Buying a Trailer | Episode 8

Once you know where you are going to find your loads, you should be able to determine the type of trailer you are going to need to buy.

What to Expect From Episode 8

In this episode we talk about how to decide what type of trailer to buy. I also give some tips for when you are actually shopping around.

What Type of Trailer Should You Buy?

Step one is to determine how you are going to find your loads. Once you know that, it should point you in the direction for the type of trailer that is going to be best for you. You can check out a helpful infographic my team created on the different trailer types on Motor Carrier HQ.

You can laso read more of the pros and cons we talked about for each trailer type:



  • Great rates
  • Not super expensive to buy


  • You need to be a load securement expert: you have to tarp, chain, or binder most loads. Sometimes you have to use all three methods to secure it.
  • Many loads are oversize and/or overweight. You and your dispatcher should be familiar with the process.

Bottom line with flatbeds: They’re not a good idea to get into them, unless you have experience with them and are comfortable with all the specialized skills that are required.

Dry Vans


  • Trailers are not very expensive to purchase.
  • You can haul higher weights than a reefer and haul loads that require more space.


  • Rates are some of the lowest
  • Not as many loads to choose from, so it’s easier to get stuck somewhere



  • Higher rates
  • More loads to choose from. Think of them as a Swiss army knife vs. a butter knife.


  • Costs more upfront
  • Another piece of equipment that can break down
  • More susceptible to driver error that can lead to damaged cargo and cargo claims

Buying Tips

Here are some things you should consider when buying a trailer:

  • Make sure it is mechanically sound. Your trailer should last you a minimum of 5 years without any major issues.
  • Have an independent mechanic look it over, including the reefer unit
  • Have the mechanic do a DOT inspection
  • If the brakes or tires don’t have much life left, negotiate with the seller to have them replaced
  • Things specific to reefers:
    • Make sure it is CARB compliant and find out if/when it will no longer be in compliance.
    • Look for a reefer with 10,000-15,000 hours or less. Most reefers should go at least 25,000 hours without a major overhaul.
    • Make sure the Freon is fully charged at the time you drive it off the lot. If it has sat for very long, a lot of the Freon might have leaked out.


We had a couple of people ask about leasing on to a carrier as a method to purchase a truck. I talk about the pros and cons of that route. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions!!

Listen to the Full Episode

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Gerald Ashley

I won’t run our refer west of Texas, Nebraska, etc, concentrating on perishables / frozen from the Midwest to east coast. Produce out of the southwest is running at rates that are 35 to 45 years old. What’s your opinion on bulk loads. Especially belt trailers over hopper bottoms? Do you think the tremendous cost difference is worth it?

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