Be a Happy Camper: Checking your Trailer

Written by Chris Dekker, former co-owner at Tools in Motion.


Airdrie Trailer MaintenanceWith the weather finally starting to look better, lots of people are starting to think about summer, and the summer adventures that lie ahead. For many Albertans, that means a family trip in an RV. Camping trailers are by far the most popular form of RVs, and (we feel) for good reason. They are much easier to maintain than a motor home; since they don’t come with a second engine, transmission, brake and suspension system that needs attention. Providing you have kept your tow vehicle in good shape throughout the winter, you can expect your whole set-up to be pretty reliable.

That being said, trailers do need some annual attention. Most of the trailer break-downs that we respond to involve the trailer tires. There are a couple things every trailer owner should check before going out:

  • The tire pressure, ¬†even if the tires look OK. If they haven’t been checked since last season, they are low for sure.¬†Low tire pressure reduces the tire’s ability to carry weight and causes it to heat up more as it rotates. Low pressure is the leading cause of tire blow-outs.
  • Carefully inspect the tires, including the sidewalls, for any cracking or signs of separation. Many trailer tires are a bias-ply construction, and prone to the tread section peeling off. Before this happens, you may notice cracking where the tread section meets the sidewall of the tire. Besides being inconvenient, this kind of tire failure can cause extensive damage to the side of your trailer. Since they usually don’t see regular use and have a chance to “bloom” (this is a natural moisturizing process that occurs when a tire rolls, and waxes are released) regularly, it’s not uncommon to replace trailer tires well before the tread is worn out!

Trailers should also receive an annual inspection of their brakes and wheel bearings. Wheel bearing failure is the second-most common trailer break-down that we see on a regular basis. Sometimes, a “spun” or failed bearing can result in having to replace the whole axle, which can be an expensive proposition. The wheel bearings should be serviced at least every second season, which involves cleaning them, packing them with new grease and adjusting them, plus replacing the wheel seals. At the same time, the trailer brakes can be inspected and adjusted. If you can’t remember the last time you’ve had your trailer’s wheel bearings serviced, it has been too long!

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