How Often Should You Service a Semi-Trailer?

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Servicing your rig and trailers within your fleet is an important part of making sure that they last for years to come. But oftentimes, much of the focus is put onto the trucks, not the trailers.

Semi-trailer repair and service is vital for keeping your fleet healthy, customers happy, increasing uptime, and preventing costly problems down the road.

Use our valuable checklist below to learn more about what to look for when maintaining a trailer and that you’re receiving timely semi-trailer service.

Why Semi-Trailer Maintenance is Important

We all know that receiving regular maintenance on any type of vehicle is important to preserving its longevity and usefulness. Semi-trailers are no different, but also come with some additional reasons to keep service up to date:

  • Improved safety
  • Better fuel efficiency
  • Increased drivable hours and decreased out-of-service time
  • Compliance

Adhering to regular checks is also part of remaining compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA) and avoiding possible penalties. Section 396.3 of the FMSCA Interpretations and Regulations states that motor carriers and equipment providers must “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.”

Basic Semi-Trailer Repair and Maintenance Checklist

Taking time to maintain and repair a semi-trailer is an investment in the future or your rig and your business. Following this general checklist and any additional manufacturer guidelines will help you stay on top of semi-trailer maintenance for optimal performance and longevity.

1. Check tires

Your tires are essential for the quick and timely movement of freight, but one busted tire, or a few, can be an expensive and unexpected semi-truck trailer repair. By simply checking tires on a regular basis, you may avoid a major expense or an unsafe situation on the road. As a driver, you should check tires before every trip to ensure there is no damage or leaks.

Additional checks include checking tire wear, any pressure monitoring or inflating systems, and any components that could affect tires such as:

  • Suspension
  • Shock absorbers
  • Undercarriage
  • Axles

How often to check: Before and after each haul, and during all regular semi-trailer service appointments.

2. Check lights

Part of safe highway travel is making sure that all lights are functioning on your trailer. Whether you’re traveling in the daytime or at night, trailer lights tell other drivers when you’re changing lanes, braking, hazard lights, and illuminate the roadway. If even one light is out, it can lead to unsafe conditions. And if something is wrong, semi-trailer parts for lighting systems are a quick, cost-effective fix in many cases.

Since lights are highly visible, they may be a common target for violations, adding to the reasons for checking them regularly. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Wiring
  • Clear lenses
  • Broken lenses or lights
  • Corrosion

How often to check: Before each haul and during regular semi-trailer maintenance appointments.

3. Keep trailer lubricated

When lubing semi-trailer parts, be sure to start by checking the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you’re choosing the right kind of lube and applying it correctly.

Trailers have numerous parts that need to be lubed for proper functioning and to help prevent issues like corrosion, especially in the winter when parts can get locked up. Without regular maintenance and lube, you could end up with more frequent and costly semi-trailer repairs.

More specifically, check around the:

  • Kingpin
  • 5th wheel pivot and plates
  • Main rail
  • Drag link
  • Check for missing hardware like bolts

How often to check: Check manufacturer guidelines but should be done every 12,000 to 24,000 miles.

4. Check security mechanisms

Security is more than just a locking door. Semi-trailers feature a number of mechanisms to help secure freight, doors, and other potentially loose components during transit. If a tie-down or chain is broken or damaged, it could lead to broken freight or unsafe conditions. Inspect the following semi-trailer parts for tears, holes, snags, corrosion, or other damage regularly:

  • Tie downs
  • Ratchets
  • Door locks and handles
  • Straps
  • Winches

How often to check: Most security components should be checked before each haul to ensure safety.

5. Clean the semi-trailer

One of the simplest ways to conduct semi-trailer maintenance is to clean it. Trucks and trailers come in contact with dirt, chemicals, and other debris every day, and over time, that build-up can lead to additional repairs that could be prevented.

Taking time every four to six weeks to clean the trailer also gives you the opportunity to conduct a visual inspection, which may reveal other issues you weren’t aware of. It’s also a good time to remove any debris that’s caught in trailer components.

Of course, don’t forget to clean the inside!

How often to clean: Wash and visually inspect the exterior every four to six weeks. The inside of the trailer should be cleaned after each haul.

6. Check brakes

Brakes are one of the most common things people think about when it comes to vehicle maintenance, and for good reason. They are an essential component of your trailer and truck.

Of course, brakes vary depending on the type of trailer and freight being hauled, so inspection intervals may vary. Additionally, if your trailer travels through heavy winter conditions, the brakes could be affected by de-icing chemicals.

How often to check: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Generally, have brakes inspected at each oil change.

Visit Hale Trailer for Complete Semi-Trailer Service

If you need commercial trailer repair, it’s time to contact a Hale Service Department for more information. Our friendly, experienced team of trailer technicians can perform any task from minor repairs and painting, to complete restoration and refurbishing. Customer representatives offer expert guidance to ensure that your trailer gets the service and repairs it needs to stay on the road. Contact us for semi-trailer repair and service today: 800-232-6535.

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