Trailer Servicing - How do you know it's done right?

Sunday, 14 January 2018  |  Justin

It's been playing on my mind these last couple of weeks as to what standard a trailer "service" is carried out. Anyone can go and purchase a van, equip it with some tools and literally start working on a trailer with little or even no experience. This is a little scary. Over the past few weeks, whether it's coincidence or not I have come across some pretty scary sights on trailers that had supposedly been serviced within the last year. 

The first one I want to share with you was on a late Ifor 510 Classic that I had been asked to change the front ramp on. Whilst I was there the customer mentioned that her front brake on the passenger side had been sticking on every time she'd go to use it. Also, the Ifor WIlliams grey centre cover had come off (this immediately sends alarm bells ringing as this normally means the brakes have been overheating and melted the plastic cap). Once I had completed the ramp I set to examining the braking system. Upon jacking the problem wheel up I immediately knew there was an issue as no matter how far I wound the adjuster off, the brake was still binding. Removal of the drum revealed the issue - the main spring that holds the end of the shoes together and creates the force that pulls everything back together once the brakes have been applied then released, hadn't actually been put back on from the last service. Not only was this preventing the brakes working properly but because the bottom shoe was in constant contact with the brake drum, it was causing the binding and the brakes sticking issue too. Needless to say, the customer was horrified that she had put her trust in someone to work on her trailer to carry round her pride and joy who had completed the work to a very poor standard.

The second incident is a far more serious issue. I was asked to service a large Equi-Trek horse trailer for a very well known person in the horse world as she had always had trouble reversing her trailer. Now it's well known that the auto-reverse system on any trailer isn't 100% perfect as we've probably all tried to reverse a loaded trailer up hill right? Sometimes, it just doesn't want to know. However, once I had removed the drum, it was quite a suprise to find that the brake shoes on the driver side had been fitted backwards, yes backwards. Not only did this mean that the auto reverse function was kicking in every time the brakes were applied going forward, causing no or little braking effort on that side, but it was also causing the brakes to activate when in reverse. More worryingly though, all the braking was being done by the n/s brakes which would be causing a very dangerous imbalance, which could lead to a very serious accident. Now this trailer had been serviced the previous year by a large, very well known company. Had they fitted the shoes backwards or the previous person? Either way it should have been picked up if they had carried out the service correctly.

So, how can you be sure you're getting the best possible service to your trailer? One way would be to choose a Quality Secured company from the NTTA. Each company is checked annually by an independent auditor to ensure they are meeting the required standards set by the trailer industry itself. Each company must have the proper insurance and even proof that their torque wrenches are in calibration!

Harvest Choice are proud members of the NTTA and are currently the only Quality Secured Trailer Centre in Wales. Be sure you're getting a proper service for your trailer, it's the right thing to do for everyone's safety.