Maintenance Tips for Livestock Trailers

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When was the last time you performed maintenance on your livestock trailer? If you can’t remember the last time, you’re not alone. One of the most neglected aspects by many who own a trailer is performing maintenance on it. This is unfortunate because regular maintenance will increase the years on your trailer’s life.

Fortunately, maintaining your trailer is easy. Here are a few maintenance tips that will not only keep your trailer functioning properly, but make it look nice too!

Washing

When washing your trailer, use a hose instead of a pressure washer, and use some liquid car wash soap in some warm water. This will ultimately protected finishes such as colored side sheets or polished wave panels on a livestock trailer.

Also, make sure you clean the lights and the reflective surfaces of your livestock trailer. This will help with improving the visibility at night. Since the underside of trailer collects the most dirt, dust and road chemicals, it is important to be sure and spray it out with a hose as well.

Watch out for any patches of rust as you’re washing your trailer. Use sandpaper or steel wool to eradicate any rust you find. Once you’ve finished washing the trailer, let it dry and then use some rust-proof paint to touch up the spots. It is a good idea to use paint that is the same color as your trailer.

Because most livestock trailers are at at least as tall as a person, it is important to make sure you have the tools to reach the upper walls and the roof. There are long-reach brushes or telescoping brushes available that will connect to your hose. A step stool or stepladder will also be helpful. Just be sure it has a good tread!

Lighting

It is important to test your vehicle’s lights. This is best done when your livestock trailer is hitched to the tow vehicle and with two people. One person can sit in the tow vehicle and activate the lights, while the other person confirms the lights work. Try testing each of the lights separately, and then activate two or more systems at once. This might seem excessive, but consider how often your trailer’s lights are used together, such as slowing down to make a turn at night. When activated the lights should come on, but be sure to look for other problems, as well. Also, make sure the lights don’t dim and that they don’t weaken or flicker when the turn signal or brakes are activated.

Before checking individual lights for any problems, be sure to examine the wiring harness and trailer connector. In order to do this, first disconnect the trailer from the tow vehicle. Make sure the power source is disconnected as well, if the trailer has a separate electrical system. Then, starting at the trailer’s connector, follow the wiring harness. Usually, the wires in the wire harness are held together with nylon zip ties, although some trailer companies also enclose the wires in a rubber “sheath” to provide extra protection against wear and tear. Look for any points where the zip ties have deteriorated which make the wires swing loosely. Examine each wire individually, particularly in the loose areas, to ensure the insulation is intact. Use electrical tape to reseal any wire that is cracked or there are weak areas in. Wires can also be resealed in any weak areas in a rubber sheath harness with electrical tape as well, but don’t worry about the wires inside unless the harness has been torn enough to expose them. Reseal any individual wires that have been exposed as needed before sealing up the harness itself. To rebundle loose wires, use zip ties. Electrical tape may also suffice in a pinch.

Next, inspect the trailer connector by cleaning off the pins. A wire brush, steel wool or fine sandpaper can be used to do this. To help prevent moisture from getting in, put some dielectric waterproof grease on the connector. While some may argue that the grease will not affect the electrical connection, it is better to take some extra time and not coat the metal connectors rather than risk a bad temperamental connection.

Tires

It is important to make sure your tires are all properly inflated because underinflated tires receive more friction when they’re spinning on the road, thus speeding up the tires’ degradation, which can lead to a blowout. Even if you manage to avoid this, an underinflated tire will flatten under a full load, which can lead to the swaying of your trailer. Make sure you know how much pressure your tires need before you inflate them. This should be stated in the owner’s manual, but if you no longer have this, look on your tire — most of them usually have how much PSI they need printed on them.

Before each use, check your trailer’s tires to ensure they’re still roadworthy by measuring the depth of the tread. A tire’s tread, in most states laws, is required to be at least 2/32″ deep. A tire tread depth gauge can be used to check the treads. The “penny test” can also be used if you do not have a tire tread depth gauge.

When replacing your trailer’s tires, it is best to replace them all at once. Even if your other tires are all good, they will still be worn more than the new tire, and this difference can make your trailer harder to handle.

Grease

It is also important to grease your trailer, including your trailer’s ball hitch, tongue jack and ramp hinges, and preferably before each trip you make. To do this, put a dab of grease on a rag, then put a coat of grease on the ball hitch or the inside of the tongue jack. Try some white lithium grease for the hinges, and make sure it gets between the hing segments where it’s most needed.

 

These are just a few livestock maintenance tips. Contact Gooseneck Trailers today for more information!

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