A trailer is an extension of your motor vehicle, both literally and figuratively. Yes, the trailer extends from the back of your car or truck, but the same care and consideration you put into maintenance of your vehicle should also extend to the trailer. That’s because failing to keep tabs on the condition of your trailer and its many crucial parts could leave you stranded on the side of the road with an albatross to tow home. Even worse, it could cause an accident that leaves you or other motorists injured, or could damage the goods you were towing. Given these unpleasant possibilities, we’re here to suggest regular intervals to inspect or replace trailer parts in the hopes of avoiding a headache or accident.
- Weekly (or each trip)
- Tire pressure: It’s recommended that trailer tires be inflated to the maximum PSI that they are rated for to ensure safe transportation of your load.
- Lights: Headlights, brake lights and turn signals should all be checked. Enlist the help of a friend to knock this one out in a few minutes at most. If something isn’t working, it’s likely just a blown bulb that needs replacing.
- Every 3 months
- Check/tighten lug nuts: Whether with a socket wrench or pneumatic air gun, make sure the lug nuts that hold the wheels on are tight.
- Brake adjustment: Although a special tool is required for this process, it’s not a difficult one and requires little more than jacking the trailer up and getting access to the brake adjuster.
- Check tire condition (tread and wear pattern): Over- or under-inflated tires will present specific and vastly different patterns of wear. If left unchecked, the tire will wear down to a point where its continued use is unsafe.
- Every 6 months - check and replace/repair if necessary:
- Brake magnets: A multimeter will come in handy here to help you check the amperage and ohms.
- Brake control: The calibration of brake controllers of any variety should be considered at this interval.
- Suspension parts: All those bumps in the road take a toll on your trailer’s suspension. Bushings and springs frequently fall victim to the use and abuse.
- Wheels: No matter if you kept your tires properly inflated, the rubber wears down after time. Check the tread depth and wear patterns. If either appear to have seen better times, it’s time to start shopping for trailer tires.
- Change brake shoe/lining: Brake shoes are a critical component of the trailer braking process. To ensure safe and proper operation, consider replacing them annually.
- Check brake wiring: Visually inspect the condition of the wires in the system to predict and prevent the possibility of shortages.
- Hub and Drums: While the brakes are made up of many parts, hubs and drums keep the system contained. Inspecting or replacing them means you’ll rest easy knowing all the components inside are well-protected.
- Re-pack bearings: If a bearing blows out, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. By removing the bearings to care for them, you’re preventing a road-side disaster.
- Change brake fluid (hydraulic brakes): Want to ensure a well-operating system that’s free of debris? Then change the brake fluid regularly and you’ll likely have a safer ride.
Check all of the above at the suggested intervals and you will help prevent issues and accidents, ensuring proper enjoyment of your trailer throughout the year!