April 17th 2024
What to Look for When Buying a Used Trailer: A Comprehensive Guide

When considering the purchase of a used trailer, whether for hauling goods for your business or for personal use like weekend adventures, it’s essential to approach the buying process with a well-informed mindset. Understanding the critical factors to examine and the potential pitfalls to avoid can save you from future headaches and unexpected expenses. This comprehensive guide delves deep into the various aspects of trailers—from types and uses to inspection tips—that will help you navigate the complexities of the used trailer market. With practical advice and expert insights, this guide aims to arm you with the knowledge needed to make a smart, confident decision.

Understanding Different Types of Trailers

When venturing into the used trailer market, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the different types of trailers available, as each is designed for specific tasks and payloads. This knowledge will help you choose the best type for your needs, ensuring that the trailer functions effectively for its intended purpose.

Flat Deck Trailers: Versatility for Wide-Ranging Applications

Flat deck trailers are invaluable in industries where large, bulky, or irregular-shaped items need transportation. They are especially favoured in construction for carrying machinery like forklifts and excavators, as well as in agriculture for moving large farming equipment. These trailers provide a robust, flat surface that can handle substantial weights and sizes, accommodating items that are not suited for enclosed or more compartmentalized spaces.

A significant feature of flat deck trailers is their adaptability. With no sides or roof, loading and unloading large objects is straightforward, using cranes or forklifts from any angle, which drastically reduces loading times and increases efficiency. This open design also includes multiple tie-down points to secure the cargo in various configurations, which is critical for safe transportation.

Moreover, flat deck trailers often come in several lengths and can be customized with additional features like removable sides or tailgates, making them even more versatile. Whether you’re transporting construction materials across town, delivering large industrial components, or carrying vehicles, a flat deck trailer is designed to meet a broad range of hauling needs with reliability and ease. Their robust construction not only ensures durability under tough conditions but also enhances safety by stabilizing loads during transit, making them an essential asset in heavy-duty transportation.

Dump Trailers: Essential for Heavy-Duty Hauling

Dump trailers are specifically engineered to handle the demanding requirements of heavy-duty transportation in sectors such as construction, landscaping, and agriculture. These robust trailers are equipped with hydraulic lifts, which play a crucial role in simplifying the unloading process. By allowing the trailer bed to tilt and discharge the load efficiently, they minimize manual labour and significantly cut down on unloading time.

The construction of dump trailers focuses on durability and the ability to withstand the continuous loading and unloading of heavy materials like gravel, sand, soil, and agricultural produce. Features typically include reinforced walls and flooring to prevent damage during transport. Moreover, these trailers often come with varying gate options for the rear, such as spreader gates and barn-door style gates, which provide versatility depending on the dumping style needed.

Proper maintenance of hydraulic systems and regular inspections of the trailer’s structural integrity are essential to maximize the lifespan and effectiveness of dump trailers. Investing in a high-quality dump trailer ensures reliability in the toughest tasks, proving to be a valuable asset for businesses requiring frequent transport of bulky, heavy materials.

Enclosed Trailers: Ideal for Valuable and Sensitive Cargo

Enclosed trailers are the go-to choice for transporting valuable or sensitive materials that require protection from external elements. Unlike open utility trailers, enclosed trailers provide a secure, locked environment that shields contents from weather conditions such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, ensuring that items remain clean, dry, and intact throughout transit.

These trailers are particularly beneficial for transporting electronics, furniture, artwork, and other items that could be damaged by exposure to the elements or from road debris. The enclosed space also offers added security against theft, making it an excellent option for hauling goods that might be at risk if left unprotected.

Enclosed trailers come in various sizes and configurations, including single and tandem axle setups, which allow for customization based on the weight and volume of the cargo. Features like interior lighting, built-in shelves, and tie-down hooks can also be found, enhancing the functionality and ease of organizing and securing the load.

For businesses and individuals who frequently transport delicate or high-value items, investing in an enclosed trailer can be a cost-effective way to ensure the safety and security of their goods. The peace of mind that comes with having a secure, enclosed space for transportation is invaluable, particularly for those in industries like antiques, audiovisual production, or market vendors.

