Q&A: Trailer maintenance

  • Q: As I’m unlikely to take my trailer out very much over the next few months what can I do to make sure the trailer’s condition doesn’t deteriorate?

    John Henderson replies: The first thing you need to think about is where to keep your trailer. Ideally it should be in a building, but if this isn’tpossible, park it on hard standing to reduce the amount of moisture coming up from the ground.

    Try not to leave it under trees as they may drop debris on it.

    Take this opportunity to do some essential housekeeping:

    • Give it a good scrub with disinfectant, remembering to lift the mats and let it dry before closing the ramp and door. 
    • Protect the electrical plug contacts with WD40.
    • Park your trailer with the handbrake off and the wheels kept in place with wooden wedges or bricks as, otherwise, the brake shoes can soon get stuck to the drums through corrosion. 
    • It takes only 36 hours in damp weather, especially after use on salted roads, for the brakes to become so glued up that towing the trailer will shred the tyres. 
    • Look inside the trailer from time to time to make sure there isn’t too much condensation. Open it up on a dry day if it is has got wet inside. Also, check the lights to make sure they don’t fill with water.If you are notusing the trailer at all during this period you could take the wheels off and leave the trailer on axle stands, wooden blocks or caravan ‘winter wheels’ – stands bolted on in place of wheels.

    Store the road wheels in a dry, dark place because damp and ultraviolet light will reduce their lifespan. For security reasons, store them in a locked building rather than in the trailer.

    The only snag with removing the wheels is that, if you need the trailer for an emergency it will take time to replace them.

    If you decide to keep the wheels on the trailer, make sure you maintain tyre pressures and move the trailer a foot or two, backwards or forwards, each month to stop the tyres getting flat spots.

    Before using your trailer again, giveit a thorough check. Examine the tyres for signs of perishing, adjust the brakes and lubricate all moving parts.

    Remember to give it a road test before you take it out with horses on board.

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