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Checklist for Buying a New Trailer


  • DEALERS – Selecting the right dealer is as important as the selection of the trailer model and the price. Unfortunately many customers focus so strongly on the price that they make the mistake of saving a few dollars by buying a trailer from a disreputable dealer. The money that they saved quickly gets forgotten as they deal with an incompetent or unresponsive dealership. Just as you will have to live with your trailer choice as long as you own it, you are going to have to live with the dealership, at least through the warranty period. Competent dealers should be able to relate to your needs and answer technical questions asked as well as provide direction in finding the right trailer to suit your needs. A competent dealer will provide service, warranty repairs and parts. When you purchase a trailer you should be fully briefed on operations, maintenance and provided with manuals on the trailer, axles and any related power accessories. Check with the dealer as to what their pre-delivery inspection includes as some dealers fail to follow manufacturer's recommendation, leaving you with an unsafe trailer.
  • PRICE – Verify TOTAL PRICE. Some dealers have hidden costs (ie, documentation fee, pre-delivery inspection, brokerage fees, delivery/freight fees, etc) that they don't tell you about until you arrive to pickup the trailer, usually after putting a deposit on the trailer which constitutes a binding legal agreement.
  • LOCATION – Location is an important component of your decision. Distance is time and money especially for service and items covered under warranty.
  • WARRANTY – Numerous dealerships require YOU to apply for warranty through the manufacturer, which can be time consuming, costly (finding a repair shop), and frustrating for those who have little knowledge of warranty repair(s) required. Inquire prior to purchasing about warranty policy.
  • SERVICE – Again many dealerships just sell the trailer and are only interested in making the SALE. A reputable dealer will service what they sell, carry parts and provide warranty repairs.
  • INSPECTION – Inspect the trailer prior to signing on the dotted line. Items to check for:
    • WIRING – Biggest problem with trailers and usually associated with the cheapest trailers. Check under the trailer to ensure no loose, bare or hanging wiring (especially wiring down to brakes and axles). Modular wiring or sectional wiring is best suited to trailers as they are pre-built for exact length/design of trailer and a damaged section can be easily replaced by owner.
    • BREAK AWAY KIT – Best trailers come with a built in charging unit rather than dry cell batteries.
    • LIGHTS – Check all lights and braking functions prior to driving away
    • ELECTRIC/HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS – Full operating instructions should be reviewed and understood by the purchaser on trailers with these systems.
    • WELDS – Check welds on trailer, ensure all welds are tied into parent metal with adequate penetration.
    • TIRES – Some dealers put on tires rated for less than the axle rating to save costs.
    • LED LIGHTS – Trailers 30ft and over should have L.E.D. lights as they draw less amperage (which saves the alternator from failure), last longer and are more visible.
    • GENERAL INSPECTION – Visually check lug nuts (dealer should provide you with torquing values as noted in the axle manual), paint and overall condition of trailer.