Flatbed Trailer Trouble Shooting

In this lesson, we’ll discuss some important trailer troubleshooting tips to help keep you, and others around you, safe.

11. Trailer Troubleshooting

The flatbed trailer plays an important role in the process of delivering ofportable restrooms. In this lesson, we’ll discuss some important trailer troubleshooting tips to help keep you, and others around you, safe.

Inspect the Truck & Trailer:

As part of your pre-trip and post trip inspections, it’s important that you visually inspect your trailer before leaving the yard each day.  You’ll start by inspecting your trailer tires, including your spare tires, looking for any leaks or tears in the tire walls.  If you see anything that looks overly worn or too damaged for transport, notify dispatch and have the tire replaced before leaving the yard.  You’ll also need to inspect your bottle jack and lug wrench which can be found in the cab to ensure both are available and in working order.

If all checks out, you’ll then need to inspect the side rails of your trailer to ensure all removal bars, chains, and pins are all locked into place and not damaged. If a side rail refuses to latch properly, it must be secured by other means so it will not fall off during transport.  If you encounter this while in the field, you must mark it on your paperwork and notify dispatch.

It’s also important that you test your trailer lights before leaving the yard each day. If you encounter a light problem while performing your pre-trip, be sure to notify dispatch immediately.  They will then encourage you to have it repaired before you leave.  If you notice it later in the day, make a note on your post-trip paperwork.  Lights are incredibly important and will need to be repaired as soon as possible.

If you encounter any other issues during your inspection, please notify dispatch so they can have the issue addressed and fixed before you leave the yard.

Removing the Trailer:

On occasion, you may be required to disconnect a trailer while in the field.  To do this, you’ll first need to find a safe area to park that’s away from pedestrians and traffic. You’ll then need to remove the cotter pin from the hitch to open up the pintle.  Now that the pintle is open, you’ll want to lower the two trailer jacks which are located on the front side of the trailer.

This can be done by pulling out the locking pins on the bottom of each jack, allowing them to fall to the ground. Once both jacks have been successfully lowered, you’ll then need to resecure the locking pins and crank the handle on the top of the jack.  You’ll do this by turning the crank clockwise until you’ve lifted the trailer just high enough to clear the pintle.

Lastly, you’ll need to unhook the safety chains, brake cable, and electrical plug.  Once disconnected, go ahead and toss them over the front of the trailer.  This will keep them from getting dirty and keep the equipment working properly when you reconnect later. Congratulations, you’ve now successfully removed your trailer.

When it’s time to reconnect your trailer, you’ll need to follow these steps in reverse.  When reconnecting, if you notice your chains are dragging, you’ll need to twist them together to help gather up any additional slack. You’ll also want to make sure your chains are crisscrossed.  By crisscrossing you’ll create a perfect cradle to catch the trailer tongue should the hitch ever fail while in transport.

Changing a Flat Tire:

It’s no secret that trailer tires begin to deteriorate the second they hit the road.  When the inevitable flat tire occurs, and it will occur at some point, you’ll need to swap it out.

If a blow out occurs while in the field, quite often you’ll be required to change it yourself.  While that may seem somewhat scary, changing a tire isn’t all that difficult. First, you’ll need to pull over and get out of the way of live traffic. Once pulled over, you’ll want to put on your blinkers and notify dispatch, making them aware of the situation.

You’ll then need to drop your safety triangles behind your trailer and grab your bottle jack and 4-way lug wrench which can be found in the cab of your truck. Now that you have your equipment, you’ll need to use the 4-way wrench to loosen the lug nuts while the blown out tire is still resting on the ground.  Once the lug nuts are loosened, you’ll then need to raise the trailer by using your hydraulic bottle jack. Never attempt to fully remove the lug nuts or the wheel until the trailer has been properly jacked and you have enough clearance for a new tire.

When using your bottle jack, it’s important that you first place it firmly under the trailer frame. Placing it on anything other than the frame could cause damage to the trailer.  If your bottle jack fails, you may want to try backing your trailer over a curb to help lift the wheel off the ground. Once elevated, you should be able to fully remove the lug nuts and the wheel from the axel.

Now that the blown tire is removed, you’ll need to replace it with a spare tire. When placing the new tire on the axel it’s important you identify which part of the tire is the front. The easiest way to do this is to look for the tire air valve. The air valve is always mounted on the front of the tire and should therefore always be facing out.  Failure to do so, could cause a premature blowout.

After you’ve placed the spare tire on to the axel, you’ll then need to hand tighten the lug nuts, with the tapered end facing inwards towards the tire. You’ll then lower your trailer to the ground and finish by firmly tightening each lug nut with your 4-way wrench, using the star pattern method. At this point, you’ve now successfully replaced your blown tire.  Before leaving the site, you’ll need to resecure the damaged tire to your trailer and make note of the blown tire on your post-trip paperwork.