In the market for a new or used trailer? Vic Keeton of Hitchin’ Post Trailer Sales in Lake George, Colorado, has bought, sold and repaired new and used trailers for more than 20 years. After a successful career in trailer manufacturing, Pete Zanetti established Zanetti Trailer Repair in 1980 in Weatherford, Texas. Even the most reputable salesperson may leave out information during a sale; however, Keeton and Zanetti give five keys to smart used-trailer buying.
1. Look for cracks in paint and loose rivets, both inside and out. “You can always tell the real miles on a trailer if the rivets are starting to come loose,” Zanetti says.
Keeton adds that while there is expansion and contraction in the trailer during hot and cold months, cracks in the paint or aluminum-colored siding indicates a poorly maintained trailer.
2. Inspect the floor. This is where your horse rides, and it is the main weight-bearing area of the trailer. “If you are purchasing a trailer with a wooden floor, check the corners,” says Keeton. “The rear corners will be the first to deteriorate.”
Lift the mats and check the floor on aluminum trailers, too, Zanetti advises. “If the floor is chalky white and starting to show holes, then it has not been properly maintained.”
3. Pay attention to the running gear. Check the tires for tread wear. If there is one side of the tire worn more than the other, a closer inspection of the axles may be needed, Zannetti says. One side that wears faster, or deeper, than the other may indicate a bent axle.
Keeton advises checking the bearings, hubs and brakes. These can be hard to check, so ask the dealer for an inspection report.
4. Test the exterior fasteners and signals. “Look at the door and window hinges,” Zanetti says. “If they are piano hinges and show more than an 1/8 of an inch gap, that means the trailer has a lot of miles on it.” Piano hinges are commonly used on the doors to the trailer and tack room, and if new, will rest flush against the trailer.
“Fasteners, locks and latches should be tight,” adds Keeton. “Check all lights—inside and out—for function.” Have the dealer change any lights that do not work prior to purchase to save a trip back to the repair shop.
5. Check the hitch. A gooseneck hitch should not show rust on the fastener. “Make sure the ball hitch doesn’t show stress like cracks or loose welds,” Keeton says. This could lead to problems when driving.
For more information on Hitchin’ Post Trailer Sales, call 719-748-8333 or visit hitchinposttrailers.com. Contact Zanetti Trailer Repair at 817-599-9685.