Let’s face it, trailers aren’t cheap; and without a well maintained trailer, our jobs as truckers can turn messy. There is nothing worse than being sidelined by mechanical issues. We don’t drive these 18 speed transmissions around for our health! At Rollin Trailer, we see too many drivers not monitoring the key areas of trailer maintenance. If you take care of your trailer, your trailer will take care of you. Here are some things to look over when buying or renting a new trailer, and maintaining that trailer once it’s yours.
Proper Trailer Maintenance Keeps you on The Road
Here are a few areas to inspect before renting or purchasing:
- Some shippers will require your trailer be no more than 10 years old. This is not overly common, but some of the larger shippers (more lucrative loads) do have this requirement. 10 years is a sweet spot in terms of pricing, so you will see a substantial price drop in anything over 10 years old. Be sure consider the types of loads you want to haul. (An easy way around this is to rent a new trailer for a fraction of the cost of purchasing. Be eligible for more loads at a lower overhead cost.)
- Make sure you thoroughly check the frame for rust and cracks, around the suspensions, load bearing members, leaks in the roof, bushings, brakes, etc. Where you find small bits of rust, you will most likely find more. Be sure this rust is just cosmetic and not something that could cause a larger issue.
- Inspect the inside floor, re-decking a trailer can be a big expense. This also goes hand in hand with checking the roof for leaks. The number one cause for a deteriorating floor in a dry van is moisture in the wood. Also keep in mind when hauling expensive equipment, the shipper and consignee are going to want to know their product isn’t going to get wet and damaged. A lot of shippers will do a walk through and check the floor and roof for leaks. If your load receives water damage while in your trailer, you will most likely be held responsible. Not only risking your payment, but perhaps even costing you to pay for the damaged goods. (We could get into insurance for your trailer/loads, but we wont for now)
- If you are buying a spring ride trailer over the more expensive air ride, you will want to make sure to check the springs for broken springs, check the track rods, and the pin plate. Make sure there are no missing rivets or bent supports. IF YOU SEE ANY DAMAGE, BRING IT UP TO THE SELLER. You can probably get them to fix it or lower the price so you can fix it yourself.
Another thing to consider is the doors. You save a tremendous amount of time if you get a roll up door vs. swing open doors, because you don’t have to get out to open your doors before backing up to the dock.
Now, let’s get into the areas on the trailer that need constant monitoring and maintenance:
We all know brakes are one of the more critical systems on our trucks & trailers. These rigs and loads are very heavy and we travel freeway speeds, so we are expected to be able to come to complete stops, quickly and safely. Make sure you are doing regular checks on your brakes to ensure you won’t run into any problems out on the road. Check your drums, brake shoes, pads, and springs. Anything that shows wearing should be replaced. Do this regularly and your brakes should always be in working order. Something else to keep in mind is releasing the brake before taking off, not doing this causes unnecessary wear on the braking system. Lastly, make sure you check your air system pressure as a part of your pre-trip inspection.
Electrical System / Trailer Lighting
A thorough inspection of your trailer’s lights and electrical system will save you time and money down the road. Check for damaged wires, and make sure everything is connected and supported properly. Any wires exposed to perforations or rough metal should be protected with rubber grommets to avoid rubbing wear and tear. Make sure any repairs you make to wires should be replaced with the same scale wire. Some chemicals that are used for deicing are known to cause corrosion to wires and connections. If you can it is best to wash your equipment down with water after using such chemicals. Improper lighting is not only unsafe, but can come with big fines if you are caught on the road without proper operating equipment.
Tire inspections are obviously something you should include on every pre-trip check. Having your tires in good condition is something that is so very important for a safe trip. Doing a meticulous visual inspection will determine if there is any damage or worn tires that are ready to be replaced, look for cracks in the tire or bulges in the sidewall. Check the tread depth, which according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, should be at least 2/32” in major grooves. Make sure you also check air pressure in all tires before you head out on the road. Poor alignment causes 80% of unnatural tire wear issues. Keep your equipment maintained!
One of the biggest things to keep in mind about your trailer floor, is that it’s wood. What causes wood to deteriorate? Moisture!! Make sure you avoid letting excessive moisture in your trailer allowing it to rot out the wood. The area of most concern is at the end of your trailer where the doors open. If you’re at a stop and it’s raining, it’s good practice to only open your doors when necessary, alternatively there are products sold to seal the rear of the floors to minimize this sort of thing from happening. It is always best to be mindful of moisture inside a dry van. After a rain, open up your doors and let your trailer bed dry out.
There are certainly many other areas to keep in mind on your trailer. These are the fundamental areas covered in this article. If followed regularly, you will be able to properly maintain and prolong the life of your trailer so you can stay on the road making money.
Rest assured, if you rent a Dry Van, Reefer, or flat bed trailer from Rollin Trailer you will have peace of mind that it has always had proper maintenance and is ready to hit the road.
Rent your next trailer from Rollin Trailer today!