We race. Which means we need to have some sort of tow vehicle and trailer. For most of us, it’s a pickup truck and an open or small enclosed trailer. For others, it’s a 53-foot semi. They requires a special license and the trailing that goes along with it. For the rest of us without all that training, towing pretty much comes down to common sense. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of people on the road with a serious lack of that!
Even though all your on-track experience will, in most cases, make you a better driver on public roads, you still need to worry about everyone around you. Beyond that, regular maintenance and inspections of your truck and trailer can help you be a lot safer on your way to and from the track. The next few pages will cover some of the obvious, and not so obvious things to remember, look for, and inspect each and every time you take your truck and trailer out.
1. Check Tire Pressures
Tire pressures on your truck and/or trailer are usually one of the most common things that go overlooked. This can make for a very dangerous situation. Low tire pressure can lead to excessive heat in the tire, which will lead to a blow out. When your trailer is holding your race car, spare parts, tools, and other equipment, the sheer dollar value of the contents should be reason enough to inspect everything. A blown tire can lead to a loss of control, and you could lose everything.
Most trailers are stored outside. The exposure to the elements can be very hard on many of the components, especially the wiring. Frayed or broken wires can result in lights that don’t work or the loss of brakes. Each is extremely important. Damaged wires should be fixed properly to ensure a solid connection with enough room for the wire to move (if the wire is in motion on the road).
3. Brake Controller
A brake controller is a must for any racer with even a small open car trailer. The combined weight of the trailer and race car can equal the weight of the truck, and the total weight is more than any truck’s brakes are designed to handle on its own. A good brake controller will give you the ability to adjust the trailer brakes to help you safely stop your rig. The level of trailer brakes should also be adjusted every time you use the truck and trailer. Keep in mind that the level will depend on the weight of the load and what type of driving you’ll be doing.
4. Service Axles
If you use your trailer on a regular basis, the axles should be inspected and serviced on a regular basis as well. The bearings should be greased and the axles checked for alignments. The axle bearings support large amounts of weight, and take a beating on the road. Maintenance is the key for long life.
5. Inspect Hitch and Ball
Your hitch and ball are extremely important, as these are what connect the truck and trailer together. The hitch and receiver support huge loads, and although they are built to be very tough, they should still be inspected for wear and cracks. Trailer balls should be greased regularly to prevent binding, wear, and rust like the one to the left. The ball is how the trailer locks to the truck. If it wears, the truck and trailer could become separated on the road leading to huge problems.