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How to Winterize a Trailer in 5 Practical Steps
Monday, July 16, 2018
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It’s that time of year when we all start to ask ourselves, “how can it already be this time of year?!” Whether you spend the warmer months camping, attending horse shows, or both, it can feel like every winter arrives sooner than the last. Before you know it, the leaves are falling, temperatures and dropping, and it’s time to pack up the trailer for the season.
But don’t snuggle up with a mug of hot chocolate just yet.
If you want to jump back in your trailer with no hassle next spring, you’ll need to winterize it properly now. Below, we’ll walk you through five practical steps to winterize a trailer so you can prevent damage from ice, store your trailer safely, and rest easy all season.
5-Step Checklist to Winterize a Trailer
1. Drain water tanks and pumps
Ice is the enemy when it comes to winterizing your trailer. As water freezes, it expands and can blow open your tanks, pumps, and the lines that connect them.
So if your trailer is going to be exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees for any sustained period (even just a few hours overnight), make sure to drain all of the water out of your trailer’s tanks.
If you have a pump, you also need to run it for 10 seconds, after the tank is empty, to push out any lingering moisture.
2. Learn how to manually override your brake controller
It’s crucial to get familiar with your tow vehicle’s brake controller, no matter the season! The brake controller sits in your tow vehicle, and powers the trailer brakes whenever you press your foot on the brake pedal. If you haven’t already, read your brake controller manual and learn how to test your brake controller’s functionality.
The manual override is usually a “squeeze bar,” slide, or button on the brake controller box. It allows you to lock up your trailer brakes directly from the controller, without hitting your tow vehicle brakes.
If your trailer is going to be on cold roads at any point this winter–even if you’re just driving it home for the season–the manual override can help if you start skidding or sliding over ice or wet roads. The override will brake your trailer and yank your truck back, stopping the slide.
Note to drivers: avoiding icy roads altogether is also an important safety step! If you don’t absolutely need to take your trailer out in freezing temperatures, why risk it?
3. Get antifreeze service for trailer living quarters
For RVs, travel trailers, or any other trailer with living quarters, a professional can run antifreeze through the water pipes to protect them from cold temperatures.
This method to winterize a trailer generally involves hooking up a bypass line to avoid the hot water heater, draining moisture from all valves in the trailer, as well as other technical processes. It can be done once at the beginning of winter.
When you’re ready to take out the trailer again in the spring, your trailer professional can “de-winterize” it by flushing out the antifreeze.
However, if you’re planning to use your trailer’s living quarters (including the water systems) during the winter, then don’t winterize. Instead, keep the heat running when temperatures are near 32 degrees or lower to prevent water from freezing in the pipes.
4. Wash off road salt
Road salt is great for de-icing pavement and horrible for your trailer’s value.
Before stowing your trailer, wash the frame and undercarriage with hot water and soap to remove any dirt or road grease. If you have to use the trailer on salted roads, wash the frame and undercarriage thoroughly just as soon as you arrive home, to remove the road salt.
Power washing is most effective, and hot water works better than cold.
5. Cover your trailer and park it off grass
Your trailer is clean, drained, and winterized. Now you just need to store it safely for the season.
First, covering your trailer will protect it from the elements–but as we’ve discussed before, not any old trailer cover will do, especially for horse trailers. Standard horse trailer covers are generally manufactured too short so they leave tires, bearings, and fenders exposed. Instead, buy an RV trailer cover to protect your trailer from its tires to its roof. Find them online and order based on your trailer’s dimensions.
Second, avoid parking your trailer on grass. Grass traps moisture and pests, which can wreak havoc over the course of the winter. Look for a gravel, asphalt, or concrete parking spot. If you can’t find one, put wood planks over grass to park the trailer on.
Got questions about how to winterize a trailer or other trailer care issues? Blue Ridge Trailers is always happy to offer our expertise. Contact us online or call us at (434) 985-4151 to speak to our staff.
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