If you are looking to grow your fleet but are short on budget, you can consider buying a secondhand trailer. Conventional wisdom would think that buying a used trailer can save you money; however, not in all cases. Sometimes, purchasing “used” or “pre-owned” turns out to be more expensive because of the required repairs or upgrades to make the trailer operable and safe to use. To avoid this, here are ten things you need to check when considering buying a used trailer:

1. Overall design

The first thing you need to check is the overall design of the trailer and see if it is compatible with your vehicle. If you are unsure, you’ll need to ask an expert to confirm this.

2. Frame  

Inspect the frame for cracks and wear. Cracking of the frame may indicate a serious design flaw, constant overloading or improper use. A spider-like web crack is a bad sign and should be taken seriously. Simply welding the frame may not solve the issue and instead may create more problems or may transfer the crack to another location.

3. Wheels and tires

Check these parts for signs of wear as wheel or tire replacements can easily cost you hundreds of dollars and could offset your savings in buying a used trailer. Tires with uneven wear could indicate bent axles which could compromise the overall quality of your trip. Also, check if the tires are indeed for trailers and not for automobiles. Tires for trailers add more stability to the trailer.

4. Suspension  

The suspension should also be free from cracks or breaks as these are indicators of overloading or abrupt shifting on the axles because of sudden impact on the ground.

5. Brakes  

It is also common for secondhand trailers to have wiring issues for the electric brakes and pads. This is also something you should ensure as it could compromise your safety on the road. Ask the seller if the brake works on the axles. Also, inspect the brake pads, drums, rotors, magnets and shoes. If you are lucky, your seller may do a brake job before the turnover.

6. Floor  

A strong floor is vital for holding your load. Check the floorboards for signs of rot. You should also take the time to check the floor’s frame for signs of rust, corrosion or deterioration. If the issue is very serious, you may have to replace the entire flooring system which can be very costly. If the flooring system has multiple cross members, that is a plus as they make the floor stronger.

7. Coupler  

The coupler is the connection point that securely attaches the trailer to the vehicle. Check for any signs or damage. If there is a need to replace it, you need to consider the size of the coupler and the gross vehicle weight rating.

8. Electrical  

Check if all the lights are working. If not working, try if bulb replacement could solve the problem. If not, there may be a serious wire shorting on the frame and this issue may lead to additional expenses on your part.

9. Doors and dividers  

If you are getting an enclosed trailer, check if all the dividers, bars and doors are properly working. Check if the latches are still efficient. While any issue on the doors and dividers can easily be fixed, this may add up to the extra cost you will be spending to recondition the trailer.

10. Other parts  

Since you will be thoroughly checking the trailer, it is also a good time to inspect if the bearings are seated properly and lubricated. If ramps are included, check also if they are still working with no serious cracks and signs of wear.

Before you finally decide and celebrate your few thousands of savings from buying a used trailer, you need to factor in first the cost of possible repairs and upgrades based on your initial check up. It is also important to note that used trailers are typically no longer covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. This could be a big risk on your part if the trailer would suddenly stop working.

Many people would still prefer buying a new trailer despite its higher cost in exchange for peace of mind. There are still best deals for used trailers out there and let your instinct and investigative approach work to find it.