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How To Protect Your Trailer and Avoid Breakdowns This Winter…

trailer maintenance tips keep sled haulers running smoothly

Photo © by Craig Nicholson


Related: Snowmobile Trailer Shopping Tips


 

Why do you need in season trailer maintenance tips? Because perhaps the most often neglected part of your snowmobile equipment is your trailer. It’s all too easy to hook it up at the beginning of the season and never look back.

Fortunately, most of us get away with this inattention for a while. But it’s bound to catch up sooner or later. Either with a roadside breakdown or the premature deterioration that can cause long-term damage down the road.

Both scenarios are less of a concern with a fully aluminum trailer like those made by Triton. Problems are also usually avoidable with a little regular TLC. And with some preventative maintenance. Best of all, it’s never too late to get started.

I should note upfront that the tips in this article apply to snowmobile trailers in general. But with 3 or 4-bed enclosed trailer, you have to complete an annual safety check. This requirement typically applies if your hauler has dual axles and/or the combined gross weight of tow vehicle + trailer exceed allowable limits in your jurisdiction.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Check Your Wheel Bearings

If you’ve already been using your snowmobile trailer without incident, there are five components you need to check. Do so immediately and regularly, including at the start of each season. One is your wheel bearings. Low grease, road dirt and moisture can wreak havoc on them.

So if you have EZ Lube Hubs (as most trailers now do), but haven’t added grease since last season, you should do so right away. Same goes if you’re constantly towing big loads big distances in sloppy conditions. If you don’t have EZ lube hubs, then you should get your bearings repacked instead.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Inspect Your Tires

trailer maintenance tips include checking tires

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

The second component that needs checking right away is your tires. This is especially essential if you haven’t looked at them until now. Or if they are older. Or if you’ve stored your trailer outside without protecting them. Check for tread wear, sidewall cracks and bulges (both sides) that could lead to a flat or blow out.

If all is good, then make a habit of checking the tire pressure regularly to the manufacturer’s recommended specs. And don’t forget to include your spare! At the same time, double check that all the wheel nuts are present and tight.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Scrutinize Your Lights

Component number three to check is your trailer lights, both running and signal. Although faulty lights aren’t likely to leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere, they can be very dangerous while driving. They’re also highly likely to attract police attention.

At the same time, inspect the wire and electrical connector that plugs into your tow vehicle. It’s also a good idea to periodically apply a dab of dielectric grease to the prongs of the male connector.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Eyeball Your Hitch

trailer maintenance tips include hitch and ball

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

The fourth component to check is the hitch set up. This includes tow vehicle hitch ball and trailer hitch coupler & safety chains. Make sure nothing is loose, broken or otherwise out of whack. At the same time, spread a dab of grease on the surface of the hitch ball and make sure your trailer is towing level, not tilted up or down from the ball.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Lube & Protect

trailer maintenance tips include lubing and greasing moving parts

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Finally, take a can of spray lube to all pivoting points, including door and ramp hinges. Don’t forget the fuel & front access doors, locks and tongue jack if your trailer is so equipped. If your trailer has any grease nipples, give them a shot from a grease gun.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Keep It Clean

As with your tow vehicle, after every trip it’s a good idea to pressure wash the full exterior of your snowmobile trailer, including the wheels and underside. If you have time during the season, get a good corrosion protection product and coat all components susceptible to corrosion from exposure to road grim and salt or exposure to the elements. Otherwise, get it done at season’s end.

Trailer Maintenance Tips – Summerizing Your Trailer

All of the preceding tips should be part of your regular preventative maintenance program starting with a new trailer and throughout every season thereafter. But they say that the best preventative maintenance is proper preparation for storing your trailer over the summer. So here is a list of trailer summarizing tips.

Clean Your Trailer

Use a specific salt eliminator product, as everything seems to corrode worse than ever while sitting over the summer months. Soap and water isn’t enough anymore.

Grease Your Wheel Bearings

Do this in the spring because a hub can have moisture in it or develop condensation that rusts the bearing while it’s not being used. Any moisture can start an issue that becomes a bigger problem during the next season. If you do not have EZ lube hubs, then repack the bearings.

Clean & Lube

Do all hinges, locks, pivot points and moving items like tie downs (even the D ring type). If your trailer has tie down screws in the floor for the skis remove them and spray lube into the nut below the floor. It’s a good idea to leave the screw out over the summer as well if the trailer won’t be towed.

If your trailer has brakes, be sure to thoroughly clean and lube them immediately after the season’s over. This way, parts won’t corrode or seize while sitting all summer packed with road grit and salt.

Reapply Corrosion Protection

Apply the product to the entire trailer, including points like the tongue jack, safety chains, coupler, axle and frame. Even if your trailer is aluminum, coat its frame especially where metal components come in contact.

Park Your Trailer Properly

Once all these items are complete, park your trailer out of the sun in a dry area (inside if available, but preferably not on grass as this is a damp area that amplifies corrosion. Take the weight off the tires and suspension, especially if you are storing sleds inside. Also remember to angle the trailer appropriately so rainwater will run off the roof and not pool.

Prep Next Fall

Before use, start by checking the five components listed in the main body of this article.

For many of us, trailering to the snow is now a fact of winter life. That makes your snowmobile trailer just as important as your sled. So it’s really important to look after it as if your ability to go snowmobiling depends on it, because it does!

Thanks to Paul McNichol, owner of Alumite Enterprises, distributor of Triton Trailers, for contributing to this article.

Check out more riding tips!

The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.

 

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