Trailer Shopping 101: Understanding the 5 Main Types of Trailers

Trailer Shopping 101: Understanding the 5 Main Types of Trailers

Trailers are the perfect workhorses for a wide range of applications. Whether you need to help someone with additional storage space while they move, haul materials for your business, or tow a vehicle, the right kind of trailer can be the perfect investment for your needs. Of course, trailers come in all shapes and sizes. Buying the right kind can be the difference between making an excellent investment and wasting money.

Are you still in the early stages of trailer shopping and don’t know where to begin? It is a good idea to understand the different types of trailers available in the market today. Today’s post will be your guide to understanding the various types of trailers. It will tell you everything you need to know to make a better-informed decision for your investment. We will also tell you about a way you can use your trailer as a passive income machine to earn good money on the side.

What Will You Be Hauling?

Before you even start looking at the different types of trailers, it’s important to understand why you are buying one. Trailers can indeed be versatile and capable of handling various hauling tasks. However, the right type of trailer can be different based on your cargo. An enclosed trailer might be good at helping you keep your cargo secure during transit. Still, you cannot rely on it if you need to haul equipment that’s bigger than the trailer itself.

Granted, the basic purpose of any trailer is to help you transport stuff from Point A to Point B. It is just that not every type of trailer is good for all tasks. Depending on what you’re hauling, the ideal trailer for your needs might be unsuitable for someone else. Understanding what you might need the trailer for is the most important decision to make before you begin trailer shopping.

Each type of trailer comes with features that make it slightly more suited to some jobs than others. Once you know what you might need to move with your newfound trailer, you can check out the different types. 

Understanding The 5 Main Types of Trailers When You Start Trailer Shopping

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to carrying cargo from one place to another. This section of the guide on understanding the various types of trailers will help you get a better idea of the qualities each one offers. By the time you’re done reading, we are confident you’ll have a good grasp of what you need to get. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the different types of trailers.

1. Utility Trailers

An image of a high-quality utility trailer rental parked on a property on a beautiful sunny day.

Utility trailers are the most common type of trailer people search for when trailer shopping. It is the go-to model that comes in a range of different sizes and axle configurations. The common qualities in all utility trailers include a flat trailer bed, metal frame construction, and at least one set of tires. They are lighter than enclosed trailers and small enough to move about without worrying about maneuverability. You can use them to haul a substantial amount of cargo, from gardening equipment to your personal belongings.

Suppose you buy a dual-axle utility trailer with a metal or wooden floor. In that case, you will have the perfect workhorse for virtually any hauling application. Utility trailers are expensive, but not as much as many others. Since they do not have tall sidewalls or a roof, a lot less material goes into their construction. Which is why they fetch a better price. Thanks to its open design, you can also haul oddly-shaped materials on the trailer. You can also customize it by adding a winch to help load cargo. Some models also come with ramps that allow easier loading and unloading. 

It is essential to remember that your cargo’s safety might be a concern. The trailer is open, leaving it exposed to the elements during transit. Even if you cover the cargo with a tarp to protect it from the elements, there’s the risk of theft. 

2. Flatbed Trailers & Car Hauler Trailers

 An image showing a high-quality flatbed trailer rental with a dual-axle configuration, loaded with an SUV that’s secured using ratchet straps.

While we’re discussing open-design trailers, the next one to consider is the flatbed trailer. Also commonly called car hauler trailers, these are open trailers that look very similar to utility trailers. However, these trailers do not come with any sidewalls -- not even a frame. Besides a lack of sidewalls, flatbed trailers are quite similar to utility trailers. They come in various sizes and axle configurations, but they share plenty of qualities.

Flatbed trailers have a flat and open trailer bed without sidewalls. They can have a single- or dual-axle configuration. Some models boast ramps, and these trailers can be customized to add a winch to help load and unload cargo. These trailers typically feature plenty of tie-down points that you can use to secure your cargo. The flat and open bed without the sidewalls makes these trailers suitable for hauling vehicles as well. Hence, the name car hauler trailers. Of course, flatbed trailers specifically designed to haul vehicles can also feature e-tracks, ramps, and other features that make them better suited for the job. You can use these to haul oddly-shaped cargo, provided it falls within its load-bearing capacity. Since they don’t have sidewalls, they can be lighter than utility trailers. You can carry more cargo and enjoy better fuel efficiency when using one of these.

As with utility trailers, flatbed trailers are not good at protecting your cargo in transit. You can use the tie-down points to secure your cargo in place and cover it with a tarp to protect it from the elements. However, theft can still be an issue. It would be best to avoid hauling small and precious cargo that can easily be stolen from it in transit.

