More Trailer Tow Wisdom
by Pat Goss
A poorly maintained trailer is a serious hazard, yet if you stop in a rest stop just about any place in the country you’re bound to see at least one trailer that looks as bad as this one.
What are some of the things you need to do to keep your trailer safe? Well, the tires of course, they’re what do the work, so you have to check the tires. You’ve got to check the condition and make sure that they are not dry rotted, make sure that they’re not too old. Look at the date stamp on the side of the tire. Also make sure that the wheels that the tires are on that they are not rusty. Lots of rust is an accident looking for a place to happen.
The second part of the trailer that really takes a beating are the wheel bearings inside the hubs. They need to be repacked and serviced and checked, and that needs to be done at least once every season. And if it happens to be a boat trailer or is subjected to really heavy loads, you might have to do it a lot more frequently than that. When you are doing the bearings, when you’re repacking them, make sure that you use the proper wheel bearing grease and that you put new grease seals in the backs of each hub.
Now another thing that can be a real problem is down in the hitch assembly where the hitch goes into the receiver with the hitch pin. The spring clips lose their tension and sometimes fall out. Best bet here, buy a new one every year.
Also there are things that need to be lubricated on a trailer and that means white-lithium grease is going to be necessary, and what you’re going to do with the white-lithium grease, well one of two things. First you’re going to check the condition of all of the parts in the trailer portion of the hitch. You know there are moving parts in there. You have to make sure that they move properly and that they’re not excessively worn. And all of the moving parts they need to be lubricated, so keep them lubricated.
Now of all of the parts of a trailer, one of the most significant safety features are as their name implies: the safety chains. Now look at this one, all rusted up. One portion doesn’t even move back and forth anymore. It is totally dangerous, so replace the safety chains periodically. A couple of things that you look for are that the links are wielded and not crimped together, and look for a special clamp that will attach the safety chain to the vehicle. It’s a screw-type, and it’s a positive connection. Open it up, put it over the ring on the vehicle then close it back up so it can’t fall off.
Do all of these things to take good care of your trailer and you’ll have a safe trip.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.