Breaking your car trailer out of storage for the summer means taking care of any and all maintenance to ensure that towing season goes as smoothly as possible. Regardless of whether you’re hauling a compact sports car or a classic behemoth, your trailer needs to be in tip-top shape to avoid putting yourself — or anyone else — in danger on the road.
Fortunately, trailer maintenance is simple to do. Check out these three tips for taking care of your rolling stock.
It might seem obvious, but tire health is perhaps the most important aspect of car trailer maintenance that you should check each and every year. Tires are also the most overlooked in the springtime, because many people assume that when their trailer sits for a season, the tires themselves aren’t at risk of incurring any damage.
In fact, trailer tires that are exposed to the elements — be it cold winter weather in a northern climate or the sun in more southern parts of the country — can undergo dry rot and crack over time. You’ll need to inspect them to make sure they’re still roadworthy before embarking on any summer adventures. Take stock of the tread depth on each tire, and ensure that all tires still hold inflation without any issues.
Trailer lighting is right up there with tires when it comes to on-road safety. What kind of trailer maintenance applies to lighting? You’ll want to verify that the running lights, brake lights and turn signals all illuminate as they’re supposed to when activated from inside your tow vehicle. It’s also a good idea to do a visual inspection of the wiring itself to ensure nothing is loose, no connections are corroded and there are no cuts or missing insulation around the wires themselves.
3. Hubs and Brakes
With good tires and bright lights, the final important thing to check in terms of car trailer maintenance at the beginning of the summer are the hubs and brakes. Most trailers use a drum brake design, which means you’ll want to verify that there’s no leaking from the brake assembly and that the shoes have enough friction material left to last throughout the summer. The hubs take a fair amount of abuse while towing, so listen for any unusual sounds while rotating the wheels, and verify that there’s no side-to-side or up-and-down play in any of the bearings.
Finding out your trailer needs a bit of work before you start towing is always preferable to making the same discovery on the side of the highway halfway through a trip. Stay on top of your maintenance with these tips, and you can count on a long and safe summer of towing.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.