Do you include Step Deck Trailers in your trucking business?
In this article I will explain you, and at the same time I will provide you 10 secret tips to know when buying a step deck trailer.
Step Deck Trailers in the past few years have achieved more common use in the trucking industry in comparison to 10 years ago.
Nowadays we can witness that there are more and more trucking companies looking to buy step deck trailers. Allowing a transportation of loads that the flatbed trailers cannot haul is what makes the step deck trailers so necessary for each trucking company that operates in the hauling industry.
Therefore, the step deck trailers are generally used for hauling over-sized freight that is taller than 10 feet.
Typically the freight that step deck trailers haul comprises:
The step deck trailers are constructed in a way that they can help the people that are operating with it- that are doing the pickups and deliveries – to do that in a way safer manner since the loads that this trailer is transporting are usually over-sized.
I have gone through a variety of strategies and I came up with the conclusion that the following 10 secret tips are the most essential when buying a step deck trailer.
Let’s take a look !
My first point concerns doing inspection of the trailers’ floor.
Therefore if you are looking to buy a step desk trailer and to enlarge your fleet, in that case it is crucial for you to pay enormous attention to few important trailer parts.
It would seem logical to do inspection of the trailers’ floor, but not all buyers pay enough attention to this part. It is precisely that way because most of the time the trailer dealers tend to polish the floor, so that if the buyer takes a glimpse it looks like it is new and without any damages.
The evidence that I would use to support this tip is the fact that in the past 10 years the trucking industry has improved a lot, and straight proportionally to that the truck and trailer manufacturers have changed their production strategies.
Few decades ago trailer manufacturers were producing the platform of the trailer in a very different way. Back than they were mostly producing the trailers with wood, and some combination of synthetic flooring.
Generally back in the 80’s only around 25%- 30% of the step deck trailers that have been manufactured were made with extruded aluminum.
Subsequently, there has been a significant change in the trailer manufacturers’ process; especially they have changed the materials. It seems to me that it is so due to the customers demand.
Nowadays trucking companies that are operating with step deck trailers tend to buy trailers with aluminum flooring. Don’t you think that the fleet owners are playing smart? Buying the step deck trailer with the lightest weight will allow you to haul anything and anywhere.
But on the negative side, choosing an aluminum step deck trailer can be a good choice but only for a limited period of use. Unfortunately aluminum can bend and crack, and not only that -aluminum is more difficult to repair than wood.
Following that the wooden floor step deck trailers have turned out to be more durable, also the wooden trailers are easier to repair if any damage takes place.
Afterwards we can see that the aluminum is a metal which has unchanging physical properties, and therefore the wood can vary dependently by the species.
The purpose of this tip explanation is to point out the difference between the wood trailer flooring and the aluminum trailer flooring.
Everyone understands the reason why when buying a step deck trailer one of the first things that you will have to inspect are the trailer tires.
Hence, the role of the trailer tires is to transport the loads. Therefore in order for the truck driver to operate safely and time-efficiently the trailer should be in an operable condition-especially this goes for the trailer tires.
Thereupon, it is recommendable to bring with you experienced mechanic If you are planning to buy an old step deck trailer from unknown dealer. Bringing a mechanic with you will increase the chances that you will end up with the best trailer of all.
Since the trailer tires are one of the most important contributors of the safety, at the same time these tires are typically more expensive than the truck or auto tires. Trailer tires can experience failure mainly from overloading.
The people that are in the trucking business are well aware that overloading the trailer can result into an excessive heat in the sidewall and tread, which can lead to degradation/blowout.
Also as you might know under-inflation is one more reason that can cause trailer tire failure. Did you know that under-inflation can elevate the trade temperature? Yes it can result in the form of elevation of the trade temperature, but only when the speed is increased.
Yet one more thing that you will have to check when doing a trailer tire inspection is to check the cracks that the tires might have. Sometimes these cracks cannot be noticed at the first glimpse, but if you are doing a detail inspection/ or if your mechanic is doing the inspection.
