The first thing that comes to your mind when you set out shopping for a trailer is the most appropriate size for your requirements. Most vendors will be offering standard sizes like a 6×4 trailer, 7×4 trailer, 8×5 trailer, or 9×5 trailer. But did you know that you can also get custom trailers when the standard sizes do not meet your exacting requirements?
Trailers constitute a very helpful and reliable attachment to your tow vehicle for the purpose of hauling farm produce, fertilizer, farming types of equipment, gadgets or equipment needed for your trade and a variety of other needs. At times a standard trailer like a 6×4 trailer, 7×4 trailer, 8×5 trailer, or 9×5 trailer may fail to meet your needs. This generally happens when a smaller size falls a bit short while the next bigger size is too long. At the same time, it is essential to ensure that the load you put into the trailer does not protrude beyond its length or overflow beyond the height. This is crucial to ensure your own safety and the safety of other road users and that brings into focus, custom trailers.
The choice between utility trailers and enclosed trailers
Utility trailers and enclosed trailers are the two popular types offered for various consumer applications. Utility trailers are convenient for hauling loads like farm equipment, scrap, fertilizer, farm produce and are open. Enclosed trailers conversely are facile for movement of cargo that needs cover while on the move. This type of trailer can also be used as secure storage for your vehicles or other related stuff particularly when you are away for several weeks.
When you are convinced that the standard sizes and types of trailers are not appropriate for your specific needs, all that you need to do is provide your own specifications to an experienced vendor to produce a custom trailer. While providing the specifications, you can include the exact size, material of construction, non-standard fixtures, or other features that are important to you. You will also have to discuss the specifications for custom trailers with the manufacturer with a view to aligning the specifications with the capacity of your tow vehicle. This is very important from a safety point of view as well as your local public transport laws.
The tow vehicle
The owner’s manual for most SUVs or other passenger vehicles can give you the towing capacity for the particular vehicle. If the information is not found in the manual, you can contact the manufacturer who can provide the details quickly. With standard sizes like 6×4 trailer, 7×4 trailer, 8×5 trailer, or 9×5 trailer, aligning the towing capacity of the tow vehicle with the chosen size is easier. With a custom trailer, this may need to be done specifically. As an additional safety measure, speak to your SUV manufacturer or dealer with the specifications of the custom trailer so that any adjustment that may be potentially needed can also be carried out.
Loading the trailer
All standard trailers have a specified GVWR which is the max weight that you can put on your trailer. Remember that the GVWR includes the empty weight of the trailer too. With a custom trailer, the trailer manufacturer will arrive at the GVWR and advise you accordingly. With these factors in mind, you should also take care to ensure that most of the load in the trailer sits in the front part of the axle. This will help in dispersing the load evenly across the body of the trailer. To prevent whipping out and swinging while in motion, most part of the load you are carrying should be at the centre of the body of the trailer. Another safety consideration is ensuring that the load on the trailer does not overflow or protrude. The uneven spread of the load can trigger the malfunctioning of the trailer.
As with every other automobile on the road, safety is a paramount consideration in your choice of a custom trailer. Therefore, when you are using your custom trailer for the first time on public roads, it is desirable that you acquaint yourself with the difference between driving your tow vehicle with zero loads on the trailer as also with the desired load. This can take a few days and you need to exercise added caution while passing, breaking and changing lanes. Moving uphill and downhill with a trailer on tow also needs a short learning curve to ensure that the engine of the tow vehicle can perform at an optimal level of efficiency. At speeds beyond 55 mph, your trailer can swing and this can pose a danger for other road users. Keeping speed at safe levels is therefore critical and you should always resist the temptation to accelerate beyond safe levels.
In some jurisdiction you may also need an additional endorsement on your driver’s license for towing a trailer on public roads. Check and comply with the local laws and regulations on using a trailer on public roads.
Precautions and trailer maintenance
In addition to the safe handling of your trailer, it is important that your trailer is also maintained properly. When you follow the regular maintenance schedule, it will add to the life of the trailer and the safety of the load you put on the trailer. Similarly, it is a great idea to check out the following aspects every time you take the trailer out on public roads.
- Check the safety chains and hooks for signs of damage, cracks or wear
- Check the coupler and hitch ball for pits, flats or cracks. Apply grease to the locking device and assess the need for replacement
- Make sure that the ring and pintle lock securely
- Check the tire pressure in cold state and inflate when needed. Check for potential damages/puncture
- Check the nuts and bolt-on hub to make sure that the wheels are tight
- Make sure that the load is placed securely on the trailer
- When you are driving a new trailer, check all safety aspects once every 25 or 50 miles.
Check out legal requirements like a distinct registration for the trailer and similar regulations before using public roads with the trailer for the first time. You will receive a distinct title for the trailer from the manufacturer and this can be helpful for registering the trailer with the concerned transport authority.