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Spinoff-Trailer "Inspections"

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    Spinoff-Trailer "Inspections"

    So, as a result of the Sundowner trailer thread, I made some calls in order to have my 2003 Sundowner Stampede SL inspected. Guess what I found out? A regular trailer inspection in NYS, according to the local garages that I called, does not include inspecting the frame/floor. Just the tires, lights/electrical, and breaks. One place told me that they couldn't inspect it at all if the floor was bad-I told them that was what I wanted THEM to look at and they told me to just "check it for holes".

    Then, according to that TrailerWorld website, we found a supposed Sundowner dealer that was relatively close only to find out from Sundowner Customer Service that this dealer was NOT an authorized Sundowner Dealer...

    Long story short, it's going to cost us $250 for a complete "check-up" for this trailer that isn't even paid off yet-we bought it brand new in September 2004 to AVOID all this crap. Let me tell you, if it needs work, you'll all hear me screaming no matter where you are!
    JB-Infinity Farm

    No, no, no!

    First, you are right. NYS doesn't care if your horse pokes through the floor...or at least the State hasn't thought that this kind of failure happens or could be dangerous. Trailer inspections are remarkably half-a$$ed here.

    Second, you shouldn't have to pay anything close to $250 for a once-over of your trailer. Go get it back tomorrow.

    Next, ask your horse buddies, your truck guy, even the yellow pages for a good local trailer or RV person. You want one of these people in your corner. They can do all the stuff you need-- repack bearings, deal with electrical problems, some metal work as well as recaulking windows to keep the inside dry.

    Where in NYS are you? If you are in my neck of the woods (so unlikely), I have the guy for you. The inspection is usually the cost of the sticker, and I have him check everything on my rig when I have it inspected each December in part to give him the business. He's great and I'm sure you can find one like him near you.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


      One of the trailer dealers in my area has a workshop and also inspects trailers. I take it in once a year for a routine checkup which includes taking up all the mats and ispecting the floor and frame, brakes, and repacking the wheel bearings. The service is just under $200. The inspection is mostly to check lights and brakes, and they do a quick look under the trailer, check tires.


        I am in VA also and there is a place that will do a complete check-up (doesn't include fixing anything) for about 65. I had not taken it to this place in quite some time, but decided to this year. They also do the VA inspection. I have/had a 1995 Kingston. They called me and told me that the entire frame on the passenger side had rusted through. He said that particular model of Kingston had enclosed the frame and that water/moisture had no way out and thus the frame rusted through. I had no choice but to send my trailer to the trailer graveyard and feel very fortunate that I decided to have this overall inspection done. Last year I spent 800 having brakes, etc., fixed after the routine VA inspection. The mechanic said my trailer didn't rust that much "over night," but I foolishly trusted the routine inspection to discover that type of thing. You really do have to get up underneath the trailer to check out the frame.


          My husband is a mechanic, with his inspection license. In PA he is only required to check the lights, turn signals, and (maybe) the tires on a horse trailer. If you own a horse trailer, it is your responsibility to perform the necessary maintanence that they require to keep them in good condition. His biggest complaint with "horse people" is that they do not grease the hinges, sweep the floor, etc. Lucky for me, I have him to do all of that for me.


            Original Poster

            Originally posted by Mali View Post
            My husband is a mechanic, with his inspection license. In PA he is only required to check the lights, turn signals, and (maybe) the tires on a horse trailer. If you own a horse trailer, it is your responsibility to perform the necessary maintanence that they require to keep them in good condition. His biggest complaint with "horse people" is that they do not grease the hinges, sweep the floor, etc. Lucky for me, I have him to do all of that for me.
            We do all that and from what I understand, most of the other Sundowner trailer owners did as well; if the floors & supports rotted out from below, then that means that the undercoating failed. There is not a speck of damage anywhere inside my trailer on the floor or anywhere. Doesn't mean that the supports underneath aren't compromised...and, we park it on gravel, not grass, use it regularly, etc.

            My complaint is-why bother with an "inspection" by a qualified mechanic at all if the only thing the mechanic is checking are lights, turn signals and tires...all things the average person can see are working or not. When I have a professional look at something (ie. car, truck, trailer), I would hope that they would be looking for more technical, subtle things that aren't apparent to the average person who doesn't have their knowledge/experience.

