As a semi-truck driver, you carry enormous responsibility on the roads and highways.
Other motorists and pedestrians can behave erratically with little understanding of the pressure you experience to keep yourself and those around you safe, your load intact, and your truck (your livelihood) in optimal working condition.
For this reason, ensuring your semi-trailer is in excellent condition before hitting the road is critical. One of the essential steps to take in maintaining your semi-trailer is checking and repairing damaged parts.
Why is semi-trailer maintenance important?
Semi-trailer maintenance is important because an unattended minor issue can quickly escalate to a major problem where other vehicles and people are involved.
It also pays to keep up with regular maintenance, as trailer and semi-trailer repairs can be costly and time-consuming if not done correctly and on a timely basis.
As an independent commercial truck driver or fleet owner, it's crucial to be familiar with the critical components of a semi-trailer that require regular inspection and maintenance.
By understanding the significance of these components and their role in trailer repair, you can ensure the safety and longevity of your truck and trailer.
Here are four essential semi-trailer parts to keep an eye on.
As any driver knows, you are in big trouble if your brakes don't work correctly. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 29% of all truck crashes are brake related.
And when you're operating a 60,000-pound plus vehicle the braking system is vital in ensuring the safety of everyone on the road.
There are two main types of brakes found on trailers — air actuated drum brakes are most common in commercial trailers, while disc brakes are increasing in popularity.
Regardless of the type of brakes your trailer has, it's crucial to regularly inspect the brake shoes and pads, air lines, drums and rotors for wear and possible damage.
Whether you're hauling a flatbed trailer, reefer trailer, or dump trailer, take your trailer to a reputable service center for immediate inspection and repair if you notice any signs of brake wear, such as excessive noise, reduced braking performance, or uneven braking.
Neglecting brake maintenance can lead to costly repairs and, more importantly, compromise your safety and the safety of your truck and trailer.
When not connected to a truck, the landing gear supports the trailer's weight.
The landing gear consists of landing gear struts, also known as legs or jacks, and there are two types found on semi-trailers — folding landing gear and retractable landing gear.
Inspecting the landing gear is required to ensure it operates smoothly and securely. Check for any signs of damage, such as bent struts or cracked components. Additionally, inspect the operation of the landing gear mechanism, ensuring it raises and lowers without any issues.
Landing speeds and the type of landing gear vary depending on the trailer type. For example, most trailers typically have retractable landing gear, while chip trailers and log trailers may have fixed, folding landing gear.
Regardless of the design, malfunctioning landing gear can cause significant delays during the loading and unloading of your cargo.
Trailer lights include tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, and marker lights.
Although most commercial truck drivers have swapped out traditional lights for their longer-lasting counterparts, LEDs, checking your lighting system is still important — you could experience faulty wiring even with reliable LEDs
Remember to ensure your trailer light kit complies with your state's regulations and that other drivers can see your truck and trailer, especially at night.
Trailer axles bear the weight of the cargo and provide stability to your semi-trailer. They are subject to heavy loads and constant stress, making regular inspection and maintenance necessary.
Proper axle alignment promotes even tire wear (lowering the risks of blowouts) and optimal fuel efficiency.
Examine your trailer axles for any signs of damage, such as cracks, bends, or excessive rust. Check the hubcaps and axle bearings and lubricate them per the manufacturer's recommendations.
Also, pay attention to the suspension components (air or spring) as well as the shock absorbers, as they are vital in maintaining a smooth ride and preventing poor handling and excessive vibrations. On a side note, prolonged exposure to excessive vibrations can lead to health issues such as back pain, fatigue, and hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Maintain your semi-trailer with CRTS trailers
Operating any trailer type requires you to keep an eye on the four critical parts outlined in this article. Regular inspection and maintenance of these parts is the responsible thing to do and can help prevent costly repairs and accidents on the road.
As a commercial truck driver, you may not have the time, knowledge, or resources to maintain your own trailer. You work hard, and downtime is necessary to keep your mind sharp for those long hauls. The last thing you need is to spend hours working on your truck during your time off.
CRTS is a new and used trailer dealer on the east coast of the United States, and we are fully staffed with professional truck and trailer technicians ready to help you identify and repair any damaged parts.
With five convenient locations in the South Atlantic region, it's accessible to stop in and see us if you feel you may need maintenance on your trailer.
Your safety and those of other drivers depend on the safe condition of your semi-trailer, so let our knowledgeable techs help you take care of it.