Tips on Buying Used Semi Trailers for Your Business

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Semi-trailers play a big role in transporting goods across the globe. It is one of the most stable industries to invest in. If you are looking to start a transport or hauling business, it would be ideal to familiarize yourself with the types of semi-trailers, the requirements necessary to transfer goods through this avenue, and how to efficiently invest in a semi-trailer for your business.

The role of semi-trailers in the trucking industry plays a very important factor in the United States Economy. A lot of businesses, both big and small, households, and firms depend on these transport services to get their products in time. Starting a trucking business, with the right tools and business planning, can be a stable source of income for you. 

If you are planning to enter the trucking industry or interested in buying used semi trailers for sale, here are the basic details to consider to ensure value and efficiency on your investment.

Types of Semi-Trailers

Generally, a semi-trailer is a trailer without a front axle. In the United States, it is also known as a tractor trailer or the combination of a truck and a semi-trailer. These huge hauling machines’ weights are largely supported by the tractor unit and are equipped with landing gears that can be lowered. They are more popular compared to full trailers because they can be easily maneuvered and weight and height restrictions are minimal compared to the larger versions of the semi- trailer. Semi trailers are commonly used to haul different types of cargos.

The most common type of semi-trailers in the United States measures 8 feet (2.44m) in width and 2.6 meters with two axles and dual-tire hubs or 8 wheels in total. The basic types of trailers are as follows:


Box or van semi trailers


The box type semi-trailer features a simple metal box on wheels with doors located at the back. Standard lengths start at 28 feet with 57 feet or more than 17 meters as the longest. Some semi-trailers feature additional access doors located on the side.


Car carrier trailers


Car carriers are mostly used to carry multiple cars at once, usually new cars from the manufacturer. These types of semi trailers can also carry light commercial vehicles, forklift trucks, and agricultural tractors. Some features double decks but single decks are the types that are usually used for larger vehicle hauls.


Conestoga trailers


Conestoga trailers are a special type of trailer that features a flatbed with a retractable roof and siding. They are used to carry large pieces of equipment that are loaded onto the flatbed with a crane and then later covered to protect from the weather while in transit.


Curtain siders


Also known as tautliners, curtain siders are almost similar to the box type but features movable curtains or sides that are made of reinforced fabric that are coated with waterproofing. These types of semi-trailers are usually used in Europe.


Tank Chassis


Popularly known as tankers, tank chassis are trailers that are used in hauling liquids such as alcohol and gasoline. They are designed to be attached to a liquid or gas tank and are loaded at the bottom part for safety reasons.

Factors to Consider When Buying Used Semi Trailers




Before purchasing a semi trailer, a working budget should be ready and pre-planned. On top of the actual retail price of your semi trailer, your budget should also include a budget for unexpected circumstances with your second hand purchase.

Buying a used semi trailer can include several more fees on top of your actual purchase. Insurance and maintenance costs are the most common additional costs you should include in your budget before your actual purchase. If you see your business using the semi-truck frequently or if you intend to tow your trailer frequently, you will need to add a regular maintenance budget as well as repair budget. Maintaining used semi trailer purchases can be costly over time.




Box type semi trailers come in varying lengths, depending on use or your hauling requirements. The standard length starts at 28 feet, followed by 32 ft, 34 ft, 36 ft, 40 ft, 45 ft, 48 ft, 53 ft and 57 feet as the longest. The price of your semi trailer is length dependent.

The longer your semi-trailers are, the higher the maintenance and repair costs as well. If you see bumps along the length of your trailer, rusts and other imperfections, you might consider getting into details on how small or how huge these issues are. The longer your semi-trailer is, the more square feet to check, maintain and repair it requires.

The length of your semi-trailer also dictates the type of tractor to use. Towing services for your semi-trailers are also computed based on their weight and length.


Details about your semi trailer


Purchasing a used semi trailer requires a keen eye for possible issues with your purchase. As questions, check documents and try to get as much information as you can about the semi-trailer you are eyeing to purchase.  Here are some of the basic questions to ask:

Are you purchasing from an owner, broker or dealership?

The most ideal purchase would be through a dealership. This ensures that you have a purchase guarantee and an after sales customer service to talk with in the event of issues with your semi-trailers. Insurances and payments schemes are also more efficient through a dealership compared to a direct to owner or through a broker purchase.

What is the reason for selling?

The best used semi trailer purchase would be from a fleet changing their trailers.  However, these are quite few. When dealing with the owner, broker or a dealership, it pays a great deal to understand the reason why the semi-trailer is up for sale. If you feel uncomfortable with their answer, you can always look for another semi-trailer to purchase.

Are there technical and mechanical problems with the semi-trailer?

To avoid unforeseen repair and maintenance costs with your semi-trailer, technical and mechanical issues, prior to the purchase should be disclosed to you by the seller. You can use this detail to haggle with the unit price of the semi-trailer as well as to compute for the additional cost you’ll need for maintenance and repair costs on top of your purchase.

Are there safety inspections and documentations available?

Your semi-trailer should have current safety inspections. Documentations on the maintenance and repairs of the semi-trailer gives you more information about what to expect from the semi trailer you are trying to purchase. The overall performance and maintenance issues of the semi-trailer can be easily projected when these documentations are readily available for you. Do not forget to ask for any damages incurred from traffic accidents, if there are any. The VIN number of your engine should be correct and verified too.

Quality check

If you are not familiar with purchasing semi-trailers, it would be best to bring a trailer expert to perform a quality inspection for your possible second hand semi-trailer purchase. Be thorough with your structural inspection. Check the breaks, tires, floors, roofs, and doors of your trailer to ensure and check their current condition. You should also check if the semi-trailer is indeed compatible with your hauling requirements.

An expert can easily help you identify faults in the semi-trailer and if investing in repairs is indeed profitable on your end. They can easily cover areas you may miss in checking the structural integrity of the semi-trailer. They can also easily give you advice if the unit price is a reasonable investment.

Wise investment purchases can make your business profitable, most especially with used or second hand machineries and equipment for your business. A semi trailer purchase is a huge investment, and should be carefully executed to ensure that you are indeed getting the best possible options for your needs. A simple crack can be a huge concern in the future, if left unchecked, thus due diligence is always necessary. Make your purchase worthwhile by following the tips mentioned above.


Author’s Bio

Joie Mojica is the passionate writer and blogger of She enjoys writing and works at an amazing pace. Blessed with two adorable boys, she dreams of creating a successful career online. She also loves to write about parenting, home and family life, technology and gaming, as well as beauty and health.


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