It’s time to get your trailer ready for warmer weather! After a long winter sitting unused, make sure your trailer is safe before you hit the road. Below are recommendations for readying your trailer for use. For more information about safe trailering and proper maintenance, visit www.TrailerSafetyWeek.com.
Check the tires on both the trailer and tow vehicle, looking for damage after long winter months. Make sure you inspect the tread for uneven wear. Verify that tire pressure is correct, and don’t forget the spare tire. Proper tire pressure affects vehicle handling and safety. You can find the correct tire pressure for your tow vehicle in the owner’s manual or on the tire information placard. Under-inflation reduces the load-carrying capacity of your tow vehicle or trailer, may cause sway and control problems, and may result in overheating, causing blowouts or other tire failures. Over-inflation causes premature tire wear and affects the handling characteristics of the tow vehicle or trailer.
Inspect all wheel lug nuts and make sure they are tightened to specifications.
Inspect the springs, spring bushings, and hangers for wear and cracks. This kind of preventative maintenance can save your trailer from a dangerous and expensive breakdown on the road.
Wiring and Lights:
Make sure connector-plug prongs and receptacles, light bulb sockets, wire splices, and ground connections are clean and shielded from moisture. Lightly coat all electrical terminal connections with nonconducting (dielectric), light, waterproof grease. Make sure all running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are working. Verify the wiring is connected correctly, not dragging on the road but loose enough to make turns without disconnecting or damaging the wires.
Verify that you have two safety chains and inspect for wear or damage. When you hook to the towing vehicle, cross the chains, so if the hitch comes loose, the crossed chains will catch the hitch.
Check your wheel bearings before returning your trailer to regular use and be sure to replace according to the trailer manufacturer’s recommendations. Have the bearings serviced, which requires a repack, new grease, a new bearing, and a new bearing race. Refer to your owner’s manual for maintenance information.
Make sure dust caps are still in place and have not cracked or otherwise been destroyed. Replace if necessary.
Verify the brakes on the tow vehicle and trailer are operating correctly. Regularly have the brakes on both the trailer and tow vehicle inspected. Be sure the necessary adjustments are made, and any damaged or worn parts are replaced. Check to see how much brake pad material remains. The start of the warmer months is a good time to replace them if they are getting close to the end of their life expectancy.
Ensure the breakaway system lanyard is connected to the tow vehicle but not to the safety chains or ball mount.
Hitch, Coupler, Draw Bar:
Make sure the hitch, coupler, draw bar, and other equipment that connect the trailer and the tow vehicle are properly secured and adjusted. Check the nuts, bolts, and other fasteners to ensure the hitch remains secured to the tow vehicle, and the coupler remains secured to the trailer. Lubricate the connection point if necessary, to permit free movement of the coupler to the hitch ball. Inspect the coupler ball socket to ensure it is not bent or dented. Any indentions could cause the ball not to seat properly, which can lead to detaching from the trailer.
If the trailer is loaded, check that all items are securely fastened on and in the trailer. Check load distribution to make sure the tow vehicle and trailer are properly balanced front to back and side to side in accordance with the owner's manual specifications.
Jacks and Accessories:
Be sure the trailer jack, tongue support, and any attached stabilizers are raised and locked in place. Put all jack stands up, and do not forget to bring the wheel chocks.
Tow Vehicle Maintenance:
Tow vehicles have frequent maintenance requirements. Spring is a good time to change the oil in the engine and transmission, lubricate components, inspect brakes, inspect belts and hoses, top off fluids to their recommended levels, check the radiator and cooling system, inspect the battery, and check the air conditioning system.
Tow Vehicle Mirrors:
Inspect tow vehicle mirrors for damage and cleanliness to make sure you have good visibility.
Tow Vehicle Tools, PPE, and Accessories:
Make sure you have a jack and lug wrench secured in the tow vehicle that is the appropriate size for the tow vehicle and trailer lug nuts. Verify the jack you packed up is suitable for both the vehicle and trailer capacities. Pack work gloves, safety glasses, and a mat or blanket in case you need to complete maintenance procedures or change a tire. Make sure all the tools are functioning correctly before packing.
