Wondering what you can do to renovate, upgrade or repair your trailer?

Whether your trailer is old and reliable or fairly new, there are things you can do to improve it. Trailer repairs include everything from ripping out the axle and replacing it with the latest technology to simply changing a light bulb.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can upgrade your trailer to make it safer and more robust in whatever conditions you take it through.

What can you do to make your trailer more robust?

Brakes

  • By law, all trailers with a loaded weight exceeding two tonnes must incorporate power-assisted brake application. So if your trailer has older-style hydraulic brakes, take a look at an electronic air/hydraulic system that covers legal requirements and will perform well.
  • If you’re hauling a boat or spending a lot of time around water, disc brakes are the best choice for their resistance to corrosion. They are easy to wash after saltwater immersion and allow faster cooling when you brake a lot, thereby reducing the need for trailer repairs down the track.
  • Going off-road? Most electric brakes just don’t stand up to Australia’s corrugated roads and bush tracks. However, you can upgrade to an off-road electric brake which is specifically designed to reduce vibration and wear, while withstanding the high temperatures caused by heavy braking.

Coupling

Is the existing coupling up to scratch for the work it has to do? Most trailers come with a standard plunger ball mount coupling, but there are plenty of other types such as anti-sway and off-road couplings.

Axle

If the trailer’s existing axle is a bit ordinary, consider upgrading to an Independent Rubber Suspension (IRS) axle system. It will follow you from dirt track to freeway or desert highways and is resistant to saltwater. If the axle is bent, check the load rating and replace.

Suspension

The suspensions fitted to trailers are becoming more sophisticated. It depends on how you plan to use the trailer, but latest developments include independent units using leaf springs, torsion rubber, coils and airbags.

Repairs and maintenance

Many of these upgrades will need to be done by a professional, but there are plenty of other things you can tinker with on your trailer, such as fixing the lights, replacing chains, tightening bolts and connectors.
Check springs, shackles and U bolts regularly and keep non-galvanised components painted to protect against rust.
There are also pre-packaged aftermarket parts and accessory kits available from your local dealer or online that will make DIY trailer upgrades easier.
If you plan on doing any work on your trailer, you’re going to need tools. Until you can convince the family to give you the complete boxed set for Christmas, here are the basic tools you’ll need.
  • Screwdrivers (both Phillips head and flat head)
  • Hex (Allen) keys
  • Socket set or ratchet
  • Torque wrench
  • Cutting pliers
And remember the safety gear:
  • Eye protection
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Oil-spill collector
  • Gloves
  • Rags
  • Line wrenches
Apart from minor trailer repairs and maintenance, you should always consult a professional before you do any work on your trailer.
Source: AL-KO, Without A Hitch, Trailer Repair: How to upgrade or repair your car trailer, 14 May 2014, withoutahitch.com.au