Trailers, caravans and boat trailers all need to be both roadworthy and well maintained. Apart from a few exceptions, all trailers need to be registered and roadworthy to be used on Victorian roads. There are both electrical and mechanical aspects to ensure the smooth use of a trailer for you, your car and all other road users.
What can go wrong with a trailer?
Trailers fall into two groups; used nearly everyday by businesses and tradesmen or rarely (the annual Christmas holidays or trip to the local tip).
Consider these aspects;
Do the lights work? So many trailer lights get moisture in them and rust out. The wires often get pulled out from under the trailer and either drag along the road, break or are pulled out of the light assemblies. The trailer plug is often damaged, rusted up or chewed by the dog- quite often this section of wiring gets crushed under the trailer draw bar or rubs through as it drags along the road. Get an A Grade auto electrician to inspect and repair the lights.
An often neglected but critical part of any trailer are the wheel bearings. How many times have you seen a trailer sitting on an angle on the side of the road? If the poorly inflated tyre hasn’t totally gone flat, then chances are the wheel bearing has overheated, seized the axle and the wheel has broken off and taken itself for a dangerous trip down the road. Lubricating the wheel bearings is a simple maintenance item that should be done regularly. This is especially so on boat and jet ski trailers. Get an A Grade mechanic to inspect and lubricate the wheel bearings.
For many rarely used trailers, the tyres are often flat or at best underinflated. Sitting there for long periods can cause flat spots to appear and can lead to the rubber deteriorating. Quite often the tyres are old and have cracks in them which lead to them exploding when they get hot. Get an A Grade tyre specialist to inspect and replace the tyres.
Does the trailer have brakes?
Many larger trailers also have brakes; either hydraulic or electric. These need to be inspected to ensure the drums and shoes are serviceable, that the brake fluid hasn’t been contaminated (if hydraulic) or the wiring hasn’t been damaged (if electric). Brake systems on trailers are vitally important to help prevent overheating the towing vehicle’s brakes. Consider that the minute a trailer is hitched up, the car’s brakes now have to stop an extra few hundred kilograms through to a couple of tonnes. Using the trailer’s braking system can also prevent the trailer becoming unstable and ultimately jack knifing.
There are other areas to consider as well; the suspension, the hitch and the structural integrity of the trailer. How you pack and secure the trailer’s load is also vital. Watch this video on the effects that incorrectly packing a trailer can cause.
Apart from the trailer, the car needs to be checked as well; brakes, suspension, trailer plug wiring, tow ball and the engine and transmission’s cooling systems. As you can see, making sure the trailer is ready to use is vital to its safe and reliable use. Always use a Go A Grade workshop, auto electrician or tyre specialist to inspect and maintain your trailer.
Now for the hard part; reversing into that tight camping spot.