Your trailer’s tires help carry the weight of your cargo, and in order to do so safely, it’s necessary to inspect them often for wear and replace them as needed. Waiting too long to replace your trailer’s tires can lead to a number of issues and even create dangerous situations, so we want to make sure you know how to spot the signs that your tires need to be changed.
You should be inspecting your tires before you use your trailer, every time. As you inspect your tires, keep in mind the following areas that need to be inspected for indications that your tires should be replaced.
The tread on your trailer’s tires provide the gripping action and traction needed to keep your trailer from slipping and sliding on the road, driveways, and more. Look at tire treads for signs of uneven wear patterns. As a general rule of thumb, your tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch.
Tires do have built-in tread wear indicators to help you realize when it is time to replace them. The indicators are the raised sections with intermittent spacing in the bottom of the tread grooves. When these indicators appear even with the outside of the tread, it’s time to replace your trailer’s tires. You can also check this by placing a penny in the tread depth with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of his head, you need to buy new tires. Remember to include your trailer’s spare tire in your regular inspections!
Cracks, Punctures, and Foreign Objects
Cracks, punctures, and foreign objects can create spaces that allow air to escape from your tires. If you don’t catch it soon enough, any of these could lead to a blowout or worse. Remove foreign objects as soon as you notice them wedged in your tire tread to prevent further damage. If you notice a crack or if your tire is punctured, it may be repairable by plugging the hole and patching the area inside the tire that surrounds the hole, depending on the location. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, or if your tire’s sidewall has been punctured, it will need to be replaced. Remember, any attempt to repair trailer tires should be done by a tire professional.
In addition to inspecting tires for cracks, be sure to check the valve stem for cracks as well. This is important because the valve stem is used to inflate the tire. If a tire cannot be properly inflated due to cracks in the valve stem, it’s time to replace the tire.
Damage or Deformities
Keep an eye out for damage and deformities such as bulges, cuts, and flat or extremely bald spots and replace your tires if you notice any of these.
Age is also a factor to consider when determining if your trailer’s tires need to be replaced. Each tire manufacturer will likely have different recommendations on the service life of a particular type of tire, but statistics suggest the average life of a trailer tire is about five years under normal use and maintenance conditions, and that tire replacement should be considered after three years, even if the tires appear to have adequate tread depth. Consult with your tire dealer if you have questions regarding the life expectancy of your trailer’s tires.
In addition to knowing how to spot the signs that your trailer’s tires are due to be changed, it’s important to know the most common causes of trailer tire damage and avoid them to help maintain safety on the road, and extend the life of your tires and improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Trailer tire damage is often a result of:
- Improper tire pressure.
- Excessive exposure to sunlight, moisture, and extreme temperatures.
- Trailers stored with weight on the tires.
- Excessive speed.
- Improper loading
- Exposure to high temperatures while in use.
- Sporadic use of the trailer.
- Axle issues that affect wear on the tires, such as alignment issues.
Your trailer’s tires are a key element of your trailer, and knowing when to replace them is essential to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of your cargo and others on the road. If you have questions regarding your trailer’s tires and when to replace them, consult with your owner’s manual, your trailer dealer, or a tire professional.