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The Question I get Asked All the Time!!

 Customers will ask questions, but this one question I get asked all the time. As adults, we take care of our houses, cars, and adult toys, but most trailer owners forget about their trailers. That one question I get asked over and over, is, "When should I do the maintenance on my trailer?" My response goes something like this. Think about your car. You check the engine oil, tires, and windshield wipers. Right? You take your daily driver to the mechanic for a tune-up every so often, so you're not broken down on the side of the highway. Right? The same goes for your trailer.

It would help if you do a visual check of your trailer before and after you use it. Check the tires, coupler, safety chains, and lights. Think about safety! One point that I stress to my customers is this...every year grease and repack your bearings. Change the bearings if there are signs of damage! If you have a boat trailer, this piece of information is critical because water will get in there and freeze, which is divesting to hubs and bearings!

If you cannot perform this checks, please find a trailer repair facility and bring your trailer into a trailer mechanic to prevent a breakdown! Tow safe!

By: Matthew Polito

Bumper Pull Vs. GooseNeck

  Trailer owners have choices. Have you seen truck owners towing gooseneck trailers and wonder if you could haul like that? Have you ever thought about a gooseneck hitch for personal or professional use? Well, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Being a trailer consultant, it is my job to inform my clients what those differences are!

 Let's start with the advantages of towing with a bumper pull system. First, the initial cost for the hitch. A hitch for a bumper pull system on many trucks is a standard feature on new vehicles. However, if your vehicle did not come with a bumper hitch one can be purchased and installed for under 500.00 dollars. A gooseneck system can cost about $1,200.00 installed.  

  Another advantage is the combined weight of a bumper pull trailer and vehicle is unlikely to exceed 10,001 lbs., which keeps the vehicle under the weight limit to declared a commercial vehicle and require a commercial license. You will want to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles in case your state has lower limits. 

A bumper pull is excellent for first-time trailer owners because it is a common style of a hitch, and as a result, it is less intimidating. The turn radius on a bumper pull trailer has an average turn radius and will follow the turn radius of the tow vehicle.  

The disadvantages of a bumper pull system include less space to haul equipment, farm stock, or living quarters. Hauling heavy loads is a significant problem for a bumper tow system. The lack of stability and loss of control, including trailer swaying is also an issue to worry about when using a bumper pull system. Bumper pull trailers are involved in more trailer accidents according to several state accident records.  

 Stability is the significant advantage of a gooseneck trailer over a bumper pull. The reason is the tongue weight of the trailer is over the truck's rear axle instead of at the back of the frame like a bumper pull system. Having the tongue weight over the rear axle significantly reduces the sway of the trailer. A gooseneck trailer can accommodate more weight and be more substantial than a bumper pull trailer.  

A tighter turn radius is a significant factor why trailer aficionados love gooseneck trailers. Gooseneck trailers let a driver cut corners tighter than a bumper pull trailer and allows you to maneuver the trailer in tighter spaces. A co-worker of mine told me that backing up in a gooseneck trailer is a night and day difference over a bumper pull trailer.  

The disadvantages of a gooseneck hitch are the cost. As explained above, the value of the gooseneck and install can be costly. This point is a significant hurdle for the average trailer enthusiast.  Storage of a gooseneck can be a challenge because gooseneck trailers are larger than a bumper pull trailer. This can be a problem for the city dweller who might not have enough room to accommodate a larger trailer. The last disadvantage is not being able to use your truck bed because one will have a ball sticking up through the bed. However, B&W hitches make a hideaway ball system that can be taken out, so the bed can be used.  

The one thing I tell my clients is both have advantages, and both have disadvantages. The client has to find what kind of system fits their needs. 

 By: Matthew Polito

 Bike Racks

Breezing along the Towpath, taking a few turns on Cleveland's growing mountain bike trails, or setting the kids loose on their bikes in the campground... Sounds great, doesn't it? Let's get the boring part over with: you're going to need a bike rack.

You don't have to reach very far to find a reason why hitch mount bike racks are preferable to trunk-mount bike racks and cartop carriers - hitch mount bike racks are a lot easier to load and unload!

