With the recent fluctuation in freight, fleets, and trailer operators everywhere are being forced to find new ways to adjust their operations. Part of that adjustment might involve trailer storage. Whether you’re storing a single trailer for a couple of weeks, or a whole fleet for longer than a month, we have gathered some recommended storage practices that can protect the longevity of your trailer.
Actions Before Putting a Trailer in Storage
There are a few simple steps to take before storage can be implemented. Before parking your trailer:
1. Complete an FHWA inspection
An FHWA inspection can catch any repairs needed, so when the trailer is ready to come out of storage, you’ll be that much closer to being on the road.
2. Maintain insurance
Keep insurance on the trailer against damage, even when not in use.
3. Assign responsibility
Identify who will be responsible for the storage and maintenance of the trailer: fleet or lot owner.
Communication is key to prevent issues and maintain proper storage. Once you’ve completed the first 3 steps, ensure you follow the 6 best practices listed below.
#1: Move Your Stored Trailers Monthly
Many adverse, costly consequences can be avoided by simply moving your trailers around the yard every month.
Just like cars, trailers were designed to move. By shifting a trailer’s location, you can help preserve these components:
- Tires: Disuse is a leading cause of tire dry rot. Once a tire has advanced dry rot, it cannot be repaired. Sunlight, chemicals, and fluctuating temperatures can all increase the chances of a tire breaking down more quickly. Moving the tires may not prevent tires from naturally breaking down, but it prevent one area from breaking down faster than the rest of the tire.
- Wheel Seals (Oil Applications): Wheel seals keep water, dirt, and other debris out of a hub assembly. They also keep wheel bearings lubricated. In oil applications, when wheel seals are left in one position for too long, lubrication is unevenly distributed. This can cause rust to develop, eventually causing leaks and the potential breakdown of an entire wheel end system.
- Brake Shoes: The easiest way to prevent brake shoes from rusting to the brake drum is to move the trailer.
- Harnesses & Reefer Unit Wiring: Rodents will do anything to find shelter. Moving the trailer can help disrupt and deter rodents from nesting or chewing through wiring harnesses.
#2: Run Your Trailer Units Occasionally
The batteries on your cooling units and lift gates are susceptible to “sulfation” — the process by which lead sulfate crystals build up within the battery cell. Sulfation will occur in every battery throughout its lifetime, but extended storage can cause rapid sulfation. Overcharging or undercharging your battery can also accelerate sulfation.
The best way to deter this destructive process is to start and run your trailer units occasionally. The use of AGM or deep cell batteries can also reduce this problem.
#3 Park Stored Trailers Close Together
A sitting trailer is tempting for thieves. The first things to go will be your wheels and tires. Prevent theft by making them inaccessible.
Park trailers close together so that a person could not walk between them. You can also park trailers near fences or walls, to prevent access.
#4 Protect Gladhands
Insects love to get into gladhands, blocking up the system and potentially causing damage or corrosion.
Use gladhand covers or seals with mesh inserts to keep your system protected.
#5 Park on Solid Ground
Landing gear isn’t meant to support a trailer on soft ground. Prevent your trailer from getting stuck by parking on stable ground.
We also recommend using an 18” x 18” square of 1/2” plywood under each foot of the landing gear. If the trailer is loaded, use a larger piece of plywood so the weight is distributed further. This piece of advice can save you the hard work of yanking a trailer out of the mud.
#6 Lock Up Trailers and Trailer Storage
This one is a pretty obvious tip, but it’s important. We always recommend lot protection, but if your trailer is stored without general protection, this step is even more important. Protect your trailer and its components by using:
- A King Pin Lock
- A Gladhand Lock
- A Rear Door Lock
Protect Your Investment with Proper Trailer Storage
Whether you own one trailer or a hundred, proper storage can ensure that you’re ready to get back on the road as soon as possible. At Great Dane, we want to help our customers in every way possible—from maintaining your existing trailers to customizing new additions, we’ve got you covered.
For more practical, actionable advice on trailer storage, check out our recent webinar, hosted by IFDA. During the webinar, you will get in-depth coverage of the practices highlighted above, so you can learn how to prevent many of the issues that can negatively impact the performance and longevity of trailers parked for extended periods of time.