Most of the smaller car or boat trailers are relatively simple machines designed to last as long as possible without too much in terms of maintenance. However, owners will still need to pay attention to certain areas as time goes by if they want to avoid the threat of breakdown or costly failure. What's one of the most important areas to look at if you have such a trailer and want to be proactive?
Understanding the Suspension
In order to maintain the weight of the boat or car above and allow the trailer to function as required, most manufacturers choose leaf spring suspension. These systems come in different configurations, such as slipper or reverse curl, but fundamentally, the way that they work is very similar.
Some trailer owners think that they only need to look at wheel bearings or brakes during a periodic maintenance check and don't even give those trailer springs a second glance. However, they are certainly vulnerable to damage and wear and tear linked to road surfaces, moisture or debris.
From time to time, it's crucial to look closely at each leaf in the spring configuration. In particular, look for evidence of cracking close to the area that holds the leaf spring to the retaining bolt as part of a hangar mechanism.
Also, look at the relationship of each leaf to each other. They should match closely, one on top of the other, and you should not be able to see any gaps in between each leaf. If so, the spring cannot correctly support the weight any longer, and the entire mechanism may need to be replaced. "Flattening out" is caused by fatigue, and in the worst-case scenario, that leaf may break when it comes under particular stress.
Some surface rust is to be expected but not too much. If you can see large chunks of rust, the spring itself may be compromised and not able to cope with strength or load capacity as much as it would otherwise.
It is possible to treat the external surface of your leaf springs during a routine service. This should help to keep rust levels as low as possible. At the same time, the mechanic should look for evidence of flattening or cracking and take action if they find anything untoward.
If it's been some time since you took your trailer in for a service, now is the time to do so. Talk to a trailer servicing professional for more info.
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