Later on, while I’m writing about the trailer tire inspection I must not forget to mention the bulges that can appear on the sidewall of the tire. Know that trailer tires are manufactured in a way that they must be changed on every 2 to 3 years- dependently on the miles that the trailer passes on a yearly basis.
Therefore if you are buying used step deck trailer, you will have to be precautious both if the trailer has been driven on a daily basis and if the trailer hasn’t been operated at all for a longer period of time. In the second view you will have to be precautious because if the trailer hasn’t been driven for a period of time it can also experience tire damage.
All in all- trailer tires are important part of the step deck trailers and in that manner you will have to pay additional attention when doing the tire inspection.
Only truck drivers will understand the importance of having a properly maintained and equipped truck and trailers.
Likewise, having a properly functional step deck trailer will allow truck drivers have a smooth drive, without slowing down time.
So if you are looking to buy used step deck trailer you will have to do inspection of the wheel bearings. After all the trailer wheel bearings are the spinning parts that enable the wheels to turn with low rasping.
Thereupon, you will have to ask the dealer from whom you are going to buy the step deck trailer- to allow you to perform a detailed wheel inspection, which will include the wheel bearings. Trailer bearings are therefore the parts of the wheel that are keeping the trailer rolling on the roads.
Must be remembered that the wheel bearings are composed of two parts:
Actually the trailer wheel bearings are the part of the trailer that carries the entire weight of the trailer weight. You will definitely have to check the bearings since they play one of the main roles in the load transportation.
Coupled with a good care and maintenance the semi deck trailer bearings can keep your trailer rolling on the highway without any difficulty.
It is paramount that you buy a step deck trailer that has been properly maintained- actually the trailer manufacturers are recommending that the trailer maintenance is being done at least once a year- it all depends on the use of the trailer.
Still on the other hand, if you are buying a brand new step deck trailer- directly from the manufacturer you won’t have to worry about the inspection part, but still you will have to have in mind that you will have to do a regular inspection and maintenance of each trailer part.
To get back on the step deck trailer bearings inspection- it includes few steps, and in fact it can turn out to be a bit complicated. The steps of getting to the wheel bearings include:
The evidence presented leads me to conclude that performing a trailer bearings inspection is a “must” when in the process and consideration of buying a step deck trailer.
When you have performed all three previous secret tips, that is to say all three previous step deck trailer inspections- the next step would be- doing an inspection of the wheel torque.
But wait, why a wheel torque inspection would be of any importance when buying a trailer?
Yes, when you will get to this 4th secret tip to know when buying a step deck trailer, you might end up wondering how a product that can cost less than $100 can be of such a great importance.
Furthermore you can read more about- why wheel torque should be properly adjusted, and how it can have an overall impact.
It goes like this- Although the wheel torque is a small piece of equipment, when on the road rolling with your truck and trailer it can impact in a great measure on your safety and on the safe and time-efficient delivery of your loads. Therefore, staying safe while delivering the loads on time is what makes a truck driver successful.
Moreover, we can all agree that life safety is all what matters and right away after that comes the safe delivery of the loads. So in order for you to buy the trailer that can serve you properly
It is also of a great importance that you perform the inspection of the wheel torque – if it fits perfectly and if it can be applied correctly.
On the negative side- if a wheel torque cannot be applied correctly (if it doesn’t fit as it should) it could lead to accidents that could be caused due to separation of the wheel. And wheel off accidents are really common nowadays. Just a simple-proper application of the wheel torque can be a life-saver.
All in all, it is my suggestion that no matter how new and preserved the trailer that you want to buy might look like- still you will have to do a proper wheel torque inspection.
If you are in the trucking business, operating with a trucking company, or operating with a Class 8 trucks, than you must be familiar with the rules and regulations that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration- FMCSA and OSHA are requiring.
In the same direction- when considering buying a step deck trailer you will have to have in mind that the step deck trailer is required to have a proper functional brake system.
Brake Systems actually represent a safety device which function is to manage the trailer brakes. Having a proper brake system not only that it will protect you and the loads that you are transporting, but also it will protect the other drivers on the highways.