            So, people could THINK they are doing all the maintenance and that having their annual inspection ensures that their trailer is fine-until a horse gets hurt

            Incidentally, we ended up taking to a gentleman who doesn't do inspections, meaning he doesn't issue inspection stickers (our trailer is registered in ME, so we really don't need one anyway). He actually does body work on vehicles and trailers. He was recommended by a friend who has had him do work on her 1995 Trail-et several times.
            JB-Infinity Farm


              Originally posted by spotmenow View Post

              So, people could THINK they are doing all the maintenance and that having their annual inspection ensures that their trailer is fine-until a horse gets hurt
              Even if your state does require a more extensive inspection - don't be surprised if it's not performed. Many a state inspector just checks lights (if at all) and slaps a sticker on. Until I found a reliable place I used to have to remind the inspector to check the emergency brake cable and test the battery. Yup - they didn't bother. The place I use now is deadly serious about trailer inspections and they are great to work with.

              It's imperative that we ALL learn how to inspect our trailers for signs of wear. How many of us have taken our trailer to an inspector, only to find that many years of problems went undetected until it was too late?

              I tell you what - it really pisses me off to no end.

              I've seen a trailer "passed" that had a hole in the floor covered with a thin piece of plywood. Big hole - plain as day. Even scarier is that the horse owner kept trailering his horse in that death trap.

              Even the best trailer requires much more maintenance than the average horse owner gives it. I don't know what the answer is - other than to learn to do it yourself if your state requires little to no inspection, or your inspectors are unreliable. Like farm implements - trailers require more attention paid to the structure rather than cosmetics. Scrape/sand, rust inhibiting primer - repaint. Check the bolts. Repack bearings. Check wiring. Check your hitch, breakaway cables, etc.
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


                Originally posted by Simbalism View Post
                One of the trailer dealers in my area has a workshop and also inspects trailers. I take it in once a year for a routine checkup which includes taking up all the mats and ispecting the floor and frame, brakes, and repacking the wheel bearings. The service is just under $200. The inspection is mostly to check lights and brakes, and they do a quick look under the trailer, check tires.
                Where is this place at? You live in SE VA don't you? I'd love to find someone close that can work on my trailer. The manufacturer is excellent but they are 3 hours away.


                  Original Poster

                  OMG - Sundowner, its a design flaw!!!

                  Just got my trailer back. The guy said that the undercoating on the bottom is flaking off like nobody's business and that the steel frame underneath is only 1/8" thick; he couldn't believe a company would manufacture a trailer that big (its a 3-horse) with such thin steel. He said that even if I have Sundowner sand blast and re-coat it (under warranty), it can only be done once since its such thin steel. After that-it will be useless.

                  His advice is to dump it now. And, it has NOTHING to do with maintenance...the actual (aluminum) floor is pristine. Too bad the frame holding it up is a piece of crap. Very disappointed-off to try and trade it in for something else.
                  JB-Infinity Farm


                    I'm not sure where you are in NY, but Congelosi Trailer Sales does true horse-people trailer inspections and have been great to deal with over the years.


                      These threads are all Sundowner related threads. Are there any other manufacturers who have the same problems? Myself, I take mine to a specialized trailer guy who used to make them, but now just keeps ours in good shape. It is surprizing how much can go wrong with a trailer in one year - I always have odd things needing to be fixed. But I do think I and my horses are travelling safe.
                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                        If I asked and found the vehicle inspections only cover the brakes, lights, I would take my trailer to a good welding shop. I would have them go over the metal underneath the walls and floor. Checking to make sure the frame beams and supports holding up the floor were still solid, bolts were not rusted thru. Moisture often comes up from the ground while trailer is parked on dirt. Creeps into the joints and metal of a trailer.

                        I have found the welders to be very good at spotting damage or spots that are starting to go bad. Metal is their specialty!

                        Some friends had extra supports put in to hold up the floor at the Shop suggestion. Crosspiece supports were over 3ft apart, they had LARGE horses, so more supports were a good idea for them. He replaced the rusty old supports as well. They found the cost to be reasonable, thought welding shop was helpful in inspecting the metal to prevent problems.

                        You still need to be checking wood floors, walls, which often hold moisture and make certain places, like corners, wall/floor areas, deteriorate faster. You take a screwdriver and hammer, take a couple whacks to put screwdriver into the wood floor. Rotten wood does give a really dead sound, screwdriver drives in easily. Compare by trying to drive in screwdriver on a sound piece of floor board. You can easily hear a difference in noise, to tell sound and rotten wood apart. Usually has metal going bad or rusted out, where wood is going bad too. Just a moisture collection point.

                        Try the good, local Welding shop for a metal inspection on your trailer, they are usually very helpful and knowledgable.