4×4 Trucks and Trailers

4×4, Offroad, Trucks and Trailers News, Guides and Reviews

Types of Trailers


Trailers are extremely common structures used on roads today. A trailer is almost any type of structure that connects to a towing vehicle in order to carry an item. Some trailers are enclosed units, while others are open. Most trailers include the same types of components such as wheels, axles, chassis, suspension and enclosures. Certain types of trailers are made for specific devices (e.g. boat trailer, motorcycle trailer, etc) others are all purpose.

Types of Trailers types of trailers

Trailers can vary in size and are usually built for specific types of vehicles. For instance most motorcycle trailers are built for passenger style vehicles such as a pick up truck or car. Other trailers are used in commercial logistic services and towed only by a specific class of vehicle (e.g. semi trailers are only legally able to be towed by a big rig tractor). Following are some of the most common types of trailers used on America’s roadways.

The Semi Trailer

Semi trailers are usually large structures used for towing heavy loads. They are used by big rig tractors and include several axles, wheels, a suspension, brakes and brake lights. It should be noted that at the front of the semi trailer are usually connector wires that simply plug into the towing vehicle so that the driver can control the trailers brakes, braking lights and directional signals from the cab.

One of the characteristics of a semi trailer is that they do not have a front axle, instead when they are hitched to the tow vehicle, they balance out using the towing vehicles axle or a front axle assembly called a dolly. Semi trailers can be parked in a yard and hitched to numerous vehicles during the course of its delivery. Since semi trailers require a front axle to balance correctly, when parked, they have what is called a landing gear, or legs that stand the semi trailer upright and secure. In the US, there are certain laws regarding the total length of a semi trailer. Semi trailers are not allowed to exceed a total of 53 feet, however, on many roadways; you can see several trailers linked up to one another which exceed 53 feet. Linking is done with a small module called a bogey.

Semi trailers can vary by design. Some are fully enclosed, others can be refrigerated to carry food that can spoil and other types of semi trailers only include a flat bed or canvas enclosure to carry goods such as timber or items that are weather resistant. Every once in a while, they need to be repaired so it’s important to visit a semi trailer repair shop.

The Motorcycle Trailer

The motorcycle trailer is a much smaller sized trailer and probably the smallest type of trailer on the road. Motorcycle trailers are built specifically to transport motorcycles. For most motorcycling enthusiasts bringing their motorcycle along with them on vacation or to a special area to ride is essential. Many times motorcycle trailers are used to transport recreational motorcycles such as dirt bikes or even quads that are not street legal. Since most motorcycles are considerably light weight, the motorcycle trailer doesn’t have to be an extremely heavy structure. Most motorcycle trailers easily attach to a pick up truck or even the family car. Motorcycle trailers usually have space to carry two motorcycles and use a series of belts and chains to anchor the vehicles to the trailer. Most motorcycle trailers are not enclosed, however enclosed motorcycle trailers are available.

Types of Trailers motorcycle trailer

In addition, there are motorcycle trailers in which a motorcycle is used to haul items. These trailers either come in one or two wheel models and are very light weight and thin. Motorcycles are never used to haul normal sized trailers due to safety concerns, but motorcycle trailers that for instance can carry an extra passenger (side car) or small amount of items (built specifically for motorcycles) are legal and relatively safe.

The Travel Trailer

Travel trailers are commonly called pop up campers or camper trailers. These trailers are enclosed units built specifically for lodging one or more individuals while camping outdoors.

Pop up campers are trailers that have a rigid bottom structure, but a canvas top that pops up to create an enclosure. One of the reasons pop up trailers are used is due to the weight savings of hauling these trailers and the aerodynamics of hauling these trailers. Since pop up campers are flat when hauled, they cause very low wind resistance which save on gas mileage and because they are light weight they can be hitched to a variety of vehicles including a pick up truck or even a family car. Other types of travel trailers can vary in size and may require a special type of vehicle such as a pick up truck or even a heavy duty pick up truck to haul them.

The Boat Trailer

A boat trailer is a trailer that is made to carry a boat. Besides the trailer frame, it sometimes also includes a winch to pull the boat (since boats have no wheels) onto the trailer frame. Most boats are purchased with their own customized trailer. Boat trailers vary in size ranging from large trailers to carry yachts to small simple boat trailers that carry personal watercraft.

Types of Trailers boat trailer

The Cargo Trailer

A cargo or equipment trailer is used to haul light to moderate amounts of cargo. For instance, a cargo trailer might be used to haul a lawnmower, several bicycles, some home goods, etc. They are many times attached to cars and light duty pick up trucks. They usually include only two wheels which are usually smaller or relatively the same size as the car or light trucks tires. Most small cargo trailers are easy to hook up and relatively affordable – usually costing less than $1,000.

Types of Trailers cargo trailer

The Horse Trailer

A horse trailer carries horses from one stable to the other. They are usually enclosed structures with swing out doors and small windows at about eye level for ventilation. Besides horse trailers, other types of trailers are available to transport live stock such as chickens, cows, etc. Horse and livestock trailers can vary in size and complexity. Horse and livestock trailers for instance can be small and connect to a pick up truck or be as large as semi trailers that connect to a towing truck.

Category: Trailers