Owning and Maintaining a Trailer for Business Use

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Have you ever needed to transport something too large or bulky for your vehicle?

This guide will explore the business uses for owning a trailer, plus maintenance tips to help you keep a trailer in top shape. 

Business Uses for a Trailer

In 2022, the worldwide market for semi-trailers reached USD$ 20.51 billion, and this industry is projected to expand in the coming years. 

A trailer can be a useful business asset to streamline operations and improve productivity. You can use a trailer to transport goods, equipment, and materials.

  • Utility trailers are the workhorses of the trailer world, designed to handle a wide range of hauling tasks. From transporting lawn equipment and gardening supplies to carrying construction materials or even motorcycles, these versatile trailers make it easy to move heavy or bulky items with ease. 
  • Flatbed trailers are commonly used for hauling machinery and vehicles.
  • Enclosed trailers are more practical for secure and weather-protected transportation.

Benefits of Owning a Trailer

Now that you know how trailers are used, lets discuss why you might buy one for your business.

Increased Cargo Capacity 

At some point, you’ve probably tried to fit some furniture for your business into your truck, or you bit the bullet and paid an exorbitant delivery fee.

With a trailer, these tasks become a breeze. You can easily haul oversized or heavy items without worrying about damaging your vehicle’s interior or compromising its performance. 

There are many trailer experts who not only provide guidance in selecting the right railer for you, but also sell essential trailer accessories for your needs.

Cost-Effectivenes

While a trailer may seem pricey at first, it can actually save you money in the long run. Renting one or hiring professional moving services for occasional hauling needs can quickly add up.

To see what makes sense for your business, add up your expenditures on hauling from the last year, and multiply by five. Is that number bigger than the cost of buying a trailer? If so, then it may make sense to buy rather than continue paying for these services.

Convenience 

Owning a trailer eliminates the hassle of coordinating rental schedules and availability.

With a trailer at your disposal, you can easily handle tasks that would otherwise require multiple trips or hiring additional help. Having a trailer means you can load up everything you need in one go. This convenience factor not only saves time but also reduces stress and improves overall efficiency. 

With increased cargo capacity, unparalleled versatility, cost-effectiveness, and unmatched convenience, owning a trailer is a smart decision that can simplify your life and open up new possibilities for exploration and productivity. 

How to Keep Your Trailer in Top Condition

While the benefits and versatility of owning a trailer are undeniable, ensuring its longevity and safe operation requires diligent maintenance.

In 2021, there were around 232,000 trailer-related accidents. With this number growing each year, maintenance is important for safety. 

Tire Inspection and Care

The tires on your trailer bear a significant portion of the load, making their condition crucial for safe and efficient hauling. Regular inspections are essential to ensure they’re properly inflated, have adequate tread depth, and are free from cracks, bulges, or other signs of damage. Neglecting tire maintenance can lead to blowouts, reduced fuel efficiency, and compromised handling, putting you and others on the road at risk. 

Experts recommend checking tire pressure at least once a month and before every long journey. It’s also advisable to rotate the tires periodically to promote even wear and extend their lifespan. Additionally, be mindful of the trailer’s maximum load capacity and ensure that the tires are rated to support the weight you’ll be carrying.  

Brake System Maintenance

If your trailer is equipped with a brake system, it’s important to keep it in proper working order. Brake systems not only ensure safe stopping distances but also help maintain control of the trailer, especially when hauling heavy loads or navigating steep inclines.  

Regular inspections should include checking the brake fluid levels, examining the brake pads or shoes for wear, and testing the brake lights to ensure they’re functioning correctly. It’s also essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for brake system maintenance, which may include periodic brake adjustments or fluid flushes.  

Lighting and Electrical System Checks

Proper lighting is essential for safety on the road, both for you and other drivers around you. Before each trip, take a few moments to inspect all the trailer’s lights, including the running lights, turn signals, brake lights, and any auxiliary lighting. Ensure that they’re working correctly and replace any burnt-out bulbs promptly. 

While you’re at it, check the wiring connections between the trailer and the tow vehicle for any signs of damage, corrosion, or loose connections. Faulty wiring can lead to intermittent lighting issues or even potential electrical hazards, so addressing any problems promptly is crucial.  

Hitch and Coupler Inspection

The hitch and coupler are the critical links between your tow vehicle and the trailer, so their condition and proper setup are paramount for safe hauling. Inspect them regularly for any signs of wear, rust, or damage, and ensure that they’re securely connected and properly lubricated. 

Pay close attention to the coupler’s locking mechanism and safety chains, as these components help prevent the trailer from becoming detached during transit. If you notice any issues or excessive wear, it’s best to replace the affected parts immediately, as the consequences of a trailer separation can be catastrophic.  

Wheel Bearing Maintenance

The wheel bearings on your trailer play a crucial role in ensuring smooth and efficient operation. Over time, these can wear down, leading to excessive play in the wheels, increased friction, and potentially even wheel separation. 

