Until you’ve had a blow out on a trailer while cruising at 70 mph on the interstate, it’s hard to have a full appreciation of a proper trailer inspection prior to your trip. Trailer safety awareness is best heeded prior to your trip, as opposed to a ticket by an observant member of law enforcement because your trailers wiring is messed up and your brake lights aren’t working.
A full inspection is time well invested prior to loading it up and hitting the road. Not only are trailer breakdowns expensive, they are dangerous for you, your passengers and other vehicles around you while on the road.
Check It Out – Thoroughly
There are several trailer parts that you need to check before taking a trip. Repair or replace broken trailer parts before you hit the road to ensure a safe trip.
1. Trailer Tires
Check the tires for dry rot, splitting and inflation. If you question their ability to make the trip, replace them. Make sure that you can remove and replace the lug nuts. It’s hard to change a tire if you can’t remove it.
2. Trailer Bearings
If you haven’t packed the wheel bearings recently, or don’t know when they were last serviced, this would be a good time to do that. A locked wheel bearing is like a blown tire, maintaining control of a trailer is difficult at speed in these occurrences.
3. Trailer Brakes
Not all trailers have brakes, but if they do, they also need to be inspected prior to taking off. Trailer brake systems can be either mechanical or hydraulic. No matter which type your trailer has, they need to be inspected for proper function. Because it’s great to finally get rolling, but you want to be able to stop safely, too.
4. Light it Up
Connect your trailer to the vehicle that you will use to tow it and make sure that your brake lights, turn signals, running lights and other trailer parts are working properly. Improper lighting is unsafe and can be costly if it is not working properly.
5. Your Tow Vehicle
What you tow with is as important as what you are towing. Make sure that your tow vehicle has the towing capacity to pull the trailer. The answer to this question is found in your vehicles owner’s manual your local trailer parts dealer or from your cars manufacturer. Check the trailer hitch where it is attached under the vehicle to make sure that it is secure. Check the ball on the hitch and make sure that it is the proper size trailer part for both the tow vehicle and the hitch. The wiring harness on the tow vehicle needs to be checked to make sure it works properly.
6. Trailer Hitch
Likewise, the trailer hitch on the trailer needs to be inspected and any loose bolts need to be tightened, and if the parts are rusty, oil them so that they work freely. Again, check that the ball size on the tow vehicle matches that hitch size of the trailer.
7. Chain it down
Those rattling chains aren’t for looks, they are there to catch the trailer if the ball hitch fails and they should be sufficient in size to take the weight, in that event.
8. Load it up
Now that you have checked your trailer from hitch to tail light, it’s time to load it. Refer to the trailer manual for the trailer you are towing for suggested weight distribution or your load and hit the road.
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