Specialty Trailers: Tailored for Specific Needs

Specialty trailers are designed for very specific functions and are crucial for tasks that require specialized setups. Car haulers, for instance, are built to transport vehicles safely, often featuring ramps for easy loading and tie-downs to secure the vehicle during transit. Dump trailers are ideal for construction and landscaping jobs, equipped with hydraulic lifts to facilitate the dumping of heavy materials like sand, gravel, or demolition waste.

Livestock trailers are another type of specialty trailer, designed to transport animals in a safe and stress-free environment. These trailers are typically ventilated and made from materials that can withstand the rigors of animal transport. They also often include features like dividers and rubberized floors to ensure animal comfort and safety.

Choosing the right specialty trailer requires understanding the specific demands of your task or industry. This ensures the trailer not only meets your functional requirements but also adheres to any regulatory standards related to your cargo or activity. With the correct specialty trailer, transporting specialized loads becomes more efficient, secure, and compliant with industry standards.

Essential Features to Check in a Used Trailer

When assessing a used trailer, it’s important to perform a thorough inspection to ensure you’re investing in a quality, functional vehicle. Here are the details on what to look for:

Structural Integrity

When inspecting the structural integrity of a used trailer, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough examination to ensure its durability and safety. Start by examining the trailer frame, which should be free of any significant rust, cracks, or bends. This includes checking all welded joints for signs of fatigue or failure. The axles should also be inspected for signs of misalignment or damage, as they bear much of the load and are critical for safe operation.

Look over the entire body of the trailer for dents or deformities that may affect its functionality or indicate past heavy use or accidents. Pay special attention to any patches or repair work that may have been done. These can sometimes hide underlying problems or may not have been performed to a professional standard.

It’s also wise to inspect any attachments or modifications to the trailer. Ensure that these additions are securely attached and do not compromise the trailer’s structure. A comprehensive check will help you assess whether the trailer is capable of safely handling your transportation needs without unexpected breakdowns or repairs.

Tires and Wheels

When examining the tires and wheels of a used trailer, it’s essential to conduct a thorough inspection as these are critical for safety and the overall functioning of the trailer. Here’s a detailed guide on what to check:

Tire Condition

    • Tread Depth: The tread on the tires should be checked for sufficient depth, ensuring safe traction and handling. Use a tread gauge to measure; most jurisdictions require a minimum of 2/32 inches.

    • Surface Examination: Look for any signs of uneven wear patterns, which can indicate issues with alignment or suspension. Also, check for any punctures or embedded objects that could lead to leaks.

    • Age and Dry Rot: Tires have a lifespan, even if they aren’t used frequently. Check the DOT code on the sidewall of the tire to determine its age. Tires older than six years might need replacement due to potential dry rot, which can cause the rubber to become brittle and crack.

Wheel Assessment

    • Wheel Integrity: Ensure that the wheels are true (not bent) and check for any signs of damage such as cracks or significant rust, especially around the lug area.

    • Rust Inspection: While some surface rust might be typical depending on the trailer’s age and usage, excessive rust can weaken the structural integrity of the wheels.

    • Lug Nuts and Bolts: Check that all lug nuts and bolts are present, correctly torqued, and not corroded. Loose or damaged lug nuts can lead to a wheel coming off during transport.

By taking the time to carefully inspect the tires and wheels of a used trailer, you can prevent future accidents and avoid additional costs. Ensuring these components are in good condition is crucial for safe and reliable trailer operation.

Suspension System

A well-functioning suspension system is critical for ensuring that a used trailer can handle loads efficiently and deliver a smooth ride, which is crucial for both safety and comfort during transit. When inspecting the suspension, look closely for any signs of wear or damage to components such as springs, axles, and shock absorbers. Check for rust, especially on metal parts, and ensure there’s no excessive sagging or unevenness when the trailer is loaded. It’s also wise to examine the mounting points where the suspension attaches to the frame to ensure they are secure and intact. Damaged suspension components can significantly impact the trailer’s handling and longevity, so consider replacements or repairs if you notice any deficiencies. This thorough inspection can prevent future costly repairs and ensure the trailer remains reliable and functional.

