The Dos and Donts of Buying a Car Trailer

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying a Car Trailer

Purchasing a car trailer can be a difficult decision because there are many things to consider. From the size of the trailer, the weight class of the trailer, to specific items such as budget and practicality, buyers must decide on specific functions that make the trailer perfect for them. Part of the decision also includes purchasing the trailer new or used, which can affect both budget and the condition of the trailer. Each of these factors can greatly affect the cost, size, and appearance of the trailer so it is important to pay attention to them when shopping for a car trailer.

Anyone looking for a trailer can consider looking at specialty trailer retailers as well as online stores for their trailer. Considerations include that some locations require cash payments while others prefer layaway or installed payments. The following do's and don'ts of buying a car trailer should help most buyers to make a good decision wherever they choose to shop.

What Not To Do when Buying a Car Trailer

There are always things that should be avoided, and in the case of purchasing a car trailer, usually the options to avoid include purchasing without the proper paperwork, buying without seeing a photo or the trailer, and purchasing a trailer simply because it is the most affordable. A good buyer should research what he or she needs and then look into making a purchase. The following items should usually be avoided when purchasing a car trailer.

Don't Purchase a Car Trailer Without a Title

It is necessary to have a title for a trailer in order to officially own it. Purchasing a trailer, even a custom built one, without having a title issued can cause trouble in the future. For example, being asked for the paperwork on a trailer by a police officer could lead to issues and potentially a theft investigation for anyone who cannot produce said title. Usually it is best to ensure that the person selling the trailer already has the title in order to ensure that the trailer is not stolen and that it can be legally transferred over to the new owner.

Don't Buy a Car Trailer Without Seeing It First

Whether via a photo or a thorough inspection, it is important to look at the trailer before making a purchase. Many people buy trailers on online sites for convenience reasons but it is important to look at multiple pictures from various angles before making a purchase. Most sales are 'as-is' so buyers, especially those purchasing a used car trailer, should look into ensuring that it is what they expect it to be.

Don't Make a Purchase Just Because It Is Cheap

Purchasing the cheapest trailer available can save money, but it might also turn into a regrettable decision. A cheap purchase might not be completely suitable for the new owner's needs, especially if the trailer is in poor condition. Buyers should take the time to decide if the trailer is suitable, if it is in good condition, and if it is a good investment. Even a cheap investment can be a poor one if the trailer does not meet the buyer's needs and expectations.

Don't Buy from Across the Country if Possible

While it might be tempting to purchase a trailer from across the country, it is usually better to look for something more local. Even a trailer that exactly meets specifications and is way below budget might turn into a hassle, and an expense, if the buyer has to drive for several hours to pick it up. Buyers should consider the cost of gas, the cost of time, and any legal issues that might be met on the way before purchasing a trailer from a long distance away. In most cases, it is cheaper and easier to simply purchase one from a local seller, either online or offline.

What to Do When Buying a Car Trailer

There are also many considerations for anyone who wants to do the right thing when purchasing a car trailer. Among these are checking the weight class, the tow ball, what the trailer is intended for, as well as budget restrictions. The following options should be considered in depth before purchasing a trailer online or offline.

Do Check the Weight Class of the Car Trailer

The weight class of the trailer is more important than most people think. For starters, the weight includes the physical weight of the trailer. It also includes the physical weight of the things that can be safely hauled on that trailer. Different weight classes require different automobiles to haul them, as well as different tow balls and hitches. Standard class B driver's licenses allow drivers to haul trailers up to 750 kilograms, which should be the maximum limit for anyone looking for a car trailer. Regulations also restrict the combined weight of the vehicle and loaded trailer to 3,500 kilograms or less and state that the trailer must not at any time weigh more than the vehicle towing it. With this in mind, buyers can settle on a weight class of trailer that suits the vehicle that they drive.

Do Consider the Tow Ball

Purchasing a car trailer requires purchasing a tow ball to fit to the tow bracket. Buyers must also consider where the tow ball is attached. A frame mounted hitch is much stronger than the bumper mount, but bumper mounts are more affordable. As a rule, anyone who plans on hauling more than 950 kilograms should consider using a frame mounted hitch. Various names for the coupling include 'hitch', 'ball mount', and a variety of other terms. Buyers should keep in mind that tow hitches cannot legally be fitted to any vehicle registered on or after August first, 1998.

Car Trailer Hitch Class

Weight (kilograms)

Class I

Up to 910

Class II

Up to 1,600

Class III 

Up to 2,300

Class IV

Up to 4,500

Because Class B licenses limit drivers to a maximum of 3,500 kilograms, Class II hitches are usually heavy enough for most needs. These hitches support trailers with loads of up to 1,600 kilograms. Class I hitches can be attached for lighter loads. Importantly, Class III and Class IV hitches are required for boats and heavy trailers but these also require a heavier vehicle such as a truck or tractor. Ball hitches also come in a variety of sizes, which can sometimes be interchangeable. Buyers should check the size on the trailer they are purchasing and then purchase a connector accordingly.

ISO standard 50 millimetre tow balls are very common. However, it can be a mistake to assume that the trailer is 50 millimetres before checking it. Buyers should always look at the trailer ball hitch size and consider purchasing a coupling hitch with an interchangeable ball in case they ever need to haul a different trailer.

Do Consider the Type of the Car Trailer

Trailers come in all shapes and sizes so it is important to consider what it is being used for. Some trailers are made specifically for hauling one thing. A horse trailer might be difficult to use outside of hauling animals. A flatbed or open top trailer is useful for hauling large heavy objects. An enclosed or box trailer is useful for hauling smaller objects or anything that might be damaged by the weather. Buyers should take a look at various trailers in the weight class required and choose the most practical option for their needs.

Do Set a Budget for the Car Trailer

A budget is extremely important because trailers can range in price from one brand to the next. Buyers should consider researching the type of trailer needed and then decide on a reasonable price based on that budget. Buyers can often save money by purchasing used trailers but this can often limit warranty options. Buyers who want a warranty on a used trailer can of course purchase one separately.

Buying a Car Trailer on eBay

eBay is an excellent place to purchase car trailers because it is easy to search for and find the exact options you are looking for. eBay is home to a range of different trailers including horse, box, boat, and flatbed trailers. You can also choose to purchase trailers in a range of conditions from new to used, and at different budgets depending on your needs. If you are buying a new trailer you may also be able to purchase a factory or dealer direct trailer from an eBay authorised seller.

Start your search from the home page and type in the specific model of trailer you are looking for. For example, 'horse trailer' or 'flat trailer' should bring up those specific types depending on what you search for. Remember to read the description to check on the condition of the trailer and consider contacting the seller with any questions you might have. Consider looking for a local eBay seller who allows pickup or who is willing to deliver the trailer in person to make getting your trailer easier. From there, you may purchase the trailer using any of eBay's checkout options.

Conclusion

Purchasing a car trailer can be more than a little confusing for first time buyers. Despite the obvious temptations that might be present to purchase a trailer quickly and cheaply without a lot of hassle, this can lead to a decision that might be regretted in the future. Buyers should take the time to fully consider their options and make a fact based purchase decision. They should check the paperwork on the trailer, look at photos or inspect the trailer in person, and attempt to look for local trailers to make the legal and pickup options of the purchase go more smoothly.

Buying considerations include the weight class of the vehicle and the trailer. Most car trailers should be less than 1,600 kilograms and not exceed 3,500 kilograms in combined weight with car and load for any drivers with a class B license. The tow ball and hitch strength are also important as is the size of the tow ball for safety and legal considerations. Finally, buyers must set a budget and use the above criteria to make a final buying decision.

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