Twelve things to think about when buying a cargo trailer

The Leonard Truck and Trailer company located in Ohio has put together 12 issues that a potential trailer buyer should consider:

  • Steel or aluminum —Steel is usually cheaper than aluminum. Although most people think that aluminum has a great weight saving compared to steel, the actual weight saving depends on the manufacturer. As well, aluminum trailers won’t rust, but if a steel trailer is properly coated it can last as long as aluminum. Aluminum trailers must be checked for stress cracks and they require maintenance to keep their shine. Steel definitely can rust and crack, so the question of which is better for cargo trailers amounts to a coin toss.
  • Does outer skin thickness matter? — Most companies have several products ranging from entry-level to premium trailer lines. The entry-level trailers are designed for casual users or price-conscious customers. The Leonard premium brand is for working businesses. Darker colour trailers tend to warp from heat. The thicker the skin, the more durable it will be, and it will be less likely to warp from temperature change.
  • How important are floor cross-member support centres? — The industry standard is 24 inches on centre. Any tandem axle trailer will benefit to upgrade to 16 inches on centre. You may want to upgrade your support to 12 inches on centre if you are transporting a zero-turn lawnmower or a transport scissor lift. Also, consider you may need to upgrade your floor to double thick or put down some diamond plate.
  • Leaf springs or torsion axles? — The EZ Lube Spring Idler axle is the most popular. It’s cheaper, it rides smoother than the torsion axle when empty and it’s easier to repair or replace. But it does have a slightly higher ride height.
  • The torsion axle gives a slightly smoother ride when loaded. The main factor is that the independent tire/wheel movement makes the trailer much more controllable. It’s more expensive. It gives a lower ride height and safer handling.
  • Radial or bias ply tires? — The answer is simple: radial tires. Radial tires provide a better ride, better durability, better longevity and safer handling.
  • V-nose or flat nose? — There’s not a huge increase in fuel mileage between the two. What hurts a trailer with fuel mileage is the flat back, and that can’t be helped. Choose which trailer makes you happy.
  • Standard height, lower height, extra tall? — It’s a personal decision, but choose the lowest possible height for your needs because you want to minimize drag. The ideal situation is to match trailer and truck height. Also consider that the taller the trailer, the more likely a big side wind might put the trailer on its side, and you with it.
  • Flat or rounded roof? — The flat roof has a lower interior ceiling. A round roof adds three to six inches of headroom. The rounded roof is beneficial in areas that get a lot of snow.
  • Screws or no screws? — Either option works if you’re buying from a reputable dealer. The screwless looks nicer and is easier to wrap with graphics. If you think you may want to resell the trailer, then screwless is the way to go. If you need a cheaper trailer, go with screws. It makes for easier repairs if you need to replace a sheet.
  • Ramp or barn door? — These two options depend on your needs. Do you need to drive equipment up in the trailer? Or do you plan to take it to the flea market, festival or show? Barn doors could be more beneficial if you are tight on space because it takes an extra six feet behind the trailer to open a ramp door.
  • Do I need to upgrade my driver’s licence? — In some jurisdictions you are required to upgrade your driver’s licence if the total GVWR is greater than 2,601pounds.
  • Do I need to upgrade my truck registration? — Your truck specifications could determine if you need to upgrade its registration. Check your local laws and check the surrounding jurisdictions if you plan to travel a lot.

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