Inspect, detect, prevent.
Whether you have a tow-behind motorcycle trailer, or a motorcycle hauling trailer, maintenance is best done on an ongoing basis. It’s a simple formula: Inspection + detection = prevention.
The idea is: Fixing potential problems is easier, cheaper and safer than performing major repairs. To make it fast, easy and inexpensive, maintenance has to happen every time you use your trailer. You should always be on the lookout for anything that just isn’t right.
We’ll go into depth on some of the most important maintenance subjects in future blogs, but as a starting point, here are a few of the most critical maintenance items and some links to check out for more information.
Important: These are general guidelines. Be sure to read and follow the instructions that came with your trailer. Your trailer’s manufacturer may suggest additional maintenance activities and/or different intervals. If you buy a used trailer, check the manufacturer’s website for the owner’s manual and other important usage and maintenance information.
Tires –Keeping your tires properly inflated helps ensure safety, minimize wear and maximize fuel efficiency. Be sure to check inflation when the tire is cold. It’s also important to inspect your tires for wear and damage every time you use your trailer. Keep in mind, since you may not use your trailer as often as you do your motorcycle or other vehicles, your tires may get old before the tread wears down to an unsafe level.
Wheels – Check the lug nuts to be sure they are tight and none are missing. It’s also important to ensure wheel bearings are well greased. Most manufacturers suggest this service be performed every 12 months or 12,000 miles. Be sure to check your owner’s manual.
Wiring/Lights – Inspect the wiring and connector to be sure there is no damage. Test the lights and replace any bulbs that are burned out. Be sure to check brake lights and turn signals. You’ll need to connect your tow vehicle and get someone to assist.
The Hitch – Inspect the safety chains for any sign of damage, rust or excessive wear. Lubricate the moving parts of the hitch to ensure smooth operation and prevent wear. Be sure the coupler engages with the ball properly and the pin is secure. If the pin is damaged or worn, replace it.
Storage – If you store your trailer during periods of non-use, you have the perfect opportunity to do a thorough inspection and perform necessary maintenance. This is particularly true when you remove your trailer from storage and get ready to hit the road. It’s the perfect time to inspect, detect and prevent problems. Your trailer’s manufacturer may have specific guidelines for storage, so be sure to review your owner’s manual.
Links for additional information:
Family Handyman article on repacking trailer wheel bearings. If you’re ready to tackle a somewhat advanced, but important maintenance task, you’ll find step-by-step instructions here:
NHTSA Towing Guide. This is an older publication (in PDF format), but has a lot of useful, basic information on towing. See page 21 for maintenance tips:
Trailer maintenance information from HowStuffWorks.com. Here, you’ll find several links to articles on subjects related to trailers, towing and maintenance: