Trailer Security Guide - Car Trailer Basics 101, Part III

Equipping Your Trailer & Tow Rig For Maximum Security

Rich Lagasse May 10, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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• Another location to secure your trailer is at the hitch. The trailer hitch should have a lock for the receiver, and one on the hitch coupler to discourage someone from trying to separate the trailer from the truck. There are many sources for receiver locks, including combination units which have both the hitch receiver as well as the hitch coupler locks keyed alike. Typical prices for these are $35-$45. If you happen to have a "Bulldog" or Butler-type coupler, there's another device we found useful called "The Collar." One great feature is that it works whether the trailer is hooked up or not. It keeps the collar from being slid backward. It's made of stainless steel and costs $39.95. A link to their website appears in the Sources Sidebar.

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• Maintenance: Often overlooked, but of critical importance to security, is maintaining your trailer in top condition. This is particularly true when it comes to something which could leave you stranded alongside the road and vulnerable to theft. Key maintenance areas would include things such as checking the tire pressure and condition of the tires, and maintaining the wheel bearings.

When it comes to trailer tires, it's unlikely that most of us will wear out a tire's tread before the tire's age results in a potential weak point. Many tire manufacturers suggest replacing tires when they reach five to six years old. I wasn't sure if that was more of a sales strategy to sell more tires but, ironically, a friend of ours had two blowouts on his trailer, which had seven-year-old tires on it. Check for dry rot or cracking often, and replace the tires based on their condition and age, versus only the tread depth. One other thing you can do to help prevent dry rot and exposure to UV rays is to use tire covers when the trailer is stored. Camping supply stores and mail-order catalogs such as Camping World have them.

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When searching for new tires, check for the brands which are specifically designed for trailers and of the right load range. We found some interesting feedback on this subject from racing and camping trailer forums. One brand which had very positive feedback was one we had never heard of in Ohio called Denman Tire, who specializes in heavy-equipment tires. It goes without saying that you should carry a properly inflated spare tire. Some folks even carry two spares on the theory that, should they need to use one spare, they would be left without another if they have a second tire problem. Finding a replacement tire of the right type, size, and load rating while on the road can be difficult. Frequent checks and maintaining the correct tire pressure is critical, since an underinflated tire is as likely a cause for tire failure as its age. If you don't remember to regularly manually check your tire pressures, there are wireless sensors and monitors to give you the readings right inside your vehicle. Even if you now manually check your pressures often, one advantage to these systems is that they can alert you to a sudden drop in tire pressure as you are driving. There are several manufacturers of these systems. Just do a search under "tire pressure monitoring," and you'll find several makes.

Trailer wheel bearings are another often overlooked maintenance area. Some of the newer trailer axles have sealed bearings which do not need periodic maintenance, but the majority are likely to have tapered bearings which should be cleaned, regreased, and adjusted periodically. The time interval depends on the type of use and your mileage, but we perform this service every other year, just to be on the safe side. We found one source for trailer parts called Etrailer.com which had the parts we needed, and provided good service. We carry two extra sets of wheel bearings, races, and seals along with axle grease just in case we do have a problem. Finding these while traveling could be difficult and they aren't very expensive to have on hand.

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Picking a Trailer Alarm System
Once you've exhausted the common sense prevention measures, the next logical step is to determine just how well your truck and trailer are secured and what additional steps you can take. We initially decided to focus on an alarm system for the trailer. In searching for trailer alarm systems, we came across several of interest but settled on a system from Advanced Wireless Technology (www.tommyjohnsonjr.com), based in Moorseville, North Carolina. It's owned by Tommy Johnson Sr. whose son (Tommy Jr.) and daughter-in-law (Melanie Troxel-Johnson) are both drag racers. Their electronic systems have been installed by a number of the NASCAR and NHRA racing teams such as Earnhardt, Yates, John Force, Warren Johnson and Mr. Gasket, and Richard Petty uses one in his show-car trailer.

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