In today’s economy, the natural thing to do is look for ways to save money.  This applies to the individual who is shopping for a Kaufman trailer.  Conventional wisdom says that buying a used or pre-owned item will indeed make things easier on the budget.  This is true in certain cases, but definitely not all.  Sometimes purchasing “used” turns out to be the exact opposite due to repairs and upgrades required to make the equipment operable and safe.  Here are ten things to consider when comparing the cost of a used trailer with one that is brand new:

  1. Tires: look for cracks, plugged holes, matching size, and correct capacity.  A trailer, like a chain, is no stronger than its weakest link.  Make sure the tires can carry the load you intend to haul on the trailer.  Replacing tires can quickly reach several hundred dollars.
  2. Brakes: ask the seller about the brake function on the axles.  If possible, inspect the pads, shoes, drums, rotors, and magnets.  Sometimes a seller will do a complete brake job in preparation for selling the trailer.
  3. Bearings: this is also a good time to make sure the bearings are lubricated and seated properly.
  4. Suspension: check the leaf springs and spring hangars for cracks, breaks, and repairs.  These are all indicators that tell if the trailer has been overloaded or if the axles have shifted due to a sudden impact with something on the ground.  If the trailer has torsion axles, be sure the rubber inserts are intact.  Uneven tire wear may be caused by incorrect axle alignment.
  5. Frame: carefully inspect the frame for cracks and repairs.  These will also indicate if the trailer has been overloaded or built improperly from the beginning.
  6. Electrical: make sure the lights are working.  A trailer with no lights is an accident looking for a place to happen.  If they do not function, find out why.  It may be as simple as replacing a bulb, or a blown fuse on the truck.  Bare wires shorting on the frame, or wires routed incorrectly will lead to additional expense.
  7. Floor: a trailer floor is probably the simplest component to replace.  However, redecking will involve the cost of materials and labor.  Materials include new deck boards and fasteners, while the installer must know how to fit the lumber properly, drill new holes through the crossmembers, and reattach the wires underneath.
  8. Ramps: the ramps should be designed to load almost any equipment the trailer is rated to carry.  A checklist for ramp inspection includes length, width, straightness, cracks/repairs, strength, and how they are attached or stored on the trailer.
  9. Previous ownership: be sure the vehicle trailer is not stolen or borrowed.  Determine if the VIN is stamped on the trailer, and matches all related paperwork.  Irregularities with the title may be an indication of stolen equipment.
  10. Price: there are rare occasions where a deal is so good it would be foolish to pass it up.  But this is the exception.  Most of the time used trailers are priced very near the cost of a new one factory-direct from Kaufman Trailers.  By the time repairs and upgrades are calculated, it makes better economic sense to purchase a new trailer that is covered under warranty.

Bonus: axle placement – a used trailer with the axles in the wrong position will be very difficult to load properly or tow safely behind a vehicle.  Having the tongue weight too light or too heavy will lead to frustration, hazardous circumstances, and uneven wear on the trailer components.

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