Virginia State Trailer Inspections

What You Need to Know About Virginia State Trailer Inspections

The great Commonwealth of Virginia, thankfully, requires that any trailer with a brake, undergo a state certified inspection once every 12 months. This requirement does tend to keep those dangerous rigs, currently being held together by baling twine, off the highway. The state police do a relatively good job, considering ever limited resources, in policing this law. We can rest a little easier because our fellow horsemen are by in large obeying this requirement.

This is the good news. The bad news is that state inspection requirements are relatively basic and do not encompass all of those things that should be inspected, at least once every year, regardless of how often your trailer is being used.

The basic requirements, for a $16 state inspection are limited to:

-One wheel per brake axle (most horse trailers have brakes on both axles, so two of the four wheels will be pulled) must be pulled open. The inspector will look at only those 2 wheels and will inspect them to determine the condition of the brakes, magnets, bearings & grease and the springs

-All 4 tires (not the spare) and stems will be inspected for condition and dry rot

-All exterior lights and the license plate light will be inspected to insure that they are working

-The trailer frame, suspension, and wiring will be inspected for safety

-The coupler will be inspected to insure that it is safe and working correctly

-The breakaway system, battery and switch are tested.

Here are the things that a state inspection will NOT cover:

-The other two wheels on your trailer will not be inspected. Therefore, even if the two that are opened are found to be passable, this will not insure that the other two have sufficient and clean grease in the bearings or that the brake components are adequate and working correctly and even that these other two brakes are adjusted correctly. The wheels operate independently and one or two being passable says nothing about the condition of the other two.

This is a major flaw in the state requirements

-The spare tire is not inspected. The condition of the spare is as critical as the condition of the tires on the road, should you have a blow out and need it. That is NOT the time to find that your spare has inadequate air or is flat or has dangerous dry rot

-The interior lights are not inspected

-The floor, the wall supports, the roof supports are not inspected. This is the structural integrity of your trailer. If you have floor deterioration issues or stress fractures affecting the walls and/or roof of your trailer, it would not be detected. The door hinges, windows and screens are not inspected. Most importantly, the condition of the rear ramp is never inspected

-The trailer jack is not inspected

-The roof sealant is not inspected. All aluminum roofs are sealed with a marine grade caulk that will dry up and shrink with sun exposure, weather and age. If the caulk is not replaced every 4-5 years, you risk leakage into the trailer, often in undetected areas that will exacerbate the problem over time

-The roof vents are not inspected for damage or leakage

In short, a full inspection, of all the above issues should be conducted annually, by a competent trailer service shop.

TRAILER TIP: The biggest road hazard problem we see is underinflated tires. This leads to blow-outs and significantly reduced tire life. Inflate the tires to the PSI listed on the sidewall when the tires are cold (before use). Check tire pressure every time you pull the trailer.

Donna Martin
Owner/Manager
Blue Ridge Trailers
434-985-4151

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