Process of buying a trailer - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Process of buying a trailer

One of my trainers put me in touch with someone who is selling a trailer that I think might work for me. It sounds good from the description, and the price is decent. I'm hoping to go look at it this weekend. Now that it's getting close to me hopefully actually getting my trailer, I realize there are a lot of things I have no clue about:

Questions:
  • I need trailer insurance, right? Or does the insurance of the towing vehicle cover the trailer? If I need insurance, will my normal car insurance place cover trailers, or will I be looking at a more specialized agency?
  • What should I be looking at in terms of problems (e.g. I know to check the floorboards for rot)?
  • What should I ask the owner?
  • Licensing and registration is the same process as buying a car?
  • Anything else that I'm not thinking about?

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post #2 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
One of my trainers put me in touch with someone who is selling a trailer that I think might work for me. It sounds good from the description, and the price is decent. I'm hoping to go look at it this weekend. Now that it's getting close to me hopefully actually getting my trailer, I realize there are a lot of things I have no clue about:

Questions:
  • I need trailer insurance, right? Or does the insurance of the towing vehicle cover the trailer? If I need insurance, will my normal car insurance place cover trailers, or will I be looking at a more specialized agency?
  • What should I be looking at in terms of problems (e.g. I know to check the floorboards for rot)?
  • What should I ask the owner?
  • Licensing and registration is the same process as buying a car?
  • Anything else that I'm not thinking about?
I would ask the owner if it has ever been in any sort if accident.
- any brake or electrical problems
- when the tiers were last changed if its an older trailer
- about how many miles.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 03:42 PM
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Does it pull straight?

When were the bearings last packed?

You can throw a bearing if they're not packed right with grease.


Also - Hubs showed me this trick... if you're wondering how they're holding up, pull in somewhere after pulling down the highway at about 65mph... and touch the hub (Not him, the hub on the wheel). If it's warm to grab, but not uncomfortable, you're fine. If it's HOT to the touch, you have a problem.

Titling: In Texas, IIRC, you title trailers and tag them just like cars. Oklahoma does NOT tag their trailers (I have a courtesy tag on my trailer, issued by the state, just to any out of state LEOS know why it's not 'properly tagged' or titled). You will want a clean title and notarized by the seller, just like a car. Don't leave it without a notary seal - because a Notary... most of us... will NOT notarize a title without seeing the seller sign it and IDing them. I won't do that even for my husband's side gig of buying and flipping used bass boats. Take it to your local tag office once notarized, and hand it to them to follow the bouncing ball. They should issue you a tag to put on the plates and your paperwork. IF they offer you just a bill of sale, beware. It's a tremendous pain in the tookus to get your trailer titled in Texas - we sold a four horse straight load bumper pull to a guy in Texas one time, told him absolutely everything he needed to know, gave him everything he needed, including a bill of sale... and he still couldn't get that titled for some reason.

Wasn't our problem - he bought it knowing it was going to be iffy and problematic.

I can't answer on the insurance - we have 'dealership' umbrella insurance. Anything I'm driving or towing is covered, so I can't speak as to that personally.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 04:28 PM
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Check with your insurance provider but usually the insurance on the towing vehicle covers the liability should you cause injury or damage to others with your truck or trailer. You would need a separate policy or rider if you want the trailer covered for repairs if it is damaged. You might also want to look into cargo insurance to cover the horses you are hauling especially if you might haul someone else's horse. Any auto insurance company should be able to help you out or direct you to a company who can.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 04:29 PM
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Agree with everything that has been suggested about what to look for. Also adding: Check the tire dates/ask when the tires were put on. A friend bought an older trailer that hadn't been used at all, tires looked great. On the way to a ride, had 2 blowouts, turns out they were 20 year old tires!

Insurance- my understanding is that your vehicle insurance covers the trailer when it is hooked up/in use. So, if you hit something with your trailer while driving that's on your vehicle insurance. You can additionally insure the trailer which would cover it when it is not hooked up/in use. I have insurance on our weekender and they paid us almost $8,000 for hail damage last fall. I went through our regular vehicle company (Progressive) for that policy.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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@AtokaGhosthorse does your question about it pulling straight imply that I should tow it (or have it towed by a knowledgeable person)? Or just that I should ask if it tows straight? Is towing a trailer a normal part of the buying process? I'm thinking it sounds like a good idea. I will just need to bring someone with a truck with me.

