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Trailer Pre-Journey Checks – A Guide

INTRODUCTION

When on the road, a trailer should be viewed as a vehicle with the same maintenance and safety concerns as a car, lorry, van etc. If anything should go wrong with a trailer whilst on a journey there could be considerable consequences as a result.

To provide peace of mind, we would highly recommend checking your trailer before each journey. This would not only ensure your own safety as a driver, but also the safety of other road users.

As well as this, any illegal faults with the trailer can be found and rectified which can result in fines and penalty points.

Please then find below a short list of checks that we at Trident Towing Kent would recommend before each trip. By doing this you can find and correct any faults with your trailer before it’s too late.

 

LIST OF TRAILER PRE-CHECKS

TRAILER LOAD

It is vital that your trailer is not carrying more weight that it was designed for, and that your trailer load is distributed and secured well.

If these are not met, you could experience trailer damage from overloading, sudden movement of the load and significant handling problems.

  • Check the load capacity of your trailer (identified by the chassis plate on the trailer’s drawbar or A-Frame), and that the load you intend to carry on it is within this capacity.

  • Correct distribution of the load should show in the trailer being level with the ground, and that there is enough nose-load weight put on the tow bar to ensure safe, predictable trailer handling. The tow vehicle should also be level, without the front or rear being pitched up or down.

  • If you are towing a caravan, have the heaviest items inside on the caravan floor and over the axles to achieve the lowest centre of gravity. The lightest items can be stored in the interior cupboards.
  • If using ratchet straps to secure your load in place, see our blog on their correct use. Check the tension and position of the straps periodically throughout your journey.

 

TRAILER WHEELS AND TRAILER TYRES

As the sole point of contact between the trailer and the road, it is vital that your trailer wheels and trailer tyres are checked for any damage, pressure or wear issues.

  • The tyre pressure is shown on the tyre sidewall and is shown with the load capacity of the tyre (check our recent blog on trailer wheels and trailer tyres for information on this, and also our tyre wall markings download). The pressure required can vary greatly depending on tyre size and even tyre manufacturer, so it is essential to check the correct amount of air is in the tyre.
  • Check the depth of tread on the trailer tyres. The same laws apply as with a car – the depth of the tread must be a minimum of 1.6mm on the centre three-quarters of the tyre.
  • Make sure that there are no bulges, cracks or tears in the tyre sidewall; make sure there are no nails, glass and other items stuck in the tyre to cause a puncture.
  • Check over the trailer rims for any damage or anything untoward.
  • Check the torque of the trailer wheel bolts and wheel nuts to make sure they are the correct tightness. We at Trident Towing sell wheel nut indicators to easily see if a wheel bolt or wheel nut has moved and slackened.

 

TRAILER LIGHTING

Traditional trailer bulb lighting is notorious for being faulty because of the constant vibration and road shock whilst towing. Thus, it is essential that this is checked before commencing your journey.

  • With the trailer coupled to the tow vehicle, turn on the vehicle side lights, brakes, indicators, fog light and reverse light (if fitted) and check around the trailer to see if these are all working. If possible have someone to operate the vehicle lights for you.
  • Check the trailer electrics plug for any damage to the metal pins or the casing, and that the wires are secured inside.

  • Look at the trailer electrics cabling going from the plug for any damage, exposed wire or any wire breaks.
  • Many trailer lighting faults are from blown bulbs – take the light lens off and look at the faulty bulb to see if the filament is broken.
  • Make sure the trailer lights themselves are not cracked or damaged.

 

BREAKAWAY CABLE / SECONDARY COUPLING

As the emergency measure on a trailer, the breakaway cable (on a braked trailer) or secondary coupling (on an un-braked trailer) is one of the first things a police patrol will check if inspecting your trailer.

  • The secondary coupling is normally galvanised cable or a chain. These must be properly fastened to the trailer (usually to one of the coupling head bolts) and coupled correctly to the towball (underneath the coupling head).

  • The breakaway cable cannot be damaged, frayed or kinked and if possible must be attached to a fixing point on the tow bar (modern tow bars now have a provision for this). If there is no fixing point, the cable can be wrapped underneath the tow-ball or around a suitable point on the tow bar which ensures the cable doesn’t kink or get caught up.

 

BODYWORK

  • Check for any loose bodywork, cracks in the trailer side panels, broken hinges and other fixtures or fittings.
  • Ensure the mudguards are solidly fixed to the trailer body – if loose they can flap around and obstruct the trailer wheels.

 

LAST MINUTE CHECKS

Just before you head off on your trailer journey;

  • Make sure the jockey wheel and prop-stands on the trailer are fully wound up and secure enough so they do not drop to the ground during transport.
  • Sharply pull up and down on the trailer drawbar or A-Frame to ensure it is properly coupled to the tow ball.
  • If you are towing a trailer or caravan which is wider than your towing vehicle you would need additional towing mirrors to ensure you can see along the trailer sides. We sell a selection of towing mirrors if required, including the excellent award-winning Milenco Aero mirrors which are available in Convex Glass or Flat Glass versions.

 

 

If you do find any problems with your trailer, we at Trident Towing Kent have a dedicated trailer servicing department and we will take care of your trailer efficiently, quickly and thoroughly.

Just fill in our online trailer servicing enquiry form and send this to us, and we will get back to you straight away with a quotation. Alternatively, you can contact us over the phone and we will be pleased to discuss the trailer service with you.

With our servicing staffs’ extensive knowledge, and the huge array of spare parts at our depot, you can be assured that your trailer is in safe hands with us.

If you have any further queries about this blog or about any other tow bar or trailer questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and thank you for choosing us at Trident Towing Kent.

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