Time for fresh rubber!

Posted 12 September, 2020 at 16:15

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of (IFM) Independent Forecourt Magazine


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Rameder recommends replacing trailer tires more frequently – advice for basic maintenance

Many people spend hours polishing their car on weekends, and only the best accessories are good enough. Trailers, on the other hand, often lead quite a sad existence with their owners. They usually only get attention when they need to be used. Tires are particularly subject to neglect, sometimes remaining fitted for ten years or more and not getting much other attention either. Rameder, Europe's largest supplier for towbars and transport accessories, reveals why this can be dangerous and what else is important.

Unless they are used for commercial purposes, trailer tires usually do not fall below the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6 millimeters, even after many years. Everything fine, then? Definitely not: Even if the tread pattern is still sufficiently intact, the tires might technically have long been ruined. That is because, over time, the softeners in the rubber compound become distorted and therefore hard and unyielding. This is partially caused by UV radiation and ozone, but interestingly also by extended periods of non-use. Only regular “massaging” can activate the softeners. Outdated tires lose grip and can bounce around like a kangaroo in extreme cases. This can also lead to cracks in the material, which can even result in the tread surface coming off. Careful: extreme accident risk! Tires on a trailer should therefore be replaced every 6 to 8 years at the latest.

But how can you tell the age of a tire? The last four digits of the DOT provided on the sidewall indicate the date of manufacture. If this says “1020”, for example, the tire was manufactured in week 10 of 2020. It is recommended to check this when buying, to avoid starting out with old tires. For extended periods of non-use, you can help your tires by covering them to protect against sunlight. A tire cradle and similar accessories can additionally help to prevent flat tires. Rameder also recommends increasing the tire pressure by 0.2 to 0.3 bar. The load index (two-digit or three-digit figure) is another important figure that can be found on the sidewall, like the DOT number and the speed rating. It has to match the permitted total weight of the trailer and must not be exceeded under any circumstances. And as the days are already becoming shorter, Rameder also offers some advice on winter tires: While these are usually not mandatory for trailers, automobile associations definitely recommend them.

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