As Nomads, we are traveling and on the road quite a bit. We rely upon Ebony, our trusty SUV the most. However, when we move home base from one locale to another, we rely heavily upon our cargo trailer. One of the keys to ensuring Ebony keeps operating at top performance is vehicle maintenance. Equally as important, to keep our cargo trailer operating at top performance is trailer maintenance.
When we purchased the trailer, one of the things we were told was to do a set of routine maintenance on the trailer before we departed. This was a process that had to be repeated each day of the journey. After 3,168 miles of travel in less than 4 months, I have to say that I believe routine trailer maintenance is key.
The process we use is simple and does not take very long at all. The following steps apply to our trailer. Refer to your manufacturer’s guide to confirm that these steps apply to your trailer.
First, you need to make sure that all lug nuts are tight. These are the nuts that hold the tires on. As you may assume, keeping these tight is imperative to safety. When you tighten, you should do so in an alternating pattern. When there are 5 lug nuts, it is called a star pattern. Basically, you need to tighten one, skip one and tighten the next. Do this all the way around until all lug nuts are tightened.
Second, you need to check the tire pressure. Most tires are supposed to be measured when they are cold. When the tires have been driven down the road they become warmer and the pressure in the tires can change. We make sure our tires are within one PSI of the recommended amount. This amount can commonly be found on the sidewall of the tire. Our trailer tires are 35 PSI.
Third, you need to grease the axle or axles if you have more than one. You may have to remove a dust cover from the end of the axle in order to access the grease zerk; the point where the grease enters the axle. You simply place the grease gun over the zerk and pump the handle until grease starts to come out around the bearing area. A gentleman at the place where we bought our trailer said that no greasing the axle is the number one reason for failure. So, grease the axle.
Fourth, you need to ensure the lights are in good working order. Your trailer should display illumination for turn signals, brakes and for regular evening lights. It is easier to perform this task with someone standing behind the trailer.
Finally, walk around the trailer and make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary. Ensure that the safety chains are hooked up properly and nothing is hanging off, damaged or otherwise in a dysfunctional looking state. That is all of the routine maintenance that we do. It is simple but effective.
In order to make your maintenance easier, I suggest a few tools.
- Grease gun – to deliver the grease to the axle
- Flat head screwdriver – to help remove the axle dust cover
- Regular hammer – to tap the flat head screwdriver behind the dust cover
- Rubber hammer – to tap the dust covers back onto the axle without denting them
- Collapsible lug nut wrench – to tighten the lug nuts
- Working gloves – to protect your hands and allow you to use tools year around
Follow these steps and utilize these tools properly and you should have a good operating trailer for quite sometime. Safe Travels.