How to Perform a Home Trailer Inspection

Both business owners and recreational trailer owners should complete an annual home trailer inspection to ensure their trailer is up to snuff. Just like trucks and other tools, trailers face wear and tear over time that may cause trailer safety and reliability issues. The official inspection requirements vary by state, but there are a few parts of your trailer that everyone should check – regardless of state regulations.

You can find more information on Illinois truck and trailer requirements and inspections on the Illinois Department of Transportation’s website.

Conduct an At-Home Trailer Inspection

Hitch and Coupler

The trailer hitch mounts and ball will likely be beat up after about a year of use. During a routine home trailer inspection, you should check to make sure the frame mounting bolts are tight and check that there are no cracks. Next, check the trailer coupler to ensure the jaw fits tight over the tow ball and that the safety latch is securely pinned.

Another quick trailer safety check for trailer hitches is the weight restriction. Each ball and hitch has a weight safety regulation. You can find these restrictions on the internet or in an owner’s manual. It’s important to follow these weight restrictions to safely use your trailer. At both of our Illinois trailer dealerships, you can find trailer parts for sale in store.

Trailer coupling with trailer on a car

Lighting and Wiring

The first step of a lighting and wiring check is simple. Test the brake lights and turn signal to make sure they work. Next, check the trailer plug. Examine the receptacle and plug to look for any frayed or loose wires. You can bring your trailer into Country Blacksmith Trailers for help with trailer repair and service, like replacements in trailer wiring. If everything looks good, you should still take the time to clean the plugs and wiring.

Additionally, an inspection should include checks on the trailer reflectors. Trailers built after 1968 should have red and amber reflectors on the back and side, depending on the trailer length. You can consult a professional trailer maintenance representative at Country Blacksmith Trailers to be sure your trailer reflectors meet state and federal regulations.

Tires

Tire checks are an essential part of any home trailer inspection. Over-inflated or under-inflated tires wear out more quickly and are more likely to cause accidents. To help your tires last longer, we recommend checking the tire pressure on both the tow vehicle and trailer at least monthly. You can adjust the tire pressure as necessary.

Aside from pressure, you should check the tread on your tires. If they’re worn down, you may need to look into replacements. Finally, double check the lug nuts to ensure they’re tightly secured.

Close up red and yellow classic taillight of travel trailer.

Brakes and Wheel Bearings

The next step to a home trailer inspection is checking the brakes. Brakes are an essential part of trailer safety. Though the tow vehicle brakes will be doing the bulk of the work when braking, the trailer brakes are important for emergency situations.

After you check the brakes, you should check the wheel bearings. Replace or repack them about twice a year.

Springs and Axles

Aside from the hitch and ball, the trailer’s springs and axles will take the most abuse. During a routine home trailer inspection, examine the springs and axle(s) for damage, and let Country Blacksmith Trailers repair or replace them as needed. Bent or misaligned axles will easily further damage your trailer and can lead to safety hazards on the road. Finally, check the mounting bolts for proper tightness.

Plates

The final step of a routine trailer inspection is checking the license plate. The plate on your trailer should be hung horizontally and be easy to see, even when your trailer is full. Make sure the plate is tightly fastened and illuminated, especially at night.

Once all of these steps are completed, your trailer inspection is over. Although, we do recommend bringing your trailer in for an expert inspection at Country Blacksmith Trailers. Our staff has experience with trailer safety, inspection and repair. The trailer service team can help with everything from trailer wiring to hitch installation.  We’re also familiar with Illinois trailer regulations, so we can make sure your trailer follows state and federal laws. Contact us online today to schedule your trailer service or inspection!

Trailer Insurance Explained

Trailer Insurance for Commercial and Personal Use

We all know that we need auto insurance if we drive a car, however, is trailer insurance required if you pull a trailer behind your vehicle? The answer is typically no. It’s normally only required if you haul commercial semi-trailers across certain states. However, insurance for your trailer and valuable cargo is important to consider, especially if you are a business. Some personal auto insurance policies include certain trailers, but they can be very limited.

Why Trailer Insurance and What’s Covered

Although you may have a top-notch auto insurance policy, it doesn’t guarantee your trailer is fully covered, or covered at all. Some insurance companies will allow personal-use trailers to fall under personal auto policies. However, there may be strict rules to qualify. Additionally, the coverage may extend to liability only for the trailer itself. Liability only applies if you are at fault of an accident, and doesn’t cover the following situations:

  • Weather Damage
  • Cargo Losses
  • Theft or Vandalism

To keep you, your cargo, attached equipment, and trailer completely covered, you will need to add a trailer insurance policy with a trusted insurance company.

Utility trailers for person use parked in the grass.

