Ask a Trooper: Basic trailer maintenance equates to safety on the road

The most common trailer failure breakdown is wheel bearing / tire failure.

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol
Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol

Question: Can you talk about boat trailer safety with all the traffic we see pulling these things?

Answer: State troopers come across numerous motorists pulling trailers that experience breakdowns. Most often it involves a flat tire. Often it involves a trailer wheel bearing that has gone out. A trailer's wheel bearings are often neglected because they are out of sight. Basic trailer maintenance involves greasing the wheel bearings. Wheel bearing failure can occur when maintenance is neglected from the lack of grease. A loose, worn or damaged wheel bearing is the most common cause of brakes that grab and lock up.

When these types of issues occur, it can result in a hassle, headache or even a crash. When the wheel bearing fails, it generally leads to tire failure, whether a flat or a blow out from the heat generated. I’ve seen the hubs break off and even fires started from this.

Nobody wants to be that person stranded on the side of the road with a disabled trailer or a driver who loses control because of a trailer malfunction. It is a good idea to repack the wheel bearings and make it a part of your pre-trip inspection and maintenance schedule.

Other pre-trip preparation should include:


  • Taillights/brake lights functioning

  • Proper hitch, pins and safety chains

  • Check tires for proper inflation, unusual wear, weather checking and bulges

  • Spare tire inflated, jack, and lug wrench

  • Secure the load and all other items

A driver can do all the maintenance checks, but if a driver doesn’t secure their load, that too can have deadly consequences. Securing your load is the law. A driver could face a citation if they don’t secure their load or worse if an unsecured load causes a crash.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota, please send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN, 55811; or email at .
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