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Sundowner ValueLite - should I walk away?

I found a 2001 Sundowner ValueLite 2H locally and at a good price. Went out to take a look at it, and it seems to be in good shape for its age. The seller tells me it was kept under cover for the past 15 years. Small enough to pull with my SUV. But I’ve been reading the threads on the powder coating issue Sundowner had during this manufacturing date. Is it worth negotiating the price or taking it to a frame shop for an inspection, or should I just walk away? The trailer has been inspected annually, but I’m not sure how in depth those state inspections are. I did take a few pics of the underside, but I’m not sure how much rust is reasonable for a trailer of this age. I can post them if anyone would like. TIA

Take it and have it inspected. I believe the issue didn’t affect all Sundowners. I happen to have a 1997 Charter and it’s in fabulous condition.

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2 well known problems here: First is the Suncoating on the floor. This can easily be detected by being able to pinch the coating and lift it up. The entire coating needs to come out so now you’re looking at the aluminum floor to determine whether or not you have any urine/aluminum reaction. This is usually fixed with an acid bath and maybe some patching depending on the severity of the problem. Second problem not so easily detected is the improper application of the powder coating on the underside and the frame members. Best way to determine extent of damage is to remove the wheels so you can see the main rail. If the rust comes off in giant flakes it’s a problem. Some rust is not a problem. In order to fix the main rail, you have to have good metal on which the weld. Thin metal won’t work. This may/may not be fixable.
Trailer price won’t matter if it can’t be safely fixed.


I can’t remember the exact years and models, but if it’s in the problem years WALK AWAY.

I owned one, bought new. I hauled the Jesus out of it, took immaculate care of it, and the frame was still rusting to bits. I sold it as soon as I could.

Had horse friends who sold their 2001 Sundowner after about 5-6 years when their kid lost interest in horses. Due to the power coating issue --they had the under carriage completely redone before they sold the trailer —my point is that some people fixed this problem. An inspection should show if this has been corrected. —wait a second --changed my mind on this —did a brief Google Search of Sundowner Powder Coating problem and came across way too many stories of Valulite Sundowners having major problems — This from Horse Forum:

t has come to my attention that there is a serious design flaw in the powder-coated steel frames on the “Valuelite” models of Sundowner Trailers causing these frames to rust at an accelerated rate. Further, I understand that the manufacturer has not alerted the owners of these trailers to the damage occurring and the danger of a major frame failure.
In 1999 Sundowner began building “Valuelite” trailers using power coated steel frames. There is an inherent design flaw in the engineering of this type of frame. Powder coating does not flex with the trailer, and what happens over time, as the trailer travels and vibrates, the powder coating over the steel frame splits apart at the frame joints. Moisture is then trapped between the frame and the powder coating, causing the steel to rust at an accelerated rate, as it has no way to dry out.
Sundowner is aware of the problem. However, to my knowledge, I have never heard of any type of factory recall nor even any type of notice of concern being sent from the manufacturer to all affected customers. It is reasonable to assume that almost every “Valuelite” trailer presently on the road has this problem, and that most owners are blissfully unaware of the problem.
The only solution I know of to “band-aid” the problem is to have the entire frame sanded with a power sander, then a “metal cleaner” should be applied, then a “metal ready” product applied, and finally at least 3 coats of “POR 15” should be applied to stop further deterioration. POR 15 will need to be applied every few years to insure full rust prevention.
If the trailer is still under warranty, Sundowner will do the work, although the trailer owner should make sure that all of the above procedures are done. It is interesting to note that this winter Sundowner announced that they have stopped making Valuelite trailers without any explanation as to why they were discontinuing the model.
I hope this information is helpful to any owners of Sundowner “Valuelite” trailers


I didn’t climb under fully, but here’s the photos I took of the underside, near the neck

Is this the floor (directly under the mats) or is there another layer? I did run my hands over this surface and wasn’t able to “pinch” anything

Nope nope nope. I have a 2006 EquiSpirit I’m fixing to sell that has zero rust issues in the underside.


I’m trying to tell you, I owned one. Nope, nope, nope.

It looked similar to your pictures but I could peel the powder coating off in sheets and all the welds were rusting at an accelerated rate. No way, no how.


Thanks for the sanity check guys! I’ll pass and keep looking


Good choice. Until you pull the wheels you can’t really see the worst part of the frame damage. The floor looks good but I’ll bet you can pull it up somewhere. You’re saving yourself a lot of headache.


I was going to buy one but then my husband looked at the roof and you could tell water had gotten under the roof coating and the trailer ceiling making it almost concave. A trailer maintenance/sales yard refuses to work on them because they all have roof problems - prone to caving in.