The Road Ahead : February March 2009
features There’s a catch If you are thinking of hiring a trailer, have a good look at what you are getting. STORY BARRY GREEN PHOTO JIM McEWAN H iring a trailer to tow a motor vehicle or move house is something to get right, if you don’t want to endanger yourself or other road users. You need to be assured the trailer is in roadworthy condition, ready to do the job for which it has been designed. But this was not the experience of a regional RACQ member who recently hired a tandem 2000 kg GTM car trailer from a national rental company. He takes up the story: “Despite (the trailer) being only six months old, I was very surprised at its poor mechanical condition and presentation. “The tyre pressures were all different: 15, 38, 25 and 32 psi, and the spare was 36. The hire company employee was unable to advise me of the correct pressure (32 psi). “At the end of the fi rst day, I noticed an off-side fl at tyre. On inspection, the wire beading on the inside was signifi cantly exposed and a new tyre required. “The sliding arm attached to the towing vehicle and operating the brake was stiff – completely lacking grease. And the ball head tension screw sheared during the trip.” The member also claimed that staff were unable to provide information about adjusting the brake mechanism and that a number of brake and other problems were present. When he returned the trailer and reported his concerns to the hire company manager, he was surprised to be told it had been serviced only the week prior. RACQ technical researcher Russell Manning said the roadworthiness of hire trailers was a matter for both parties. 8 FEB/MAR 09 If you are hiring a trailer, make sure you check its condition and suitability for the job before signing. “The rental company has a level of responsibility to ensure the trailer is roadworthy,” Mr Manning said. “And the hirer also has to take some responsibility for checking over the trailer and ensuring everything is as it should be before entering into the hire agreement. “For the hirer’s own protection, he or she should ensure the trailer is in good condition, tyres and lights are serviceable and brakes, if fi tted, operate correctly. “If you fail to notify the hire company of existing problems, they may attempt to hold you responsible. You also shouldn’t overlook the fact that you can be fi ned for operating an unroadworthy trailer. “And, as with any legal contract, read and understand the terms and conditions before signing anything.” Mr Manning said details such as tyre pressures and the trailer’s load capacity could be obtained from the trailer’s identifi cation plate and tyre placard. “When hiring or using a trailer, you also need to ensure your vehicle is legally capable of towing the fully laden trailer,” he said. “And the obligation is on you to make sure the trailer is loaded properly and the load secured. “I recently saw a classic example of how not to do it. It was a mid-size car towing a trailer carrying another mid-size car. It was grossly overloaded and the car being towed wasn’t chained down – the front wheels were hanging over the trailer.” For more information, see www.racq.com.au/motoring_ advice/about_your_car/towing.
December January 2009
April May 2009