Safe and Secure Hauling Starts with Trailer Maintenance

Regular service and maintenance of your trailer ensures confidence that you, your family and your animals or cargo remain safe on each trip. Regular maintenance of your trailer also adds years to your trailer’s life. 

Before embarking on the next trip with your trailer, keep these maintenance tips in mind, and consider a visit to your local dealer for items that require extra care and service. Trailer owners are also advised to consult with their owner’s manual for proper maintenance and instruction for their specific trailer.

Keeping your trailer clean, both inside and out, will help to prolong the life of your trailer and ensure its value. Washing your entire trailer thoroughly immediately after exposure to road salt and deicer liquid during the winter months is highly recommended to reduce the corrosion of the aluminum of your trailer. 

Make sure your tires are all properly inflated before each trip with your trailer. Properly maintained tires improve the steering, stopping, traction and load-carrying capability of your trailer. Underinflated tires are a major factor in tire failure, which can lead to breakdowns or worse, an accident. Tire information placards should be attached to your trailer or found in your trailer owner’s manual. Featherlite also recommends trailer tires be rotated every 5,000 miles, and the treads and sidewalls of the tires should be inspected thoroughly every six months. Don’t forget your spare tire when doing these checks as well.

Before each trip, you should check that all trailer taillights, stop lights, clearance lights and turn signals are operating properly and verify that the connection to your vehicle for the lights is clean and tight. 

Properly functioning brake shoes and drums are essential to ensure safety. You should do a check of your brakes before each trip. Featherlite recommends visiting your dealer for full inspection of your brakes once every year or 12,000 miles. Ultimately consult your owner’s manual for best recommendations for your trailer’s brake type.

Your trailer’s breakaway battery supplies the power to operate the trailer brakes if the trailer uncouples from your tow vehicle, and the breakaway switch causes the breakaway battery to operate the electric brakes if the trailer uncouples from the tow vehicle. Trailer owners should check the breakaway brake system on their trailer before each trip. Make sure the battery is fully charged, connections are clean and test the operation of the switch. 

When it comes to wheels, consult your owner’s manuals as to when bearings or hubs should be inspected. Lug nuts or bolts should be checked for tightness before each use and especially on a new trailer or if a wheel has just been remounted. 

Before each tow, coat the trailer’s ball hitch with a thin layer of automotive bearing grease to reduce wear and ensure proper operation.  If you ever see any cracks, flat spots or corrosion on the ball or coupler, see a dealer to determine the proper action. You should also grease the landing leg or jack on your trailer at least once a year. 

For horse trailer owners, inside the trailer, horse trailer floors are subjected to urine and manure, which can be corrosive to your trailer’s aluminum flooring. Featherlite recommends removing the floor mats from the floor of the trailer and washing the mats on both sides and the floor underneath it at least every three months with soap and water. The walls of the trailer should also be washed at the same time. Heavy usage of your horse trailer would require even more frequent cleaning. Be sure the floor mats and floor are completely dry before replacing the mats. 

Horse owners should also pay attention to the feed door latches on their horse trailer to ensure the feed doors close and fit securely. Clean and lubricate the latch at the end of season, before its first use after storage and at least every three months during use. For Featherlite trailers, it is recommended to use a spray lubricant containing Teflon®. Depending on the wear on your latches, you may need to see a dealer for replacement. In addition to the feed door latches, horse owners should also inspect hinges, doors and dividers every three months and repair or replace if damaged. Also, clean any dirt or build up in your sliding windows as well as roof vents every six months. 

As trailer owners get ready to head out on the road, safety should always be at the top of their minds. Take the time to tune up your trailer and then enjoy the ride!