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Horse Trailer Tyres

When buying a new horse trailer, good quality tyres are no doubt something you’ll take for granted. It’s essential, however, that tyres are kept well-maintained and replaced when necessary – you could be hit with a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence should a check prove just one tyre defective, and anything more serious could see your trailer banned from further use on the road.

The following section should help ensure your tyres are always in safe, useable condition:

Before each journey:

  • Check your spare tyre; you are legally obliged to carry a useable spare.
  • Check your tyre pressure is correct all round.
  • Check tyre condition for cracks, deep cuts or bulges (especially if horse trailer has stood for a length of time).
  • Make sure you’ve got your jack or wedge jack on board in case of emergency.
  • Check the rear tyres of your towing vehicle; tyre failure here could cause your horse trailer to overturn.

Checking tyre pressure

The tyre pressure on a horse trailer should be to the level recommended by the manufacturer. You will find this information either on the plate inside the Jockey door of the horse trailer itself, or in the manufacturer’s handbook. Check the pressure, when the tyres are cold – there are tyre pressure hand pumps on the market that have a built-in gauge to help make maintaining a safe pressure hassle-free. 

On your horse trailer cracked and damaged tyres should be replaced
Cracked and damaged tyres on your horse trailer should be replaced

Checking horse trailer tyre treads

As with car tyres, horse trailer tyres must have a minimum of 1.6mm tread over the central 75% of the tyre’s surface around the entire circumference. However, a tyre with less than 3mm tread offers little traction in wet conditions, so it’s recommended that you keep well above this level. To check tread depth, use a tyre tread gauge, which you should be able to pick up for a couple of pounds at any good automotive store or garage.

Changing a tyre

Before setting out, make sure that you have a wheel brace that fits the nuts on your trailer tyres, as they may be a different size to the ones on your towing vehicle. Once you're confident you've got the right brace, you'll be able to change your tyre using the following guidelines:
  • Consider investing in a wedge jack – this will make changing a tyre with horses on board far easier and safer.
  • Loosen wheelnuts before jacking the trailer up
  • If using a conventional jack, use a substantial area of the chassis or the axle as a jacking point, rather than the trailer floor.
  • Fit the spare tyre and tighten wheelnuts in diagonal pairs.
  • Ensure the damaged tyre is securely fitted to the spare tyre point on the trailer.
  • After about 30 miles, check the wheelnuts are still tight enough.
  • Once you’re home safe and sound, ensure you replace your spare tyre immediately.

Replacing Tyres

When replacing horse trailer tyres, it’s worth bearing in mind that stocks of 16” & 17” tyres are diminishing. If your trailer was originally fitted with this size tyre, it’s worth seeking professional advice to find a tyre of the more common 17.5” size that will be fit for purpose. Other than this, the following pointers should help you stay safe and within the law when replacing tyres:
  • Use replacement tyres of the same load/speed rating and size as the originals.
  • Tyres must be capable of sustained running at 60mph with the trailer and its MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass).
  • Ideally, do not mix Radial and Cross Ply tyres on the trailer - and never on the same axle, which is illegal.
  • Current legislation on tyre wear applicable to vehicles is also applicable to trailers.
  • Tyre pressures should be as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • All radial tyres must be `E` marked.
  • Retread tyres must comply with BSAU1446 and be so marked.

What to look for

The diagram below highlights some of the points to look out for when checking your horse trailer tyres:
horse trailer tyre diagram

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Last updated: 25/04/2010
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