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Purchasing An Enclosed Trailer

2295 Views 15 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  firefighterontheside
Hello fellow jocks. I'm considering purchasing an enclosed trailer for transporting lumber as well as finished pieces of furniture around town. In about a month, I will be hauling multiple pieces of furniture from Florida to New York and this type of trip will likely happen almost every year.

My car is a 2006 Toyota 4Runner with a V6, so I know that I can't pull anything too large. I was thinking something like 5 by 10 or 6 by 12 at the largest.

So my question is, do any of you folks have trailers that you use for this purpose? Do you recommend a certain size or features (ramp door, V-nose, tandem axle, brakes)?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Jay, I used to pull a stock trailer and found the aluminum ones to be preferable since they were the lightest. There are a number of manufacturers. I had a Featherlite and was very happy with it.

A V-nose will improve gas mileage a bit. You probably won't want one large enough or carry enough weight for dual axles and the extra axle adds weight. I would definitely get stabilizer bars. If you have to load and unload by yourself, get a ramp door, but the step usually isn't much of a bother and the ramp can be a nuisance. I definitely recommend brakes. :D Seriously, I would probably go with a proportional brake because of the distances you will tow. Finally, depending on the dimensions of the furniture you might transport, consider a low profile.

The main issue with trailers is that the tail/brake lights don't work. That is almost always due to a lack of or a poor ground. HTH
Forget pulling a 12ft trailer. Proved to be way too dangerous with my 1990s 1-Ton Toyota 4×4 PU. Yes, I pulled a loaded 12ft'r from N. Indiana to S.Texas, but just about got killed on the long Interstate Highways in Kentucky and Tennessee. The trailer wheelbase and mass overwhelmed the smaller PU and started yawing when going downhill. Too much mass kept trying to push the PU faster and I had to time applying/tapping the brakes to in between the constant yawing (when the trailer was directly straight, about every 1-2 seconds). I couldn't keep the speed down because of this. Very scary, to say the least.

IMO, stick with the 10ft trailer. You can bet your life on it with such a small towing vehicle. And having a trailer with brakes is a must when loaded.
I pull a 14' enclosed trailer with a 1/2 ton Chevy pickup on a regular basis with absolutely no problems.

Properly set up, a competent driver will have no issues pulling a 12' trailer.

I considered both aluminum and steel trailers, and chose a steel trailer with the ramp gate. A couple of factors played into the decision. The steel models have a sturdier ramp gate and utilize a spring system to leverage the weight, the aluminum trailers use a cable system that gets in the way. In my discussion with other owners I found many aluminum trailers tended to develop leaks, something I wasn't willing to deal with.

With a little care you'll have no problems with a 12' trailer.
Okay, thanks for the input so far guys. Similar to what I've read elsewhere, people have different opinions on how comfortable they feel hauling different size trailers. I've rented a 6×12 and a 5×8 and there is obviously a huge difference between the two in terms of control and stability.

I'm leaning towards a 5×10 at this point mostly because I don't necessarily need the extra space and the gas mileage which is going to add up quickly. Almost anything I'm going to make is going to fit in a 5×10 and if it doesn't I'm sure I could split it into a couple of pieces. If the trip to NY wasn't part of the deal, I think I'd go for a larger trailer since there are no hills whatsoever down here and the price difference is minimal. However, that 24 hour haul is weighing heavily on the mind and I want to make it as safe and easy as possible.
I would rent one. If you are making the trip once a year, registering the trailer, taxes and maintenance will eat you up. Also, you will have to store it.
I like what was just said. Unless you use a trailer all the time they can get expensive and require tire replacement on a fairly frequent basis (a lot of trailer tires are only speed rated for 62 mph!). You could rent a truck and pull the Forerunner behind it with a dolly.
Trust me, pulling a fully loaded 14' into a head wind you'll watch the gas gauge drop like a rock!

The key to pulling a trailer responsibly is proper load distribution. It doesn't matter what size the trailer is, if you don't load it properly you'll have the kind of problems described above and be a menace to everyone on the road. Keep the load centered/slightly tongue forward. Too far back or forward and you'll have problems. Whether you rent or buy, spend some time talking to the folks you get the trailer from and let them help you understand load dynamics.
My vote is with mrjinx007. Rent the trailer if it is only once or twice a year, plus you do not have bring the trailer back. That will save you quite a bit of gas on the empty trailer return trip.
I had a 6×12 Haulmark that I pulled with my '09 1/2 ton Chevy. No problems other than poor gas mileage. That sorta rounded front on the trailer still acted like a parachute. We hauled our set up for sports photography - tables, chairs, computers, two canopies, generator and lots of accessories.