Personal Trailer Insurance

Your standard personal auto insurance policy may not cover your trailer or include options that are relevant to your specific needs. Comprehensive and collision coverage for your trailer is usually an extra cost and separate from your auto insurance.

Comprehensive Coverage: This is for non-collision related damages. This might include severe weather, fire, theft, vandalism, or animal damages. Things like a falling tree branch, hail, or vandalism would fall under a valid comprehensive claim.

Collision Coverage: This covers costs incurred from a collision with another vehicle or object when in motion. It would cover hitting another car or even a mailbox. It doesn’t include things like bodily injury, medical expenses, or dealing with uninsured drivers.

In addition to the above two options to add to your policy, you may also consider contents coverage which includes protection of personal items being transported in the trailer. Contents coverage is important if you carry valuable goods in your trailer or have attached equipment, like kitchen appliances for a concession trailer.

Cargo Trailer with the back ramp door open in the snow.

How Much Personal Trailer Insurance Costs

Now you know the basic insurance options to keep your trailer completely covered. The next question is how much this coverage costs. According to a survey from insuranks.com, the average utility trailer insurance policy is about $66.67 a month. However, insurance for a trailer can vary greatly by trailer type, size, and primary use. To get a quote specific to your trailer, here are some questions you’ll need to answer:

  • What type of trailer do you have?
  • What’s the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (or GVWR) of the trailer?
  • What’s the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the trailer?
  • What’s the primary use of the trailer?
  • What’s the vehicle that primarily pulls the trailer?
  • What equipment is attached to the trailer (if any) and how much is it worth?

Add Trailer Insurance to Commercial Auto Policies

Although trailers used for non-business purposes can be covered by a personal auto policy, trailers used for business purposes require a commercial auto insurance policy that includes trailer coverage. Trailer insurance is a necessity for businesses and some policies can even extend coverage to both the tow vehicle and the trailer.

The primary type of coverage on commercial insurance policies is liability and is required in most states for businesses. Not only do these policies cover damage and medical bills, but some also offer legal assistance when lawsuits occur after an incident.

The two types of physical damage covered for your insured vehicles:

  1. Collision loss: Damage from road accidents.
  2. Comprehensive loss: Theft, weather, and other non-collision damage.

It also includes two types of liability coverage (when you’re at fault):

  1. Bodily injury coverage: Accident-related injuries to others.
  2. Property damage coverage: Accident-related damage to someone else’s property, such as a car or house.

You may also want to consider cargo insurance to protect yourself against damaged goods in transit.

A truck hitched to an equipment trailer with snowblowers.

Determine Commercial Trailer Insurance Cost

Just like with personal insurance policies, commercial trailer insurance prices can be dependent on many things including:

  • Trailer make and model
  • Types of material carried by the trailer
  • Trailer’s annual mileage
  • Trailer travel routes
  • Drivers’ ages and personal driving records
  • Drivers’ license types

However, many insurance companies offer discounts based on these factors:

  • Hiring drivers over 25 years old
  • Hiring drivers with valid CDLs
  • Insuring a trailer with a reliable make and model
  • Driving in areas considered safe or with low crime rates

Should Trailers Be Insured?

As you can see, insurance for your trailer makes complete sense in certain situations and is required for businesses in many states. If you use your bumper pull or gooseneck trailer for personal use, you may still want to insure your trailer to guarantee protection from extreme weather, theft, or accidents. It’s always good to compare quotes from multiple providers and leave no question unanswered when talking to insurance agents. Owning a trailer is a big investment, so it is important you feel you’re getting what you pay for from your insurance. That way you won’t be disappointed if or when you need to file your claim.

If you are looking for new or used trailers for sale,  let Country Blacksmith Trailers be your trailer dealer in Illinois! We have everything from truck flatbeds to trailers for work or recreation. With two trailer dealerships located in Carterville and Mount Vernon, Illinois, we have what you need for your trailer or service truck. Browse our hundreds of new and used trailers for sale from top brands like Aluma, Bradford Built, CM, Diamond C, FLOE International, PJ Trailers, Top Hat and more! Contact us today for more information on our trailers, including our Rent to Own trailers.

Can You Park a Trailer on the Street?

Just like cars, trailers are vehicles that must follow parking rules when traveling from place to place. Because trailers are considered commercial property, it’s harder to find a spot to park a trailer. What is even more challenging is that parking rules can change from city to city. If you are unsure about where you plan to park your personal or work trailer when on the road, consult with that city’s laws by searching for “parking laws” in that location or calling the county clerk’s office, or city hall.

Where NOT to Park a Trailer

In most cases, in the city or a subdivision, these rules may apply when you park a utility, dump, enclosed or cargo trailer. To prevent problems, these rules are a good baseline to keep you on the right side of the law when parking your trailer at home or around town.

An empty utility trailer parked on the side of the road.

