The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Trailers on eBay

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Trailers on eBay

Before the explosion of the Internet and the advent of ecommerce sites, used trailer buyers typically responded to classified advertisements for finding the used trailer that matched their purchasing criteria. The buyers went over to the seller's home and ran through a list of things to check, such as tyre quality and the integrity of the trailer ramp. Smart buyers attached the used trailer to a hitch and took the trailer for a spin or two around the block to get a feel for the trailer's performance. Automobile and truck dealers stocked a limited number of trailers, certainly not enough to provide the variety required to attract buyers.

Ecommerce changed many consumer behaviours, but maybe no behaviour has changed more than the way buyers shop for used trailers online at the leading auction website, eBay. Instead of pursuing leads via classified advertisements, used trailer buyers can hop online and peruse the myriad used trailer sellers listed after the buyers utilise eBay's powerful search engine. First, used trailer buyers should learn about the types of trailers, as well as some do and don't tips that can make the difference between buying a high-quality used trailer or a lemon that breaks down on the way up the first steep incline.

The First Step for Buying Used Trailers on eBay

Every buying process has a point to begin the search. For buying a used trailer, consumers should first understand the different types of used trailers before they learn about the do's and don'ts of buying used trailers on eBay. The following chart lists the most popular type of used trailers found on eBay, along with a brief description of each trailer type.

Trailer Type



Small trailers that attach to cars

Transports personal possessions

Mount must be rugged enough to withstand bumpy roads

Semi trailer

Used for commercial purposes

Large storage capacity

Typically requires a truck for towing


Hauls farm equipment and some vehicles

Should not be used for items that can easily break

Requires conservative driving to protect contents


Widely considered the best hauling trailers

Provides the most merchandise protection

Goods not exposed to weather elements

Difficult for thieves to access


Transports highly flammable liquids

Must meet government-issued standards

Requires thorough cleaning after every trip

A crane loads the cargo inside of the trailer


Transports livestock and horses

Must have ample ventilation for the animals

Cushioned sides to prevent animals from suffering injuries

Every major type of trailer comes in varied shapes and sizes. The classification of trailers involves determining the type of work performed. While trailers may be used for personal reasons, the vast majority of trailer owners utilise trailers in the operation of their businesses.

Once the type of trailer is decided upon, follow the do's and don'ts of buying used trailers on eBay.

Do Consider Aluminium

Depending on age, used trailers sold on eBay can degrade enough to rust or incur cracks in the materials used to construct the trailers. Anodised aluminium catering trailers have surged in popularity because more consumers understand that the metal does not rust. Unlike steel, aluminium can withstand constant exposure to high humidity and precipitation. Anodised aluminium also tends to be more pliant than steel, which means trailers constructed with anodised aluminium do a better job of absorbing high impacts from rocks and branches.

Don't Forget to Validate Price

As automobile shoppers have garnered resources to research pricing, trailer shoppers now have numerous ways to validate seller prices. In addition, depreciation charts provide buyers with accurate data for pricing used trailers. Compare the prices of used trailers offered by dealers and sold online, especially on eBay. If there is varied pricing, go with the average price in your geographic area.

Do Make a Checklist Before Contacting an eBay Seller

eBay used trailer buyers do not have the opportunity to "kick the tyres" on a prospective used trailer. Instead, they must discern trailer quality by reviewing a list of important components. The question is: which components matter the most? The following chart lists the components and what to look for in an eBay seller's used trailer photograph. The brakes are the only internal component that require a photograph.

Trailer Component

What to Look For


Brakes must be on every axle

The brakes appear solid and in good condition


Any areas of rot


Look for early stages of rust that is easy to conceal


No dents or scratches


Every door must have a latch


No breaks or cracks


Free of rust


Good tread and no rot


No holes

Dent and scratch-free

The eBay seller should also list the important components that you cannot see by examining the product photograph. Do not hesitate to ask about the twin axles, electrical system, lights, switches, batteries, and control dials. Used trailer electrical and mechanical repairs cost more than replacing parts on newer trailer models.

