by Pat Goss
What could be simpler than a trailer? There really isn’t much to them. And if you don’t maintain them well what's the worst that could go wrong?
Well here’s something. This one- it was parked over grass for long periods of time and the axle actually rusted from the inside out from the moisture. And going down the road it broke and the wheel came off. So always check the axle on your trailer. Make sure it isn’t rusty. Check the wheels, especially if it’s a boat trailer and you back it into salt water. The wheels tend to rust on the inside and they separate on the highway. Check the tires. The tires do a lot of work on a trailer, heavy loads, high speeds, you’ve got to make sure that the tires are in good shape, they aren’t stale dated- so you have to check the production date on them, and that they have the proper pressure.
Alright, next thing, the wheels turn on bearings. The bearings should be checked every 12,000 miles or once a year unless it’s a boat trailer that gets backed into the water and then they may have to be checked a lot more frequently. Big thing is you check to make sure they don’t look like this. This one is right on the verge of failure because the grease is completely shot in it. Now if you have to replace the bearings buy them as a kit, they come with the race, the bearing, the seal, cotter pin, everything that you need except grease. You have to pack the grease into the new bearing. And make sure and you know how to do that, you do it properly, and you use the proper high temp high pressure wheel bearing grease.
Some trailers will have surge brakes. That means that the coupling there will be a moveable part of the coupling and a master cylinder above it. And when the trailer surges forward as you brake the tow vehicle, it will apply the brakes by moving the master cylinder, pumping fluid to the trailer wheels and that brake fluid needs to be changed every 2 years- never longer than that.
Check the lights. Many times trailer lights will be cracked or broken. Sometimes they discolor, they lose their red color. If there’s anything wrong with them, replace them- they are ready available and easy to install. Also, make sure that the lights work. You have somebody walk around while you apply the breaks, the turn signals, and so on.
Now another thing, a lot of the light adapters or the trailer adapters, you have a different connector on the car with the tow vehicle than what you have on the trailer. So you buy these adapters. Many of the adapters will have built in testers. Like this one will glow red if there’s a problem. This one has lights on it, and so on. It helps you test to make sure that the tow vehicle is supplying the proper voltage to the trailer to make the lights work. So take care of the trailer then you won’t have problems.
And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at Motorweek.