Over the years we’ve been selling trailers, our team has often been asked many of the same questions when we’re helping our customers determine the trailer that’ll best meet their needs. Our trailer sales experts compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to trailer shopping and buying.
We’ve observed there tends to be two different stages to our customer’s trailer shopping, and they each bring their own set of questions, so we’ve organized this post into Stage One: for customers who just realized they need a trailer, but may not know anything about shopping for or towing trailers, and Stage Two: for customers who are now searching and trying to figure out which make, model, and upgraded features would be best for their hauling needs.
Stage One: "I just realized I need a trailer"
We have a longer more extensive blog post on the benefits of buying over renting trailers: If you’re interested in reading our pros and cons of both follow this link.
In short, if you have money in the bank, a credit card with a large enough limit, or good enough credit to secure the financing for a trailer purchase, then buying a trailer is often the better way to go. Unless you’ll literally only need the trailer for one day and will be returning it at the same location you rented it from then a rental could be a viable choice for you. However, if your hauling need will span days or many miles those rental fees will add up Fast, and at the end of your rental the equity you’ve racked up will be lost once you return the trailer. Whereas, if you buy a Quality Name Brand trailer and sell it when you’re done with it, you’ll end up spending less than you would’ve if you rented the trailer to begin with.
Be warned: Once you own a trailer, you’ll be surprised how many opportunities to use it will spring up… you just might hold onto it longer than you initially intended!
Trailer costs vary depending on the quality of the trailer, its size, the axle size, and whether you’re looking for an open or an enclosed trailer. On a High Quality steel framed open trailer that’ll last you should expect to spend between $900 to $8,000 depending on the style (utility, car hauler, equipment trailer) and size you need. National name brand steel framed enclosed trailers such as Haulmark, Look Trailers, or Pace American start around $1800 for the smallest size (4’ x 6’), and can cost upwards of $20,000 for a big and very upgraded Race Trailer.
Quality scissor hoist dump trailers (the only style our experts would purchase personally) vary from $4,500 to $12,000; at these prices these dump trailers should also be equipped with all 10 GA. Steel walls, floors, and fenders, as well as gravel spreaders, equipment ramps and d-rings, a full tarp assembly, and come with a multi-year warranty on both the frame and hoist system.
Sure, you can get a cheaper trailer for hundred$ or even a few thousand$ less, but what you skimp out on paying up front costs you in both time and money over the length of ownership. Cheap wood interiors rot quickly and need to be replaced, axles without E-Z lube hubs are a huge pain and hassle to lubricate…In the end you get what you pay for and when you buy a National Name Brand in accordance with the NATM (National Association of Trailer Manufacturers) you also get the peace of mind knowing your quality trailer is going to outlast your hauling needs, and be a pleasure for you to own over the life of it.
Every vehicle manufacturer has a different towing capacity that will determine the maximum GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of the trailer your vehicle will be able to safely tow. Usually you can find this number on a sticker inside your driver’s side door, or in the Owner’s manual of your vehicle. If those options aren’t available, try calling a dealer of your vehicle and ask the towing capacity of your make, model, and year. You never want to risk overloading your vehicle by choosing the wrong axles on your trailer, so it’s necessary to determine your vehicle’s towing capacity before you fall in love with a trailer it won’t be able to haul.
Camping World's Towing Guide can help you determine the towing capacity of 2005-2018 vehicles Follow this Link.
Whenever you need it! Different needs for a trailer crop up every month, so whenever you realize your need for a trailer is a good time to buy one. In California (and any state without an inventory tax) trailers aren’t an item that fluctuate widely in price depending on the time of year, unless you’re working with a dishonest dealer with inconsistent pricing; In states with an inventory tax you may find a dwindling selection of trailers later in the year but they might be at special prices, because the dealer needs to make sales or they’ll be taxed for having those trailers in stock when the year ends. Our family prides ourselves on having the Highest Quality Trailers at the most Competitive prices, regardless what time of year it is!
If you've started your trailer shopping recently you've likely come across these abbreviations and phrases you've never heard before which can be very confusing, so we're here to take that definition confusion off your plate!
Regardless, which state you're purchasing your trailer in the GVWR on the sticker is the legal weight limit of the trailer. GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, and essentially means the Total weight the trailer can be while it's on the road. The stickered GVWR is determined by the empty trailer's weight +plus+ the total weight of the cargo it's built to handle.
*Many states have CDL (Commercial Drivers License) requirements when the trailer's GVWR is over 10,000 lbs; to avoid the CDL requirement you'll find many trailers de-rated by the manufacturer to just under the CDL weight requirement (9990# or 9900# in CA). Similarly, you'll find single axle trailers de-rated to 2990# because any trailer with a GVWR over 3000lbs requires brakes in some states like CA.
The Trailer's Payload Capacity is the total weight of the cargo you can add to the trailer safely. Payload capacity is also sometimes referred to as your cargo capacity. The Payload Capacity is usually stickered on the trailer near the VIN#. It can be found by Subtracting the Empty Weight of the trailer from the stickered GVWR.
