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. 23-25, 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:
Phase 2: 2020 non-sponsor exhibitors will be notified by Membership & Events Director Kelli Maydew to select their booths.
Phase 3: Booth registration opens up to all members and non-members.
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!