3. Dump Trailers

 An image showing a dump trailer with a dual-axle configuration parked on a property, ready to haul cargo.

With dump trailers, we come to the third type of open design you might come across when trailer shopping: Dump trailers. Dump trailers are, as the name suggests, designed to haul waste. These trailers can come in single or dual-axle configurations and are excellent for transporting different types of cargo. They are named dump trailers because of their design, making it easy to load waste and offload it when you need to dump it.

Typically with a full-metal construction, dump trailers feature sidewalls slightly taller than what you might see on a typical utility trailer. The walls are also solid, unlike the frame construction of utility trailers. These trailers can easily contain different waste materials and haul them from Point A to Point B without a fuss. The open top also makes it possible to use dump trailers for oddly-shaped cargo. Many dump trailers also feature hydraulic lifting mechanisms that let you lift up the vehicle-facing side to unload cargo (or dump waste) easily.

Dump trailers can get expensive, depending on the make and model you go for. If you go with all the bells and whistles, a dump trailer can get quite expensive. However, it is the perfect tool for applications of all kinds. Provided you keep yours clean, you can also use it as a makeshift utility trailer.

4. Enclosed Trailers

An image showing a high-quality enclosed trailer being towed behind a truck parked in an empty parking lot.

When people go trailer shopping, enclosed trailers are another popular type of trailer they consider. As the name suggests, these trailers are enclosed on all sides. Safety is the key factor that makes these trailers so popular among many people. These can be perfect for additional storage space while moving to store your precious belongings and appliances instead of moving them along with your other stuff through a moving company. This way, you can enjoy the peace of mind that your precious cargo is your responsibility. It won’t fall out in transit, nobody will steal it, and it will be safe from the elements.

Enclosed trailers are available in a wide variety of sizes. Depending on the make and model and how much you’re willing to spend above the initial purchase price, you can use these to do virtually anything. Plenty of people who own enclosed trailers get creative with their investments. You can customize yours to turn it into a mobile toolshed. There are even people who use enclosed trailers as small businesses by turning them into shops. A large enough enclosed trailer can haul vehicles as well.

With all their advantages, enclosed trailers do have some limitations. When hauling cargo in an enclosed trailer, you must consider its weight and dimensions. Since it’s covered on all sides, an enclosed trailer might not be capable of hauling oddly-shaped cargo. Enclosed trailers also require more construction material, making them more expensive. 

5. Horse Trailers

 An image of a classic horse trailer with a dual-axle configuration parked on a property, ready to haul horses.

Dump trailers and car hauler trailers are two open trailers designed for specific tasks but can do more. When it comes to enclosed trailers, there is a specialty type of trailer designed specifically to transport horses. A horse trailer can be a great investment for equestrian lovers who own horses and need to take them from one place to another. Designed to protect your horses, they are enclosed from all sides, barring a side or rear door that lets you load your four-legged friends into it.

Horse trailers come in a wide range of sizes. Some are just big enough to transport one horse alongside a few essentials in storage safely. Others are designed to house and transport several horses simultaneously. There are even horse trailers designed with living quarters. While they look more like RVs, those horse trailers can be the best way for horse lovers to travel with their horses across the country.

Horse trailers are specialty items that don’t have much use in other hauling applications. Sure, you can technically use a horse trailer to transport your stuff. However, spending so much money on something you won’t use for its intended purpose would not be wise. Of course, you can still buy one if you want to invest in a potential passive income stream.

Earning Money Using Your New Trailer

Now that you know about the five main types of trailers, your trailer shopping experience can be much better. Having an idea of the features and limitations of each type can help you make a more educated decision when you decide to buy one. Regardless of which type you buy, you should know that being a trailer owner is not cheap. Besides the initial purchase price, you also have to spend on its maintenance and repairs. If you think you will not use your trailer often enough, it might be better to rent one when you need it instead.

Of course, you can also use an underutilized trailer as a passive income stream. If you have the capital to invest, buying a trailer can be a great way to make some extra money when you are not using it yourself. How? By renting it out to people and businesses who need trailers. Just think about it: Renting out your trailer can fetch a good amount of money. You can use it to pay for maintenance and repairs and still have money left over.

Working with a trailer rental business might make sense, but the commissions they cut can eat into your profit margin. Renting directly to people and businesses can eliminate the commissions. However, you will have to make a lot more effort to market your trailer. Setting up the infrastructure for a rental business can be too much hassle, not to mention expensive. The best thing you can do is go for something that offers you the best of both: America’s first peer-to-peer marketplace for trailer owners and renters.

You get exposure to a whole community of people and businesses who need rental trailers. No commissions eating into your profits, searching for possible renters, or setting up the business -- simply wait for online bookings, connect with renters, and rent it out.


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