9 Things to Look for in a New Trailer
When you’re looking to buy a new trailer, you want to make sure it’s a good investment for years to come. But how do you know if a trailer you’re considering is rock-solid or total junk? Well, when it comes to trailers, judging a book by its cover only gets you so far. We’ve put together a 9-point guide to inspect your potential new trailer.
At TP Trailers, we sell and service HUNDREDS of trailers every year, so it’s safe to say we know what makes for a good one.
The most common things we see our trailers being used for are: landscaping, motorcycles, ATVs, furniture, antiques, and classic cars, rolling showrooms, etc. No matter who you are and what you’re hauling, you want the same things from your trailer: quality and durability.
Buying a trailer isn’t inexpensive — that’s because it does an important job. Chances are, if you’re hauling it in a trailer, it’s valuable. You want to guarantee that your trailer keeps your cargo safe — rather than endangering it.
Let’s break it down.
The 9 Ways to Evaluate a New Trailer
1. Thickness of Aluminum Skin
The thicker the aluminum skin, the more durable the trailer will be now and in the future. Some trailers are built with .024 aluminum skin. However, a trailer with .030 Aluminum Skin (more rigid, thicker) will hold up better.
You won’t be able to see this difference with the naked eye. Ask your trailer dealer — they should know the specs for each trailer they are selling.
This is one of the most important things to look for in a new trailer. You want your new investment to last a long time and be able to survive the elements. All of that begins with a robust outer layer.
Think about it like this, the aluminum skin of your trailer should be like battle armor, not aluminum foil.
2. Wall Stud Spacing
A strong structure is a sign of a well-built trailer. The spacing of the wall studs in a trailer is indicative of sturdiness. Studs that are 16 inches apart (16” on center) and studs that are 24 inches apart (24” on center) are most common. Trailers with wall studs that are 16” on center will be stronger than trailers with wall studs that are 24” on center.
When you’re inspecting a potential trailer, ask your salesman “What’s the spacing of the wall studs?” The more studs, the stronger your trailer. Consequently, the further apart the walls studs are the weaker the sidewalls of the trailer are. Trailers with weak side wall structure can actually “flex” in and out when you are pulling it down the road.
3. Roof Material
Water leakage is one of the biggest factors that can sabotage your trailer and the precious cargo inside. In fact, we’ve seen relatively-new trailers that were so poorly constructed that mold grew all over the inside of the trailer because it leaked so badly.
Not only is a leaky roof a failure because it ruins the trailer itself, but because water damage can ruin whatever precious cargo the trailer was carrying. Imagine you bought a trailer to transport your ’57 Chevy convertible only to discover the trailer leaked and the leather interior paid the price.
A well-constructed roof made of quality material is the most important factor towards keeping your trailer watertight.
Look for a roof that has a one piece aluminum roof. If the trailer roof wraps down around the sidewalls of the trailer, instead of being sealed on all 4 sides, that is even better. Simply put, this is one of the most important things you can look for in a new trailer.
4. Header Caps Made of Fiberglass
Most header caps on trailers are either made of plastic or fiberglass. The budget option, plastic header caps, are far less durable than their fiberglass counterparts and tend to not hold up very well.
You’ll physically be able to feel — and see — the difference between the two materials when you check out your potential new trailer.
5. Plywood Interiors and Floors
The most reliable trailers are built well, inside and out. One of the biggest overall clues to a trailer’s quality is the interior. Examine the inside of the trailer for a real plywood interior — for both the walls and the floor.
Plywood is far sturdier than cheaper material like particle board. Less reputable manufacturers choose to cut corners on the interior, outfitting their trailers with particle board. However, particle board can break, crack, and get damaged in a variety of ways throughout the grind of hauling and storing material.
Furthermore, if the manufacturer is willing to skimp on the interior quality, you have to wonder where else they cut corners as well. Walls that are lined with 3/8” plywood and floors that are 3/4” plywood are optimal. Once again, ask your trailer salesman to give you the facts on wall thickness.
Looking for a trailer that goes above and beyond? Car Mate, for example, even goes a step further and paints and seals their trailers floors.
6. Quality Durable Axle
The axle or axles on your trailer do some of the hardest work of your entire trailer. Furthermore, if your axle breaks, it can lead to a variety of other breakdowns on your trailer, including tire blowouts, overheating bearings, or even losing a wheel.
Look for a trailer with a top-rated axle, such as a Dexter brand. Not only is a premium axle less likely to break, but replacement parts will be more readily available. Furthermore, the Dexter Torflex Torsion axle boasts a 10 year warranty!
7. Spring Assist Rear Ramp Doors — For Your Safety
Spring assist is the mechanism that makes opening and closing the ramp door of your trailer easier and safer. Essentially, a spring assist is a set of springs attached to the door, designed to do the heavy lifting for you.
Without a spring assist mechanism, you’re going to struggle to open or close the trailer door — unless you actively compete in world’s strongest man competitions. Beyond just being a labor saving device, spring assist is a safety feature. Trailer doors can be very heavy and could possibly fall on you when you open them if they aren’t equipped with spring assist.
Bottom Line: Spring Assist isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity! Make absolutely sure your next trailer has a spring assist, or chances are better than not, that you’ll be looking into the return policy before too long.
8. Look at the Warranty
One other way to tell if you’re about to buy a quality trailer is to see if the manufacturer stands by it with a solid warranty. Look for a warranty that is short and written in plain English — and isn’t packed with a ton of exemptions to void the warranty. If a company builds a quality trailer, they should be willing to stand behind it with an iron-clad workmanship warranty.
In addition, since the axle is one of the hardest working trailer components, ensure that the axle is covered under the warranty as well.
9. The Trailer is Painted and Sealed to Resist the Elements
In order to ensure your potential investment is a good buy, you need to know it can stand up to the elements. The last way we evaluate a trailer is to “judge a book by its cover” so to speak. The paint on the outside has a much more important job than just looking pretty.
As we mentioned in tip #3, water can destroy trailers and can destroy the cargo inside. The paint and primer that’s used can actually serve to protect the trailer from the elements
While a wrap-around aluminum roof is your best protection, the right paint and primer can also repel water. Combine them into a single piece of equipment for real peace-of-mind. After all, you need to be able to use your trailer in all weather, even a torrential downpour without concern.
Ask your trailer dealer about the water and corrosion resistance of the trailer you’re considering.
Car Mate Trailers
Looking for a trailer that meets ALL 9 criteria? You want a Car Mate Trailer.
These premium trailers meet every single one of our qualifications for a quality trailer.
TP Trailers is proud to sell Car Mate Trailers because we know they will deliver for our customers year after year.
What to Look for in a Trailer Dealer
Almost as important as what you buy is where you buy it. You want to start a relationship with a local trailer dealer. With decades of experience, your trailer dealer can help you find the right trailer for your specific needs. Plus, your trailer is an investment — a dealer can help you maximize that investment.
Why make TP Trailers your go-to trailer dealer?
• We offer the premium brands you want, like Car Mate.
• We are a top 5 dealer for many of the nation’s biggest trailer brands.
• We have hundreds of trailers in stock and we also custom order trailers perfectly suited to your needs.
• We have a full-service repair shop & we are a PA Licensed Inspection Station.
• We have decades of experience to help you get the most out of your trailer.
• We have several full-time notaries that do your tag work onsite.
• Our relationship does not end when you drive out of the driveway!