It can be very difficult to choose just the right trailer, especially if you are looking for one that can also operate as a standalone driver. Very few dealers will allow you to hook up your trailer in order to test it out, so you are left with having to depending upon the vehicle’s specs, its towing capacity and your own impressions upon viewing it on the road or on the lot as the case may be.
Even after you choose the right car hauler for your needs you will need to make other decisions such as the engine, transmission, suspension, various comfort and luxury features and the type of drive you want—two- or four-wheel. Some of the more important things you will need to know are included here for your convenience.
Before you make a decision you need to know the weight of your car trailer. You should be able to find the gross weight rating of the trailer, but if you can’t find it or always have a specific payload, you can bring hook the trailer to your tow vehicle and weight it at the trailer weigh station at a truck stop.
You also need to think about the weight of the vehicle you will be towing or hauling. There is a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating for every vehicle and this is the maximum permissible weight capability of that vehicle including the vehicle and everything else that is onboard such as the vehicle, passengers, cargo and fuel. You have to estimate the weight of everything you are going to take with you including passengers before you add the weight of the car trailer. If you discover you will be close to the maximum allowable weight when you are towing near the maximum towing weight, you should begin looking at something that has a higher load and towing capacity.
The other question that should come to mind is what kind of vehicle will you be using to tow: sedan, station wagon, minivan, SUV or pickup? For most situations a heavy-duty pickup with a towing package and diesel engine is sufficient. On the other hand if you are towing a small boat or pop-up trailer for weekend camping—or even the occasional use of a flatbed trailer for hauling trash—a truck is not necessarily a requirement. If you are towing less than 1000 pounds you can probably get by with a passenger vehicle (possibly even a compact), but you will need to check the vehicle’s tow rating. Be careful because even though vehicles may be similar in power size and weight, their towing capacities may be completely different if they are even existent at all. A flatbed trailer can be used for so many things.
If you are hauling very heavy loads, you want to stay with full-frame vehicles and traditional trucks but for lighter car trailers, you can certainly use a unit-body vehicle without a problem. If you regularly tow heavy loads in these types of trucks you will find more creaks, rattles and issues with body integrity; however, the occasional weekend jaunt is perfectly acceptable.
Another thing you need to decide is if you want front-, rear-, all- or four-wheel drive. The best choice for those who do a lot of towing is rear-wheel drive because it offers more traction and stability when compared to front-wheel drive. Truck-style four-wheel drive should never be used while you are towing because it adds extra weight. All-wheel drive systems can go either way—some help with towing while others tend to have reduced towing capacity and may even cause wear and damage because of towing.
Choosing an automatic transmission is usually the best choice for towing. If the person operating the car hauler or towing vehicle is experienced with shifting, a manual transmission is fine. If you’re using an automatic transmission it’s important to make sure you have a transmission cooler, have a gentle throttle foot when possible and always make sure to disengage overdrive in order to reduce any excessive wear.
The engine of your tow vehicle or car hauler should have plenty of low rpm torque—when it comes to towing you need to think torque instead of horsepower. Diesels are the best choice for towing because they achieve better mileage and are more durable. Try to avoid saving money by choosing a smaller engine: it may actually end up costing more money because the strain will cause it to use more fuel. There will also be extra engine wear.
A great deal of thought goes into buying the right trailer to tow or haul your car even if you choose a flatbed trailer. The key issue of importance is making sure you choose the trailer that is going to be the most beneficial for your needs at the most economical cost. Having a car hauler is great if you break down.
When choosing a car trailer one must take several factors into consideration. These choices will help determine whether to purchase a car hauler, car trailer, flatbed trailer, enclosed trailer or even a tow dolly. Sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Don’t worry; it’s just a matter of learning about each trailer to find out which one is perfect for you.
The main factors to consider when buying a trailer are
- Flatbed (open) or enclosed trailer
- Ease of use
The two main types of trailers are open or enclosed. Both types have their advantages and drawbacks. The primary difference is that a flatbed trailer is open to the elements and an enclosed trailer is not. A flatbed trailer has the advantage of being able to haul many different sizes of vehicles. It also allows you more access to the vehicle while it is on the car trailer. Wrecked or junk cars are commonly hauled on this type of cargo trailer. Another use for having your vehicle on a flatbed trailer would be if you were planning on displaying your car while it’s still on the trailer.
An enclosed trailer offers different options than a flatbed trailer. This type of car trailer or car hauler gives you more security, protection from the weather and increased anonymity. Antique or custom car owners would greatly benefit from all of these advantages due to the high value and rarity of their cars. Another benefit of this trailer type is that it can be customized on the inside to carry extra parts or supplies. In addition, the exterior can be painted to match the tow vehicle. A lot of race car owners utilize this type of trailer because of the ability to add extra storage space. They don’t have to bring an extra equipment trailer to safeguard the tools, parts and equipment they require, as they fit easily into an enclosed trailer. Many choose to decorate the outside of their car hauler with the team number and sponsors names to make their trailer stand out to the fans. The only real downside to an enclosed trailer type of car hauler is that once you have it set up for one type or size of car it can be difficult to change it.
