5 Tips When Purchasing a Used Semi Trailer


As an owner-operator or small fleet owner, having a semi truck will not make you any money without having a load to carry. This means you've got to also consider purchasing or leasing a tractor trailer. Before we get into our tips on what to look for before making such a purchase, you'll also want to consider the type of load you will be carrying!

Semi Trailers come in many varieties specific to the requirements of the load that will be hauled. The most common trailer is a Box Trailer or Van Trailer (also referred to as Dry Van Trailer). The trailers are designed to hold anything that is meant to be kept dry during transport from consumer goods to personal belongings for moves.

The most common dimensions for Box Trailers are 53 'x 102' or 110 '. Dry Van Trailers can come with swing doors or roll up doors. Some Box Trailers will have Side Doors as well.

The next most common trailer is a Refrigerated or Reefer Trailer. These are box trailers with a heating / cooling unit attached (reefer) and are used primarily for hauling produce, flowers, meat or other items that require refrigeration. Often Reefer Trailers will be insulated or ventilated as well but the main difference between Refrigerated and Dry Van Trailers is the mechanical refrigeration systems powered by small displacement diesel engines attached to the front of the units.

Trailers come in all shapes and sizes and there are many other less common trailers. These include: Flatbed or Lowboy Trailers, Car-Carrying Trailers, Curtain Siders, Livestock Trailers, Tanker and Dump Trailers, etc. Depending on the need of the load there will be a trailer to haul it!

5 Tips for Purchasing Used Trailers

Purchasing a Used Semi Trailer is an excellent way to save money and receive a better return on your equipment investment. However there are certain things you will want to be aware of when looking at a trailer beyond whether it has a few scuffs or dings on the inside or out. Her are 5 tips we look for when Purchasing a Used Trailer to help make your decision with confidence:

1. Quality of the Floor. As you step into a trailer for the first time, consider the floor. Is it bowing or misshapen? Is there separated wood or large chips, dents or cracks that can weakend the floor integrity? Because repairing the floor of a trailer is both costly and time-consuming if you want your purchase to maintain its resell value this will be one of the most important things to consider.

2. Quality of the Roof. The next thing we look at is the roof itself – just as a leak in a home can cause unforetold damage, even a small leak in a trailer can ruin whatever is being hauled causing thousands of dollars of damage. One way to determine if there are any holes or leaks in the roof is to enter the trailer and close the doors. Look for any light shining through – if all you see is darkness, that's a good sign.

3. Quality of the Doors. Most people put little consideration into the doors of a trailer and yet a non-functioning door can be one the biggest hassles considering the frequency of loading and unloading goods. Take a good look at the hinges and hooks by opening the back of the trailer and closing it several times. Are alignments correct? Does it open and latch closed with ease? This can be a very important consideration in making sure your goods remain secure.

4. Quality of Brakes & Tires. Nothing is put to use with more frequency on a trailer than the brakes and tires. For this reason you want to make sure what you are purchasing is ready to hit the road not the repair shop! In your negotiations with a dealer make sure the brakes and tires are at least 50% or better so that you can immediately put your equipment to work.

5. Purchase from Someone You Trust. Having trust in the dealer or previous owner of a used trailer could have been one of the most important factors when making a decision. You want to make sure that your equipment is priced fairly, that the establishment has a history of good service and purchasing equipment that is road ready.

Hopefully these tips will help you find the right piece of equipment and make that purchase with confidence!