*When purchasing a trailer we don't recommend buying a trailer with a GVWR larger than your vehicle's Towing Capacity; otherwise each time you use your trailer you'll need to do the math to be certain your desired cargo won't overload your tow vehicle. Example: Your Truck can tow 5000lbs, but you want a 7000# GVWR Trailer expecting to load 3500lbs into the trailer. If the trailer weighs 2500 pounds, your desired 3500# of cargo will overload your tow vehicle stressing more than just the engine, even though the trailer would still be capable of handling more cargo weight.
The GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) is similar to GVWR but only represents the Axle capacity of the trailer. A trailer may have a 6000# GAWR, and a GVWR of either 12,000# or a de-rated 9900#. The axles can handle this rated weight, but you won't be legal towing on the road if your payload capacity exceeds your trailer's stickered payload resulting in you towing a trailer while it weighs more than the stickered GVWR. Example: The trailer has 7000# axles, but if the 14K GVWR was de-rated to 9990, the stickered payload capacity would be 5900lbs instead of the 9900 payload that it had while the GVWR was 14,000# (and the trailer required a CDL to tow it).
Technically you can be ticketed and fined for any single pound you're over your trailer's GVWR! So make sure the payload capacity and GVWR stickered on the trailer match the Drivers License and your Cargo's Weight Needs to ensure you buy one trailer that'll work for your needs without causing more problems for you down the road.
The most popular methods of payment for trailer purchases are Credit Cards and Financing. The best deals and discounts we can give are based on Cash or Wire Transfer, because these forms of payment don’t charge significant dealer fees, unlike the swipe of any Debit or Credit card.
0% intro APR credit cards offered by the popular merchants VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER, and AMERICAN EXPRESS are increasing in popularity among our customers with good credit. These credit cards offer 0% interest for 12-24 months, meaning if you pay off the purchase before your interest begins to accrue you will have paid the same amount as if you had the cash to pay for the trailer initially.
Sheffield Financial offers some of the lowest interest rates in the industry for customer with great credit; though we always recommend checking with your own bank or credit union first, because they tend to offer even better interest rates on loans for their existing customers than those offered by traditional finance companies. The best terms and rates are given to customers with good or excellent credit, but there are also a few companies we recommend for customers with High Risk credit including Lendmark, OneMain Financial, Banner Bank, and Your Leasing Solutions.
Our family is very picky when it comes to the products we choose to buy, so we hand-picked the highest quality trailer brands that we’d choose to buy personally because their trailers are built using high quality parts, built by skilled engineers and craftsmen, and backed by nationwide warranties so we know you’ll be taken care of for the long haul. Norco Trailers has been making a name for ourselves as an honest and consistently competitively priced National Name Brand Trailer dealer with the Largest Selection of the Highest Quality Trailers currently on the market, and the Best Customer Service you’ll find at any trailer dealer around! Currently our family has two convenient locations right off the I-15 freeway in Norco, CA, and Escondido, CA!
We only recommend purchasing a National Name Brand open or enclosed trailer. National Name Brand Trailers have dealers in most U.S. states to take care of your sales and warranty service needs regardless where your travels take you. These brands have factories throughout the U.S. that are staffed with expert welders, engineers, and other craftsmen who know how to build the best trailers because they use trailers. They choose the highest quality parts including LED lights, American-made axles, one-piece wiring harnesses, tube main frame construction, to name a few of the superior features included standard. Many National Name Brands on the market are owned by larger corporations who have prioritized building the safest and most durable trailers possible; Norco Trailers proudly carries Universal Trailer Corporation’s Featherlite Trailers—all-aluminum trailers considered to be the Rolls Royce of the trailer industry—as well as Haulmark and Wells Cargo Trailers steel framed enclosed trailers. Our Norco and Escondido stores carry a huge inventory of Pace American and Look Trailers.
Just like with everything else in life, when it comes to purchasing a trailer you get what you pay for, which is why we only recommend purchasing a National Name Brand trailer; you may pay a little more initially but what you invest now saves you both time and money throughout the trailer’s long lifespan.
We'll keep our reasons brief, because this subject has been written about all over the Internet. Steel is heavier than aluminum, is less expensive than aluminum, but is prone to rust and corrosion. All-aluminum trailers like Featherlite trailers are built with aluminum alloy that is about as strong as steel, is rust and corrosion resistant, is substantially lighter than steel, but tends to cost double the price of a steel trailer and last twice as long.
To Read Featherlite Trailers' Comprehensive Explanation of the Differences between Steel and Aluminum Trailers, Click Here.
The advantage of a v-nose trailer is a more aerodynamic design reducing your wind resistance while towing. This tends to make a difference when your tow vehicle is shorter than the trailer, but is really only seen in gas mileage savings on long hauls. For our Brands, the v-nose wedge gives additional space rather than taking away length like you'll find with some other brands, so depending on their need some customers opt for a shorter length with a V-nose (like a 10' V-nose instead of a 12' flat-front enclosed trailer). Alternatively, some customers only use their trailer for stacking boxes, and in these cases the flat front trailer is often preferred for ease of stacking and making use of all available cargo space.
Call us or visit our store in person, and we'd be happy to help you figure out which profile would be best for your needs.
