Simple Troubleshooting Tips for Repairing a Trailer

Posted on: 13 December 2017

If the trailer you use to haul a boat or any type of equipment is in disrepair, you don't want to put off having it fixed. Even a small problem can mean tipping and swaying when you're on the road, which can cause the trailer to become unhooked, or allow items to spill out of the trailer. Problems with the brake lights of the trailer can also lead to an accident, if someone behind you doesn't realize you're stopping. Whatever the issue, note a few quick and simple troubleshooting tips you might consider before you take the trailer to a shop, as sometimes quick fixes are all that's needed to get the trailer repaired and roadworthy again.

Brake lights

Faulty wiring is a common problem when it comes to brake lights that are not working, but before you assume the trailer needs rewiring, check the light sockets. Unscrew the bulbs and note if there is any rust or corrosion around the sockets or the bulb itself. If so, this corrosion could be interfering with electrical currents, so the lights don't work. You can clean the sockets with a rust inhibitor and install new bulbs, and this might get them working again.


If the trailer seems to surge to a stop or "jerk" forward when you release the brake, this is often a problem with the surge brake hitch. This part works by closing when you apply the brake, and then opening up when you release the brake; surging or jerking while braking may mean that this part needs a simple adjustment. You can find the surge hitch location by checking the trailer's owner's manual; to fix it, adjust the tension or length of its brake wire. This will reduce that surging or jerking motion, and the trailer will brake and move forward smoothly.


Poor tyre quality is often the reason a trailer will pull to one side. Check the tyres for uneven wear and have them rotated and balanced, just as you would with your vehicle.

If the tyres are not an issue, look under the trailer and inspect the axle and rims. If these are severely rusted, the trailer's tyres may not be able to turn and move smoothly while you're on the road; if they lock up slightly, this will cause them to pull and drag. Clean the inside of the rims and add a rust inhibitor to the trailer's axle, and this may allow the tyres to spin freely and stop that pulling and dragging.