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Buying a Used Trailer? Things to Consider.

April 1, 2019

Sometimes you can save a lot of money by buying a used trailer. However, buying a used trailer comes with its risks. Below are some things to consider when browsing the used trailer market.

Trailer History and Service Intervals

When looking at a used trailer, you don’t know the exact history or service intervals the trailer has had. The first thing to do is make sure the trailer isn’t stolen. Ask for valid registration and verify the seller is the current owner. After checking that the trailer is not stolen, the best way to understand a trailer’s history is to ask for service interval paperwork to verify, for example, that wheel bearings and brakes have been serviced regularly. Ask the owner about their own service, such as greasing zerks, maintaining appropriate lug nut torque, ensuring the tires are always aired up to specification, and more.

Trailer Modifications and Inspection

Used trailers may have zero, few, or extensive modifications from the previous owner. These can include: extra tie downs, shelving, racks, interior lighting, fans, vents, and more. Though many of these modifications may be beneficial to you, inspect the installation of these items to verify that the structural integrity of the trailer was not compromised. Examples include: drilling into the frame, bolting to the frame, poor welding, faulty wiring, leaky vents, etc. The best way to check that the trailer you are looking at is safe to drive with is to take it in for an inspection.

From our 20+ years of trailer building and inspecting experience, the main source of trailer damage is overloading. You can check for signs of trailer overloading yourself! First, if the trailer has a spring axle, check for bump marks on the axle beam where the frame is. If properly loaded, the trailer should never have these. If you see bump marks, you know the trailer has been previously overloaded. Second, check for stress fractures in the frame and tongue attachment points. If there are any, you know the trailer has been previously overloaded and is not safe to drive with.


Other things to consider and check when purchasing a used trailer are:

  • Tires: Is there dry rot? Is there enough tread? Does the trailer come with a spare?
  • Keys: Does the trailer come with a spare set of keys? Do all of the locks function properly?
  • Lighting / Wiring: Do all of the lights work? Check your running lights, brake lights, left and right blinkers, and any interior lights.

All of the above items are key things you need to keep in mind when looking for a used trailer.

Or, you could browse for a new trailer at one of our TrailersPlus stores with nationwide coverage. But, if you find a used trailer you like, we will perform a free Certified Trailer Inspection for you. As the industry leader, we want everyone to have a great towing experience.

Learn more about trailer financing!

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