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Tips for Buying Enclosed Trailers

Enclosed trailers come in a variety of sizes and configurations – here's how to find the right one for your needs.
enclosed trailers

Enclosed trailers are a great business asset, especially when you need to keep what’s inside the trailer away from the elements and protected from potential thieves. And you might be thinking – hey, a trailer is a trailer, right? As long as my tools and materials are safe, what else do I need to know?

We’re glad you asked. Equipment Trader looked into what differentiates one enclosed trailer from another and found some important information we’d like to pass along to our readers. Here are a few things you’ll need to ponder before you start shopping.

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Dimensions

Standard enclosed trailers can be anywhere from five to 8 ½ feet wide, and eight to 28 feet long. They are normally about six feet tall, but there are variations on that measurement as well.

You’ll need to figure out the best size for your needs before you start shopping, so you don’t waste your time looking at options that are going to be too small or too large for what you need to haul.

However, when determining the total size and weight of your cargo (knowing how much you are pulling is important when it comes to the vehicle that will be pulling the trailer), you’ll want to calculate in a little extra room for maneuvering, especially if you will occasionally be hauling irregularly shaped cargo. Just keep in mind that, generally speaking, the larger the trailer, the lower the fuel economy of the tow vehicle.

Skin

Enclosed trailers are normally available with either a steel or aluminum shell. Steel tends to be less expensive and stronger, but also heavier and susceptible to rust over time – although a well-sealed steel box should be protected from rusting. Conversely, lighter aluminum shells will be better on gas mileage and less susceptible to rust, but they are more expensive and can be prone to warping when exposed to extreme heat.

The color and the thickness of the metal and the color the exterior is painted can also play a factor in the durability of the shell (light colors reflect heat while dark colors absorb). Be sure to factor in your budget and the weather conditions you’ll normally be working in when choosing the type and thickness of metal and the color of the exterior.

Flooring

The weight of the equipment and materials you’ll be hauling is also important, especially when it comes to the flooring inside the trailer and type of suspension you’ll want.

For the flooring, the industry standard for the floor’s cross member support is 24 inches on center. This is great for general purposes, but if you will be transporting something heavier, like a riding lawn mower, you might want to look for (or upgrade) to 16- or 12-inch on center crosses.

The quality of the flooring material itself is also important. Particleboard will get damaged and warped quickly. Instead, opt for high-quality plywood (for both the floors and interior walls) that is 3/4” to 3/8” thick. If you need extra support, you may want to consider a double-thick layer of plywood or even potentially diamond plate reinforcement.

Suspension

The weight of the load you’ll be hauling will also play a factor in the type of axles you’ll want for the trailer. Leaf spring axles are typically less expensive, and they provide a smooth ride when your trailer is empty. They are also easier to repair or replace, but they tend to make the trailer ride higher, which could affect your gas mileage.

Torsion axles provide a better ride quality when the trailer is loaded, and they provide independent tire and wheel movement, which is important if you’ll regularly be driving on uneven surfaces.

Access

The equipment and/or materials you’ll be hauling will also dictate whether you want a ramp door or barn doors. A ramp door opens from top to bottom (high to low) and creates a ramp from the trailer bed to the ground. This is a good option for loading and unloading vehicles, such as a riding mower. Barn doors open left and right and are good for general cargo. Barn doors are advantageous when loading and unloading in tight spaces because they don’t need the additional clearance behind the vehicle that a ramp door would need. They just need enough clearance to swing open.

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Research

There are a lot of other things to take into consideration when it comes to purchasing an enclosed trailer, including the type of tires you’ll want and whether you’ll need to upgrade your driver’s license if you’ll be towing a trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that is over a certain level, as dictated by local, state, and/or federal ordinances.

Once you’ve done your due diligence on your needs, we’re here to help you find the trailer that will fulfill them. Equipment Trader is one of the largest online resources for buying and selling new and used equipment, such as trailers, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for quickly and easily.

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Barrett Baker
Barrett Baker
Barrett Baker is a freelance writer with more than 40 years of writing experience. He has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and a variety of advertising and marketing firms throughout his career. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, cooking, and working with animal rescues.

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