Electrical System and Lighting

The electrical system and lighting are crucial for the safety and legality of any trailer. Properly functioning lights are vital for visibility, especially during night-time travel or in poor weather conditions. When inspecting a used trailer, ensure all lights, including tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals, are operational and free from damage. Additionally, inspect the wiring closely. Look for any signs of wear, fraying, or corrosion, which could indicate potential electrical failures. Exposed or damaged wires can lead to shorts, posing safety risks and potential legal issues on the road. It’s also advisable to check that the electrical connections fit securely and are compatible with your vehicle to ensure a reliable connection that doesn’t come loose during transport.

Floor Condition

The floor of a trailer plays a pivotal role in its overall functionality and durability, particularly in utility trailers where the floor bears the brunt of the load. When buying a used trailer, assessing the floor’s condition should be a top priority. Here’s a detailed look at what to examine, depending on the material of the floor.

Wooden Floors

Wooden floors are common in many utility trailers. They need to be sturdy and free from rot or decay. When inspecting, look for:

    • Soft Spots: Press on the wood to ensure it doesn’t feel spongy, which can indicate rot.

    • Discoloration: Dark stains can be a sign of prolonged exposure to moisture which may weaken the wood.

    • Integrity: Check for cracks or breaks. These can compromise the structural integrity when the trailer is loaded.

Metal Floors

Metal floors offer durability and ease of maintenance but can suffer from rust and corrosion. When examining metal floors, consider:

    • Rust Areas: Look for any rust spots or holes in the metal. Rust can quickly spread and weaken the metal, especially if the trailer is exposed to the elements.

    • Welds: Ensure the welds where the metal sheets are joined are intact without cracks.

    • General Condition: Check for any dents or warping that may affect the flatness of the floor.

Ensuring the floor is in good condition is crucial as it directly affects the trailer’s ability to carry loads safely and efficiently. A well-maintained floor not only supports the load but also contributes to the longevity and resale value of the trailer. Always take the time to do a thorough check or consider hiring a professional to assess the condition if you are unsure.

Where to Purchase and What to Avoid

When purchasing a used trailer, choosing the right seller is as crucial as inspecting the trailer itself. It’s advisable to buy from reputable dealers or trusted private sellers who provide comprehensive vehicle histories and allow full inspections.

Benefits of Buying from Reputable Dealers

Reputable dealers, like Mountain View Trailer Rentals, typically offer a range of used trailers that have been thoroughly inspected and maintained. Purchasing from a dealer can also come with additional benefits such as warranties, return policies, and sometimes financing options, which are not usually available through private sales.

Red Flags in Private Sales

Be wary of private sellers who do not provide detailed information about the trailer’s history or seem hesitant to allow thorough inspections. Lack of transparency can indicate potential hidden problems with the trailer that could be costly to repair.

MVTR’s Commitment to Quality

At Mountain View Trailer Rentals, not only do we offer a variety of rental options, but we also sell high-quality used trailers. Each trailer is rigorously inspected by our team of experts to ensure it meets our high standards of quality and reliability. If you’re considering buying a used trailer, check out our sales page to see our current offerings.

By purchasing from a trusted source like MVTR, you ensure that your used trailer is a worthwhile investment, ready to serve your needs without the headache of unforeseen issues.

Final Thoughts

Buying a used trailer involves careful consideration of the type, condition, and seller. By being well-informed and choosing a reputable seller like Mountain View Trailer Rentals, you can find a used trailer that meets your needs without compromising on quality. For more information on our used trailers and to view our inventory, visit our sales page.
Explore further insights in our next blog and discover how trailer rentals can make your moving process easier compared to hiring professional movers.

Related Posts

Upgrading Your Business: How Investing in a New Trailer Can Pay Off
Transport Your Toys: The Best Trailers for Hauling ATVs and Motorcycles
In this guide, we’ll explore the best trailers specifically tailored for hauling ATVs and motorcycles, highlighting their features and benefits to help you make an informed decision.
Hubba Hubba: How to Replace Trailer Hubs Like a Pro
Learn the essential steps to replace trailer hubs like a pro and keep your travels smooth and worry-free.