While a hitch mount bike carrier is a good choice for you and your back, it's also good for your vehicle, because bikes won't come in contact with your car. (Translation: no dings and chipped paint!)

More good news: improved designs have made bike racks more aerodynamic, and most allow for easy access to rear doors and hatchbacks - meaning no more need to remove the rack (or bikes!) from your vehicle to get to the other gear inside.

What You Need to Know About Hitch Mount Bike Racks and Your Car

A bike rack will fit on almost any hitch - but that's a deceptively simple and potentially dangerous statement. Regardless of the style of bike rack or size of hitch you have, put too much weight on it and you risk damaging the bike(s), hitch, and your vehicle.

The first most important thing to ask is, what kind of hitch can my car handle? Most smaller cars and sedans can take a class 1 or class 2 hitch, with some notable exceptions, like the Subaru Impreza and Toyota Prius. (If you have one of these vehicles, you're not out of luck - see below.)

  • Class 1 hitches are intended to handle up to 2,000 lb gross trailer weight and a maximum tongue weight of 200 lbs.
  • Class 2 hitches are rated to pull 3,500 lbs and handle a maximum tongue weight of 300 lbs.
  • Class 3 hitches are rated to pull 3,500 - 10,000 lbs - generally, you don't need a Class 3 hitch "just" for bikes, but if you have a Class 3 hitch, know that we have bike racks designed to fit them.

For vehicles that can handle either a Class 1 or Class 2 hitch, we recommend getting the Class 2. Why the heavier duty hitch? We hate to see our customers putting their vehicles, bikes, or fun family outings at risk.

How Many Bikes? Do the Math

A couple of heavy bikes are going to put you close to the maximum tongue weight of a Class 1 hitch - and hitting a speed bump or Cleveland-sized pothole may cause damage to the bikes on the rack and possibly to your car's body or frame. A Class 2 hitch is needed for carrying 3 or 4 bikes.  Think that sounds like overkill? It's your car - but we've never heard anyone complain about getting a mount that's too sturdy. (The Reese website offers descriptions of all five classes of hitches. See the HowStuffWorks site for more than you might want to know about Tongue Weight.)

Loading a Motorcycle in a Trailer 

Wow, it’s been a busy spring and summer. Hope you’re having fun! We’ve spent some good times at Quaker Steak & Lube locations hosting Bike Nights in the past couple of months, talking to NE Ohio dirt bike, motocross, streetbike, chopper owners and motorheads, and we’ve been giving out a lot of advice. (And a few prizes.)

Before Loading Your Motorcycle in a Trailer

Some of these tips fall under the “well-duh” category, but they’re still  worth mentioning!

  • ALWAYS load when the trailer is hooked up!
  • Check for weight balance BEFORE loading your bike (or anything)
  • If you’re loading in an enclosed trailer, check door height before loading your bike!
  • PUT YOUR KICKSTAND UP AFTER LOADING, unless you’d like a hole in the trailer floor. (No kidding. We see these kind of things in for trailer repair all the time. File under, Don’t Be That Guy!)
  • CHECK FOR GREASE on the trailer floor. Missing a slick spot = unhappy surprise landings and unscheduled repairs – to you, your bike and your trailer.
  • Check air pressure and lug nuts and make sure your coupler and ball match.

Securing Your Motorcycle in a Trailer

The first most important thing to have, if at all possible, is someone to help you! You can load a motorcycle into a trailer by yourself, but it’s much better – for you, your bike, and your trailer – if you do it with someone else.

Basically, we recommend a four-point tie-down system, and one that does not compress the suspension too much.  (A lot depends on your bike, your trailer, and how you’re tying it down – call us if you’d like a demonstration: 440.232.4311)

Improper loading can result in broken springs, broken brackets, snapped cables on doors, and worse. (Good news – we can fix just about anything on a motorcycle trailer. Bad news – it usually means you’ll miss some good riding.)

A couple of good videos can be found online, and of course, you can always contact us, the trailer and hitch (and motorcycle-loading) experts, at JTI. 440.232.4311