Flooring, Body, Fenders, Cargo Securement Attachments, and General Trailer Structure:
Inspect trailer flooring for chips, cracks, and excessive wear. Make sure body panels and fenders are secure and in normal functioning order. Visually inspect the trailer structure to make sure nothing has rusted out or worn out during the harsh winter months. Replace or secure parts if necessary.
Give the trailer a once over visual inspection for cracked welds. Welds often break, especially when trailers are regularly subjected to heavy loads. Inspect carefully, as even hairline cracks can escalate quickly to much larger problems. Pay special attention to the stress points of the trailer when inspecting. In particular, check where the tongue attaches to the trailer and the points where the spring hangers are welded to the trailer frame.
Ramps and Tailgate:
Make sure the ramps are secured to the trailer and whatever pin or locking device that holds the ramps in place is still in its proper location and functioning. Verify the tailgate is secure but still allows for free movement. Lubricate hinges and other components if necessary.
Trailers with Dump Bodies and Hoists:
Check all fluid levels, hydraulic hoses, and the hoist unit. Clean and inspect the power unit for the hoist. Check electrical wires and battery corrosion for wear. Apply grease to hoist grease fittings, or zerks, as needed. Replace parts if necessary.
Plan ahead and determine your route by checking for restrictions, bridges, tunnels, and avoidable construction zones.
For more information about proper trailer maintenance, refer to your trailer’s owner’s manual. Trailer safety resources are also readily available and free to use at www.TrailerSafetyWeek.com.
NATM prides itself as an association with a loyal membership, and thus far, the 2020 renewal period is proving just that. As of March 19th, 88% of companies have renewed their membership for the coming year. Thank you to all NATM members for your continuous demonstrated commitment to trailer safety and the overall success of the industry. Your annual recommitment is what makes it possible for the Association to achieve its mission while also adding new member benefits. NATM is constantly evaluating costs and benefits to ensure your annual membership investment is being met with valuable returns.
NATM’s commitment is to its members and ultimately to trailer safety. Supporting NATM members’ ability to grow and prosper, while also contributing to the safety of the nation’s roadways is what drives the Association’s work. Your support of this mission and your integral feedback along the way is vital to NATM’s success. NATM looks forward to continuing this important work for the remainder of the year!
To renew your membership, contact NATM Membership & Events Director Kelli Maydew at Kelli.Maydew@natm.com.
NATM Past President Gary Leslie Potter, 70, died March 4, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. Gary was born August 22, 1949, in Baltimore, Maryland to Jack and Colleen (Nestor) Potter.
Potter served as the vice president/general manager of EZ Loader Custom Boat Trailers. He was a loyal and dedicated employee for 25 years and truly had a love for his career and all of those that worked for him.
EZ Loader Custom Boat Trailers joined NATM in 1997 and is one of the companies certified by both the NMMA and NATM. He was awarded the NATM Outstanding Member Award at the 26th Annual NATM Convention & Trade Show in 2014 for his significant contributions to the trailer manufacturing industry.
Potter began his career in the trailer industry in 1977 and had been an active member of both NATM and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Potter is the individual primarily responsible for bringing NMMA and NATM together to form a coalition benefiting all trailer manufacturers.
He initiated NATM’s participation in the annual Regulatory Roundup and was a vocal advocate for the joint certification program between NATM and the NMMA’s Boat Trailer Manufacturer’s Association (BTMA). He served as the president of BTMA and as a board member for the National Association of Marine Products & Services. BTMA honored Gary with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. The award recognizes the accomplishments of an individual who has great influence on the marine industry, specifically their accomplishments in the betterment of boat trailering safety and the boat trailering industry as a whole.
His involvement with NATM is equally as impressive. He served as a NATM board member from 2009-2014, serving as president of the Association from 2011 until 2013. Potter also served on and chaired numerous NATM committees.
When he was president of NATM, he was involved with every committee, following each committee closely and participating in most committee meetings to follow their progress and ensure each committee accomplished its goals. He was also a member of the initial NATM Political Action Committee Board, serving from 2010-2013.
“Gary was perhaps the most engaged and passionate NATM President the Association has seen. His enthusiasm for the industry and commitment to safety was one of the things that struck me most as a new staff person. His passion bred passion in those around him. His tenure on the board left an indelible mark on me,” said NATM Executive Director Kendra Ansley. “He was a wonderful and kind person, and he is greatly missed.”
