What To Look For When Buying a Horse Trailer



What To Look For When Buying a Horse Trailer

Investing in a horse trailer is a big decision for any horse owner. From ensuring it meets safety standards to considering the source of purchase, every detail matters. In this guide, we’ll highlight the crucial factors to consider when buying a new or second-hand horse trailer, ensuring peace of mind and safety when travelling with your horses. 

Be sure to consider what the trailer will be used for and if you have a suitable car for towing including the towing capacity of your vehicle. You can read more about the pros and cons of a horse trailer versus horseboxes in our handy guide. 

Avoiding Stolen Trailers

If you’ve found a trailer that suits your needs, be sure to check its legitimacy before looking into the mechanics of the trailer. Trailers don’t require the same registration documents as cars so it’s important to do thorough inspections. Check the trailer’s history, including its serial number that will be stamped on the chassis, to verify its ownership and rule out any chances of it being stolen. Always insist on seeing the necessary documentation and cross-reference it with official records such as a service history. Some trailer manufacturers maintain a list of stolen trailers so if buying a trailer privately, it is worth checking the chassis number with the manufacturer. If the trailer doesn’t have partitions or breastplates, again this is a red flag and it is worth contacting the manufacturer as they may have it listed as stolen. In addition, you might not be able to purchase replacement parts.

Make sure also that the seller has proof of ownership and that the manufacturer’s plate has not been tampered with. Lastly, ensure that you are viewing the trailer at a home or company address, rather than a carpark, service station or even a field!

Mechanical Checks

Performing thorough mechanical checks on a horse trailer is non-negotiable, here are our top tips for things to look at before considering your purchase.

  • Floor: Test the floor for soundness – lift any matting to check for any rot or rust and pay careful attention to where the edge of the floor meets the trailer walls. Have a look from underneath the trailer to see if there are any cracks in the flooring from below. 
  • Ramp: Make sure that the ramp can be used by one person and that all hinges and springs are functional. Again, check for any rusting or rotting of the ramp structure.
  • Chassis: Examine the chassis to see if there’s any rust or damage to the frame.
  • Tyres: Inspect the tyres for adequate tread and proper inflation; any uneven wear to the wheels could indicate a problem with the balance or suspension.
  • Brakes: When test driving the trailer test the hand brake and make sure it stops when the towing vehicle stops. 
  • Roof: Inspect the roof for any signs of leaks, as water damage will lead to rust and rot inside the trailer.

Be sure to also check lights, connection cables, breakaway cables and electrical systems to guarantee they meet safety standards. If the trailer has been recently repainted, be sure it’s not covering up something which could be a problem down the road. Finally, ask when the trailer was last inspected/serviced and if the seller has any paperwork to validate that. Some companies will perform a pre-purchase safety check for you but obviously, you will have to pay for this.

Road Test the Trailer

A road test is an essential step in assessing the trailer’s suitability. Hitch it up to an appropriate towing vehicle and take it for a test drive. Pay attention to how it handles turns, accelerates, and brakes. A smooth and stable ride is indicative of a well-maintained and properly balanced trailer.

Dealership vs. Private Sale

Choosing between purchasing from a dealership or a private seller involves considering various factors. Dealerships often offer a range of options, warranties, and professional inspections. On the other hand, private sales may provide more negotiation flexibility. Purchasing from a dealership means you are covered by “The Sales of Goods Act 1979”, which ensures that the trailer must be sold fit for purpose. Should anything go wrong when purchasing privately, you don’t get the same protection and you will have to pay out of pocket for any repairs. 

Regardless of the source, insist on all relevant documentation and conduct the same stringent checks.

Pros and Cons of New vs. Used

Buying New:

Pros: With a new trailer you will get warranty coverage, the latest safety features, and a clean history. If anything was to go wrong within the warranty period you can usually get repairs and spare parts covered. 

Cons: However, a new trailer will certainly incur a higher initial cost, rapid depreciation, and limited customisation options.

Buying Used:

Pros: Buying a used/second-hand trainer is the most cost-effective option in the short term, with the potential for customisation, and a slower depreciation in cost.

Cons: Used trailers may have an uncertain history and depending on their age, may have fewer modern features. There may be potential repair costs or renovations needed.

Protect your trailer purchase with Insurance

As horse trailers aren’t motorised vehicles, it is not a legal requirement to have them insured. However, as they are valuable and often victims of theft, it is a good idea to cover them with Horse Trailer Insurance to protect your investment. Cover for your trailer isn’t usually included in the insurance of your motor vehicle but can be incorporated into other policies such as our Horse & Carriage, Horse & Pony or even Donkey Insurance. Motor Insurance will however cover the cost of third-party claims when you are towing.

Choosing the right horse trailer requires a meticulous approach, balancing factors such as safety, cost, and convenience. Remember to verify the trailer’s legitimacy by conducting comprehensive mechanical checks and deciding between new and used options. An informed decision not only safeguards your equine companions during transport but also ensures smooth and worry-free journeys.