Getting your Trailer Back on the Road after Winter

RV and Trailer road warriors everywhere are waiting with anticipation for the early signs of spring. As seasoned owners across the country feel the excitement of hitting the road once again, there are thousands of recent owners bringing their vehicles out of storage and performing spring maintenance for the first time.  Below are five simple tips for your de-winterization process to ensure your RV or trailer is ready for the road.

  1. Give your tires a double-take with a visual inspection — Check that your tires look like they are supposed to – meaning no irregularities, detectable differences from when you stored them, or foreign debris in the tread. You might even start with a thorough wash and scrub so any differences are more apparent. This is especially important if you didn’t do a pre-check before placing your tires in storage.
  2. Fill ‘em up to recommended pressure — Shifts in temperature and sitting static mean your tires lose pressure. On average, tires can lose ~3% of air pressure per decrease in temperature of 10°C. Additionally, even at a constant temperature, tires will lose about 3% inflation pressure per month while sitting around inflated yet not running. More importantly, driving your vehicle with underinflated tires places added pressure on the shoulder of the tire, which can lead to handling issues or uneven wear. Avoid this by checking your pounds per square inch or, PSI, and re-inflating to the level recommended on your vehicle’s placard.
  3. Put your two cents to the tread test — Ensure a comfortable ride by testing your tire tread. Your tire tread helps your vehicle grip the road through proper traction and provides a smooth ride. To test, take a penny and place Abraham Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you into the shallowest groove on the tire. If Lincoln’s head is visible above the tread, you only have 2/32″ or less tread depth left. You can also look at your tire for the indicator (wear) bars embedded in the tire at 2/32”— both may tell you it’s time for new tires.
  4. Make sure it’s all systems go! — Just like with a car, checking your vehicle’s systems before major towing should be standard practice. For your trailer, be sure to connect to the tow vehicle power and check all of the exterior lights — running lights, headlights, accessory lights, brake lights, etc. Also, inspect your hitch components and 12-volt electrical plugs for your tow vehicle.
  5.  Know your load capacity Before hitting the road, check the exact amount of weight your vehicle can tow. Overloaded trailers could cause your tires to wear unevenly generating the need to replace your tires sooner.  Always check your VIN number and consult the owner’s manual. 

After a long winter season, it’s understandable that many RV and trailer enthusiasts would want to hit the road as soon as possible. If you were lucky enough to haul all winter long, it’s still important to take a few moments to check your trailer before the next trip.  By performing the checks on this simple list, you can ensure life on the road runs smoothly.