5 Things you should know to keep your ATV/UTV hauler rolling safely every time
Maintaining your ATV trailer is not often top of mind, but it is very important if you want you and your ATV or UTV arriving to the trails in one piece.
For the most part, many ATV and UTV enthusiasts think about the maintenance and quality of their off-road rig way before the trailer they haul it on. If the wheels are round, hold air, with blinky things on the trailer igniting the predawn light they pay no more attention to it. As long as they can keep the good times moving, getting out a magnifying glass to see the problems lurking on, under and around the ATV trailer will not catch their eye until its too late.
This is where we hope to shed some bright and clarifying light on the subject of ATV trailer maintenance. It has come to our attention that some might not get the term “safe” and need a refresher in how it affects not only you but others on the road as well. If you haul an ATV, it’s going to weigh anywhere between 250-800 lbs and UTVs are almost double that high number in many cases. In short, you need to be safe, so does your ATV or UTV trailer and a good maintenance plan will ensure that.
Here are five items to check and service regularly so that you have a reliable and safe hauler.
ATV Trailer Tires
If its round and holds air it is good to go, right? Not really. Be sure to inspect your trailer tires regularly for treadwear, dry rot or cracking, uneven wear and know their age. As a tire matures it begins to degrade and even though it might have perfect tread, you only drive it once a month or even if you rotate them regularly many tire manufacturers recommend changing the tires every three to five years regardless of wear. Some trailer and RV tires may look brand new and then blow out as the heat builds up because they are just degraded from age. Buying a good brand of ATV or UTV trailer tire is also key and should be on top of your list even before thinking about the price. If that cheap tire blows out it could cost much more than the price of a quality tire!
It is important to check your ATV trailer wheels for damage often and be sure they are well balanced with the tire. Wheel balancing weights do tend to come off over rough roads and this can create a vibration. The vibration or damaged wheel will then put undue pressure on the trailer axle bearings and wear the assembly out over time. Inspect the wheels as you look over the tires and you check off two at once!
The wheel is bolted to a hub that is held to the axle. The axle bearings provide the rolling smoothness for the wheel. The axle bearings are extremely important as they provide a frictionless rotation to the wheel and these need to be greased regularly. Greasing is not the only thing, however, as they need to be inspected on occasion as well. A simple way to check the wheel bearings is to jack up the ATV trailer and rotate the wheels. If they roll smooth, then try to wiggle the wheel by placing a hand on the top and bottom of the wheel, then push in and out to see if there is any play in the bearings. If so, the bearing may need a deeper look. Removing the grease cap and inspecting for a loose axle nut would be the first part and if the axle nut is tight then you know you may need to replace the bearings.
Making sure your ATV or UTV trailer wiring for the lights as well as any accessories are in good working order is crucial. State laws will dictate just how many lights you must have on the trailer, but we guarantee that you will need at least brake, blinker and running lights in any state. Wires dangling from under the trailer will eventually get ripped out by road trash and unprotected connections will corrode without any careful inspections. Both of these will leave you potentially stranded or with a ticket, if not create a dangerous situation should any other motorists not pay close enough attention. Tie wires up with zip ties and make sure connections are protected with insulated connectors as well as electrical tape or heat shrink. After everything has been inspected and repaired, be sure each light, blinker and driving light is in good working order before flying out of the driveway.
This is one thing that does get forgotten about pretty regularly. If you know that your ATV trailer has brakes, then be sure to inspect the brake assembly at least once or twice a year depending on how much you tow your trailer. If you do not know what you are looking at then just haul the rig to your local trailer shop and have them check everything for you. Electric brakes aren’t magic, they do have small pads that make contact inside the wheel hub and they can wear down depending on how much you use them. If you carry a big load on each trip then you know how important these are in stopping that trailer full of toys.
Overall, your trailer deserves some love even if it is just a curious once over each time you pull it out of the driveway. Keeping a good eye on the trailer will ensure that you will have a trouble free trip to and from your favorite riding area.
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