The Pre-Season Diesel Preparation

As you thumb through the pages of this issue of Diesel World, you’ll soon discover what springtime means to us: Towing and Event Season! We honor the change of seasons with a complete event schedule that will help you make those early travel plans. If you’ve never attended a diesel event, we can’t recommend it enough. It’s also no coincidence that the best way to attend a diesel event is with a travel trailer in tow. For this reason, the springtime presents a unique opportunity to celebrate the fun (diesel motorsports) and functional (towing) sides of the “Diesel World.”

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If you haven’t already, it’s probably time to consider doing some maintenance checks on both your truck and trailer. Those of you who live in the far north likely know all about choosing summer and winter oils. This year, many regions experienced unusually harsh winter temps that demanded a switch to lighter, winter-weight oil. If so, you will need to undertake the bi-annual, seasonal oil change. Regardless of the weight oil you use year-round, a pre-season oil change is always a good idea. In addition to an oil change, a full walk-around should be undertaken. Look out for leaks that may have cropped up, and check all your lamps. Of course, if you have a dedicated track vehicle, you’ll be doing all your pre-season checks on that as well.

Even though this trailer tire was showing good pressure and a nice deep tread, it failed. Most likely this was due to the fact that the tire date code showed it was over 10 years old, and had deteriorated internally. This tire failure caused additional damage to the trailer fenders that wouldn’t even allow the spare to be run, without some roadside blacksmith work on the bent fender. A simple check of dated codes would have encouraged the owner to replace the aged tires on this trailer. Any tire retailer can do tire date code readings, or you can do it yourself.

Even though this trailer tire was showing good pressure and a nice deep tread, it failed. Most likely this was due to the fact that the tire date code showed it was over 10 years old, and had deteriorated internally. This tire failure caused additional damage to the trailer fenders that wouldn’t even allow the spare to be run, without some roadside blacksmith work on the bent fender. A simple check of dated codes would have encouraged the owner to replace the aged tires on this trailer. Any tire retailer can do tire date code readings, or you can do it yourself.

But before you dust off the trailer, and haul your precious cargo to your region’s season opener, be sure to pay special attention to the condition of your trailer. The trailer is perhaps the most neglected and overlooked part of your towing package. During the winter, you likely still drive your tow rig, and probably garage your race rig if you have one. It’s your poor trailer that probably spent its winter unused and out in the cold. It’s a cruel world out there for trailers; rain, snow, road salt, animals and just plain sitting can cause a world of issues. The best thing to do at the beginning of the towing season is to take your trailer for a thorough test tow. Take some time to ensure your lights and trailer brakes in working condition. If something is amiss, the issue could lie with either the trailer, the truck’s trailer plug or at the brake controller. If you find any issues, fixing them is essential to a safe and fun weekend towing adventure.

Perhaps the most overlooked item on your trailer are the tires. Trailer tires, like all tires, have a limited service life. This life is rated in years, as well as in miles. As such, trailers are notorious for blowing tires, and it’s often due to tire age. Though your trailer tires may appear to be in good shape, with air pressure perfectly set, they could be a ticking time bomb. All tires have a date code and tire life is expected to end at the 10-year mark, regardless of tread depth or storage conditions. Most tire stores won’t fix flats, mount or even balance a tire that is past the 10-year mark. Check the “Born On Date” for your trailer tires and consider replacing them if they are getting close to the 10-year mark. Don’t forget that the same rules apply to the spare tires on both your truck and trailer: They too have a 10-year life expectancy, whether or not they ever touched the road. DW

READING TIRE DATE CODES

Your tire’s date of manufacture can be found by looking at the sidewall for a long string of letters and numbers that begin with “DOT.” This string will end in four numbers, for post 2000 manufacture. (Tires made pre-2000 will have only three numbers at the end and are all out-of-date.) The first two of these last four numbers is the week and the last two are the year. For example, if the four final numbers are 5012, the tire was made in the 50th week of 2012.