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Last edited by ACinATX; 02-03-2020 at 05:00 PM.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
@AtokaGhosthorse does your question about it pulling straight imply that I should tow it (or have it towed by a knowledgeable person)? Or just that I should ask if it tows straight? Is towing a trailer a normal part of the buying process? I'm thinking it sounds like a good idea. I will just need to bring someone with a truck with me.

They'll probably tell you it does, whether it does or not. I'd pull it just like test driving a car, just to be sure. I did with mine, and any (local) Non-Dodge 1 Ton we buy... I test drive them with my trailer on just to be sure we're all good.


Make sure you're not having it try to walk all over the road when you're pulling it and that's the perfect time to make sure all your lights work - when you're hooked up to it and before you test it out.
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 06:51 PM
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What about checking the trailer brakes, emergency disconnect brakes and such? You have to make sure it works with your tow vehicle.

I admit I don't know much about trailers even though we have one.......we bought it just for emergencies.

We took it to a trailer place and had the bearings repacked and got the electrical working with the brakes on our truck. Had them check/fix the emergency disconnect brake too. So supposedly everything works now and we've hauled with it maybe twice. But I am basically still clueless. But I know if the brakes (and the emergency brake box) is not hooked up right for your truck you will have problems, even if everything worked with the last person's vehicle.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-03-2020, 07:13 PM
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When you test drive to make sure it drives straight, stops correctly you should also be taking it to a trusted repair shop for the professionals to be looking at the frame and welds underneath.... it isn't just wood rot that tells a story.
You want to know if these are original owners and if not where was the trailer originally titles/plated from...certificate of origin think it is also known as.
Salt and brine used on roads can corrode many a undercarriage severely.

Your truck insurance should cover you when towing, however make sure your insurance agent is aware of the trailer and places a rider to your policy to cover you just in case.
In many states, if you trailer anothers horse and take one-dime you stepped over the threshold and are now technically commercial shippers...be careful and know your states laws.
When the trailer sits in your yard if damaged your homeowners policy should cover damages, again make sure you speak with your agent for coverage.
If you keep it at a barn I don't know how that might affect coverage, speak to your insurance agent for accurate answers.

When we notified our agent of the trailer(s) acquired, the rider to our policies cost us $5.00 every 6 months but the peace of mind is fantastic to have.
Make sure the hitch welds have been properly checked for soundness.
Brakes, the trailer should have a emergency cord that you thread through your hitch and you use every time, never skip this, as it is the safeguard should the trailer uncouple from the truck/hitch if your trailer brakes are working/functioning correctly the trailer will stop in a straight path not veer off the road and horrors happen.
Having a trailer is wonderful...
The life you protect and look to safeguard is that of your horse and more importantly you as you will be riding in the truck that's towing that trailer.
Make sure this purchase is safe and sound mechanically.
Small things of tires are easily replaced if questionable in condition & age.
Doors, walls, windows, floors, floor supports, hitch and axles to me are the most important and absolutely need a visual inspection done by a professional or very competent person so nothing is missed that could be catastrophic if not attended to after purchase and before use.

All trailers over certain weights are titled and over a certain weight brakes become mandatory and law-mandated in most states.
I know of no horse trailer that does not have either of these items, and honestly if the trailer doesn't have a title and brakes I would walk away from the purchase no matter how good a deal it seems...

The only other thing that comes to mind is make sure the trailer has a VIN plate...
Few horse-trailers are "homemade" so the manufacturers plate is a must to make sure what you are told is what you are purchasing...or it is hearsay.
On my trailers that plate has year, weights, tire size engraved on it and it is riveted by special rivets by manufacturer.

My plate is located on my trailer tongue, driver side on both my trailers.

Here are some places for factual information about registering, titling and plating trailers in Texas.
https://getawaytips.azcentral.com/te...-12390385.html
https://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/buyi...hicle/trailers

I sure hope this is meant to be, if not...keep looking.
Don't buy something you will regret or that doesn't work and easily fit your current horses, needs and wants...but especially is safe and road-worthy now...
The right trailer is out there just waiting for you...
...
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-04-2020, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
The right trailer is out there just waiting for you...
...
Thank you very much for this thoughtful post. I am buying a trailer soon also and found the information very helpful.
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