Yet more questions on buying a trailer...
So I'm still looking for a trailer and wanted to get some opinions on what's "normal" vs unacceptable/unsafe.
The internet tells me that trailer tires should be replaced every 3-5 years, regardless of tread depth, because of dry rot and/or flat spots that develop (especially when the trailer has been sitting unused). I've seen a number of 8-10 year old trailers being sold that still have the original tires. If that were the only thing wrong with a trailer, I'd use it as a negotiating point and plan on replacing the tires before hauling my horse. But it makes me wonder- do most people blow off the 3-5 year recommendation? Would it be safe to haul a trailer with old tires a few hours home (without a horse) assuming they "look fine"?
Next- rust. Rust is probably unavoidable on a (steel) trailer in Oregon. How much is too much, especially on the undercarriage? Here's one I went to look at recently- does this look good/bad/normal for a 10 year old trailer? Would this need to be sandblasted/repainted? Is it unsafe?
That looks like yearly maintenace rust for up her in Ontario,floorboards look good too.
What do you get done for the yearly maintenance for the rust? Sandblasting & painting?
Glad to see you are checking the boards, steel trailers will keep you busy (I know mine does). The rust in that picture looks like typical surface rust, scuffing it off and coating with Tremclad (rustolium I believe south of the boarder) will help but it will return. Products like Rust bullet or por may last longer,they are like a primer coat before your paint coat. Having it sandblasted and painted professionally will last longer but not forever. I just try and stay on top of it and touch up when I can. I also keep mine waxed as it seems to help a great deal on the sheet metal.
I'm guilty of having 12 year old tires on my trailer. I've never know anyone to replace tires on a trailer every 3-5 years (unless they hauled professionally). Yes, I do need to replace mine to but good tired do not come cheap. You are looking at $600-1000 for 4 E tires. Read the tires manufacture date not when they were mounted on the trailer. Some trailer tires sit around for years and might already be 3-5 years old the first time they roll down the road. If the trailer is lower quality, I would replace tires before I hauled the first time. If the tires are at all mismatched, I would replace them ASAP as well. Parking the trailer under a shed or covering the tires will help prevent any sidewall dry rot.
The undercarriage rusts looks pretty typically for normal road grime and chemicals. The big key is keep your trailer clean. Don't leave even clean shavings on the floor. That will trap moisture and the rust will go crazy. If you drive on roads that are treated with mag chloride, salt or other winter treatments, get that stuff rinsed off when you can.
You only have to replace trailer tires if they are worn or checked. When you see checking (cracks on the sidewalls, like wrinkles sort of), then replace them. I store my trailer inside in the winter, leaving trailers outside, tires uncovered will erode the rubber.
When it comes to tires, the 3-5 year recommendation is so they can sell more tires. plain and simple. That being said I have also bought brand new trailers and first thing I did was to yank the ching chong brand tires off of it and install quality trailer tires.
Why? Cheap tires are not worth the headaches.
When it comes to the lifespan of your trailer tires there are several things that will affect this such as where you park it, if you park your trailer on the dirt, and it sits for long periods of time, the tires will start to dry rot on the portion sitting in the dirt, where as if you back it up on some 2x10's when you park it, they will last much longer.
Also exposure to sunlight is a big deal too, In Oregon where you are it is not as much of a concern, but it still is. Covering your tires or parking your trailer in a shaded area will greatly increase the lifespan of the tires.
The other thing that really has more to do with it than anything is inflation, if you run a tire down the road under inflated, it gets hot, when a tire gets excessively hot it starts to break down, then it is a matter of time until it goes boom.
As far as bringing an unladen trailer home that you just bought, well like Dirty Harry said you just have to ask yourself "Do ya feel lucky? Well do ya?" For myself, I always have just inflated the tires when picking up a new trailer to make sure they were at the proper pressure and inspected the sidewalls, if the sidewalls are cracked, I may swap them out before towing, I may chance it, it is a gamble depending on how far I am going and how hot it is.
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