Staying safe on the road can be challenging at the best of times, but adding a trailer behind your car adds a few extra risks to your driving. This trailer-towing safety checklist covers some of the essential checks and equipment you need to travel safely with a trailer.
1. Inspect the Trailer Tyres
Trailers often stay rooted to the same spot much longer than most vehicles do. This leaves their tyres susceptible to flat spots or the rubber becoming hard (you will usually notice small cracks on the sidewalls if this has occurred). You need to inspect the condition of the tyres any time you take your trailer on the road – and this includes checking their air pressure.
2. Check the Brakes
Inspect the brakes for any wear and tear. If your trailer uses hydraulic brakes, also check that the fluid level is suitable. To give yourself more control while towing a trailer, you may want to invest in a remote electric brake system you can control from the driver’s seat.
3. Upgrade Your Side Mirrors
4. Ensure All the Connections Are Working and Secure
It’s essential to ensure your trailer’s physical hitching to your car is completely secure. You need to make sure all the components here (coupler, pin/lock, trailer ball, ball mount, and safety chains) are in working order and appropriately lubricated.
You also need to make sure the electrical connections are operating correctly. For example, when you hit your car brakes, do the trailer’s brake lights come on? What about when you indicate? Especially after a long time of not using your trailer, it’s important to double check that all the lights light up when they should. If any of the electrical connections aren’t holding up, make sure to upgrade the plugs and sockets as needed.
5. Have Some Spares on Hand
When going for a long trek with your trailer, it’s a good idea to have these spare components on standby as a minimum:
- Wheel hub
- Set of bearings.
If you’ve noticed any other components are getting close to needing replacement, make sure to have the relevant backup pieces on board too.
6. Check the Hubs, Bearings, and Axles
Jack each wheel off the ground to do a thorough inspection. By spinning and attempting to wobble each wheel, you can check for any signs that the bearings might need to be tightened or replaced (wobbling movement means tightening is required; a rumbling noise when spinning suggests they need replacement). During this inspection, also make sure that the axle is straight, square, and sitting right on the spring’s centre pin.
7. Inspect the Body for Rust or Cracks
Sitting outside for long stretches can lead to serious rust problems or even cracks in the joints of your trailer’s chassis. When inspecting the tyres, wheels and connection points, don’t overlook the body itself – including the underside, where rust can develop unnoticed.
With this trailer-towing safety checklist under your belt, you should be able to hit the road with confidence that your trailer is in good condition and ready for the journey ahead. For tips on reversing with your trailer, be sure to read this article.