To prevent such issues, it’s recommended that the wheel bearings be inspected and repacked with fresh grease at regular intervals, as specified by the manufacturer. This simple maintenance task can significantly extend the life of your trailer’s wheels and prevent costly repairs down the line.  

General Cleaning and Protection

While it may seem like a minor consideration, keeping your trailer clean and well-maintained can have a significant impact on its longevity and appearance. Regular cleaning not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also helps prevent the buildup of dirt, grime, and corrosion that can accelerate wear and tear.  

Consider investing in a high-quality trailer cover or a garage to protect it from the elements that may cause damage. Exposure to sun, rain, and snow can take a toll on the trailer’s exterior and interior components, so taking proactive measures to shield it from harsh conditions can pay dividends in the long run.  

Additionally, applying a protective coating or sealant to the trailer’s exterior can help prevent rust, fading, and other forms of damage caused by exposure to the elements. This not only enhances the trailer’s appearance but also provides an additional layer of protection, ensuring that your investment remains in top condition for years to come.  

Professional Inspections and Services

While many maintenance tasks can be handled by diligent owners, it’s still essential to have your trailer inspected and serviced by professionals at regular intervals. These experts have the knowledge and tools to identify potential issues that may be difficult to detect with a cursory inspection. 

Professional services may include more in-depth brake system inspections, suspension checks, and even frame inspections to ensure the structural integrity of your trailer. They can also provide valuable advice on maintenance schedules, recommended upgrades, and any potential safety concerns based on their expertise and experience.  

Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs, increased downtime, and potentially dangerous situations on the road. So, treat your trailer like a valuable investment, and it’ll reward you with years of reliable service and countless adventures. 

Buying Considerations

Now, it’s time to learn several other considerations. Overlooking these factors can not only diminish the convenience and utility of your trailer but also compromise safety and potentially lead to legal issues.  

Tow Vehicle Capacity

Part of owning a trailer is to assess your tow vehicle’s capabilities. Every vehicle has a specific towing capacity and hitch rating, which are determined by factors such as engine power, transmission, and suspension.  

Attempting to tow a trailer that exceeds your vehicle’s rated capacity can lead to numerous problems, including decreased fuel efficiency, excessive wear on components, and potentially dangerous handling characteristics. 

To ensure safety and optimal performance, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or consult with a professional to determine its towing capacity and hitch rating. This information will prevent overloading and minimize the risk of accidents or breakdowns.  

Licensing and Registration Requirements

Just like any other vehicle on the road, trailers may be subject to licensing and registration requirements, depending on your state or local regulations. These laws can vary based on factors such as the trailer’s weight, dimensions, and intended use (personal or commercial). 

Before using your trailer, familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your area. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in fines, legal penalties, or even the inability to legally operate your trailer on public roads.  

Some areas may also require separate trailer insurance or specific endorsements on your existing auto insurance policy, so it’s essential to explore these considerations as well.  

Proper Loading and Weight Distribution

Achieving optimal weight distribution is crucial for safe and efficient trailering. An improperly loaded trailer can lead to a variety of issues, including reduced fuel efficiency, increased wear on components, and potentially dangerous handling characteristics. 

When loading your trailer, try to distribute the weight evenly from side to side and front to back. Avoid placing heavy items too far forward or too far back, as this can create an imbalance and affect the tongue weight (the downward force exerted on the hitch). Consult your trailer’s owner’s manual or seek professional advice to determine the recommended tongue weight range for your specific setup.  

Additionally, ensure that you never exceed the trailer’s Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR). However, this capacity is different depending on your area. 

For example, when hauling a trailer across the United States and Canada, experts advise maintaining the tongue weight within an optimal range of 10 to 15% of the trailer’s (GTWR). Exceeding this can result in hazardous handling issues, accelerated wear and tear on the trailer’s components, and potential legal ramifications. 

Storage and Security 

When your trailer isn’t in use, proper storage and security measures are paramount to protect your investment. Exposure to the elements, such as sun, rain, and snow, can accelerate wear and tear, potentially leading to costly repairs or replacements. 

If possible, store your trailer in a covered area, such as a garage or carport, to shield it from the elements. If outdoor storage is unavoidable, invest in a high-quality trailer cover or tarp to protect it from the sun’s UV rays, moisture, and debris.  

You must also consider implementing security measures to deter theft or unauthorized access. Wheel locks, hitch locks, or even a trailer alarm system can provide an extra layer of protection, giving you peace of mind knowing that your valuable asset is secure.  

By considering these additional factors and taking the necessary precautions, you can maximize the benefits of trailer ownership while minimizing potential risks and inconveniences.  

Conclusion

From the unmatched versatility and increased cargo capacity to the cost-effectiveness and freedom it provides, the benefits of trailer ownership are numerous. However, as with any valuable asset, proper maintenance and adherence to safety guidelines are paramount.  

So, whether you’re planning to use a trailer for your personal needs or for a logistics business, follow the tips outlined in this comprehensive guide. By doing so, you can ensure that your trailer remains a reliable companion for years to come, allowing you to tackle any hauling task or embark on new adventures with confidence. 

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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