Many people do not pay close enough attention to their trailer tires. Tires are an auxiliary item to your trailer and as such, an easy item to overlook. I’ve put together a few basic tips that should help just about anyone give their trailer tires a basic evaluation.
Do you know how to check your tire pressure? You should have a little pressure gauge in your truck for quick checks on the go if you can’t be sure that those tires look just right. Furthermore, rather than waiting to identify tires that are over or under inflated, do you know how to figure out how much air is supposed to be in those tires? (Hint: It says it on the sidewall of the tire. Its not always easy to find, but it is always there.) As a general guideline you can expect tire pressures to coordinate with the load capacity (also on the sidewall) of your tires. For example, C-range tires (approximately 1000lbs – 2500lbs) require a maximum PSI of 50. D-range tires (approximately 1800 – 3000lbs) require a maximum PSI of 65 and E-range (approximately 2800 – 3500lbs) should be at 80 PSI to handle the increased capacity. You should check your tire pressure while the tires are cold because they expand as they heat up while you’re driving.
Now, to address your tire issues if you have NOT been checking your tire pressure frequently. If you have baldness in the center of your tires they’re over inflated, let some of that air out. If you have baldness on the outer edges of the tires they’re under inflated, pump those tubes up! If you go to check the baldness patterns on your tires and find that they’re completely bald without any tread at all, congratulations you’re about 5 years/100,000 miles overdue on a replacement. Trailer tires can actually be worn out while still appearing to have plenty of tread due to the increased loads they carry. Legally you’re tires need to be replaced when they have 2/32″ of remaining tread depth but obviously at BALD you’re a little past that.
It is not uncommon to have issues with your trailer axles although this should not be a frequent issue you experience. The most common ways to bend an axle, knock it out of alignment or do both are backing over curbs or hitting large potholes. It takes a bit of time to check your axle alignment although it can be done with simple instruments found in most garages. Lets assume you haven’t been burning through new sets of tires frequently and this is your first check. We’ll start with a quick peek at your tires since it’s the easiest and most expeditious method. If you notice baldness only on the outer edges of the tire you probably have a bent axle or spindle. (That is, if you’ve already eliminated your tire pressure as an issue.) If you have a matching pattern of baldness on both the outside and inside edges of the tires with tread still visible in the center you most likely have an alignment problem. You can also use a straight-edge to measure If you’re not convinced you have a bit of a bend or some misalignment, take your trailer to your local shop (or come see our professional service department at Blue Ridge Trailers) to let them give you an expert diagnosis.
You may not realize how often trailers are accidentally overloaded, it’s easy to do. It tends to happen to utility trailers and dump trailers most commonly. People assume that just because an entire load of stone, stand, gravel, etc. fits in the trailer space that the trailer is capable of handling the load capacity. (Not actually the case.) If you haven’t managed to warp the entire trailer frame just yet, you might not have noticed that you’ve been overloading your trusty trailer a tad. Take a look at the wear pattern on the tires, are they bald just on the inside edges? (Once again, rule out tire pressure and axle issue.) If they are, you need to take your trailer to your local shop immediately. You could hurt yourself or others on the road if you’re driving around with a warped frame, bent axles and balding tires… triple threat.
Happy and safe trailer travels everyone!