4 Key Things To Check When Buying A Used Cargo Trailer

Automotive Blog

Having an enclosed cargo trailer can come in handy whether you plan to use it for the occasional move or to transport work-related supplies on a regular basis. You can often save a few thousand dollars by buying a cargo trailer used rather than new. However, you do need to be careful when looking at use cargo trailers so you don't end up buying one that needs a lot of work or that breaks down a few months later. Here are four key things to check when looking at a used enclosed cargo trailer for sale.

Is the floor sturdy?

Older cargo trailers were often made with wooden floors. If the trailer was ever used to haul anything wet, or if water ever came in through a leak in the ceiling, the wood may have begun to rot. If there are rubber mats on the floor, peel them back so that you can see the wood. Make sure all of the pieces of lumber are sturdy and intact. If there are any spots of rot or mold, that board will need to be replaced. You can certainly buy the trailer and just replace that floorboard. However, if the whole floor is beginning to rot, it may not be worth buying the trailer since replacing the floor will be so expensive and time-consuming.

If the trailer is newer, it may have a floor made from a rubberlike composite. This material won't typically rot or deteriorate, so you don't need to be as concerned.

Do the lights and brakes work?

Make sure you either hook your truck up to the trailer or have the seller hook theirs up. Make sure all of the lights work and that the brakes work. As a trailer ages, the wiring to the lights and brakes can sometimes deteriorate or start shorting. Rats may also get into the trailer walls and chew the wires. If either the lights or brakes do not work, the trailer will likely need to be rewired, which will cost a few hundred dollars or more. 

Are there any sharp edges or corroded pieces of metal?

Some trailers are made from steel. Most new ones have a steel frame and an aluminum wrapping, so there won't be as much rust and corrosion to worry about. In either case, you'll want to check to see whether there are any corners where the rivets have come undone, exposing sharp, and corroded edges. This can be dangerous. You do not want to cut yourself when you walk into the trailer or try to load something. 

How are the tires?

Replacing the tires on a trailer is not an overly difficult or expensive task. You can generally get new tires for about $500. However, you need to make sure the tires are in good enough shape to at least get the trailer home. Look them over for any dry rot; if there is dry rot, you should not drive the trailer, as the tire could easily go flat. Also, check the tread. If you put a penny in the tire and the tread does not come up to the level of Lincoln's head, the tires are ready to be replaced — although you can probably drive home on them safely as long as they are not dry rotted.

There are plenty of used cargo trailers out there. If you can manage to find one with a stable floor, working brakes and lights, solid tires, and no corroded and sharp edges, then go ahead and buy it! You'll definitely benefit from having a trailer you can use to haul things. 


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