Used Trailer Shopping 101 for a New Hauler

Since asking about a trailer for horse and cart, doing some research, and assessing my current situation I have started used trailer shopping and would love some input.

As it stands, we have a very well maintained 2012 Toyota Tundra with a little over 105,000-ish miles on it that I will use to haul. I am looking to haul locally which is relatively flat. Realistically traveling will be for lessons; riding trainer is 12 miles away, driving trainer is about 40 miles freeway, and local indoor that allows my barn to pay a small fee to use that is 3 miles away. Locally we also have a lot in the way of bridle trails that are well within 30 miles from the barn, some closer than others.

I would like to find something by fall so I can have better haul out capabilities before winter comes back again. I would prefer a 2-horse gooseneck as I am new to hauling and understand they offer more stability than a bumper pull. Charlie trailers like a champ, he’s fine with step up or ramp, as well as straight or slant load. I’d like aluminum over steel and don’t need anything extra like tack/dressing rooms. I have one that I am in line to look at locally that fits this bill. I’ve found the 2-horse goosenecks don’t pop up a lot so I’d also be open to a bumper pull or stock trailer type as well. I’m not in any real rush so I don’t mind waiting a bit either. I understand it’s important to check roofs for rust/leaks, floors for holes/wear and anything steel on an aluminum trailer for rust, tires, electric, brakes etc. SO is well versed in cars/trucks and a friend I board with is also extremely knowledge about trailer shopping and is willing to go look with us provided he is in town and haul home while we get whatever hitch situation with the truck.

This will not be my long term/forever trailer. Right now I am looking at something practical that will work well with the Tundra as we are planning to drive that for as long as it is reliable. Future upgrade may be larger truck and trailer for pony and cart, and potentially a second pony someday.

Questions. The aluminum gooseneck that I will hopefully get a chance to go and look at is a '94, is allegedly in very good shape and was inspected last year when the seller purchased it. Pictures look good to me and trailer savvy friends. It’s being sold due to being a bit too short for their current horse. List is for $9,500. I’d prefer to stay in the $6-8,000 ballpark (or less but trailer prices seem just as nuts as trucks/horses/etc right now), but if the right trailer comes along I have some flexibility. There is also a BP 2022 stock trailer that is steel, that is listed for $8,000. If neither of these pan out, it’s not a big deal but I thought a good thought exercise. How much does age matter in a trailer if it’s been well maintained and is in good shape? Is resale better on something new that I won’t be keeping forever? What all else should I be considering?

“Age” does not matter much, especially if it is an aluminum trailer. Steel trailers may have rust issues that may or may not be major or fixable. (with a smaller truck, you are probably not going to be looking at steel trailers- too heavy). The “trailer” is a box on wheels, it “should” not “wear out”. The things that can wear out or be damaged are axles, tires, brakes, and electrical. All these are pretty easily fixed, and will cost a bit of money, but usually fairly affordable. When looking at an older trailer, YOU can see if the “box” is damaged (check the floor from the underneath) for dents, cracks etc. Everything else should be checked out by a pro.

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This is obviously just my opinion but I was in your boat a few years ago. Basically what I determined is that an older, well-maintained trailer of a better brand was better than a new cheap trailer. Every time I started researching a new cheap brand, I would find horror stories (Bee, Shadow, etc).

I ended up with a 1997 aluminum Sooner 2h bp that was expensive when new. I put about $1000 into minor repairs, upgrades, etc but the trailer place I got the repairs done said it’s basically as good as new and completely safe to haul in. Good luck, it’s a tough market out there

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Great to hear and thank you! This is where I’m leaning as I continue to learn more, it’s nice to hear happy stories.

I would not pass on a steel trailer, if you find one that looks decent then they are way easier to repair than an aluminum trailer. also there are a lot economy aluminum trailers that have come out in the past 10 years that I would steer clear of. Trailers definitely do wear out, the main thing is tires, then lights, then brakes, then axles. then doors start to work loose then the frame starts to crack. the quality of a trailer has a lot to do with how long they last, cheap trailers can wear out in a couple of years, high end trailers can last decades. Finally I would steer clear of a gooseneck 2 horse, just because it adds so much weight to a trailer that size and makes it more of a pain, especially when compared to just adding weight distribution bars. first off it will greatly limit the number of trailers you have to choose from, and it is more of a chore to hook up, and it uses your bed space. it is just a matter of opinion but that is mine.

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Just going to add that you can’t assume that aluminum trailers means no rust. Even trailers, like 4 Star, that are all aluminum, including the frame, still have steel axles. Please still check for rust and other signs of metal corrosion.

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No assumptions being made on that!

on the older trailer, look at the tires, there is a date code on the tires (Google reading date codes on tires), if older than five years you have a point of negotiation as new trailer tires will cost a hundreds of dollars to replace…and check the spare (and make sure the spare is on the same wheel as the trailer…we bought one that the spare would not)

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Sorry, I did not see that you mentioned that in your OP. Just often see people thinking all aluminum automatically means no rust. I have learned this lesson the hard way myself :grimacing:

No worries at all, that one seems like a big deal detail!

