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Don’t overlook trailer maintenance

March 12, 2024
While they may be often overlooked trailers need as much care and maintenance as tractors.

A great deal of attention gets focused on tractor maintenance, but too often that same amount of attention is not focused on the trailer. However, a well-maintained trailer is a critical element to the on-time delivery of freight.

Because trailers are rarely paired with tractors, drivers may not give them the care they deserve. While there are far fewer components on the trailer than the tractor, they all need proper maintenance.

Tires are a good place to start when performing a trailer maintenance inspection. Check tire pressure and inspect tires for signs of wear and damage. Underinflated tires have a significant impact on fuel economy. In fact, a 0.5-1.0% increase in fuel consumption is seen in vehicles running with tires underinflated by 10 psi. Studies have shown that one in five trailers is operating with four or more tires underinflated by at least 20 psi.

Another reason to inspect tires is that problems with the suspension, shocks or alignment often show in tire wear patterns. Whether or not your tires indicate a problem with the suspension system, make sure you inspect it regularly. Check bushings, shocks, struts, and axles for signs of wear. Worn suspension components can make the vehicle harder for the driver to control.

Read more: Trailer whispering: Benefits of listening to smart trailers

Lights are the next area to check. Make sure all lights on the trailer are functioning properly. The law requires that all trailer lights work, and broken lights or nonfunctioning lights are one of the top reasons that law enforcement personnel pull trucks over for inspections.

Brake maintenance should include inspecting all components of the braking system including pads, rotors, and fluid levels.

Make sure to lubricate any moving parts on the trailer, including hinges and door locks. This will help prevent corrosion from forming.

Dirt and debris can accumulate under the trailer during normal operation. Cleaning the trailer regularly will prevent rust and corrosion. Cleaning is especially important in areas of the country that use de-icing chemicals on roads during the winter, as they can do a great deal of damage to the trailer. A trailer that is extremely dirty is also a red flag to safety inspectors who are more likely to pull your driver over if the trailer is filthy.

Properly maintaining  tractors and trailers pays big dividends in terms of fuel savings, improved vehicle reliability, a reduction in the number of on-road breakdowns and reduced CSA violations and fines. In addition, well-maintained tractors and trailers are safer to operate and increase driver satisfaction.


Denise Rondini is president of Rondini Communications, a full-service communications firm specializing in the trucking industry. She has 40 years of experience in the trucking industry as editor of several industry publications, and is currently also NACFE’s director of communications. She is also the recipient of SAE International’s 2019 Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award.

 

About the Author

Denise Rondini | Director of Communications

Denise Rondini is NACFE’s director of Communications. Her responsibilities include handling NACFE’s internal and external communications efforts as well as media relations. She also is on the teams that develop confidence and guidance reports. Denise has 40 years of experience in the trucking industry as editor of several industry publications. She is also president of Rondini Communications, a full-service communications firm specializing in the trucking industry. She is the recipient of SAE International’s 2019 Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award.

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