Do Ask About Inspection

Even the most experienced trailer owner who possesses a critical eye towards finding used trailer flaws should ask the eBay seller to show a valid inspection. The inspection should be no older than six months and if it is, kindly ask the eBay seller to re-inspect the used trailer. An inspected trailer does not fully ensure a high-quality used trailer, but it is the best way to protect buyer financial interests. Offer to fund the inspection, which typically does not cost much.

Don't Ignore the Importance of a Test Drive

Buying a used trailer requires the same scrutiny as buying a used car, and the best way to scrutinise a used trailer is to ask the eBay seller for a grace period to test drive the trailer. Hook the used trailer to the pulling vehicle, and then ensure the trailer correctly hooks to the vehicle's hitch. Next, test drive the trailer over different terrain, such as on winding roads and rocky, steep inclines. The grace period also allows buyers to determine if they own the right type of vehicle to pull the used trailer. Disregard any eBay seller who does not allow for a grace period.

Do Make a Counter-Offer

A common mistake made by many eBay buyers is accepting the first price offered by eBay sellers. The price listed for an eBay seller's used trailer is not the final word. Make a reasonable counter-offer, one that allows you to find the middle price ground. After making the counter-offer, explain the reasons for your revised bid. The counter-offer must be based on proven research and any physical evidence the buyer feels contributes to further trailer depreciation. Both the seller and buyer have the common goal of consummating a deal.

Don't Buy on Impulse

Buying a used trailer, even one bought on the cheap, is a substantial financial investment. Therefore, avoid making impulsive buying decisions.The most generous used trailer offer found on eBay requires buyers to at least put a lid on the excitement for 24 hours. There are plenty of used trailer sellers on eBay and it takes time to find the right one. Thoroughly research the used trailer model online on message boards and product reviews. Look for similar advertisements in print periodicals to verify features and pricing. Create a budget that breaks down the cost of additional components and accessories. Finally, rank the factors that matter most when shopping for a used trailer. eBay buyers who follow a regimented shopping pattern can avoid impulsive buying decisions.

How to Buy a Used Trailer on eBay

You have two ways to judge an eBay used trailer seller. The first way involves eliminating all sellers except those who have earned the eBay designation of being top-rated sellers. eBay rewards the best sellers by placing an electronic ribbon icon next to seller product photographs. The top-rated sellers have demonstrated exemplary sales ethics and they also offer high-quality products. Once you obtain the list of the best eBay used trailer sellers, narrow the results even further by specifying keywords in the search engine, such as "top-rated flatbed sellers".

The second way to find eBay's best used trailer sellers is to visit every seller's product page and review customer feedback. eBay compiles customer feedback to provide buyers with another perspective. You want to consider used trailer sellers who have garnered high praise over the past year for selling some type of agricultural or farming equipment. Once you find an eBay used trailer seller who meets all of your buying criteria, check with the seller to see if he or she runs an eBay Store where you can directly buy products.


Corporate downsizing has led to a boom in self-employment. Landscapers who once worked for large firms toil under the blazing sun by themselves. Construction workers who were part of huge project teams subcontract their services. The boom in self-employment, especially for trade professionals, has created increased demand for trailers. Self-employed landscapers require trailers to haul around their lawnmowers. Construction workers hitch trailers to their trucks to move supplies from one job to the next. Buying a new trailer may be cost prohibitive for self-employed trade professionals, which is why the booming trailer market mostly comprises the sale of used trailers.

Regardless if a trailer is used for personal or professional work, buyers have to decide on the type of trailer that best serves their needs. Travel trailers typically are used for personal reasons, such as bringing along gear on a family camping trip. Trade professionals have many more trailer choices, such as livestock, enclosed, and semi-trailers. Once the type of trailer is chosen, buyers then need to devise a buying criteria checklist and rank each factor in terms of importance. They should also ask the seller for proof of inspection and make counter-offers to original price quotes. Above all, used trailer buyers must remain patient, especially when searching for quality used trailers on eBay.

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