Gary is survived by his wife of 28 years, Mary Owens Potter; his children Scott Potter of Berlin, New Jersey, Dani (Brian) Dickert of Berlin, Rachel Langmaid of Conway, Arkansas, and Mitchell Potter of Lewisville, Texas; his sister Marleen Griffin of Catonsville, Maryland; and two grandsons Mason Potter and Cole Dickert.
A celebration of life was held on March 14, 2020, at Roller Funeral Home in Mountain Home, AR. Gary was very passionate about children and in honor of him, the family requested donations be made to the Backpack Food 4 Kids program through the First United Methodist Church in Mountain Home (605 W. 6th St., Mountain Home, AR 72653) or to the Autism Speaks Organization. The online guestbook is available at rollerfuneralhomes.com.
Booth Selection - 2021 NATM Trade Show
NATM is excited to be using Map Your Show’s online booth sales software again for the NATM Convention & Trade Show in Nashville Feb. 23-35, 2021. This program has proven to be a time saving and far less frustrating process for exhibitors. There is no more waiting around until your contract arrives to see what booth you have been assigned. This user-friendly software will allow you to select your desired booth in real time! The opportunity to select exhibitor space at the 2021 trade show has been made available to suppliers and service providers in the following phases:
Phase 1: 2020 sponsors choose their booths first in the order of their sponsorship levels during the following dates:
Phase 2: 2020 non-sponsor exhibitors select their booths during the following dates.
Phase 3: The general membership and non-members will be allowed to choose booth space.
The 2020 sponsors and exhibitors that sign up by June 15 will receive a discounted rate of $1,224 per 10’x10’ booth. The rate for any member that signs up for booth space after June 15 will be $1,428 per 10’x10’ booth. Booth spaces for nonmembers of NATM are $2,856. On the day your booth selection window opens, you will receive an email from NATM notifying you that the booth sales application is now available online for your company. Within this email a unique code is provided that, when entered, pre-populates the online booth sales application. Within the application, exhibitors can view the 2021 show floorplan and select the desired booth(s).
During the completion of the online application, exhibitors pay for their booth(s) with credit card. Once NATM show management approves the application, an email containing login credentials to the exhibitor dashboard is sent. The dashboard allows exhibitors to update their company profile and contact information and view other important information relevant to the upcoming show. As always, the sign up for booth space is first come, first served. You can sign up at any time after your group’s window begins. If you miss the window for your group, the privilege of choosing during your group’s time is lost. Be sure to mark your calendar to remember to sign up as soon as you receive your email from NATM!
If you have any questions regarding how to book your exhibit space or if you would like to be a sponsor at the 2021 Convention & Trade Show, contact NATM Membership & Events Director, Kelli Maydew at Kelli.Maydew@natm.com or (785) 272-4433.
Sponsorship Opportunities - COMING SOON!
Sponsorships for the 2021 Convention & Trade Show are now available. As always, the NATM Convention & Trade Show would not be possible without the support of its generous sponsors. There are sponsorship opportunities available from $500 to $50,000 to fit any budget.
Being a sponsor of the 2021 show allows you to select your 2022 booth before previous exhibitors and the general membership, as well as provides a wide range of exposure, both electronically on NATM’s website and mobile app and in print on the convention program map and in Tracks. This creates name recognition which helps drive customers to your booth.
Have a different sponsorship in mind? Contact Kelli Maydew at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your ideas!
Dealers should educate their customers on the importance of understanding a trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and tow vehicle towing capacity. All too often, customers are not familiar with what trailer GVWR or cargo capacity means. Nor are they familiar with what this will require from their tow vehicle in terms of its towing capacity. This lack of information can lead to dissatisfaction if customers fail to complete necessary research before the purchase of the trailer, or if the trailer dealer personnel fails to ask the correct questions to ensure their customer is selecting a trailer that meets their needs and legal requirements.