If you have 1 or 2 vehicles that you tow all of the time an enclosed trailer would be the best type of car hauler for you. If, however, you are hauling many different types or sizes of vehicles then the best type would probably be a flatbed trailer.
The 3rd type of car trailer is in a class all its own- the tow dolly. A tow dolly is a very specialized type of car hauler. It is used only to tow cars. It sports a very simple design and is essentially two wheels that support a ramp that you drive the front wheels of your car onto. The car wheels are then strapped down to the ramp, allowing the tow dolly to tow the vehicle. This type of car hauler is very easy to operate, simple to move around, a cinch to hook up, and convenient for loading and unloading. A tow dolly is also the easiest for a one person operation.
Flatbed trailers have the most towing capacity of the 3 car trailers or car haulers, because it has the least structure. An enclosed trailer would be second, but it does have limits due to the fact that it is enclosed. Both of these car trailers can be configured for one or more cars to be towed at the same time. A tow dolly, however, can only be used for one thing so it has the least flexibility of the 3 car hauler types.
Storage of your car trailer when it’s not in use can also be a factor. Flatbed trailers and enclosed trailers are both larger than the vehicles that they are designed to carry, so if this is an issue the much smaller tow dolly may be the right answer for you.
The final choice of car hauler will come down to what works best for you. Whether you go with the highly versatile flatbed trailer or the extremely customizable enclosed trailer, or the utilitarian, yet easy to use tow dolly, all of these will be readily available from a reputable utility trailer dealer.
Not many people know what indicates the need for replacement brakes in their RV trailer. First off, should your trailer weigh more than three thousand pounds, it should be fitted with its own brakes. (Contact your local DMV for legal guidelines.) If you own a 5th wheel, RV trailer or car hauler, it probably does feature electric brakes. So, what other kinds of brakes are there? Well, many other tow-vehicles feature hydraulic brakes, much like the brakes found on today’s cars and trucks. And, truth be told, your electric brakes operate in pretty much the same manner as hydraulic brakes. However, there are some significant distinctions that can wreak havoc on your trailer’s integrity, your wallet and your sanity, if you don’t understand some important electrical brake, basics. Here’s what you need to know to address some major trailer brake issues as expediently and inexpensively as possible.
Look at the front section of your trailer. (Known as the tongue, area.) You’ll see a break-away switch (Figure One) and a battery (Figure Two). The 2 items work in tandem as your emergency backup. If your trailer ever gets disconnected from your tow vehicle, this emergency system is designed to automatically, engage the trailer’s brake. This occurs because as the trailer pulls away from the tow rig, the break-away plunger gets pulled, out, activating the breakaway switch. This releases current to the unhitched trailer’s braking system, activates the brakes and stops the trailer.
How best to determine that your car hauler or 5th wheel ‘s break-away system is truly working correctly? Start with a simple test that we recommend you incorporate into your preparation routine, every time you travel. Number one, start by pulling the emergency plunger switch from its receptacle. (figure #3). Find a wheel with a braking drum and touch any available screw driver to that brake drum. (figure #4). Should the screw driver react as if you’re touching a magnet, you have just confirmed that your emergency break-away system and battery are working properly. Bottom line, regardless of whether it’s an RV, car trailer or fifth wheel, your trailer’s brakes are comprised of an electromagnetic, braking engagement system. When a current is relayed to the braking magnet, the magnet’s surface interfaces with the brake drum, magnetizing the drum. As we’re focusing on magnetizing drums, it’s critical to understand that with many years of use, your trailer’s brake drums may ultimately become permanently, magnetized.
Once this happens, it’s essential to be able to separate this problem from brake shoe, brake cluster and brake adjustment problems. This can eliminate unnecessary diagnostic or part replacement, expenses. Not to mention the potential agony of having your system stripped down. The minute you feel that your RV Trailer or car hauler‘s braking system isn’t up to snuff or reacting correctly, the first step is to immediately disengage the trailer’s electrical connectors, (figure #5), from the towing rig.
Next, touch the brake drum with any available screwdriver. If the screwdriver snaps onto the brake drum like it’s magnetized, your brake drums will need to be replaced. (figure #6).
Now, anyone who hasn’t seen this issue before, wants to know exactly what’s prompted the problem. Well, it comes down to this. The electro-magnet responsible for activating your system’s brakes, is supposed to work in tandem with your brake drum, attracting it magnetically with the increased electrical current created every time you step on the brakes. (Because electromagnetic brakes, pulse very rapidly, you can brake as hard as you want without locking up the brakes. Old fashioned, mechanical brakes did not provide this rapid pulsing, causing some driver’s brakes to lock up and cause skidding when they hit the brakes too fast.) However, once the brake drum becomes magnetized, the brake drum impedes the brake system’s ability to work properly by repelling, rather than attracting the electromagnet. This causes the brakes to feel slightly engaged as you ride, yet seem to work far more ineffectively, when you hit the brakes.
Proper brake maintenance is key. Inspect your trailer brakes annually, without fail. The majority of
RV trailer‘s seem to get their big, once-over in the springtime, as owners prepare for the season. For more information, check out your trailer manufacturer’s website. If they’re reputable, they’re sure to offer free safety tips and trips to keep you and your trailer on track.