A Trailer Buyer’s Guide
The decision between open flatbed trailers and enclosed trailers is one that should not be made lightly. While both models have pros and cons, the choice must also factor in additional features that both types of trailers may/may not include. This guide is meant to educate the buyer not only on the differences between open flatbed and enclosed trailers, but also to equip you with the necessary questions you must ask yourself before contacting a manufacturer, and additional comparisons that may come in handy when choosing between the two models.
First things first, in order to make an educated decision on the type of trailer you need, you must gain a better knowledge of your haul.
- What is the primary piece of equipment you will be transporting?
- How much does the heaviest piece of equipment you plan to place on the trailer weigh?
- What type of vehicle will you be pulling it with?
Answering these three questions will allow the dealer to factor in necessary facts regarding the braking systems and axle count that you ultimately need in your trailer. Most states, for example, require brakes on a trailer hauling any load over 3000 pounds; this is something you need to consider before just blindly purchasing an open flatbed with one axle and no brakes.
Buyers must also weigh the importance of sheltered protection to their load, as well as the overall weight that both types of trailers can add to your tow vehicle. While enclosed trailers can keep your tools and equipment protected from the elements, they are also typically much heavier and less aerodynamic that their open flatbed counterparts. Keep in mind that some manufacturers try to promote lighter types of enclosed trailers; however, this is often done at the expense of the durability of the “protective skin” being used. The standard siding and roof aluminum skin used in the industry is .025-.035″, but tests have proven that a .030″ skin trailer can realistically be cut through with a pocket knife.
Therefore, choosing a thinner skin than the standard one could drastically increase the risk of durability issues, break-ins, and weather damage. Experts claim that opting for higher quality trailers and sacrificing weight for a .040″ aluminum that offers more security and stability can be worth it, depending on your cargo. Keep the additional industry expert points below in mind during your purchasing process, as well:
- Slipper spring suspension is considered better than double eye
- Radial tires are widely known as the “best option”
- Treated hard woods are considered the best “decking option”
- Drop foot jacks are more convenient than top wind types
- Fenders are best made with Channel or diamond plate
- Make sure the welding is strong, as certain manufacturers do not regulate this aspect of the trailer enough.
By keeping the above referenced facts in mind, you will ensure that you are properly vetting all of your options when planning to purchase one of the many flatbed or enclosed trailers available on the market today. Know your haul, and know what experts agree are the best specs available for the stability and durability of your trailer.