Here are some of our most useful trailer maintenance tips before you hit the road this summer! Now with warmer weather, it’s time to take your cars, bikes, boats, and ATVs on the road again. How well that goes depends on how well your trailer is working after being kept in the garage all winter.
DO A TIRE SAFETY CHECK
Start with the tires. If you haven’t taken your trailer out since the end of last summer, you’ll probably need to pump up the tires. Step one of trailer maintenance is to give the tires a full checkup. Grab your tire pressure gauge, see what air pressure the tires are at, and then bring them up to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure using a tire pump or tire inflator.
Next, inspect the tire tread, tire wear, and sidewalls. Check the tire’s tread depth using a tire tread depth gauge! Do you see any cracks, balding, or flat-spotting from having been parked in one place for months? If you notice any of these problems, it’s time for new tires for safety’s sake. It’s also a good idea to have a tire repair kit in the trunk of your vehicle in case your trailer gets a flat tire on the road!
INSPECT YOUR WHEELS AND BRAKES
Now, look at the parts that interact with the tires—namely, the wheels and brakes. Get the wheels off the ground and give them a spin. If you hear noises like creaking, cracking, or metal-on-metal grinding sounds, you need to either lubricate your wheel bearings using a grease gun and wheel bearing grease or replace them altogether. You should consider installing a wheel bearing dust cap over your wheel bearing to prevent wheel bearing failure by keeping water and dirt out of hubs and bearings!
Because some trailers have drum brakes, all the workings (apart from the pads) are hidden from view. Check to make sure no brake fluid is leaking from the drum, and top off the brake fluid reservoir if needed! Also, inspect the brake pads to make sure they’re not worn out. Bad brakes on a trailer are bad news!
TEST YOUR TRAILER LIGHTS
Once you’ve ensured that the tires, wheels, and brakes are in good order, it’s time to check the lighting. Brake lights, turn signals, and running lights are important for road safety and they’re required by law to be in working order. Check everything from the wiring harness (make sure nothing’s loose and no wires are worn or frayed) right down to the light bulbs themselves. Those lights help other drivers see you and your precious cargo. An easy way to see if your trailer lights are working is to press the brake, hazard lights, and blinker lights while someone stands behind the trailer to see if all the lights are working properly.
CHECK YOUR TRAILER'S REGISTRATION
If you live in a province where your trailer is required to have its own license plate, check that out, too. Is it securely mounted? Are the tags up to date? Does it need to be registered? If your trailer requires an inspection sticker, is the sticker current?
It might sound daunting, but trailer maintenance is fairly easy, quick, and painless. We recommend making it a routine at the beginning and end of trailer season.
Check out all the trailer products available on NAPACanada.com or head to your nearest NAPA AUTOPRO location for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on maintaining your trailer, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.