Maintaining Your Trailer
When it comes to towing, maintaining your trailer is just as important as maintaining your truck. Below, we will outline a few things you should be checking every trip, every few months and every year.
Any time you hit the road with your trailer, you should check the following before leaving.
-Tires: Check your tire pressure as well as the tread wear. The proper tire pressure should be listed on the sidewall of the tire. Checking for uneven tread wear can also help you identify other problems with your trailer, such as uneven pressure between tires, worn trailer bearings, and so on.
-Lights: Always check your trailer lights before leaving. Not only will this help to keep you and your cargo safe, but also other drivers on the road. Additionally, having a non-working trailer light could lead to a ticket. Be sure to check the running lights, brake lights and turn signals.
-Brakes: Checking your trailer brakes (if your trailer has them) is crucial for both safety and for the longevity of your trailer's components. Trailer brakes must not drag your tires when breaking. The gain for your trailer brakes can typically be adjusted in the cab of the vehicle. Your trailer brakes should not lock up when applying the brakes in the vehicle. This will be apparent when towing if the tires drag causing smoke and skid marks on the road behind you.
-Breakaway: If your trailer has a breakaway system, you should check both the battery and the brakes. The battery level can typically be checked on the unit itself with a multi-light battery level indicator. The system itself can be checked by pulling the breakaway trigger pin to see if the brakes engage.
Every few months, checking the following things is equally as important.
-Wheels: It is good to check the tightness of the wheel bolts or lug nuts every few thousand miles. Loose lug nuts could result in losing a wheel going down the road, especially at highway speeds. Checking the trailer wheels for cracks or dents every month can help prevent complete blowouts.
-Hubs and drums: Check for any scoring or wear on the hub and drum assemblies. Typically this will require removal of the trailer brakes, making it a good time to also check trailer brake internals for any damage or wear.
-Springs and suspension: Though normally not susceptible to wear, trailer springs and suspension components can wear out over time due to overloading the trailer, submersing the trailer in salt water such as with boat trailers. Check to make sure the springs are not cracked, rusted or bent beyond their original shape. It is also imperative to check any linkages that connect the springs the to trailer as these can become susceptible to wear over time as well.
While some of these checks can performed every once in a while, the first four on this list should be checked before ever hitting the road. Keeping you, your passengers, your cargo and other drivers safe on the road is the most important thing you can do when towing a trailer.