailer at least every six months or, ideally, once a year. The longevity of the trailer’s paint job depends on consistent cleanliness and preventive care habits.
It’s easy to forget but even easier to face consequences if overlooked. Ensure your trailer’s registration is up to date, and maintain the visibility and legibility of the VIN # tag.