Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Be Ready for the Riding Season – Trailer Maintenance

This article is taken from our March newsletter. It's chock full of horse care tips, helpful articles, and coupon codes! Click here to subscribe.

By: Darlene M. Cox (darlc5@aol.com)

The off season is the best time to do your trailer maintenance. Getting started now will provide you ample time to make sure all systems are good, which will afford you safe travels when the riding season arrives.

• Wash the outside of your trailer, top to bottom, to remove any dirt and grime that has accumulated. This will help prevent any corrosive rusting. I like to take my trailer to a do-it-yourself car wash for this, as they have the high-pressure water hose and the wash bay doesn’t get as messy as my barn lot.

• Axles, bearings, and lug nuts should be inspected for maintenance issues that may exist. If you are skilled, you can do this yourself. If not, it is best to have a certified mechanic check these out. Most axles have a port that you can use to grease your bearings. Simply connect a grease gun to the port to deliver new grease to the bearings. Make sure you do not over grease, because you can blow out your bearings. Make sure your lug nuts are tight and not stripped or rusted through. If you find they are, you will need to take your trailer to a mechanic to have them replaced.

• Check the horse box flooring for areas of rot (wood) or corrosion (metal/aluminum). It is important to check from both the top and underneath the trailer. If your flooring feels soft or “spongy” you may want to replace the affected boards or have a metal reinforcement piece welded in place.

• While you are under the trailer checking out the flooring, also check out the frame to make sure it is not damaged in any way. I bent frame will affect the way your trailer hauls, which will also affect tire wire and place tension on the hitch. If you find the frame is damaged, have a mechanic correct the problem.

• Replace any worn/torn/damaged rubber matting. Check the horse box for any metal protrusions that may injure your horse. Replace bumper rails that are worn and torn. Make sure there is no rust on the breakaway strap hardware that will interfere with releasing your horse in an emergency.

• Rotate the tires on your trailer and check them for wear and dry rot. Check the valve stems for proper seating. Replace any damaged or worn tires. Make sure trailer tires are properly inflated to the correct psi for the tire. Don’t forget to check your spare tire, too. Anyone who has traveled with their trailer will one day rely on that spare tire.

• Check trailer brakes and replace any worn parts. Adjust your brake setting by driving your trailer a short distance and braking hard. Adjust the brake box setting until all brakes engage at the same time and you don’t have any grabbing or locking.

• If your trailer is equipped with a breakaway battery, it is important that this be checked for charge and effectiveness. Recharging it on a battery charger is simple. Checking its efficacy is a little more difficult but well worth the effort. Use a tire jack under each of the tires, pull the pin from the breakaway battery and try to move the tire. If you can move it, the battery is not working appropriately and may need to be replaced.

• Check the wiring on your trailer to make sure all lights and signals are working. Replace any damaged wiring.

• All lights and turn signals should be checked. If you find they are not working, you may have an electrical wiring problem that needs to be addressed, or it could be as simple as replacing a bulb or fuse.

• Check the door latches on the horse box and make sure they work easily and keep the door securely closed. If there is a lot of “play” in the latch or if the door is not secure, you may need to replace the latch. Make sure the latch housing is not rusted. If it is, you may need to have a little spot welding done.

• Make sure your trailer hitch connects securely with the receiver or ball. There should be no looseness when you hook up the trailer. If you are required to run with safety chains, make sure the connectors are secure and tight.

• If your trailer has windows, check them for any hardware problems that might exist with opening/closing. Check your screens and replace them if they are torn. Screening kits can be purchased and are easy to use to replace torn screens. Check your windows for water leaks and use some clear silicone if you find a leaky spot.

• Check your air conditioning unit for any water leaks and use clear silicone if any are found. Replace/clean your AC filter. Check your AC vents to make sure birds haven’t built nests in it.

Regular trailer maintenance will assure you years of use and safe travel for you and your horse.

Happy trails!

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