Buying a used trailer.

We regularly get phone calls that start with the words “I have just bought a second hand trailer’. This is usually a purchase made from Ebay where the customer has not seen the trailer first. After thoroughly checking the trailer over and pricing up replacement parts, the trailer often ends up being scrapped or re-sold. A working trailer usually holds it value, so there really is no such thing as a cheap trailer. There are a lot of trailers that are not fit for the road that are regularly sold second hand. This is either because people think that trailers last forever and don’t require maintenance or they did not view the trailer before purchase.

We can take part exchange trailers, and we do see some trailers that we cannot accept. We do have a reputation to withhold so we have to be careful when we consider buying a second hand trailer. We have the facilities to perform most repair work and we understand the laws and regulations regarding towing and trailers. This helps us make sure that all of our second hand trailers are fully operational and legal before they are sold on.
We strongly recommend that anyone buying a used trailer views the trailer before buying. Below is a list of several items to check upon viewing the trailer. Also, make sure you are not buying a stolen trailer.

The most important part of any trailer is its identity, so all trailers must have an ID plate. On this plate there must be the following information:

  • Manufacturer and serial No.
  • Number of axles.
  • Maximum gross weight.
  • Weight per axle.
  • Nose weight.
  • Date of manufacture.

Without these, a trailer can be confiscated by the police.

Not all trailers need brakes. Trailers designed for none road use or trailers under 750kg gross weight do not need brakes. Make sure that all brakes are operational on purchase as this can cost a lot of money to fix later.


Un-braked couplings are not usually a problem. The only problem you can have is that general use has caused play on the tow-ball. This can only be rectified by replacing the coupling. This will cost between £12 and £60. If it is a braked coupling there are many parts that can cost a lot of money, with a full coupling costing between £130 and £260.

Wheels and tyres.

Always make sure that all wheels tyres are not damaged or worn out. Check they are all the same size and have a weight rating suitable for the gross weight of the trailer. We have seen 2600kg trailers running on 4 ply tyres that have a gross weight rating of under 2000kg. This overloads the tyres and can cause a blowout. Suffering a blowout will most definitely cause stability problems, and can even cause other tyres to blow out as a result. Remember that some commercial tyres can cost in excess of £100 each.


It is hard to see faults on suspension units at a first glance. To help you make a better decision when purchasing a trailer here are some things to look for:

Is the trailer leaning? This could mean that the suspension at some point has been overloaded, or is worn out causing the arm to spin. This can only be rectified by buying new suspension units or axles. That is unless the trailer has leaf springs which can be replaced, but this can cost a lot of money if the springs are available to buy.

Is the wheel leaning at an angle? This is due to a drop arm or stub axle being bent. This also means the suspension needs to be replaced.

Signs of corrosion? An axle or suspension unit is made of a box section, or with the manufacturer Alko, a triangular shaped tube packed with hard rubber. Check this for corrosion as these can rust through and then fail when you least want it too. Also drop arms on some smaller suspension systems can be made from a hollow box. This can corrode and will also cause the suspension to fail.


When looking for a trailer, try and only buy trailers with a galvanized chassis. A galvanized coat should stop any corrosion of the trailers chassis. Inspect the whole body and look for any signs of welding that has been carried out on the chassis. If there are, it could be a sign that repairs have been carried out on the trailer. This usually means that the trailer has been over loaded, had a hard life or even been involved in an accident. This can tell you a lot about the general condition and history of the trailer.


Lights are not a major problem as they do not cost a lot of money to replace, but they are a legal requirement. Check that the lights are working before driving away with the trailer as this could get you pulled over by the police, you may even get a fine.

We find that a lot of commercial trailers that are being sold second hand are not in a road worthy condition. Commercial trailers can cost a lot of money to put right, whereas smaller trailers such as Erde, Daxara, Maypole, and Franc are a lot easier to find faults with and repair. Due to the cost of new trailers and the demand for the second hand ones, a second hand trailer can cost almost as much as a new one. A couple of problems with a second hand trailer can mean you end up paying more than a new trailer is worth.

Please remember that currently anybody can make trailer. Before November 2010 they did not not need to be inspected by any authority before it is towed on the road, and there is no MOT for a trailer at any time. A trailer can kill somebody if it not properly designed, loaded, or maintained. The person towing the trailer is completely responsible for it.

For more information about trailer parts and laws, see my other articles and visit our website:

trailer parts & spares