5 Fastest Ways to Destroy Your Trailer
As any trailer expert can tell you, most trailer damage isn’t from anything as obvious as an accident or even intentional rough housing – it’s from neglect. Investing in a trailer means making a commitment to maintain and care for it (unless you want your resale values to plummet). If you own or are thinking of purchasing a trailer, here are some quick ways to destroy your trailer.
1. Ignore the Rust
Keeping the rust off of your trailer isn’t just about the physical appearance of your trailer – it’s about rust deterioration. Here’s a list of areas that are particularly prone to rusting:
Springs: Be sure to check the separation between the springs and any rust that is damaging the metal. To help prevent this, use a wire brush and have the springs painted.
Safety Chains: Replace your chains as soon as there is any sign of deterioration. When you replace it, know your carrying weight and choose the correct capacity chain.
Brackets Holding Your Bunks: This is very important for boat trailers. Bunks can hold water, especially if there is a carpet, and this can cause the bunk brackets to collapse, causing damage to not just your trailer but your boat as well.
2. Don’t Use Any Grease
Have you ever seen a tire detach from a trailer at 70mph? Keep it that way. Just a bit of grease can help keep your wheels spinning properly. Maintain proper grease on these two components to stay safe on the road:
Wheel Bearings: These should be checked every 1,000 miles or every 6 months (whichever comes first).
Hubs: Check these along with the wheel-bearings. Be sure to repack the hub with clean grease and replace any damaged components.
Wheel bearing and hub maintenance may sound complicated – and it can be! If you’ve never done maintenance on wheel bearings or hubs before, then check out our resource for Wheel Bearing and Hub Maintenance Tips.
3. Ignore the Tires
Much like not greasing your wheel-bearings and hubs, not paying attention to your tires can have catastrophic consequences. Don’t just kick the tires – check each one of these elements:
Pressure (PSI): Always keep your tires at their Max PSI listed. Any lower or higher can be damaging to the tire and your safety.
Sidewall: Check the sidewalls for any fractures. This is usually due to dry rot, which is caused by your tires not being used. To avoid fractures, during the offseason be sure to spray the tires with cold water every once in a while and keep out of direct sunlight.
Tire Size: There is a proper tool for every job and the same thing is true for tire size. Know your tire’s weight capacity and do not exceed it.
4. Improper Wiring or Patch Jobs
While this one does not necessarily lead to breakdown of the trailer, if you hit the brakes and the car behind you does not know it, that can definitely lead to damage to your trailer and cargo. Check to make sure you have:
Proper Wiring: When it comes to boaters, be safe and only use tinned wiring. While most non-tinned wiring does have moisture protection, it’s best not to take chances when it comes to safety.
Proper Connectors: Choose the right, high quality connectors for your trailer.
Grommets: Don’t let the grommets become brittle and know the thickness of your trailer’s metal. A wrong sized grommet can fall off, leaving the wiring unprotected.
Flasher Unit: Always have a spare flasher unit. If your current one fails, your car will not have enough electrical strength to power both the car and the trailer.
Clips: Be sure to have the correct clips for your trailer’s frame. There are specific clips for C- or I-beam frames. Without these clips, you could end up dragging the wires and causing major damage.
5. Don’t Wash It
Even if your trailer never physically touches salt water or drives on paved roads to avoid dirt, it still needs the occasional wash. This is especially true if you live anywhere near salt water, as salt water exacerbates rusting (see list item #1). With every crashing wave along the coast, salt is sprayed into the air and carried inland by the wind. Combined with the humidity, just being outdoors might be harmful for your trailer. A good rinse can go a long way!