Semi-Trailer Maintenance: Common Issues & Preventative Maintenance

In the freight transport industry, semi-trailers play an indispensable role in ensuring that various goods cross massive distances. However, like any other type of mechanical equipment, they suffer from wear and tear and require regular maintenance to perform optimally and stay in good shape. Semi-trailer maintenance isn’t only about ensuring smooth operation, it’s a matter of safety for the driver and others on the road. We’re going to look at some of the common semi-trailer issues and why semi-trailer maintenance is so critical, and provide some insights that can help you avoid downtime.


What is Semi-Trailer Maintenance?Man working under trailer with light

Semi-trailer maintenance is the regular, consistent process of inspecting, repairing, and servicing these large vehicles with the aim of preventing breakdowns and ensuring greater longevity overall. It’s not a one-time task or something to only be done when you think there’s a problem, it’s a continuous cycle of checks and minor fixes that address every aspect of the trailer’s operation, from the tires and brakes to the suspension and electrical components. 

The core rationale behind routine maintenance is twofold. Firstly, it significantly reduces the chances of any unexpected breakdowns during transit, which helps your deliveries meet stringent schedules. Unplanned downtime can create significant additional costs, not only in terms of repairs but also in the lost revenue and potentially lasting effects on your reputation as a driver.

Secondly, but no less importantly, maintenance is critical for safety. A poorly maintained semi-trailer can create significant risks while in operation. Breakdowns can easily lead to accidents, and accidents jeopardize the safety of the semi-operator as well as everyone else on the road. Regular maintenance check ups can help detect and fix potential issues before they have a chance to grow into severe problems.


Common Issues with Semi-Trailers

With the heavy-duty nature of their work and the immense strain that semi-trailers are put under, it’s not surprising that they can encounter a variety of issues. Becoming familiar with these common problems is the first step toward an effective maintenance program.

1. Braking System Failures

Semi-trailer brakes are among the most critical safety features. Over time, brake pads wear down and require replacement, and other components like the calipers and brake lines need to be inspected as well. Ignoring this can lead to complete and total brake failure, which can be disastrous given the size and weight of most loaded semi-trailers. Other common brake issues include leaking brake lines and anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunctions, both of which can reduce brake performance to dangerous levels.

2. Suspension System Issues

The suspension system is responsible for supporting the weight of the semi-trailer, while also absorbing road shocks, and can experience a range of problems. These problems can include worn-out shock absorbers and bushings, which reduce ride comfort as well as place undue strain on other components. Additionally, an unbalanced suspension system can lead to uneven tire wear, reducing their overall lifespan and negatively affecting the trailer’s stability and traction.

3. Tire-Related Problems

Tire issues are some of the most common challenges faced by semi-truck drivers. Underinflated or overinflated tires, worn-out treads, and tire misalignment can all lead to reduced fuel efficiency, increased risk of blowouts, and a general compromise in safety. Regular tire checks and rotations can help prevent these issues and provide a smoother ride for the operator and their cargo.

4. Electrical and Lighting Issues

Semi-trailers rely on an incredibly complex electrical system for their lights, signals, and anti-lock braking systems. Faulty wiring, blown fuses, and corrosion at connection points can all contribute to a breakdown in these critical systems, leading to safety hazards, particularly in low-visibility situations. Periodic inspection and prompt replacement of faulty components go a long way toward preventing these issues.


How to Implement a Preventative Maintenance Program

Whether you’re an owner-operator, operator, or fleet manager, implementing a robust preventative maintenance program is vital. Here are some of the key aspects to consider:

1. Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are the cornerstone of any preventative maintenance program. This includes getting a thorough examination of all essential systems, such as tires, brakes, suspension, lights, and more, all at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer. It’s a smart move to keep a detailed inspection checklist so that you can note any abnormalities to discuss with your repair technician.

2. Scheduled Servicing

Beyond inspections, you’ll need to schedule regular vehicle service based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, or your truck’s various performance indicators. This will include things like getting brake service and tire rotation at needed intervals. It will also include servicing, repairing, or replacing any worn components on your semi-trailer.

3. Professional Assessments

In many cases, routine checks and inspections of easily accessible components can be conducted by the driver, but having professional assessments at regular intervals ensures a much more in-depth examination of your semi-trailer. Professionals will be able to spot early signs of trouble that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

Remember that a well-crafted preventative maintenance program isn’t some vague and unnecessary cost. It’s a direct investment that pays off by extending the lifespan of semi-trailers, making them safer, and reducing the risk of costly and unexpected breakdowns.

4. Professional Maintenance Services

Despite the best efforts of in-house teams, professional maintenance services play a critical role in maintaining a semi-trailer’s longevity and safety. They bring specialized knowledge and experience, advanced diagnostic tools, and a comprehensive understanding of important maintenance practices.

By employing professional services, you can ensure that your maintenance program is thorough and up to date. These experts can identify potential issues that may escape the notice of your team, provide prompt and effective repairs, and offer invaluable advice on improving your preventative maintenance strategies.

Beyond this, professional maintenance services often provide documentation and records of all the work they perform. This can be vital in the case of audits, resale evaluations, and warranty claims, saving your business time and hassle.

When it comes to professional maintenance services, Blaine Brothers stands out with a sterling reputation in the trucking industry. With a comprehensive range of services, from tire service and brake repair to complete vehicle inspections, we offer a one-stop solution for all your semi-trailer maintenance needs at several locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


Trust Blaine Brothers to Help You Keep Up with Your Semi-Trailer Maintenance

Semi-truck maintenance, and preventative maintenance in particular, isn’t just about keeping your truck or your fleet on the road, it’s about making sure that you’re prioritizing the safety of your operators and the public, while also minimizing downtime and contributing to the longevity of the vehicles.

Blaine Brothers offer unique and specialized knowledge, as well as extensive experience, in maintaining and repairing semi-trailers. We can provide thorough inspections, prompt repairs, and priceless advice. We can help you boost your semi-trailer’s performance, safety, and lifespan, making your business more productive and profitable overall. 

Our expert technicians are well-versed in dealing with the common issues that semi-trailers face, ensuring your vehicles are in safe and capable hands. Our commitment to quality, paired with a proactive approach to preventative maintenance, makes us an ideal partner for any business looking to enhance its semi-trailer maintenance program. For more information, or to make an appointment, contact Blaine Brothers today.

Blaine, MN


10011 Xylite Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55449

Scanlon, MN


1325 Hwy 45
Scanlon, MN 55720

Clearwater, MN


750 Heaton BLVD
Clearwater, MN 55320

Baldwin, WI


2500 Alreich Ave
Baldwin, WI 54002

Capacity Trucks


10070 Davenport St. NE
Blaine, MN 55449



9515 150th Avenue NE
Columbus, MN 55025