Topic: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

I am thinking I should buy my little car an enclosed trailer. The car itself is a Chevy Cavalier so not too heavy. But what else should I be looking for? I have no idea what makes a trailer "nice" or reliable. To me, they all look like boxes on wheels. I am guessing two axels, but that is about it. Several ads have advertised different axles but I don't know what makes a good axel. Is six and a half feet tall good? One ad said their trailer had supports every 18 inches rather than two feet, that sounds good, but I don't know what it means. Can I put a chair on the roof with that? If not, what are the other benefits? Is there a rule of thumb for length, something like twice as long as the car you want to haul? What else do I need to know? What should I look for in a used trailer?


2 (edited by the shaolin 2017-02-28 02:45 PM)

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

What is the GVWR of the vehicle you are towing with?  That might determine how big you can go. 

6.5 wide would be pretty tight, I think most car haulers are 8' wide. 

I picked up a 22'x8' trailer last year, 2x3500# axles, electric brakes.  Tow rating on my truck is 6500, trailer weight is 3100, car weighs 2800#, which means i'm right up against the weight limit every time I tow...kinda wish we would have gone a touch smaller.  Would definitely not be possible without the anti-sway hitch, can't recommend that enough.

How do you plan on finishing the trailer?  You can pay for lots of options from internal cabinets and lighting, to solar power and batteries, or add it yourself later.  You can get a dovetail front that extends onto the tongue a bit for a little more inside storage, and probably a little better fuel economy, but it means you won't have room for a toolbox on the tongue.  A rack for tires would be nice, whether inside or out.

The enclosed bit of the trailer is pretty flimsy, I wouldn't be putting anything on the roof unless it was designed for it, or reinforced later.  Your mileage may differ. 

My father-in-law added a winch to ours that attaches to the inside floor near the tongue, but the trailer is so low and the ramp is so shallow that I've loaded dead cars by myself by just pushing them up with a running start, no need for the winch on a low trailer IMO.

As for a used trailer, check the condition of the tires.  Any cupping or chopping will indicate the trailer isn't straight.

-Nathan - Team Captain, Priority Fail Racing
1997 Golf GTI VR6 Mid Engine

3 (edited by OnkelUdo 2017-02-28 04:58 PM)

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

As mentioned, what can you backward from there.

You want to take the weight of EVERYTHING that goes in the trailer and add it up.  Add trailer weight and you want to try to me no more than 90% of the towing capacity of the tow vehicle WITH everything in the tow vehicle.

Need to haves in a trailer...not much.  Axle capacity to carry what you need, man door, ramp door and 4 d-rings.  Things you might consider:

Screwless exterior is low maintenance but slightly harder to repair.
Stock tires on any reasonably priced trailer are going to be crap and likely good for 1-2 season max even with the radial upgrade...just buy two spare wheels and budget for two excellent quality radials...first blown tire replace both on that axle, get two more excellent radials.
If you are handly, you want to configure your trailer to your needs.  If you are not, pay for e-trac where you need it and things like an RV latch on the man door if you plan to sleep in it.
Got steep approaches anywhere?  Have a roller added to the tail.
Need heat and/or AC...see above about handy or not.  We have air sorted with a roll around AC unit but still struggle with heat that does not asphyxiate.
Consider paying for insulation, again if not handy and you plan to sleep in it.
Consider and escape door...I mean seriously consider it...if you have a wide car.
Do not pay for additional interior lighting as two $14 LED strips can light a 24' trailer bright enough to read buy and lemon person can wire up a trolling motor battery and couple of 12 v switches.
If you run a weight distributing hitch, get an electric trailer jack, I can give the numbers for a cheap weatherproof one.
Consider a longer tongue over a shorter one.

I think that is it.  Just keep in mid, if you are asking this question you are not yet sure how to outfit it interior wise so only pay for flexible solutions or better yet pay for none up front.  Install as you pre-pack it.

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

I got my self 8x16 trailer, just enough to fit my car.
I tow with my RV, with everything loaded its slightly over capacity. Weight distribution made a huge difference. I plan to have brakes going on it soon as well. Otherwise merging into highway is a bit interesting, just to get to speed. need to plan for it a bit in advance. But even without the trailer its similar story.
This car....Is said to have a will of it's Own. Twisting its own body in rage...It accelerates on.
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Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

I agree with what you can tow with your tow vehicle and work backward.  The more room you have the better and I would highly suggest a v-nose.  Make a difference. I have two enclosed - one with and one without the v-nose. behind my truck can tell a big difference. When I pull behind my RV makes no difference since the RV is taller.

The most recent trailer I purchase I went overboard for many reasons - I bought a 26ft v-nose with extra 6 inches of height and two 7K axles.

I wanted to make sure I was never overloaded as I hate stressing the trailer.

