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VOL. 9 NO. 11
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Buying a used trailer

4 tips for purchasing a used trailer for your boat

Buying a used trailer

With the weather cooling, some boaters may be looking to find a trailer to store the boat for the winter. If you’re looking to buy a used boat trailer now or planning to buy a boat that comes with a used trailer, follow these four tips:

  1. Bring a measuring tape
    With older trailers, the capacity plate or sticker may be long gone or too hard to read after being outside in the weather for years. But if you’d like a rough idea of a spring-axle trailer’s capacity, simply measure the axle’s diameter. An outer axle tube diameter of 1.75 inches is typically rated for about one ton, 2.375 inches for 3,500 pounds, and 3 inches for 5,200–7,000 pounds. Remember to subtract the trailer’s weight from the gross capacity.
  2. Buying out of state
    Trailers aren’t built the same because state trailering regulations aren’t the same. While most states require brakes for trailers rated to carry than more than 3,000 pounds, some states require brakes on trailers as light as 1,500 pounds, while a few others let you coast up to 4,500 pounds, although that’s not recommended. Retrofitting brakes can be expensive, and some states such as Florida require brakes on each axle. Look up state-specific trailer registration information beforehand.
  3. Why tire diameter matters
    After an hour at highway speeds, a 13-inch tire will have spun 10,000 revolutions more than a 15-inch tire, which means more heat, bearing wear and problems. Having a fully serviced spare tire ready to go—and the tools to install it—will solve many of the most common reasons for a trailer breakdown. If all else fails, having a roadside assistance service, like BoatUS Unlimited Trailer Assist, to safely tow your boat trailer and tow vehicle up to a 100 miles will make a bad roadside breakdown suddenly better.
  4. Watch out for paperwork snafus
    Not having ownership documents can sink a sale fast. If the trailer’s vehicle identification number is missing, cannot be legibly read or doesn’t match ownership paperwork, you may run into an issue with the DMV and have to apply for a replacement. It’s better to have the seller handle this before the sale.

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