In California, any trailer with a GVWR of 3,000 pounds or more is required to have brakes. You’ll find many single axle trailers in our showroom equipped with 3,500 lb axles that are de-rated so their sticker shows a GVWR of 2990 lbs. This sticker allows you to avoid the additional few hundred dollar upgrade to add brakes, but it does take away 600 lbs from your potential payload capacity on the trailer.
Typically, the payload capacity will be around 1,500 lbs in a de-rated single axle enclosed trailer (give or take a couple hundred pounds depending on size). If you want to carry more weight you should either add brakes or opt for a tandem axle trailer. A National Name Brand's tandem axle trailers have brakes equipped on all 4 wheels, and comes standard with an emergency break-away system to stop the trailer in the event that it ever detaches from your vehicle when towing.
Yes! LED lights last years longer, they use less energy, and they are brighter than standard incandescent bulbs. The Incandescent running lights come standard on the entry-level trailers offered by our steel brands, but it is up to each dealer that orders their trailers to decide if they’ll keep this standard feature or upgrade the lights to all LED running lights.
At Norco Trailers we order 90% of our entry-level trailers with several upgrades we know make a lasting difference as the owner of one of these trailers. One of those upgrades is LED running lights! Not only do the small bullet LEDs look better unlit, but they’re way brighter increasing your trailer’s visibility for safe towing in the daylight or at night!
It depends on the trailer’s framing style and spacing. Entry-level trailers (such as the Outback from Pace American or the STLC from Look Trailers) are equipped with Z-post sidewall framing that is 24” on center, which means from the center of the trailer there is a sidewall post every 24”. The Z-post is a lighter duty framing material that is less expensive and lighter than full tube framing. The Z-post sidewall framing is standard on entry-level and mid-line trailer models with many National Name Brands.
On a mid-line model the z-posts are 16” on center, because the framing is closer together there’s quite a bit more of it to increase the strength and stability of the trailer compared to the entry-level model. When you upgrade to the top of the line models like the LXT, Shadow GT Race trailer model, or the Cargo Sport and Vision models the framing is not only 16” on center, but sidewall framing is also upgraded to full tube framing 16” o.c. The full tube framing is the strongest and sturdiest framing, so it’s really designed to handle substantial weight being added to the walls.
As a general rule the factory’s advise against adding weight to the walls of a 24” o.c. trailer, and recommend buying a trailer with 16” o.c. sidewall posts if you want to add more than a couple pounds to the trailer’s walls.
Your cargo hauling need and budget, as well as your available storage space will all impact whether it’d be better for you to buy an open or enclosed trailer. If carrying the most weight is more important, than an open trailer will offer a much larger payload capacity range, because open trailers weigh so much less than enclosed trailers.
You should consider the following questions to help you determine whether an open or enclosed trailer makes the most sense for you:
Will you use the trailer for storage while you’re not towing your cargo? Enclosed trailers make excellend garages for all kinds of vehicles, making it easier for you to hook up and go when you're ready.
Are you concerned about protecting your cargo from weather (rain, wind, snow, harsh sun, etc.)? If you want your cargo protected from the elements there’s no better choice than an enclosed cargo trailer with a one-piece aluminum roof guarding against leaks.
If you make a stop on a trip your trailer, would you be concerned about others stealing your visible cargo? Enclosed trailers with locking doors limit the possibility of your cargo getting stolen, or lost off the back when it's improperly tied down.
Leaf-Spring suspension is the most common type of axles you’ll find on a trailer whether it’s open or enclosed. It has been the most common axle system largely due to its affordability. Some people prefer the leaf spring suspension because, even though it has more moving parts and thus more potential for parts to break, the leaf spring platform is easy to buy parts for and repair. Torsion suspension is nicknamed the “white glove” suspension because these trailers offer by far the smoothest towing experience. The independent rubber-ride system absorbs the shock and bumpiness of a rough road. Whether fully loaded or completely empty the trailer with torsion suspension will be smooth; however, unlike the repairable leaf-spring, torsion axles need to be completely replaced when/if it ever fails.
For most towing jobs the leaf-spring suspension does the trick just fine, but for hauling precious cargo like your premium race car or your loyal steeds the torsion suspension is definitely preferred.
All of the trailer brands our family sells at Norco Trailers ( Haulmark Trailers, Featherlite Trailers, Look Trailers, Pace American, Playcraft, Wells Cargo, and Innovative Trailers) come with Nationwide warranties! Any trailer you decide to purchase should have a warranty protecting you against faulty welds and materials.
Playcraft’s warranty offers a lifetime guarantee on their welds granting peace of mind. Innovative Trailer’s 1 year warranty protects against wire harness wear, and guarantees frame strength and security.
Look Trailers, Pace American Trailers, as well as Haulmark and Wells Cargo Trailers all offer 3 year Nationwide warranties on their trailers covering your enclosed trailer wherever your travels take you!
Last but most certainly not least: Featherlite Trailers offers the industry leading nationwide warranty on their all-aluminum trailers: a 10 year limited transferrable warranty on their open or enclosed trailers! (Their next best competitor only offers a 5 year warranty)
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