Car Trailer Buying Guide

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Car Trailer Buying Guide

One of the great ironies of car ownership is that occasionally, a car needs to be transported without being driven. This can be the case when a new car is taken to a buyer, or when someone moves between two distant locations and is not able to drive their own car. In such situations, a car is transported to a car trailer that is usually attached to a truck or other larger vehicle.

Car trailers come in many forms and varieties and are available for purchase either at special trailer dealerships, or online via eBay. When buying a car trailer, whether for personal or for business use, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make an informed purchase. These things include: trailer styles, trailer axles, and trailer brakes. Not only should doing so allow a buyer to know what they are getting into, it can help ensure that a trailer is safe and able to endure for many years to come.

Types of Trailers

For the most part, trailers fall into two separate camps: open and closed. Open trailers feature a simple design that basically consists of a platform on two wheels that supports a car. Closed trailers actually have a structure that can protect the car from the elements.

Open Trailers

Since most cars are frequently exposed to the open air, an open trailer is a common and popular option for transporting cars. Open trailers are extremely basic, being nothing more than a flat rectangle to which a car is attached using chains. Other open trailers offer guardrails and wheel indentations that help keep the car from moving, protecting both the car and others. It should be noted, however, that any car transported on any open trailer should be properly secured.

Benefits of Open Trailers

Open trailers are also useful in that they can be used to transport things other than cars, like furniture or a watercraft. The nature of an open trailer also allows for easy transport of unusually shaped cars, or cars accompanied by other possessions. One of the major benefits of an open trailer is that it does not weigh as much as an enclosed trailer, meaning that fuel costs are lower, and that smaller trucks can haul them. Open trailers also offer less wind resistance, which also saves fuel efficiency and allows for greater speeds.

Multiple Car Trailers

Multiple car trailers are technically open trailers since they do not have enclosures. Like smaller open trailers, multiple car trailers leave cars exposed to the elements and can be used to transport materials and vehicles other than cars as well. For the most part, multiple car trailers come with several platforms so that cars can be stacked on top of each other without making them too long. There are, however, long trailers for multiple cars, both with stacks and without stacks.

Enclosed Trailers

Enclosed trailers are used by those who want to protect the car that they are transporting. This means that they are frequently used by owners of race cars, vintage cars, and expensive luxury cars that are not used for everyday activities. Enclosed trailers are usually designed for one car, although there are options for multiple cars as well.

Benefits of Enclosed Trailers

Enclosed trailers offer many benefits over open trailers. The fact that they are sealed not only protects the car from the elements, but from potential theft as well. Not only that, but tools and other equipment used to service an expensive car can also be stored securely as well. While enclosed trailers are almost always more expensive than open trailers, there are some that are more expensive. These elaborate trailers may offer a lot of room in the interior, along with spaces for toolboxes, diagnostic equipment, and even television screens and refrigerators for those who work on the car.

Trailer Axles

Axles are an extremely important part of any trailer because they support all of the weight of both the trailer, and the car on top of it. For this reason, it is important to evaluate any potential trailer purchase in terms of how much weight it is likely to bear. Cars vary quite a bit in weight, and if one is planning to transport a small compact car, it would weigh far less than a classic 1950s Cadillac, or a large pickup truck.

Single Axle

For basic transporting purposes a single axle is all that is needed. A single axle can carry upwards of 1360 kilogrammes of weight, which should cover most small and medium cars. The only issue with single axles is that they usually do not come with brakes, meaning that they cannot be stopped independently. In other words, if one is heading down a steep incline, the towing vehicle's brakes are entirely responsible for slowing or stopping the combined weight of the towing vehicle, the trailer, and any car being carried on the trailer. Some single axle trailers do have brakes and are recommended for trailers carrying more than 1360 kilogrammes of weight.

Tandem Axle

Trailers with tandem axles usually have two axles that share the weight load. This makes it possible to carry much heavier cars and other objects. Trailers with tandem axles nearly always have brakes. While tandem axles are best used for carrying a lot of weight, they are also more reliable in terms of staying along a predetermined path on rough roads. In other words, they do not shift around when driven on an uneven surface, which makes them much safer.

Trailer Brakes

Brakes are an extremely important part of any car trailer, and are recommended to anyone who plans on transporting heavier cars. Trailers with brakes must be connected via wires to the towing vehicle in order to establish control over them and to connect brake lights with the towing vehicle's own braking system. In some cases, braking systems for large trailers come with a breakaway system. This means that should the trailer become loose from the towing vehicle, the brakes automatically engage, preventing a runaway trailer. There are two different kinds of trailer brakes available, each with different features.

Electric Brakes

Electric brakes require a controller to be installed in the towing vehicle that allows the trailer brakes to operate independently of the towing vehicle. This is an important feature because should the towing vehicle somehow find itself without working brakes, the trailer brakes can still be engaged. For this reason, electric brakes are the most popular and commonplace trailer brakes.

Hydraulic Surge Brakes

Hydraulic surge brakes make use of a device that is installed into the trailer, rather than into the towing vehicle. These brakes are most expensive and less popular than electric brakes. This is because surge brakes are tied into the braking system of the towing vehicle, so when those brakes are applied, they force the trailer to stop as well.

Buying a Car Trailer on eBay

Car trailers are commonly found on eBay, in a number of different sizes and styles. These trailers are sold by individuals from many locations, and both new and used ones can be purchased. Once a you have a good understanding of what kind of trailer you want, the next step is to use the search bar on any eBay page.

Searching for a Car Trailer on eBay

A simple search, like 'car trailer' entered into this search bar should provide you with a number of different items all fitting that basic description. Of course, the search term can be modified to include details about type, size, axles, and brakes for making custom searched. When buying a car trailer or any other item on eBay, it is important to read product descriptions. This can be particularly helpful when buying a used trailer as the product description often contains item history and details about any damage or other issues. It is similarly important to read seller feedback and history as well in order to make a safe, informed purchase.


A car trailer can be a useful tool, and not only for those who transport their race cars and expensive Ferraris from place to place. Car trailers are quite helpful for those who are moving to a new home in a faraway place, or for car dealers to transport vehicles to and from their place of business. When buying a car trailer, it is important to look at what kind of trailers are available. Different kinds of trailers offer different amounts of protection for a car, along with varying weights and wind resistance.

After selecting the most favourable kind of trailer possible, it is then important to understand what kinds of axles are available. Since axles carry all of the weight, this is a big decision. Finally, it is important to decide if a trailer should have brakes, and if so, what kind. There are two main types of brakes, but one kind, electric brakes, is considered more reliable and popular. Keeping all of these things in mind makes it possible for anyone to make a wise choice when choosing a car trailer.

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