However, when buying a new step deck trailer straight from the manufacturer, you wouldn’t have to perform many of these secret tips, including the inspection of the brake system. But to be realistic, in general buying new step deck trailers goes to the larger companies that have bigger budgets.
Hence, if you are buying used step deck trailer, in that case you will have to perform the brake system, actually it is a “must” that the trailer you want to buy has impeccably functional brake system.
The brake system being made up of a battery and a switch connected to a cable, with the one end connected to the trailer, and the other one attached to the truck, is the number one safety roller.
So before you buy the step deck trailer that you like you will have to reassure if this important part of the trailer is functional, because if it’s not it can bring you additional costs- and I bet that no one likes spending money additionally.
Being an air-operated valve – the relay valve is usually using in air brake systems. Via these air brake systems the control of the brakes at the rear of the trailer are being remotely controlled.
Since the step deck trailer has relay valves- the truck drivers who are going to operate with these trailers should have in mind that the valves should conform all applicable electrical, mechanical, and other kind of installation properly.
When you are looking for a step deck trailer- the inspection of the relay valve must be included. If you want to inspect visually the relay valve of the step deck trailer, you will have to do a operating performance altogether with a leakage test, if you want to have a clear picture of the relay valves’ condition.
Henceforth, if you want to buy used step deck trailer you will have to reassure yourself that the trailer you want to buy if in an operable condition, and in that point of view the relay valves play an important role.
If the trailer dealer allows you- you can do a detailed relay valve inspection. While doing the relay valve inspection you should be precautious, because the compressed air altogether with the hydraulic systems are composed of high level of stored energy. Therefore when the system is under pressure do not even attempt to do an inspection because it can result into injury.
Thereupon if the previous trailer owner has maintained the trailer properly, if he has done regular inspections, lubrication, and cleaning, than you will notice it straight away. If you find a step deck trailer which has maintained relay valves- do not hesitate- buy it , because most of the people that are owning and that are operating with step deck trailer most of the cases are not doing a proper maintenance to these parts.
In the foreground, doing inspection of the landing semi trailer leg is also placed among the 10 secret tips that you need to know if you are planning to buy a step deck trailer.
Correspondingly if the landing gear of the step deck trailer is in a good condition, straight proportionally the work of the truck driver will be easier. The hauling and delivery are way easier and faster if the trailer has a functional landing trailer leg.
The inspection of the landing trailer leg is of a great importance because the landing gear of the trailer is among the areas of the trailer which are inclined to corrosion. Moreover, what causes the corrosion of the landing trailer legs is the use of chlorides for snow and ice control. So you must be very careful when doing the inspection of the landing trailer leg.
Yet there is one more part of the landing trailer leg that can be susceptible to corrosion- which is the inside of the leg. Thereupon, the internal corrosion of the landing trailer leg can result into elevating screw inside of the landing gear, and that can go further into corrosion.
All in all corrosion can affect the landing gear and can lead it to premature failure.
Henceforth, you can do inspection of the:
These parts of the trailer landing leg will show you precisely in which condition the leg of the trailer is. In addition while doing the inspection of the landing semi deck trailer leg you can take a look at the mounting brackets- if there is any deformation, as well as cracks.
Do each part of the inspection process with patience, care, and dedication, because at the end of the day you are the one who is gonna buy that trailer to your trucking company- and I bet that you would like it to be in a good condition.
Buying used trailers has never been easy, yet buying used step deck trailer is even more difficult, since the step deck trailer is hauling heavier loads than the regular trailers.
When I say that buying used step deck trailers is even harder- I mean it literally. One reason why buying step deck trailer is harder is the fact that these trailers are designed to transport heavier loads, and the transportation of the heavier loads itself is way more complex than transporting regular loads.
Whereas if you have the budget to buy a new step deck trailer-than you will have to skip this inspection tip (as well as few other tips), because if you are buying the trailer straight from the manufacturer it will join your fleet brand new- without any further inspections.
Yet, sometimes even the people and the trucking companies that can afford new trailers, they tend to buy used. That is so because they want to save money.