First, the tow vehicle must be analyzed. What is the model of the customer’s pickup truck, SUV, minivan, or car? All vehicles capable of towing have owner’s manuals with maximum rated towing capacities. What often gets overlooked is maximum in this context, which truly means maximum. For example, if a customer has a tow vehicle with a towing maximum capacity of 7,000 lbs., they may not want a 7,000 lbs. GVWR trailer. The customer needs to take into serious consideration the fact that they will be at maximum capacity. Even without accidentally overloading the trailer, the tow vehicle will be working at its maximum capacity and not handle as well. As a result, they could find that their tow vehicle does not have enough power to merge with traffic on interstate on-ramps, to pass other vehicles, or to climb long hills and mountains. Trailer customers end up dissatisfied if they have purchased too much trailer for their tow vehicle. Unfortunately, simply purchasing a larger tow vehicle with a larger towing capacity is not an affordable solution to this problem and preventative measures by the dealer are the best route to customer satisfaction.
Dealers should ask the customer what their intended tow vehicle will be and if they are committed to that tow vehicle for the next few months, the next few years, or just the next few minutes. The customer could be vehicle shopping at the same time they are trailer shopping or may be willing to upgrade in the near future. From there, the trailer dealer can assist the customer in choosing a trailer that their current tow vehicle can handle. Or, in the event that the customer is in the market for a new tow vehicle, dealers can advise customers to purchase a certain category of tow vehicle that meets or exceeds a certain towing capacity threshold. It is a crucial conversation to have at the point of sale as many customers think their tow vehicle will perform adequately towing a certain model of trailer, only to find out too late that they should have either purchased a smaller trailer or upgraded their tow vehicle to handle the larger trailer model.
After the tow vehicle conversation, the topic can turn more specifically to the trailer. Dealers should make sure customers understand that the combination of the shipping weight of the trailer plus the trailer's cargo capacity should never exceed the trailer’s GVWR listed on its VIN. The shipping weight information can be found on the manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO), while the cargo capacity is often listed on the trailer’s tire placard.
For example, if a trailer’s GVWR is 7,000 lbs., the customer's tow vehicle should have a towing capacity that is 7,000 lbs. or preferably more. It is also crucial that the customer not overload the trailer. If the trailer itself weighs 2,700 lbs., the customer should never put more than 4,300 lbs. of cargo in it, because 2,700 lbs. plus 4,300 lbs. equals 7,000 lbs. GVWR, which the trailer should never exceed.
Another critical dealer/customer conversation is what cargo the customer intends to tow. If the customer plans to haul a rock crawler SUV and camping gear that adds up to 5,500 lbs. in the example above, they cannot safely do that with the same trailer. The calculation for this example is the combination of the trailer weight of 2,700 lbs. plus the cargo of 5,500 lbs., which equals 8,200 lbs. This means the trailers’ GVWR would need to be 8,200. But, because the GVWR of this trailer is 7,000 lbs., this customer has overloaded their trailer by 1,200 lbs.
If the customer tells the dealer in this example that they intend to haul an estimated 5,500 lbs. of cargo, the dealer needs to explain to the customer that they should purchase a larger trailer with a higher cargo capacity. If the customer says their tow vehicle cannot haul a larger trailer, then the trailer dealer needs to explain to the customer they need both a larger tow vehicle with a higher towing capacity and a larger trailer with a higher cargo capacity. If this is not possible, the customer needs to find a way to haul significantly less cargo. The customer might be disappointed upon learning this, but later they will be appreciative of the dealer’s honesty, which leads to long term customer loyalty. The NATM Guidelines contain a section on trailer GVWRs. For more information, contact NATM’s Technical Director Colin Holthaus at Colin.Holthaus@natm.com or (785) 272-4433.
As of January 31, 2020, all unpaid NATM memberships are considered past due. Any dues not yet received are considered delinquent and all membership benefits have been terminated until paid per the NATM Bylaws.
Membership renewals for 2020 have been mailed, and the main contact for your company has received several email notices as well. If you would like to confirm who your main contact is, please contact NATM Membership & Events Director Kelli Maydew or call NATM at (785) 272-4433. You can also log into the Members Only portal of www.NATM.com and select the “Update Your Contact Information” link to make edits instantly to this information.
In addition to paying your membership dues by check or over the phone by credit card, you are also able to pay online using the Members Only portal at www.NATM.com. Once you are logged in using your company’s login credentials, select “Pay My Bills.” If you need your credentials, or have any questions during this process, please contact NATM Membership & Events Director Kelli Maydew.
NATM is committed to improving the compliance verification program, delivering safety education and information, increasing consumer awareness about the importance of buying compliant trailers, providing opportunities for member input, and continuing to develop relationships with key decision makers on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies to advocate for industry needs.
