It’s that time of year when we start getting out our toys, which means we start using the trailers which transport them, or house us, or both. Troy Cox of Cecil and Sons Discount Tires stopped by GDGC to discuss some of the most common issues that face consumers with utility, boat, and travel trailers.1) What are the items we should check after our trailers have been parked for a while?
Tires, first, and always before you leave on a trip. All tires tend to lose small amounts of pressure, usually around 1-3 pounds per month. High pressure tires, especially small high-pressure tires, can lose more and given their small air volume are affected more quickly. Check your trailer tires and inflate them to their maximum recommended pressure, which you’ll find noted on the tire’s sidewall. This may be a good place to consider going to nitrogen to inflate your trailer’s tires as it does tend to have less fluctuations due to temperature and also tends to escape at a slower rate than just air. Trailer tires need more pressure than what you may normally run in a passenger car or sport-utility vehicle to carry their loads—many will require 50, 60, or even 80psi to wear and run properly. Again, the maximum pressure noted on the sidewall is a good place to start if your trailer’s manufacturer hasn’t listed a specific pressure required. Running them low is one of the major causes of trailer tire failures and should be avoided. Once you’ve properly inflated your tires, visually inspect them for rips, cuts, tears, and cracking. Any of these things that are extensive or that expose the tire’s cord are reasons for replacement, as is age. Trailer tires, like all tires, suffer from aging and none of them are warranted past six years from the original purchase/installation date. Time off work is far too precious to be spent on the side of the road changing a tire that’s come apart due to age or low pressure part-way to your destination.2) What other things should we check before heading out?
Next, if possible, jack each wheel position up and check your bearing’s condition. The tire/wheel assembly should spin freely, without any rubbing or growling noises, and when you grab the whole assembly at 3 and 9 o’clock, or 6 and 12 o’clock positions and try and rock it side to side or up and down, there should be very little to no movement apparent. If there is much movement at all it may be prudent to disassemble the hubs so you can inspect the bearings and, if ok, clean and repack them, or have that professionally done if you’re concerned about having the tools or ability. If you have “buddy bearings” and they’ve bottomed out this is a good time to add grease. Be careful not to overfill them—you do not want to totally compress the spring that’s visible as the resulting pressure could cause them to come off the hub. Ideally, “buddy bearings” or not, you should service your bearings every few years on trailers seeing highway service only and you could need to service bearings every other year on trailers that are in and out of the water frequently, and yearly if that’s salt water. Be sure when you service them you replace the grease seals as they are relatively inexpensive and critical to keeping water out. A good quality bearing grease is all you need for highway service trailers; for trailers in and out of water you should consider using a “waterproof” grease. They aren’t really waterproof, but they offer more resistance to being broken down by water than conventional greases to be worthwhile insurance. After that, look at your wiring for any visible breaks or corrosion, check all your lights for proper operation when hooked up to your tow vehicle, and double check your hitch ball and trailer’s coupler to make sure nothing is loose or worn enough to create a hazard and your safety chains as well as making sure whatever you’re hauling is safely secured. 3) So we’re ready to go at that point?
You are far ahead of most folks who just hook up and go, and are certainly less likely to have problems. Be sure, especially on travel trailers, to follow any manufacturer’s requirements for their particular product. If you’re having your bearings professionally packed on a regular basis then your service facility should be checking your trailer’s brakes, if it has them. Like your tow vehicle’s brakes, trailer brake shoes or pads can wear out. But since they are typically “drag” brakes and only provide light braking action to help stop in a straight line when going forward they don’t wear our as often. Some will lock up a trailer’s wheels entirely when the trailer rolls backwards; these generally have a switch you must engage before backing the trailer up to keep from accidentally locking your wheels up. The other thing to keep in mind is speed limits—and we’re not talking about the black and white signs on the side of the road. Almost all true trailer service tires are limited to a maximum speed of 65 mph. While you can tow faster you are risking tire failure at higher speeds.4) You’ve talked about tire failure several times; what should we look for if we need replacement tires for a trailer?
Get at least the same ply rating or load capacity that came originally on the trailer. In some cases, a heavier ply or load rating tire is available, and is often a better choice as it gives you some additional load capacity typically for not much more money. While some folks put passenger or light truck tires on trailers, true trailer service tires almost always work better, and last longer, in trailer service. Some tires sizes are only available in “trailer service”, sizes like 4.80-8 and 5.30-12, while others come in similar designations to car and light truck sizing. An example is a P205/75R15 vs. a ST205/75R15. The P is a “passenger” service tire, which will corner and brake much more effectively on a car than the ST, or “service trailer” tire designed for rolling straight with minimal resistance and carrying far heavier loads under harsher conditions. Just a matter of choosing the right tool for the job, and for trailers, choose a trailer specific tire whenever possible.Michelin has a rebate of $70 per set of four Michelin tires available on sets purchased starting May 28, 2012 and ending on June 23, 2012. See store for details. Monroe has their “Summer Truck Shock Sale” with rebates of up to $30 on sets of four Monroe or Rancho light truck shocks or struts purchased between June 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012. See store for details.
Cecil and Sons Discount Tires is family owned and operated since 1973; three generations of our family serving, in many cases, third and fourth generations of our customer’s families. Cecil and Sons has tires, custom wheels, alignment and suspension repair, brakes, preventative maintenance and light line mechanical service.Cecil and Sons Discount Tires
204 East Morrow Road
Sand Springs, OK
4002 South St Hwy 97
Sand Springs, OK