Towing the line: Telltale signs it’s time for some serious trailer maintenance

Trailer Maintenance trailer plans

Repair or replace? We help you decide when trailer maintenance is required and when you should replace your trailer.

Doing routine trailer maintenance will most likely prolong its life and save you money on an upgrade. We flag some classic wear and tear issues and clarify when it’s best to get your trailer repaired and when it’s time to think about buying something new.

Rust and corrosion

Trailers left outside for extended periods of time can become susceptible to rust or corrosion. When aluminum corrodes, small holes form, whereas steel begins to rust. If your trailer shows signs of surface rust on the body (bar the trailer floor) then this is more of a cosmetic problem. However, rust or corrosion on the frame is a serious problem and a sign that it could be time for a new trailer.


Your tyres may look new, but good trailer maintenance involves regular inspections even when nothing appears to be wrong. Check for signs of dry rot, particularly if your trailer has been stationary on grass for some time. Dry rot occurs when tyres become dried out and have cracked rubber in the sidewalls. It’s a serious problem that dramatically increases the likelihood of a blown tyre. If you suspect dry rot, get your tyres checked by a professional – it may be time for new ones.


If you’ve hit a kerb or rocky surface, there’s a chance you may have bent an axle. If it looks like one of your tyres is facing in or out a little more than the others, take your trailer to a mechanic to have your axles properly checked out.


The only way to check the electric brakes is to connect your trailer to your tow vehicle, slide the electric brake control manual lever over and test to feel that all four wheels are resisting movement. If you have any concerns about the performance of your trailer brakes, take them to a mechanic to be inspected. Brake issues need to be addressed immediately.


The trailer floor is of utmost importance as it bears the load of all your precious cargo. If taken care of, it can last 15 to 20 years. Be sure to keep the floor protected from the wet. Regularly pull up any mats and inspect for rust or other damage. Signs of holes, severe rust or corrosion on your trailer floor indicate that it’s time to upgrade your trailer.


Your coupling is the component that connects the ball hitch to your vehicle. Do check it for rust – however, as long as there isn’t a large amount visible, it should be in safe working condition.

A little bit of inspection and routine trailer maintenance can go a long way toward extending the life of your trailer. However, don’t be dismayed if you need to replace your trailer entirely. It’s your safety and the safety of your cargo that is of paramount importance.


Source: AL-KO, Without A Hitch, Towing the line: Telltale signs it’s time for some serious trailer maintenance, 14 May 2014,