Champion Trailers is always striving to decrease trailer related accidents and maintenance costs. Ignoring routine trailer maintenance can quickly turn minor complications into major and costly trailer problems. That is why we have put together 5 costly mistakes people make when trailering and how to prevent catastrophic failure from occurring.
1.) General Yearly Maintenance
Keeping an eye on the overall health of your trailer at the beginning and end of each trailering season can greatly reduce costs and problems.
a.) Starting from the front of the trailer make sure your safety chains are intact and not heavily rusted. Surface rust is not a major concern but if there is any visible deterioration of the metal it is time to replace the chain. Also, be sure to use the correct capacity chain for the weight you are carrying.
b.) When dealing with a boat trailer make certain to check the brackets holding your trailer bunks. Bunks & carpet hold water and can cause the tops of bunk brackets to rust heavily. If these brackets collapse they can cause major damage to the hull of your boat.
c.) Springs Spring Springs! It is crucial to make sure your trailer springs are in good working order. A broken trailer spring will surely put you on the side of the road and cause significant damage to your trailer. Once again surface rust is not a major concern. You want to watch for separation between the leafs of the springs and rust that is eating through the metal. Wire brushing and painting your springs can prolong their life significantly.
d.) Tire shake & Inflation. We will cover both of these categories in further detail late in the article. Trailer tires are meant to be inflated to the max PSI at all times. Tire shake occurs when one or more of your bearings has or is failing which we will discuss in detail.
e.) While we may not always think trailer lights are important I assure you the vehicles around you would love to see those LED’s light up nice and bright. Lights are a matter of traffic safety and help reduce accidents on the road. Therefore we always recommend checking your lights before every tow!
2.) Grease cures headaches and empty pockets!
The majority of trailer related problems stem from not routinely greasing your bearings! An un-greased hub will overheat, destroy spindles, break hubs, send your tire flying down the road, rip your fender clean off the trailer, and much more!
Hubs should be greased once a year or every 3000 miles, whichever comes first. In between routine maintenance you should always check to make sure your hubs are not leaking and check for tire shake. A leaking hub will throw grease on the back of the rim and is easy to spot when looking. Be sure to also check the color of your grease. Grease that is a brown or grey color has water mixed in it and is a sure sign of a leaking hub. This exerpt from our forum gives a great rundown on how to check your bearings. Champion Trailers Forum can be found at (http://www.championtrailers.com/champion-trailers-forum/) and is a great place to ask our technicians questions.
“To maintenance the trailer hubs remove the dust cap/buddy bearing by lightly tapping it off with a hammer. Tap around the base turn the hub and tap the other side until it falls off. Remove the cotter key/tab lock to pull the hub off of the spindle. Clean the spindle and check for any scratches or scrapes, use emery cloth to re-smooth any small scuffs. If the scratches are deep the axle will need to be replaced.
Pull the back seal using a flat head screwdriver and remove the back bearing, flip the hub over and remove the front bearing. Inspect and clean both trailer bearings. Check to make sure there are no rough spots on the races inside the hubs (shiny silver rings inside the hubs), if the races are damaged they will need to be replaced.
After everything is clean and inspected go ahead and hand pack the bearings with grease (roll the bearings in grease) and then fill the entire hub with grease. Re-install a new seal on the back of the hub and put the hub back on the spindle. Tighten your spindle nut as tight as you can with channel locks, spin the hub 10-15 times and then back off the nut a quarter turn to re-install your tab lock/cotter key.”
If you have a spindle lub spindle, that is a spindle with a grease fitting already build in you can grease the hub without removing it. Whenever there is a bearing buddy installed we recommend pulling the hub completely down to re-grease it. Bearing buddys grease from front to back and can build up pressure inside the hub causing the back seal to push out and leak.
3.) My tires looked good!
A flat can ruin your day. A flat on a trailer doing 70 mph down the highway can ruin your whole week. Flat tires on trailers tend to cause more damage to the trailer parts surrounding them than we would expect. Trailer rims and fenders usually take the brunt of the damage during a blowout. Basic inspection can save a lot of trouble and money when dealing with trailer tires.
a.) Tire Inflation – Trailer tires are meant to be inflated to the max PSI at all times. If it says 50PSI make sure you have 50PSI. Under-inflated tires will wear heavy on the inside and outside reducing your tire life by over half.
b.) Trailer tires are very susceptible to dry rot due to the amount of time they sit unused. Check for small fractures in the sidewall of your tire, if you have any at all it is time to replace your tire before it blows. To prevent dry rot during the off-season spray your tires with cold water occasionally or store your trailer out of direct sunlight.
c.) Do not assume that the tires underneath your trailer are the proper size for the amount of weight you are carrying. Always check to make sure your load capacity does not exceed your tire capacity.
4.) Does this trailer look too small?
Often times boats are sold with a trailer that does not meet the length or weight requirement of the boat. Always check the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) on a trailer before purchasing. A simple rule of thumb is to have 2,000 pounds extra to account for fuel and tackle. If you already have a trailer you can check the GVWR by the registration or bill of sale. If the trailer does not meet the weight requirements you can always raise the trailers capacity by either changing the springs or the axles. Length on the other hand is much more complicated, if a trailer is too short the boards and winch post will need to be adjusted accordingly to equally distribute the weight. Boat adjustments should be handled by a professional.
5.) Fresh water works wonders!
Washing your trailer with fresh water after use will greatly increase its lifespan. Parts such as disc brakes, drum brakes, hub drums, springs, and multiple others are often either black painted or have a thin galv coating that is easily scratched off. These parts will rust fairly quickly even in water that is slightly salty. Simply rinsing your trailer with a fresh water hose will protect these parts from salt and rust build up. Rusted parts account for the majority of the repairs we do here in-house. While you cannot stop the rust, you can definitely slow it down with your hose. Once surface rust begins it is recommended to spray with fresh water to remove salt, wire brush the rust off, and either paint or cold galv the parts to prolong their life. Ten minutes of your time can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and the staff here at Champion Trailers wishes you safe travel whether it be to a dirt track pulling your 4-wheelers behind you or pulling your boat to your favorite fishing spot! Remember, if you ever have any questions our professional staff can be reached at 1-800-229-6690 or www.championtrailers.com.