I recently purchased a flatbed trailer to haul my Jeep on.
I will share a few things I've learned over the years, that many people may or may not now about with regard to trailers, some of which I learned while prepping my new trailer for hauling.
1. TORQUE THE LUG NUTS!
Check the axle specs, Torque them before your first trip, then check them periodically for the first few hundred miles, and every so often later on. Most trailers use Dexter brand axle. New trailers will typically come with an owners manual for the axles. There may also be a sticker on the fender, or frame near the tires. I think you can also download the information from Dexter Axle's website.
From what I have seen, the typical 3500 lb and up axles quote 90-120ft lbs as the spec.
I've seen the aftermath of a trailer wheel coming off the trailer on the Interstate.
My brother and I always follow this rule. A few years ago, him and someone else bought new trailers. My brother told him to "check the lug nuts and torque them." Part way through the return trip, the other guy just about lost a wheel, because "he didn't check the lug nuts" and they all came loose on one wheel, and wallowed out the holes on the wheel.
I carry a torque wrench with me and actually check the lug nuts periodically during the duration of longer trips.
2. Carry spare lug nuts.
You might need them if some knucklehead steals one, you loose one while changing a tire, or one gets boogered up while changing a tire.
3. Check lug nuts for functionality/damage.
While at home, in the driveway, remove all the wheels, one at a time, to make sure the lug nuts are all functional. I learned this lesson just today while I was installing brakes on one axle. Fortunately the hub I was removing was NOT going back on the trailer, because it now has 3 wasted wheel studs. I wrecked the 3 lug nuts for those three studs too, and a fourth one is questionable. I found some spare lug nuts from the last brake install project I did back in 1996, they were with the other spare parts left over from that project. I have more, and those will go in the box with all the other junk that goes in the back of my truck when I'm towing. This is a new trailer that only has about 30 miles on it so far.
4. Check the brake wiring
at the splices where the wiring from the trailer harness connects to the brake backing plate assembly. I learned this lesson spring of 2007 when I decided it was time to repack the wheel bearings on my toy hauler RV. In the process of dismantling things, I discovered one brake assembly was perfectly clean inside, which was a sign that the brake had NEVER WORKED since day one! The wires were connected, but a shoddy job was done and the actual conductor in the wire was not making contact with the barrel in the crimp splice, therefore, it NO WORKIE!
I redid all 4 wheels like the third pic below.
These are pics on my new Jeep hauler:
This is unacceptable, because moisture will get in there and corrode things:
This is ALSO unacceptable:
I redid both sides with heat shrink crimp splices. They have some goo in them that oozes out as you heat them up, so it seals everything. Got them from Delcity.net
While you are messing around with the brakes and tires (when trailer is off the ground), check brakes for tightness. Trailer brakes do not automatically adjust, none I have seen anyway. Adjustment procedure is just like doing the "drum in hat" parking brake on our Rubi's rear axles. Pull the little oblong shaped cover, adjust the star wheel with a flat blade screwdriver. Replace cover. When I towed my trailer home about 5 weeks ago, I noticed there was very little braking action compared to even my little 6x10 Wells Cargo. Today I discovered the exiting brakes were very loose. One side I had to rotate the star wheel a good three turns before the shoes contacted the drums, then I backed it off a tad. Don't be crawling around under the trailer until you secure it with jackstand(s) (DUH!).
Also get a decent brake controller that is inertia activated, and NOT one that is time based. Tekonsha Voyager for smaller, light weight trailers, or the Tekonsha Prodigy for larger/heavier trailers. The Prodigy has a boost function that lets you quickly dial up or down the braking action.
Here's what happens when the brake controller in the tow rig DOESN'T work correctly: (this is MY trailer, it happened in 199
6. Check ALL the wiring:
I've seen varying workmanship when it comes to overall trailer wiring. If there's any splices, check and redo them if necessary. Secure the wiring so it stays put and doesn't chafe against sharp edges. If the cord that plugs in to your truck is excessively long, secure the slack in some way that it will stay put and not drag the ground.
7. GET SOME WHEEL CHOCKS
, and I don't mean those crappy "yellow plastic" ones they sell for RVs, which are even worthless for RV usage. Go to a truck supply store and get the big black rubber ones that have an eyelet in them. I need more, but I have two right now. They fill the gap perfectly between the axles, and require a few kicks to get them in the gap on my RV.
8. Get a massively overkill jack
of some sort that you can use to change a trailer tire on the road should the need arise. It doesn't hurt to carry a small assortment of wood blocks too. I have a 12 ton bottle jack.
Always check your tire pressure and condition / age of the tires!
If you buy a used trailer and the tires are of unknown age, figure on replacing them before your first trip. If your trailer is parked where the sun beats down on the tires most of the time, consider getting some of those tire covers the blue hairs use on their RV tires. I started using those things on my truck (which sits 90% of the time) after finding the tires had severe weather checking two summers ago, then having to spend a fortune replacing them.
Just because the tires are new, doesn't mean they are good.
See another one of my stories here: