In this article, we take a look at trailers in respect of licences, roadworthiness, regular maintenance, lights, brakes and tyres.
While the UK government has officially scrapped car trailer and towing tests, completing the trailer test and ensuring your livestock trailer is roadworthy is still a requirement in Ireland.
Having the correct licence
There is a requirement in Ireland to have a licence if you are towing a trailer.
The standard Category B licence entitles you to tow a trailer with a Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW) of less than 750kg.
If the trailer’s DGVW is more than 750kg, the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer should not exceed 3,500kg.
According to the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS), you can tow a small trailer with a category B licence.
In comparison, the licence most 4×4 owners require to tow a larger trailer is the BE. You should obtain a BE licence to tow a trailer that has a DGVW of no more than 3,500kg.
Should the trailer’s DGVW be above this, the combined weight of the jeep and trailer should be no more than 7,000kg.
However, this is subject to the weight of the vehicle. In this instance, it is vital to ensure that you are aware of the weight of your vehicle, either by weighing or contacting your dealer. Otherwise, check the manufacturer’s plate.
To find the unladen weight of your trailer, you can seek this information from the manufacturer or distributor.
You can apply for the BE trailer licence online or fill out a manual application form at a local Garda station, driving test centre, or library.
You should also note that the speed limit when towing a trailer is 80km/ha. This is the case across national roads in Ireland, except where a lower speed limit is visible.
A smaller trailer
Since the RSA introduced a new law in 2012 regarding livestock trailers, all new trailers (under 3,500kg) must be plated. This is now a legal requirement.
Having brakes fitted on a trailer is subject to the weight of the trailer. Where a trailer does not exceed 750kg, it is not a requirement to have brakes fitted.
Comparatively, where trailers are weighing over 750kg and less than 3,500kg, brakes should be fitted.
It is your sole responsibility as the driver to ensure that both the trailer and the towing vehicle are deemed fit for purpose and suitable for legal road regulations.
Furthermore, these requirements include ensuring tyres are free from defects, all trailer and vehicle lights are in functioning order, trailer mechanics are in good condition, as well as tyres are roadworthy.
Throughout farms in Ireland, livestock trailers are a common and vital asset. Often, the maintenance of this equipment is not adhered to correctly.
When assessing your trailer for roadworthiness, start at the front of the trailer, then move backwards. Regular maintenance is critical in order to avoid disaster.
Ongoing, thorough maintenance of your livestock trailer is a vital farm management task to comply with Irish law. In addition, it will also ensure longevity and the value of the asset.
Where you frequently use your livestock trailer, the RSA recommended that a recognised dealer or manufacturer conducts a service every 6 months.
Christopher Temple of Temple Trailers, tells That’s Farming the importance of regularly servicing and conducting proper maintenance of your livestock trailer.
“It’s critical that farmers understand the importance of taking care of their agricultural machinery, such as their livestock trailers.”
“Regularly servicing with a knowledgeable mechanic can avoid financial destruction further down the line by expanding the longevity and value of their livestock trailer.”
While it is a simple visual element of your trailer, it is often the area with the most faults – lights.
It cannot be stressed enough the vitality of ensuring correctly functioning lights. Therefore, take the time to ensure your lights are working appropriately.
When checking the lighting system of your trailer, start at the trailers connector.
Then, follow on to the wiring harness, check for deterioration, as well as loose wires. According to Farm Compare, corrosion at the plug cause almost 80% of lighting issues.
A common mistake that occurs when coupling the trailer to a jeep includes the incorrect position of the brake cable.
The brake away cable should be looped through the eyelet on the chassis of your jeep. This cable should not be pulled around the tow bar; this leaves a potential for an accident.
Another important element of the trailer braking system is the handbrake. Should you activate the handbrake on the livestock trailer, position at a 45-degree angle.
To ensure the optimal functioning of your handbrake, the handbrake should have the ability to stall the towing vehicle in the instance the vehicle attempts a take-off.
Tyre pressure should be acknowledged by checking the user manual of your trailer. Where a flat tyre occurs during a fully loaded trailer, swaying may occur. This creates higher friction and, therefore, the potential for a blowout.
Before making a journey with your livestock trailer, carry out a simple tyre check on all tyres.
The tread depth of the tyres should be approximately 1.6mm tread. An important sign to check on your trailer tyres is for a half wore tyre. In many cases, this sign can display evidence of a bent axle.
Keeping your trailer clean
Ideally, thoroughly wash your livestock trailer after each use. You should complete this task for both animal health purposes, as well as an essential element of your livestock trailer maintenance.
This washing task also includes the underside of the trailer, which is where the majority of road dirt is likely to be compiled.
Warm water is recommended, along with some liquid wash soap to ensure a protected finish on your livestock trailer.
Ensuring that lights are clean and visible is also essential for successfully ensuring your livestock trailer is roadworthy.
The importance of lights being cleaned is emphasised during the winter period, as the long days are gone, and visibility is crucial during the dark.
It is recommended that you follow these simple, obvious maintenance tips between regular servicing to prevent extra costs arising in the long run.