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5 Tell-Tale Signs It's Time To Replace Your Trailer's Leaf Springs
5 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Trailer’s Leaf Springs (And What Healthy Leaf Springs Should Look Like)
Trailer leaf springs are components of our trailers we tend not to think about until they’re somehow brought to our attention–usually for maintenance purposes. Before you find yourself eye-to-eye with your own leaf springs it’s likely you’ll have no idea what kind of condition they’re supposed to be in. After years of traveling, how can a healthy leaf spring be distinguished from a worn one? How flat can the arches be? How rusty is too rusty?Never again will you have to live in fear of your own (potentially) faulty trailer suspension. Soon you’ll know exactly what your leaf springs are supposed to look like, when to question their stability (or lack thereof), and when it’s time to surrender your springs to the RV-part afterlife. Below, we’ll get into the details of what leaf springs of good quality look like and provide you with a list of five tell-tale signs that your trailer leaf springs might be kicking the bucket. If you're more of a visual learner then check out our video about how your leaf springs should look.
What Makes Healthy Leaf Springs "Healthy"?Although it might surprise you, the answer is not a balanced diet and plenty of exercise. A healthy leaf spring will still be curved when you load it up, and even with a load it should only flatten out a little bit (you should only lose 1.5” of the arch maximum). All the leaves should be firmly compressed together, and the spring itself should be curved and smooth. Typically, it’s easier to spot a faulty leaf spring than it is to parse out a good one.
Healthy Leaf Spring Attached to Trailer
Here's an example of a happy, healthy leaf spring attached to a trailer.
5 Signs of Bad Leaf Springs There are a few key signs to beware of when it comes to defective leaf springs. Keep in mind that while just one of the issues listed below can warrant a change of leaf springs, any combination of these traits is a sure-fire indication that your springs are past their expiration date.

Cracking Leaves

A single crack is all it takes to let you know the time has come for new leaf springs. Cracking is most likely to take place in and around the grooves where the leaves connect together. Naturally, cracking can lead to further damage to your leaf springs down the line, so it’s best to replace them before they break completely. Don’t wait until your springs snap to acknowledge the damage.
Pro Tip: Always replace your leaf springs in pairs so they wear evenly.
Snapped Leaf Spring
If you don't catch the cracking early on, your leaf springs could snap off completely; it's best not to wait until you're driving own the road for this to happen.
SaggingIf you’ve noticed that your trailer sags when it’s loaded, you might have leaf springs that are worn beyond repair. This problem is relatively easy to notice; if you see your trailer leaning at the front or back, it may be time to get new springs.
Sagging Trailer
Typically, sagging is easy to spot: even without the bright yellow bar to point it out for you.

Flattened Arches

While the previous issues will present less ambiguously, a certain amount of flattening is normal with a loaded trailer; however, your springs should never lose their arches completely. If you notice your leaf springs have flattened, it’s either because they need to be replaced, or because your trailer is overloaded.
Flat Leaf Springs
Here we see a healthy leaf spring next to its sadder, flatter sibling.
SwayingYour leaf springs are designed to prevent your trailer from swaying, so if you notice that it’s doing so when you drive, it can be a signal that your suspension is wearing out. Swaying is especially concerning if your trailer has never swayed before and you haven’t changed anything with the load. If you’ve always experienced sway, however, you can try checking the tongue weight and weight distribution first. Whatever the cause, your trailer shouldn’t be rocking when you’re on the road.
Truck Towing Trailer
Don't wait for the sway to come your way!

Excessive Rusting

It can be difficult to identify how much rust is cause for concern when it comes to leaf springs, as they are prone to corrode over time. When it comes to rust, consider it an issue if it’s paired with the problems listed above, if the leaf spring is actually flaking away due to rust, or if it's excessive enough to get in the way of maintenance.
Rusty Leaf Springs
A little corrosion on leaf springs is normal; just don't let them flake away on you.
Now What?Now that you know what to look for in a leaf spring, you’re on your way to obtaining new ones if needed. Your best bet when replacing your leaf springs is to stick with the same size and style that came installed on your trailer. If you’re unsure of how to measure your springs for replacement, check out our article, How to Accurately Measure Trailer Leaf Springs for detailed instructions. Then, when you’re ready, you can obtain your new springs here. When you are ready to make the replacement, check out our guide on How to Replace a Leaf Spring here!However, if it turns out your trailer’s leaf springs are still in good shape, congratulations! You get to skip out on the extra maintenance and continue to enjoy your suspension. Whatever your case may be, stay safe and enjoy the open road!
Beth Binkley
About Beth B. When I explain my position at etrailer to the folks back at home, I usually preface with, “Writing is about 15% of my job. The other 85% is research, hands-on product testing, and putting myself in the shoes of our customers (whom we call neighbors).” At etrailer, I have the opportunity to explore the products I write about in person every day, a privilege many writers don’t have. On a Tuesday morning, for instance, you may find me outside of a 5th wheel collecting pictures of its scissor jacks for an article. On Wednesday, I might switch gears to measure leaf springs in our warehouse, while Thursday is when I’ll finally get behind the keyboard (that is, in between driving off-site to film how-to videos with the team). If you have a question, it’s my mission to not only provide you with an answer, but to equip you with the knowledge and resources you need to face real-world challenges like a pro.
Related Content Related Products Written by: Beth B. Updated: 8/15/2022

Gard M.

2/8/2023

Yes my rebound clip moves a lot. How do you tighten these clips.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.

2/8/2023

I'd find a large C-clamp and a length of pipe to provide more torque so you can tighten the clip down. Give it a good pull from the sides, then top to bottom. You want it tight enough so it doesn't move around much, but not so tight that the leaves can't slide as needed. Hope that helps!

Robert B.

2/5/2023

Having just purchased our first trailer and only a couple of close to home outings I have found etrailers articles helpful abd enlightening. Keep up the good work and thanks.

Gard M.

2/3/2023

Curious what the purpose of the small metal strap clamp on the leaf springs. Are they holding the group of springs together. I noticed mine are loose and slide around

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.

2/8/2023

The band you described is called a rebound clip. Its purpose is to prevent the main leaf from breaking when the suspension rebounds. If they move a little bit, it's not a huge deal. If they can be slid several inches fore or aft of center, you'll want to tighten those up so they stay close to the center.


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