Winter checklist: Top 5 tips for trailer maintenance
During the winter season, it is essential to carry out maintenance on your vehicle to keep it safe and roadworthy. Regular trailer maintenance is the best way to protect your fleet and its something that can have a positive impact on both vehicles and drivers on the road, especially in winter. To help prevent your fleet from feeling the real impact of winter and potentially even serious damage, below we share 5 trailer maintenance checks that fleet teams are recommended to ensure are carried out.
When considering the recommendations, it is important to keep in mind the trailer type, size and usage (including mileage and cargo weight). Depending on these features, other maintenance checks might also be a priority and you should ensure these are carried out too.
In winter, days are shorter and darker. Therefore, at the initial stage, check your trailer lights. They should work properly, regardless of your trailer type. It is crucial to check all lighting:
- Trailer front lights
- Trailer rear lights
- Side marker lights
Finally, make sure the registration plate and the reflectors’ visibility are clearly illuminated.
Tyre tread and tyre wear:
Did you know that worn tyres reduce starting traction by 30% to 50%? Worn tyres can also burst on the road, especially at high speeds.
It is vitally important to check your tyres’ life span, and watch for these two wear signs:
- The centre wear, which indicates an over-inflated tyre
- The outer wear, which indicates an under-inflated tyre
Correct tyre pressure is crucial for safe and reliable operation, as well as reduced fuel consumption. Each manufacturer has its own specifications on tyre pressure.
The tyre pressure is rated in PSI or pounds per square inch. To get a precise reading and rating, it must be checked a few hours after parking the trailer. Most common tyres need to be pressured to at least 8.5 bar. Be aware of the fact that low pressure can cause blowouts.
To further save costs and reduce vehicle downtime, you can install a tyre pressure monitoring solution for trailers (TPMS). It helps maintain tyre pressure, detecting slow punctures early, maximising tyre-life and allowing tyres to be repaired, rather than be replaced.
Checking your brake operations and brake air pipes is essential, especially when the weather is cold. This is because the brake connections and airlines can freeze or split due to the condensed water in the brake system, which creates a huge obstacle. Following this, two potential major issues can occur:
- failure of the braking operation, which can cause a serious accident
- excessive brake lining and drum/disc wear
To be prepared and prevent your fleet from these issues, remember to check the sealing rubbers of the coupling hands at regular intervals for leaks. We highly recommend to always have a spare in the trailer: the yellow and red and the air coils.
Finally, the air tank of the trailer should be checked regularly for condensation, which can easily be removed via the drain valves of the air tank underneath.
Vehicle and trailer body:
To ensure your vehicle remains in great condition, wash and clean your trailer regularly, especially in the autumn and winter months, when roads are wetter and dirtier.
And finally …
- Check the condition of the door: if applicable, inspect all seals for damage, as well as cables, latches and holdbacks
- Check the condition of the roof: keep it clean and free of snow, inspect seams, seals and the roofing membrane for damage
- Check the registration plates: it must be correctly affixed to the trailer and clearly visible
Make sure all the above components are compliant with MOT. Some of these checks require specific tools, knowledge and skills. If you are unsure how to maintain them, you can outsource your trailer maintenance from an experienced and reliable third party.
Protect your fleet with TIP
TIP is a highly experienced provider of trailer maintenance and repair programs. We have been servicing trailers for over 50 years. We offer our customers maintenance and repair services with or without a contract. Our programs provide cost savings, flexibility, and access to a large team of qualified technicians trained on the latest technologies and working across the nation, throughout Europe and beyond.