Trailer Maintenance 101

By Willie Green

The trailer is oftentimes given the same treatment as chopped liver at a Jewish dinner - we always think of it as a background character, rather than the star of the show. We rarely think about them until we need to take our boat out to the lake when the weather warms and even then, most of us are lucky to just check the tire pressure. Keeping your trailer in good running shape really isn't that hard and can save you from at best a minor inconvenience to at worst a serious accident.

You will want to devote most of your attention on the bearings. Especially if you are a boat owner and need to submerge the trailer wheels in the water, the bearings are a very, very important component of every trailer - you probably know this by now. Once a year, you should have your hubs disassembled and thoroughly inspected and cleaned. Your nearest auto shop can help you with this if it seems like too much work on your end. Whoever works on it should inspect them for wear marks, pits, or gouges that could have developed over the last year.

So now you have the wheels off of the trailer, so the next step would be to clean the assembly of the hubs and check the axle and springs underneath your trailer. The axle has to remain straight and the springs, well, springy enough to ensure the good working condition of your trailer.

The third step would be to grease the axle, of course after it's been inspected and the hubs repacked. Keeping your bearing properly greased can head off a lot of problems and make your trailer last longer and ride safer. A grease gun would be essential in order for you to add a touch of grease to the bearings for regular maintenance. A cordless grease gun might be a good investment if you own a fleet of trailers. The task of greasing several trailers' bearings is a burdensome job all right, but a cordless grease gun can make this task much easier and faster.

Also after you have been driving for a while, it is a good idea to check your hubs and bearings for excessive heat. You have every right to be concerned if your hubs get overheated - there may be something causing friction somewhere! This could lead to a wheel bouncing off the trailer, resulting in a catastrophic accident. Make sure the hub is no hotter than your average cup of Joe. If it is hotter than that, do not drive on it until the problem is corrected.

Trailers are not as fun or sexy as our boats we carry with them, but without a properly maintained trailer we would not get very far.

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