If you use a car or boat trailer extensively, you need to pay more attention to its condition and ensure that you take the unit in for inspection from time to time. This is especially true if you tend to carry a heavier weight than average or drive over rough or unmade roads. What is one of the biggest risks in this situation, and what part should you pay attention to more than most?
Understanding Your Trailer
If you break a trailer down into basic sections, you have one part that is essentially static and another that is constantly on the move. To ensure you can pull a trailer when fully laden, specific components known as leaf springs form the interface between those two sections. The leaf springs are effectively individual metal pieces designed to flex and are attached together into a set. They are then connected to the frame of the trailer (the static part) and the axle (which moves in accordance with the road condition).
Working in a Harsh Environment
These leaf springs are designed to work well in a harsh environment and last for a long time, but they can be affected by rough conditions and heavy loads. They are also subject to weather conditions, and a certain amount of surface corrosion is inevitable with time.
Inspecting the Leaf Springs
It's important to check the condition of these leaf springs to ensure that they are still doing their job and are not likely to fail. You need to watch for separation, where the individual leaves are no longer tightly bound, allowing you to see space in between. You should also watch for miniature cracks, especially around the area where the springs set bolt to the trailer's frame. Look even more closely around the "eye", where the bolt holding the parts in place attaches to the frame.
Beware of Rust
A small amount of surface rust is okay, but if it looks as if it's penetrated into the metal, you need to take action. This could lead to a fundamental weakening and, eventually, a complete break.
What to Do Next
Talk with a trailer repair service to see how often they recommend that you visit. This will depend on how much you use the trailer and your average load. When you take the unit in for inspection, the mechanic will look for signs of corrosion, separation, and cracking and make the necessary repairs.