Car trailers are great if you want to haul your precious vintage automobile for a car show or if you need to transport tools, equipment, or any other type of cargo from point A to point B. To find the right trailer for your needs, you need to ask yourself a few critical questions first before heading off and buying one. A car trailer may sound simple enough, but there are a lot of factors to consider if you want to own one. Getting the wrong one can damage the container and the cargo it’s supposed to haul, plus the vehicle that was pulling them both.
Here are a few tips on how to choose the right car trailer.
What Will The Trailer Be Used For?
Trailers come in many different flavors – from those used to haul boats and cars to box trailers that transport tools, equipment, and other types of cargo. If your primary need is to pull a vintage car for a show or a race car for the track, it makes sense to consider buying a trailer with a cover to protect your expensive cargo from road debris damage while it’s being hauled. A covered container can also keep your vintage car safe from acid rain, UV rays, and the elements that can damage the paint while in transit or when you’re parked during the event.
Steel or Aluminum?
You have the option of choosing either an aluminum or steel car trailer. Steel trailers are more affordable, but heavier, prone to rust and generally have shorter lifespans if not taken care of. You’re going to be pulling much more weight carrying the same load when using a steel trailer compared to an aluminum one.
Aluminum trailers are made from light, durable alloy that doesn’t rust and can withstand corrosion better than containers made from steel. Because aluminum trailers are lighter, you can save on fuel costs and reduce the overuse damage on the tow vehicle. The resale value of aluminum trailers is also better than that of steel trailers, should you find the need to sell one in the future.
Be Wary of Fake Aluminum Trailers
When buying an aluminum trailer, you have to ensure that you’re getting real aluminum through and through. Many companies use heavy steel frames, cover them in aluminum sheeting, and paint the steel to try and pass it off as aluminum trailers. Not only will the container be substantial, but the metal will flex under load and movement, chipping off the paint and exposing the steel to elements that will cause it to rust. Rocks and other debris can also chip off the coating.
What Are Weight Classes and Do I Need to Check Them?
The weight classes for car trailers vary, so you must get one that’s capable of transporting the biggest and heaviest vehicle that you have. To buy a car trailer with the correct weight class, add the payload of the most significant cargo you’ll tow to the listed maximum load of the trailer. That’s the volume you need to haul, and getting a trailer not suited to carry the weight can give you problems down the road.
Will Any Hitch Work?
Bumper-mounted hitches are cheaper and adequate if you’re hauling light cargo. However, transporting anything over 950 kilograms requires a much stronger frame-mounted hitch. A Class B license allows you to pull 3,500 kilograms, and you can purchase hitches from Class I to III. If you’re hauling a cargo of up to 4,500 kilograms, you’ll need a Class IV hitch, but the law only allows you to use a tractor or heavy truck to pull the trailer.
What Type of License Would I Need to Use a Trailer?
You need to have the proper license to be able to use a car trailer and haul cargo. You must have a full driver’s license to pull any trailer. If you got your license before January 1, 1997, you might be eligible to drive a vehicle while towing a trailer hauling up to 8.25 tonnes, depending on specific categories, so you need to check first. After that date, drivers taking their full driver’s license exam need to check the combined weight to see if they need to take another test to haul more load.
Car trailers are great at hauling your precious cargo, without the need for renting a full-sized truck. Like anything else, you should do a physical inspection before money can exchange hands, especially if you’re buying a used trailer you saw online. Check for all the scratches, dents, and other damage that can affect the trailer’s integrity and price. If the deal comes with a vehicle, it makes sense to search a VIN number before you commit.
Patrick Peterson is a writer/editor at AutoDetective. Born and raised in the automotive world. He’s a passionate writer who crafts exquisite content pieces about everything related to cars and bikes.