How to Select a Trailer

How to Select a Trailer

When selecting your new trailer, you’ll find the right one by factoring in the materials used, construction methods and the design, plus other aspects of the purchase, like warranty, brand reputation and potential trade-in value. Whether it’s a cargo trailer or utility trailer, horse trailer, stock trailer, motorcycle trailer, ATV trailer or car hauler, the following tips are important to consider when selecting your next trailer.

Q: Aluminum vs. Steel: Know the difference

Aluminum is today’s choice because trailers made from this durable alloy are lighter and easier to tow and allow for more payload capacity. A lighter trailer can save wear and tear on the tow vehicle and increase fuel efficiency. Aluminum trailers also withstand corrosion better than steel trailers and with just routine care traditionally hold their value much better than steel counterparts. Some Featherlite owners have reported selling their Featherlites after years of use for the same or even slightly more than they paid for them originally. Trade in values can vary.

Q: Be Sure It’s Really ALL Aluminum

When you choose to purchase an aluminum trailer, make sure that’s what you get. Many companies produce “aluminum” trailers that are only aluminum sheeting over a heavy steel frame, which will rust if exposed to the elements. Even if the steel is painted or coated, rocks, debris and the constant flex of the trailer as it travels can peel or chip the coating and allow moisture to do its dirty work on this vulnerable steel. Ask your salesperson for specifics on frame materials. 

Q: Get Exactly What You Want and Need

When shopping, don’t feel you are limited to what you see on the lot. Some trailer manufacturers allow you to choose the features and options best suited for you. Don’t settle. Find a manufacturer that works well with fulfilling individual customers’ needs. 

Q: Look ‘Below the Surface’

What’s below the surface is at least as important as what meets the eye. Look for all-aluminum unibody construction, which makes the trailer stronger and more durable. Be sure the trailer is specifically engineered for its intended use. 

You don’t want a trailer that’s “overbuilt”, resulting in you towing more down the road than you need, or “under built” so it lacks the structural integrity necessary to do the job you need done for the long haul. 

Look for heavier I-beams that are closer together and span the entire width of the trailer. Be sure that all of the components – floors, side walls and roof -- are extruded to fit together like a puzzle and then welded together, not just welded together as individual pieces. This adds safety and solidity to the trailer’s structure. It also adds to the finish of the trailer. It looks better. 

Consider the details, like L.E.D. lights that enhance visibility when traveling down the road. Or how rivets are affixed. Look for a “pierce and roll” rivet system so no rivet fully pierces into the roof, reducing opportunities for water leakage. The last thing you want is a wet interior. Unfortunately, standard riveting can create hundreds of holes in the roof of a trailer where water can infiltrate if rivets or openings become worn. This “pierce and roll” rivet system used in the aircraft industry is just one example of a smart design that delivers down the road. 

Q: Ask About Financing Options

Trailer buyers normally can get a range of financing options from the dealer. Like automobile dealers, many incentive programs, including no interest and payments for a selected amount of time, are available. Check with your trailer dealer to learn about your financing options.

Q: Check the Warranty and Trade-In Value

Be sure you check the manufacturer’s warranty, and check the record of the trade-in value. See what the warranty covers. Trailer owners most often prefer trailers with warranties of eight years. Even the best trailers can experience problems from time to time, so it’s best to be prepared. Finally, research the used trailer market to get an idea of trade-in value of the brands you are interested in. 

Q: Inspect the Wiring

It may seem like a small detail now, but be sure to inspect the wiring, especially how the trailer’s wires are bundled. You’ll want a trailer that bundles all the wires in a protective harness. Avoid trailers that have individual wires hanging loose and unprotected. Individual wires are more exposed to weather and potential damage. Plus they are more likely to be connected incorrectly when doing maintenance. Wire harnesses provide a water-tight seal, protect against wire wear and tear and make connecting wires easy. 

Q: Where can I find out more?

Your Featherlite dealer is an excellent source of information. Ask them about any of the above as you shop for your next trailer.