Trailer Inspection After Extended Idle or Flood

trailer inspection after extended idle or flood

Here are some tips from Hendrickson on how to deal with trailers which have been through a flood or have sat for a long period, because a thorough trailer inspection after extended idle or flood is vital to retain durability.

Trailers that have been idle for extended periods and those that have been subjected to flood water each have their own unique circumstances that can affect durability. If there is any doubt about the serviceability of any components, then it is best to disassemble, analyse and inspect to avoid costly breakdowns or component failure.

Idle Time

Trailer suspensions not operated (idle) for prolonged periods of time must be inspected prior to renewed operation or production installation. For example, trailers that have been stored while waiting manufacture or sale, trailers for grain that are only used intermittently, and trailers used for storage at a dock or in parking areas.

Normally, machined surfaces (such as bearing races and roller bearings) are protected by lubricants flowing onto, over and around during use. Lack of trailer motion causes lubricants to flow downward and away from these surfaces until it reaches a level pool in the hub. Metal surfaces are eventually unprotected and exposed to the environment. Seals and gaskets not exposed to lubricant can degrade in performance. These items must be checked and replace as needed.

Rubber degrades over time whether in use or not, especially at higher temperatures. However, surface cracks on rubber components do not normally affect performance.


Oil and water do not mix. Lubricants will continue to seek a level state, even while under water. All metal surfaces, wires and materials that are directly exposed to moisture, pollutants and other contaminants can lead to rust and corrosion.

Caution: Flood waters are often contaminated with bacteria or other organisms that may be harmful to human health. Wear gloves and other necessary safety equipment when working on trucks or trailers that have been affected by flood. Any waste such as water, tainted grease or sludge must also be managed and disposed of appropriately.

Items to Check

Brakes: Check ADB disc and drum brakes for serviceability and operation. If drum or rotor contact surfaces are corroded following flood and being submersed for any length of time, they must be replaced. If they have been submerged, brake chambers must be replaced. Likewise, ADB callipers must also be replaced if they have been immersed.

Pneumatics: During extended idle, pests and insects will enter and nest in any small opening, such as HCV vent hoses. Air lines, vent hoses, height control valves must be inspected for flood water entry.

Air Springs: Inspect the air springs while aired up at ride height as this is when rubber deterioration is most evident from extended idle time.

Shock Absorbers: Check shock absorbers for any obvious signs of deterioration or corrosion. Seals that have dried out can become ineffectual. Leaking seals may only become evident after the trailer has been driven. Therefore, shock absorbers should be inspected for any obvious leaks again after the trailer has been driven.

Electrical: Inspect wires, electrical connections and connectors for corrosion and insulation degradation. If submerged, disassemble each connection. Inspect, clean and apply dielectric grease to electrical terminals.

Lubrication: Clean around lubrication grease nipples and replace if damaged or contaminated. Apply grease to all fittings until fresh, clean grease emerges from the purge points. Replacing the grease removes any collected moisture and degraded lubricant. Wipe away excess grease.

Wheel Ends: For extended idle time, inspect wheel bearings for smooth rotation and overhaul as needed. Inspect or replace seals and gaskets as they can dry and become non-functional after extended idle time. If submerged, bearings will need to be disassembled for inspection and replacement of lubricant, seals and gaskets. Replace hub seals, gaskets and lubricant. Inspect axle interior and remove any existing moisture. If any moisture is present, replace spindle filters and plugs after drying out axle.

Overall: Look for any obvious signs of deterioration, damage or wear. Check for contamination from flood water. Clean and remove all contaminants. All systems should be operationally checked and assessed.

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