Ask A Trooper: Basic trailer maintenance can help avoid future breakdowns

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

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By Sgt. Troy Christianson

Question: I have seen a lot of boat trailers and ATV trailers on the shoulders with mechanical issues, what should be checked on these trailers?

Answer: State Troopers often encounter motorists pulling trailers that are experiencing breakdowns. Most often it involves a flat tire or trailer wheel bearing. Basic trailer maintenance involves greasing the wheel bearings. Wheel bearing failure can occur when maintenance is neglected. A trailer’s wheel bearings are often neglected because they are out of sight. A loose, worn or damaged wheel bearing is the most common cause of brakes to grab and lock up. This generally leads to tire failure, whether a flat or a blow out from the heat generated. I’ve seen hubs break off and fires caused from these issues.

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Nobody wants to be that person stranded on the side of the road with a disabled trailer or be a driver who loses control because of a trailer malfunction. It is important to repack the wheel bearings and make it a part of your pre-trip inspection and maintenance schedule.

Other pre-trip preparation should include:

• Taillight and brake light function

  Proper use of hitch, pins and safety chains

• Check tires for proper inflation, unusual wear, weather checking and bulges

• Spare tire inflated, jack and lug wrench

  Secure the load and all other items

A driver can perform all the required maintenance checks, but an unsecured load can also have deadly consequences. Securing your load is the law. A driver could face a citation if they don’t secure their load and/or additional consequences if an unsecured load causes a crash.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at,