The ongoing battle to extend trailer life
Out on the road, regular trailer wear and tear is expected. But these seemingly cosmetic blemishes can invite a huge threat to your trailer’s structural integrity – corrosion. Even if you don’t have to deal with treacherous winter weather, you’re still susceptible to trailer corrosion.
Road dirt and debris strikes will damage the coatings of the underside of the trailer. Dirt that collects on well-painted surfaces can remain wet, causing corrosion. Additionally, moisture from rainwater and condensation on the inside of the trailer can contribute to corrosion. Basically, if there’s water on the trailer, corrosion can happen. However, there are precautions you can take to ensure that your trailer’s life isn’t cut short.
The most important thing you can do to protect your trailers is regularly wash them per the manufacturer’s recommendations. But don’t go overboard – improperly power-washing a trailer can do just as much harm as good. Sidewall seams should not be blasted directly because that can push dirt and road chemicals into the seams. Be sure to give your trailer a good inspection before washing it, as heavy impacts to the upper half of the trailer can cause leaks.
In addition to keeping your trailers clean, regular inspections will keep them in shape. If you notice a mark on your trailer that is beginning to corrode, the first thing you should do is consult your manufacturer’s trailer repair recommendations. If those are unavailable, Great Dane recommends the following:
- Clean the area in question by wire-brushing or sand-blasting the corrosion.
- Prime the area and paint to slow the rate of corrosion.
Though these instructions seem simple, it’s important to take care of corrosion as soon as it appears to ensure a long service life for your trailer.
Winter Weather Advisory
Even if you stay on top of your trailer inspections and washing, corrosion can still pose a threat in wintery climates where roads are treated with deicing chemicals. To combat this issue, Jay Nelson, Great Dane Testing manager, makes the following suggestion:
“Rinse your trailers as much as your business model can support,” he says in all seriousness before breaking into a smile and acknowledging business realities. “Outside of that, thoroughly washing and rinsing your trailers twice a winter – with the last wash occurring after the spring warm up – will help immensely.”
“Corrosion cannot be totally eliminated. It’s inevitable,” he added, “but through excellent trailer design, fabrication and maintenance, corrosion can be slowed to meet trailer life expectations.”
There are plenty of adversaries besides corrosion that can impact your trailer’s life. For example, in warm, humid climates, fungi and mold may grow on yard trailers. The fix: A good cleaning.
Insects can also pester your trailers. “Dirt dobbers love to crawl inside the brake lines at the glad hands,” Nelson said. “Filter screens should be considered on the glad hands to keep intruders out.”