In Ohio, I would not buy a steel trailer, especially if using it to tow in winter. The roads are treated, and that treatment will affect steel.

You would have to be washing it almost every time you used it to help prevent corrosion from starting.

I have seen steel trailers starting to rust on the lot before they are even sold.

As far as age, it is like @NancyM said earlier- trailers are basically a box on wheels, fairly simple to maintain or replace parts.

I have a ‘99 Featherlite stock trailer, that you would have to pry from my cold, dead hands.

All aluminum, 16’. It is in great shape and has been extremely reliable. Neither my husband or I would part with it.

We have owned it for 12 years and have replaced a couple burned out lights and tires.Tires are probably your biggest “wear item” on a trailer, and with the exception of brakes, your most important.

Cheap tires are no good, will blow and usually take out a fender when they do. Last time we put 5 tires on the trailer, about 3-4 years ago, cost
was about just over $1000. I put 4 tires on our LQ trailer last year and it was about $1000 for 4. Budget for the best tires you can get. Do not be tempted to buy lower cost, inferior tires!

I have pretty much resigned to no steel trailer to your exact points. With the intent to haul more in the winter when the roads are treated, it makes a lot of good sense to go the aluminum route.

I won’t skimp on tires! I suspect I am going to be a nervous hauler already and anything I can do to make things the safest they can be will be done. I get nervous when someone experienced is hauling :woman_facepalming:

Edit to add - I plan to do a lot of empty trailer driving first and have a trailer driving friend shotgun for a couple rides too.

The best thing you can do is practice hauling empty before you load your horse and go. I went to a high school parking lot early on Sunday mornings until I felt comfortable enough with slower driving. Then I hit back roads, and once comfortable, progressed to highways.

The parking lot was a great place to learn to back as well. No pressure, lots of room!

For me, I find the more I do something, the more comfortable I get with it.

On a side note- my first rig was an F-150 with a 2 horse straight load with a 4’ dressing room. My trailer guy mentioned when he installed the hitch that it might need sway bars but he thought it would be okay without them. Well, I got on a 4 lane divided highway, and it was not okay!

I came home in tears, thought I had wasted a ton of money buying a truck and trailer I was never going to use because it scared me s**tless! After putting the sway bars on, it was like a different rig. And I learned from that experience!

With the correct tow vehicle and correct trailer, and defensive driving skills, it will be fine!

I will also add that a gooseneck is much easier to handle than a bumper pull. I would never go back to a bumper pull if given the choice!

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I have already told my friend who hauls cross country regularly I will be requesting lessons :rofl:

I am the same way. Once I get used to it and how it feels Im good. It took me a minute to get used to driving a truck again (hadn’t driven one in decades) and now that feels just fine. The gooseneck is my preference for that reason if I can find one! I will happily take a little extra work to get it hitched for extra stability. If I end up with a BP, sway bars will be a must.

www.horsetrailerworld.com

Look multiple times a day. Be ready to pull the trigger immediately if you find something. It is a HOT, HOT market right now!

Thank you for the link! Ill add that to my list. Im in a couple local-ish Facebook groups as well that I’m watching like a hawk. The local 2H gooseneck did sell, which is not a surprise since I didn’t catch it right away but a bummer none-the-less!

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put cup Full of water in one of the cup holders and learn to drive and Stop without dumping it all over the place

Both of my girls learned to haul at a young age, and could drive the 5 speed manual…which 99% of the boys at school could not… they could back a trailer into just about any parking space

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I will do this!

I love stories like this :joy:

both girls’ high school “car” was a diesel truck, old daughter used our five speed manual four wheel drive… she learned to drive in that truck on the back roads of the LBJ Grasslands youngest used the F350 dually

on the other hand oldest son did not get his driver’s licence until after high school as he rode his horse everywhere, even over to the Fort Worth Stockyards. Often either he or oldest daughter had to saddle up their horse to pony the two younger kids’ horses to the elementary school “to pick up” youngest son and daughter.

Nearly all of our friends thought we nuts, often asking How Much Does All that Cost? as our kids were all over the US and once to Canada with their horses… well in the long run nothing, not a penny as when they started fracking they did the tests it was found we have several pockets of natural gas and pool of oil under the horses’ pasture.

yougest son was not much of a rider, really was not that interested but he had to show one of his models that the camel was not going to harm her. They were doing a fashion shoot for Vogue Germany and the model (I forgot her name, she was one of the very top rated in he world at the time) she was not going to get near the camel until son rode the camel over to her…

!

son is on the right

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Those are some awesome stories!! It would have been my dream to be picked up from school with my horse hahaha. The camel story and photos are great, your son has a cool job!