Whether you're a race car, off-road, or antique vehicle enthusiast, if you want to pursue your hobby, chances are you need a car hauler to travel to shows, races, and rallies. There's a lot to think about when purchasing a car hauler, especially if it will be carrying an expensive machine. Here are six things you should consider before you buy, so you can find the car hauler that's just right for you.
The size of your hauler should be given careful thought. While most buyers know to go with the maximum allowable width for ease of loading, the length can be questionable.
Most seasoned car enthusiasts recommend going with a longer trailer than you need for a number of reasons:
- Shorter hauler beds require that you position the vehicle you're hauling just perfectly as there's no wiggle room.
- You won't be able to "graduate" to a larger vehicle without buying a new hauler if you select one that's just the length of your current car.
- Longer trailers have a broader and therefore more stable wheel base.
- Longer trailers, because they are more stable, are usually easier to tow.
- Having extra space on the hauler will allow you to carry other items like a tool chest or cooler.
This means that if you're thinking about buying a 14-foot trailer, you might instead want to increase the length to 16 or 18 feet. Unless parking and storage are issues, the longer length will ultimately be appreciated. If you are using a conventional commercial storage unit in the off-season, check its length to make sure it can accommodate the hauler with a bit of space to spare.
Dovetail or Flatbed?
While having a drop-down dovetail end on your hauler for loading and unloading is often easier than using a flatbed, it can have its disadvantages. You can wind up with more drag on a dovetail, and it can add more overall length, making storage challenging.
An option is to use a flatbed with removable ramps that can be stowed lengthwise on the hauler when not in use. Some owners even like to purchase side ramps for loading extra small vehicles, like quads or ATVs. You can drive the vehicle up and haul it perpendicular to the direction of travel then place the ramps on the other side, and drive it forward off the hauler.
Having independent brakes on both trailer axles will improve your safety and comfort while driving. Using surge brakes that are connected to the towing vehicle's brakes are easy, but this gives you less control over the hauler. Being able to brake solely the hauler if it starts to sway, for example, can help keep it under control and eliminate accidents.
While setting your tongue jack a little further back will add length to your overall system, this extra space can have two advantages. First, your hauler won't hit your tailgate if you stop short. Second, you can actually set the hauler far enough back that you will still be able to open your tailgate without uncoupling--a nice feature if you have a long road trip with overnight stays and want to access the back of your truck or SUV.
Chances are your taillights will take some abuse, especially if you are relatively new to towing. Look for models with recessed lights or light cages to keep your lights intact even under rough circumstances.
There are many other features you can look for in a car hauler to make it easier or more pleasant for you to use. A flexible tie-down system with extra ties is important, as are solid steel fenders, which may serve as steps when clambering in and out of the hauler. Finally, don't forget to purchase a couple of good spare tires, lest you become stranded on the road waiting for the right size replacements.
You can use these tips when buying both new and used car haulers. Take your time, compare models, and think about your specific needs, and you'll wind up with a car hauler that can serve you well for many years to come.