Getting Your Trailer For Summer
As summer approaches in Michigan, people are excited to get their trailer prepared to head out for summer adventures. But what does a trailer owner need to do before hooking up that trailer for the first time? It actually does not take long to conduct a pre-season inspection and will save you potentially hundreds of dollars and hours of frustration.
Here is what you should do to ensure your trailer is ready for your summer adventures.
Tire Pressure & Condition
Starting at the bottom of your trailer, and working your way up, the first and most obvious thing to check is the tires. A simple visual inspection is the best place to start, looking at the tire tread depth, as well as looking for signs of cracking in the sidewall. Finally, check the tire pressure. Be sure they are inflated according to the pressure specifications from the trailer manufacturer. If you find cracks, especially on the sidewall, or the color is badly faded, consider replacing the tires to avoid a blowout.
Wiring & Lights
The wiring and lights are the next item to inspect on your cargo trailer. Inspect the wiring harness. Be sure to look for areas where the wiring is broken or the insulation is getting brittle or showing signs of wear. If you do find wiring starting to wear, consider replacing either the section of wire or the entire wiring harness if it is bad enough.
Once you ensure the wiring is good, plug the wiring into the power and check that each light illuminates properly. If you find a light that does turn on, check to see if the light is burned out. If it is, it is a simple and inexpensive repair.
Inspect & Repair Brakes
Next, if your cargo trailer is equipped with breaks, you want to inspect these as next. Specifically, you want to look at the pads and ensure there is enough to apply proper braking pressure. Inspect the drums to be sure the pads are making proper contact. Finally, be sure the brakes are not seized and preventing the wheels from turning or keeping the brakes from functioning correctly. These are again an easy and inexpensive fix.
Inspect Frame & Axel
The frame is extremely important to the integrity of your trailer. This is especially true in Michigan, with the moisture and changes in temperature. If you use your enclosed trailer during the winter or in wet conditions, your frame is susceptible to rust. Look for any spots where rust is forming, and especially where the rust is eroding through the frame. If you find surface rust, you can grind it off and paint it to slow down the development of new rust.
Inspect Tongue and Hitching Mechanism
Next, inspect the hitching tongue and latching mechanism. Again, check for any signs of rust along the tongue. Any rust is extremely dangerous as it weakens the metal holding the trailer to the vehicle. Likewise, check the hitching mechanism to ensure it is not frozen. This will prevent the trailer from seating correctly and can cause it to bounce off the hitch ball.
Clean & Lubricate
Next, you will want to clean your trailer and lubricate all of the moving parts. First, give your trailer a thorough cleaning. Be sure to get any caked-on dirt and mud off the trailer due to the dirt roads in Michigan. Focus closely on the wheels, as they can throw the balance of the trailer off. Once the trailer is clean, you want to lubricate the wheel bearings and hitch lock. The wheel bearings should have a grease fitting to inject grease into the bearing to keep it moving freely.
Inspect Roof and Side Panels
If you have an enclosed trailer, you want to inspect the roof and side panels as well. Specifically, you want to look for indications of leaking or damage. If you have a fiberglass roof or sidewalls, check for cracks and streaks that would indicate leaking. If you have a metal roof and sidewalls, look for rust spots, as well as orange streaks.
The final bit of preparation to do is to consider where you are going to store chemicals. This is especially important for flammable chemicals like gasoline. If you have an enclosed trailer, transporting these chemicals inside on a hot day may lead to an explosion or fire.
Consider mounting gas cans on the outside of the trailer, possibly on the tongue if you only have one or two. You could also mount a rack to the roof or strap the chemicals. Also, consider the rags and other tools or things that may have these flammable chemicals on them that could also catch fire.
With a little preparation, your trailer will be ready to go and keep you moving all summer.