Likewise, when buying a step deck trailer you will have to do a detailed trailer inspection, and if you will be able it would be great that you find out the reason why that particular step deck trailer is on sales.
And now you must be asking yourself how are you going to find out the real reason why that particular step deck trailer is on sales. Well that won’t be that hard as it might seem, all that you will have to do is to ask direct questions and to wait for the reactions.
Actually did you know that body language most of the times speaks way more than words can say?
Moreover, if the dealer is changing the theme and wants to get away your attention- than you should be aware that he might be hiding some defects of the trailer that might not be visible at the first sight. And have in mind that if you don’t do a proper trailer inspection those defects can cost you a lot of money, so that way you will overpay the trailer.
Just like when you are buying used truck, and I believe that you have bought at least one so far- than you shall know that performing a test drive is a must before you make the final decision and you sign the sale contract.
The aim of the test drive is to reveal if there are some hidden defects from the visual impression that you have had while doing the detailed step deck trailer inspection. Yes just a simple test drive can reveal if there are any major defects with the trailer.
Only after performing a test trailer drive- only then it is recommendable that you make the final decision.
If you have already operated with a step deck trailer than you will notice immediately if everything is running smoothly, and if the trailer is performing realistically. This way you will have a wider picture of the trailer performance.
Hence, drive the step deck trailer for a while in order to see and feel if there are any additional shakings’ which can be a result of the improper installation or malfunction of:
The trailer test drive is essential because after all if it is not in a good condition it can have effect on the safety of the truck driver, the loads, and the other drivers on the road. The transportation of the loads with the step deck trailer should be done in a safe and time-efficient manner, and that is the main reason why all these detailed inspections are needed.
In addition, when buying a step deck trailer you should be aware that the trailer is going to haul heavy loads, and those loads sometimes might get transported through one of the most dangerous highways, therefore it should be functioning properly. Have that in mind, every-time when you are looking to buy truck or trailer.
Maintenance records speak volumes about the history of the step deck trailers that are for sale. Thereupon it is really rare that you find a dealer who is selling trailers to be able to provide you with maintenance records.
As some people tend to say- Maintenance Records are like birthday presents of each persons’ life that is buying used trailers.
If you are operating in the trucking industry for a longer period of time you should already know that the maintenance of the trucks as well as of the trailers is essential. The truck maintenance and trailer maintenance should be done on a regular basis, of course if you want to use that equipment for a longer period of time.
Yet, the frequently maintained trailers not only that they last longer but also they are providing exceptional operation. Truck drivers can say it without a doubt that properly maintained trailers can provide smoother rolling on the road, and a faster delivery of the load, without any down time.
To get pack to the point- asking the dealer for maintenance records cannot hurt or offend anybody- so when you are looking for a step deck trailer do not hesitate, ask the dealer for maintenance records right away.
Yes, I know, as I said before, the dealers will provide you with maintenance records only in rare occasions. In that direction- if you find yourself in the position of holding a maintenance record for the step deck trailer that you want to buy- play smart and find out if those records are real. You can check if the information that are being provided in the maintenance record are valid by doing a comparison between the trailer and the records.
Thereupon, you can do that comparison by checking the history of the trailer, if there are any major mechanical problems- because some of those mechanical problems might appear again in the future. And you don’t like additional costs, don’t you?
If you are looking to buy, or you have already bought a step deck trailer, it is of a great importance that you pay enormous attention to the inspection of a few details before you start loading it and operating with it.
Therefore those details include inspection of:
To conclude I would like to say that if you want to expand your trucking business- buying a step deck trailer would make the perfect decision.
Why do I believe that step deck trailers are the perfect decision? That is my belief because step deck trailers allow hauling of loads that cannot be hauled with regular trailers, and that will bring you additional money, since unusual loads are more expensive to transport.
Therefore- construction equipment, trucks, tanks, forklifts, are just part of the loads that the step deck trailer can transport- and if you are for a long time in the trucking industry you will immediately know how much money these loads can bring you.
If you are operating with step deck trailers for a period of time- than you are in the perfect position to share with us all the pros and cons of including a step deck trailer in the trucking business.