Pickup Trucks 101: What Type of Work Trailer Do You Need?

Vehicle transporter

In the first part of our two-part trailer series, we focused on leisure trailers. In our second part we cover the types of trailers most commonly used for work. There are a variety of connection and brake types for work trailers, but the focus here will be on the trailers themselves. Many of the trailers below pull double duty, serving as work and leisure haulers, car haulers are a good example. No matter how they’re used, below we describe what these trailers’ capabilities.

Flatbed Trailers

Gooseneck flatbed

Flatbed trailers are some of the most versatile trailers on the market. Their weight ratings range from as little as a few thousand pounds to more than 30,000 pounds. They can have one single-wheel axle or up to three dual-wheel axles. They usually connect to the tow vehicle with gooseneck or conventional bumper-pull connections, but some use a fifth-wheel connection. While there are different setups for flatbed trailers, the most prevalent style is a deck that sits above the wheels. This provides the largest, flattest load area possible. While metal load decks are available, most are wooden deck. The flat nature of this trailer allows a forklift to reach any position on the trailer, which makes loading and unloading items quick and easy compared with other trailer types.

Utility Trailers

Utility trailer

Utility trailers are similar to flatbed trailers, except they have rails. The deck is usually placed between the wheels, and some have a full-width ramp at the rear that works like a drawbridge. Utility trailers have the same range of weight ratings as flatbed trailers, but most have weight ratings of 14,000 pounds and lower. They are available with bumper-pull and gooseneck connections. These trailers work great for items that are loaded by hand or for wheeled vehicles that can be rolled or driven onto the trailer. Forklift loading doesn’t work well with utility trailers due to the rails and trailer wheels getting in the way. The rails make it easier to keep cargo on the trailer, but items must be tied down properly. Like flatbeds, utility trailers usually have wood decks, but can be outfitted with a metal deck if desired.

Car Haulers

Car hauler

Single-car-hauler trailers usually are flatbed trailers with a deck between the trailer wheels to keep it low. The trailers usually have a rail along the front to help keep the vehicle from rolling forward off the trailer. They can have either a wood or metal deck. Some are made from aluminum to keep the weight down. Most are designed to haul one vehicle. This means they are often less than 20 feet long with two axles and they have weight ratings of 14,000 pounds or less. For people with higher-capacity transport needs, there are two-deck car haulers more than 30 feet long. These larger trailers use gooseneck connections, have weight ratings in the 25,000-to-30,000-pound range and can haul five to eight vehicles depending on the size of the trailer and size of the vehicles being hauled.

Enclosed Cargo Trailers

Enclosed cargo trailer

Enclosed cargo trailers protect their load from weather, theft and travel hazards such as wind and rocks. They vary in size from less than 10 feet long to more than 30 feet long, with weight ratings ranging from 3,500 to 30,000-plus pounds. Enclosed trailers are available with different roof heights, interior widths, deck materials, door types and more. With the protection these trailers provide, they can be used to store or move just about anything.

Tilt-Deck Trailers

Tilt-deck trailer

Most tilt-deck trailers are flatbed trailers with the deck sitting between the axles. What makes them different is that a portion of the deck or the whole deck can be tilted to make loading vehicles easier. They can be found with either gooseneck connections or bumper-pull connections. They are available in a variety of lengths with most being less than 20 feet long. They are also available with weight ratings from a few thousand pounds to more than 24,000 pounds. While some are hydraulically powered, most just use leverage to tilt the deck. While they can be used the same way as a flatbed trailer, tilt decks are most commonly used to transport vehicles and construction equipment that can move under its own power.

Dump Trailers

Dump trailer

For landscaping, garbage hauling and equipment hauling, dump trailers are a great option. They are designed for heavy-duty applications and are often much heavier than a similar-sized trailer of a different type. What sets dump trailers apart from others is that the front of the bed of the trailer can be hydraulically lifted while the rear pivots on hinges. This allows for cargo to be unloaded without manual labor. Dump trailers come in a variety of different wall heights, lengths and weight ratings. While there are some dump trailers rated to 5,000 pounds or less, most are in the 10,000-to-30,000-pound range. They typically connect to a tow vehicle with either a gooseneck or bumper-pull connection. The rear doors may open to the sides or hinge on the top to allow the material to slide out easily when the bed is raised. Landscapers love this type of trailer for its ability to haul a skid steer or mini excavator to and from a job site.

Livestock/Horse Trailers

Livestock trailer

Livestock trailers are designed to haul large animals such as horses, cows, pigs and sheep. They range in size from short, single-axle, 3,000-pound-rated trailers to long, dual- or triple-axle, 20,000-plus-pound trailers. Some have living quarters or a load ramp for all-terrain vehicles in the front portion. Livestock trailers offer many options, including hay storage areas, roof racks, rear ramps and interior dividers. They can have bumper-pull or gooseneck connections.

Summing Things Up

With such a large variety of work trailers on the market there is bound to be one that meets your needs or can be customized to meet your needs. While they range in size, price, style and features, they are all designed to do one thing: Get the job done.

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