I got that size as I can fit a Polaris ranger, the race car, our tool box and many sets of tires and trailer pulls like a dream behind my dodge or my diesel RV.  With the larger axles I got the much better tires and as long as I keep the inflated properly I will never be over weight.  I had mine built out of Georgia at a manufacturer and saved a bunch of money not being delivered to TX - I was in Florida on a family vacation and pulled it home myself and as well didn't pay dealer markup.

I didn't do anything fancy on the inside except add additional tie downs in the floor and added the heavy duty rear gate - it will handle 6K lbs so can drive just about any vehicle into the trailer.

Total cost was just under 8K - would have been 10K at a place here in Houston.  only took them a few weeks to build and seems well put together.

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

What others have said, but also give yourself some room.  I was towing at the limit of my truck and it was sketchy as hell.  With the wind, trucks blowing, etc. it would shift the trailer even with a weight distributing and sway controlling hitch.

--Rob Leone Schumacher Taxi Service
We won the IOE at Southern Discomfort.
We got screwed at The Real Hoopties of New Jersey  and we took cars down with us.
We got the curse at Capitol Offense but they wouldn't let us destroy the car.

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

Six and a half feet tall is around average height.

A lot of trailers used by circle track racers have observation decks already installed.

If you only want to carry the car and a few other items, a 20' should suffice.  If you want to put your tools and spares in there, you should look at a 24'.

Great advice on looking at your tow vehicle first.  If you buy something bigger than your tow vehicle can handle, you will regret it, sooner or later.

"She's a brick house" 57th out of 121 and 5th in Class C, There Goes the Neighborhood 2013
"PA Posse" 21st out of 96 and 2nd in Class C, Capitol Offense 2013.
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Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

I guess to expand on knowing what you will carry and where:

We bring:

A whole spare 3800 subframe with engine, trans, suspension, etc and it weighs about 900#'s.
The majority of an interior from one van and 1/3 of another plus console TV and associated bits...likely 400#s
One full set of wheels and tires likely 200#'s
Tools and harbor freight chiseled from cast iron jack for about 150#'s
Engine hoist...120#'s
4 coolers of food, 15 gallons of beer and 6 cases of water/gatorade/pop...300#'s
Car 3200#'s

You can see where this is going.  That is just what is in the trailer.  We could seriously go lighter but it would diminish the brand.

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

Very good comments listed.

I will add that I have never needed any anti-sway device.  Just load the trailer with the proper tongue weight at all times.

Even with a sloped nose it cuts my mileage dramatically.  My Duramax gets about 20 with no trailer, about 16 with my 2Klb open trailer with a 3500 pound car on it, and 11-12 with the enclosed (slightly depending on the car).  I also have an enclosed motorcycle trailer, 12X6 and 6.5 tall inside (box shape), and that gives me 13 empty or loaded.  I have a cap on the bed as well.

Make sure you have working brakes on all tires.

Extra D-rings are easy to add, and I always make sure that I mount them with at least mount bolts going though a floor support (normally the two away from the load).

Mine has a door on the left side, and I would never want one without that feature.


2020 I.O.E. CT #36 The Rootes Of All Evil,1958 Sunbeam Rapier Convertible (YES 1958!!) & 2019 Judges Choice NJMP
2016 Thompson Speedway #36 Sabrina Duncan's Revenge, IOE Trophy, 5th Place 'C' Class 1977 Ford Pinto
2009 Stafford Motor Speedway #16 Team Teflon, 11th Place (overall) 1997 Saturn SL2

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

Now that I have a vehicle that can tow an enclosed trailer with ease (# 8500) rather then struggling as my old one would have,  I too am looking for one. .I'm  In no hurry and most likely will go new as the prices on used are nearly as high as new. Even 10 yr old trailers are being listed for over $3500!

While most trailers of 24 ft or less come with #3500 axles I would suggest that if going new try to get the #5200 set.
I have seen empty weights of new trailers listed as high as 4000 lb for a 20 ft. If that trailer has 3500 lb axles and you carry a 3000 lb car your right at the limit of the suspension!
Most empty weights  however seem to run in the 3000 lb range which give you some reserve. But it you go with the #5200 set you most likely can load all your "stuff" and still be OK. As long as your tow vehicle can handle the load.

Re: Enclosed Trailer - What should I look for?

I bought a 24' with 5200# axles in December.  My F150 is rated at 9600# and I will never approach that weight with this trailer and a car.  However, like stated above it is not a good idea to fill your trailer to capacity weight so the heavier axles are worth the price. 

Also, I live in NJ but found it worth the cost to pick it up in northern Indiana at the factory.  I actually bought the trailer through a dealer in Arizona, but they never see it.   You living in VA may find it is worthwhile to drive to GA to pick one up.  They seem to be the main manufacturing hubs out East.  It saved me a couple thousand dollars for the trek as used ones for what I was looking for were more expensive than buying new.  Since it was on the way to my in-laws my wife couldn't complain too much either.

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