NATM, the Board of Directors, committees, and staff are working diligently to provide more value to members, and we look forward to working with you in 2020. We sincerely hope that you will allow us to continue to serve your needs and provide value to your organization.
If you are unsure if your company’s dues have been paid, please contact Kelli Maydew at email@example.com.
The mission of Trailer Safety Week (TSW) is to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways by raising trailer safety awareness through education of end-users, dealers, and manufacturers on safe trailering practices. Held the first week of June every year, Trailer Safety Week reaches over 60,000 individuals annually and is the first nationwide traffic safety initiative aimed at addressing safe towing practices for light- and medium-duty trailers. NATM has developed content and resources in furtherance of this mission, all available through www.TrailerSafteyWeek.com.
Heading into the third annual Trailer Safety Week June 7-13, 2020, NATM is excited to announce new opportunities for engagement from industry members and peer organizations. For the awareness campaign to expand its reach and effectively improve roadway safety, Trailer Safety Week depends on extraordinary supporters who go above and beyond to reach their industry contacts and end-users. Further, to continue expanding the educational resources available to end-users, NATM is looking to partner with experts and other key stakeholders in towing and traffic safety.
As the Association commits itself to expansion, two new programs were created for industry organizations that would like to join NATM and its TSW Allies in improving trailer safety: TSW Champions and TSW Partnerships.
NATM created the Trailer Safety Week Champion program to highlight companies whose support of TSW exceeds that of a Trailer Safety Week Ally (TSW Ally). As such, the company will earn greater promotional opportunities. While Trailer Safety Week includes Allies across the country, Trailer Safety Week Champions are those who fulfill the following requirements and receive the benefits listed below. Champions will support efforts in four specific ways:
Upon successful completion of these items (verification requirements must be met), the organization will enjoy the following benefits:
The next level of involvement is TSW Partnerships. The Trailer Safety Week Partnership program was established to recognize companies, groups, and agencies who support the mission of Trailer Safety Week through content development and resource sharing. Partnerships require more significant commitment in terms of educational content creation and the sharing of content and must conform to specific standards and requirements.
Organizations interested in the TSW Champion program can learn more and sign up online at www.TrailerSafetyWeek.com. Organizations interested in the TSW Partnership program are encouraged to reach out to NATM Executive Director Kendra Ansley at Kendra.Ansley@natm.com or (785) 272-4433.
In December, the NATM Executive Committee met in person at NATM Headquarters to set the 2020 committee goals and choose committee members. Using the results of interest indicators sent to all NATM members in November, members were selected for each committee. Taking into account the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan and NATM’s Mission, the Executive Committee diligently thought through what each committee could do to help raise the Association to new heights. For more information about becoming more involved in NATM through committee participation, contact NATM Executive Director Kendra Ansley at Kendra.Ansley@natm.com or call (785) 272-4433.
Phase One Trade Deal
On Wednesday, Jan. 15 negotiators for the US and China came together to sign the Phase One trade agreement. The deal, seven chapters in length, covers intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, currency, expanding trade, and dispute resolution. The full text of the agreement can be found here and fact sheets found here.
Though the agreement did not include tariff relief, the President did reaffirm the commitment to cutting the List 4A tariff rate to 7.5% from 15% on Feb. 14. As a reminder, List 4A is primarily clothing. According to Bloomberg, unnamed officials have indicated that no additional tariff relief is to be expected until after the 2020 election.
Notably, China has posted its weakest economic growth in 29 years according to Reuters.
US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)
While many believed USMCA passage might not occur in the Senate until after the impeachment trial by the Senate, on Jan. 16 the Senate passed USMCA 89-10. Next, the bill headed to the President’s desk where he is expected to sign by the end of January.
However, the President’s signature does not yet mean the agreement is in force. Mexico and Canada must take the necessary measures to comply with the agreement. A slight delay can be expected as the Canadian parliament doesn’t resume until Jan. 27. When both countries have taken the appropriate steps, the President must notify Congress in writing 30 days prior to entry into force of the agreement of such action. Still the agreement enters into force after the President and government of Mexico and Canada follow-through with all specified implementing procedures. This is expected in 2020, though the exact timeline remains uncertain.