That size trailer doesn't have brakes or at least mine didn't.
Side door with barn doors in the rear.
Here are pics I took when I spotted it for sale.
Tire Wheel Vehicle Plant Motor vehicle

Wheel Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive exterior Fender

And hooked up to my truck.
Tire Wheel Automotive parking light Vehicle Land vehicle

Hope this helps.


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Please note that the folks above that state "no problems" with hauling a 12ft trailer were pulling said trailer with full size pickup trucks, NOT a smaller Toyota. That fact alone is a MAJOR factor.
First things First.

Check the allowable tow and weight ratings for your vehicle. These are typically listed in your user's manual.

Check out your hitch situation (If you don't have one factory installed, work with a reputable trailer hitch supplier/installer and get the beefiest hitch allowed for your vehicle's weight and tow ratings.

Get a trailer that is well matched to your vehicle in terms of weight and length. If purchasing a used trailer, inspect the wheel bearings, tires, frame and hitch. Look for uneven wear and bent frame members. Check the tire wear, if the tires are worn unevenly that is an indication of poor alignment of the axle. Check all of the wiring for loose or worn connections. Check the condition of the bolts that mount the axle to the frame. These can break or come loose. Pay Attention it's a used vehicle.

Do your home work. Every state has different laws on what you can and can't do with trailers. Check with your state DMV and find out if you will need trailer brakes (Typically required when the Gross trailer weight exceeds 1,200 pounds, but again this varies from state to state).

Check with your insurance company, not all policies cover towing.

Towing trailers is tricky business and can lead to all sorts of calamity if not done safely. Kind of like wood working, it's inherently dangerous but the dangers can be mitigated with the correct mindset, knowledge, training, and equipment.

This is my .02

Best of luck.
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I will chime in some. We pull a 16' utility a lot. I think Mike is referring to pulling with a 1\4 ton truck. The law of physics he seals of is correct no matter how well balanced the load is. If your load is too heavy and your truck too light your load will push your truck to a point. I drive a ram 1500 1\2 ton truck by the way and when building our shop I hauled heavy loads of I beams, R panel, etc… Those loads would actually push me and any stops would need to be well thought out and not sudden.

That said, I would vote you buy, not rent. I would also go with a 12' and not the 10'. If you are concerned about the breaking issue with heavier loads I would get a trailer shop to add brakes to the trailer if that is possible. A load of wooden furniture will not come close to the amount of weight we hauled when hauling our shop metal. The reason I would not rent is because I used to rent and that was a large pain. I am sure you will use the trailer locally for your custom furniture and so certainly you will be using the trail or more than once a year, and depending on how many customers you work with, you likely will use the trailer a fair amount. Plus in FL the weather can be very wet so protecting your product from the elements is good. Even the sun can cause damage to product.
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You got some great input, I have only pulled trailers with larger SUV's or pickups but even then it was literally a PITA.
Given your frequency of use I would consider one of those POD offerings and take a cheap flight.
Or just do what Mrjinks007 suggested. but rent one way.
The roads on that trip are crazy,
Bob Current
Trailer rated "D" range tires cost $100 each where I live in Oklahoma. Tires should be changed out every 5 years if they roll or not. Same for your cars BTW. If you don't use the trailer very often that alone would make a person weigh the cost of rent vs the cost of ownership. I have and use a 16 ft flat bed. I believe in Oklahoma the law says you must have brakes when the gross vehicle weight is over 3,000 lbs. If you have a small vehicle you have brakes designed for stopping a small light weight vehicle. They are probably 8 or 9 inches in diameter vs 12 inches in diameter. You vehicle brakes won't last. The rotors will require frequent turning or replacing because of the heat generated trying to slow the load. I believe most owner's manuals tell us to not pull a trailer with a frontal area larger than the vehicle (too much drag). Rent a uhaul truck (they come in Toyota sizes too) and fly home on the savings.
What is the towing capacity of your vehicle? What is the weight of the trailers you're looking at? How much weight are you likely to put in the trailer? The most common rule on brakes in trailers for most states is that any trailer with a gvwr of 3000 lbs or more has to have brakes. GVWR is the weight of the trailer plus what can be put in it. Any 10 or 12' trailer should have brakes. Not sure if they can have surge brakes or if they will all be electric. So if you have electric brakes, you'll have to install a brake controller. I'd sure like to have an enclosed trailer. Many times I have been trying to deliver a piece and it rained. One time was pretty extreme. Luckily I had some plastic in the truck and the piece was well painted with oil based alkyd and was not harmed. Good luck.
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