I was looking through the ASA library and found a nice article in Western Horseman’s August 2015 issue, written by Sara Gugelmeyer. She explained her personal checklist to prevent breakdowns along the road.

  • Check the tire pressure and ensure tight lug nuts on the truck and trailer. Trailer tires must have pressure within the tire manufacturer range and the tires must all be the same pressure. Uneven pressures cause uneven wear and lead to blowouts.
  • Check the tire tread for wear spots and condition. Put a penny in the tire tread grove with the Lincoln head upside down. If you can see his whole head, you need new tires. Tires that have not been used much can also develop cracks due to age. Have old tires inspected by a professional.
  • Check truck fluid levels. In general, conventional oil should be changed every 3,500 miles and synthetic oil should be changed every 5,000.
  • Air filters clog easily, especially if gravel roads are traveled. Remove the housing to see if it is visibly dirty. If it is, replace it. Fuel filters are changed at every oil change.
  • Hook up the trailer and be sure all the lights work: Turn signals, brake, hazard, running lights, headlights.
  • Trailer bearings need to be cleaned, checked, and repacked with grease at least yearly. The grease can get old even if the trailer has not been moved. A mechanic should do this and check the wheels and brakes at the same time.
  • Trailer brakes need to be inspected by a mechanic yearly at the least. You can check them in between by slowly applying the emergency brake control in the truck. You should be able to feel the brakes slowing the rig.
  • Once a year, pull up the trailer floor mats and clean and inspect the floor. Steel trailers have wooden floors that can rot and break. Aluminum floors can develop holes. Also, hinges and dividers should be inspected for sharp broken areas.
  • Inspect the trailer hitch, looking for signs of wear. Be sure it is greased and that the latches show no signs of wear. Check safety chains and breakaway systems.
  • Keep mud and grime cleaned off the truck and trailer to be sure you can always see a problem before it gets too far gone.
  • Keep tools and emergency supplies in the truck and trailer at all times. Do a trial run at changing a tire. Always have wrenches, pickup jack, jiffy jack, toolbox with hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, flashlights with fresh batteries, and tire pressure gauge. A test light kit helps isolate an electrical problem.
  • An emergency kit with flares, reflectors, or cones is essential when pulled off on the side of the road. Extra horse supplies like halters, lead ropes, buckets, and feed should be carried at all times in case of being stranded.

Submitted by Vicki Pritchard