Where You CANNOT Park a Trailer

  • You cannot park a trailer on the street, alley, city parking lot or public right-of-way attached or unattached for more than 24 hours, and it could be towed after 48 hours.
  • Your trailer cannot be parked in front of your house or in your front yard.
  • A trailer cannot be parked on private property long term without permission.
  • You cannot park your trailer where it blocks a neighbor’s driveway.

Where You CAN Park a Trailer

  • Along the side of or behind your home.
  • In a self-contained garage on your property.
  • A self-storage facility or any private lot that allows rentals for your trailers.
  • In your driveway, if it’s not a violation of housing association rules.
  • On the street directly in front of your home. However, your trailer must be attached to a motor vehicle and cannot sit for more than 24-72 hours (depending on local laws).

A dump trailer is parked in a driveway.

BONUS: Tips When Storing Your Trailer

  • Remove Break Batteries – If your trailer has a braking system that uses batteries, then it’s important to remove those batteries if your trailer will be sitting long term. Left in place, batteries will wear faster and drain the power. Just like regular batteries, they work best if stored inside where conditions are more stable.
  • Jack Your Trailer Up – Ensure that the trailer rests suspended on jacks. This preserves the tires and suspension by keeping weight off these parts. Tires can even be removed and stored in a safe place, which not only protects the tires from rotting, but also deters thieves from trying to roll off with your trailer.
  • Grease Moving Parts – Greasing all the moving parts helps protect your trailer and allows things to continue to slide smoothly. This includes wheel bearings, especially if you don’t remove your trailer tires in storage.
  • Get a Cover – If you store your trailer outside, a trailer cover can do wonders to keep water and moisture out of your trailer and its components. Wood rots and steel rusts, but a good waterproof cover or tarp securely wrapped around your trailer will prevent a lot of that from happening. It will keep your trailer clean and pristine as well!
  • Buy a Security System – Trailer theft can happen to anyone, especially if the trailer is stored outside. Get a hefty security lock for the hitch and keep any trailer doors locked. If you have an open-air trailer, use heavy straps and locks to tie down any loose valuable items or materials. The more difficult you make it for someone to take your trailer and cargo, the less likely it is that a thief will mess with it.

An enclosed trailer parked on the side of the road.

How to Report Illegal Parking

If you are the victim of a neighbor or business intruding on your property, you can also report illegal trailer parking by contacting parking enforcement authorities. You can read more details about how to call in or file an official complaint on illegal parking in this article: “How to Report Illegal Parking.”

Should You Park a Trailer on the Street?

Parking and storing your trailer when the job is done is not always an easy task. Fortunately, alternatives exist so you don’t always have to park in the street. It’s good to be mindful of your neighbors and through traffic, which keeps you and your trailer safe and free of violations. So, if you want to be sure, don’t park your trailer on the street longer than a day.

At Country Blacksmith Trailers, we are a premiere trailer dealer in Illinois with locations in Mount Vernon and Carterville. When it comes to trailers, we have everything you’ll need. We offer new and used trailers for sale, from top brands like Aluma, Diamond C, Homesteader, Top Hat and more! We also have a variety of pickup flatbeds from Bradford Built, Cadet and CM Truck Beds. We also have trailers for rent in Illinois and offer a rent-to-own program. Browse our inventory online or contact us today!

The Total Package on Tow Packages!

Pickup trucks and SUVs are made to be more like workhorses than cars or vans. So, with this power, is a towing package necessary to tow trailer? Though you may have big tires and a hitch, it doesn’t mean you’re ready to drag five tons of boulders behind you. If you plan to use your vehicle primarily for heavy-duty trailers or commercial work, installing a factory or aftermarket tow package is a must!

What is a Tow Package?

A tow package is the upgraded features needed for your tow vehicle to pull a trailer reliably and safely. It’s not just the hitch alone. They can include supporting engine parts, improved cooling systems, strengthened suspension and more! If you’re planning on using your truck or SUV to tow trailer, then a towing package is beneficial. It gives your vehicle better handling when you pull heavier loads, and it reduces the wear and tear on the vehicle overall.

Towing Packages May Include:

  • Trailer Hitch & Assembly
  • Wiring for 4-Pin and 7-Pin trailers
  • Extended Towing Mirrors
  • Enhanced Coolant System
  • Stronger Axles (Reduced Rear Axle Gear Ratio)
  • Heavy-duty Brakes and Suspension
  • Larger Battery and Alternator
  • Towing Brake Controls on Dashboard
  • Trailer Backup Cameras

A truck towing a heavy-duty gooseneck trailer. Tow package installed.

Does a Tow Package Increase Towing Capacity?

Even though the correct set of towing elements can enhance your towing, it’s possible to install parts that are rated beyond your vehicle’s factory limitations. Your vehicle is what sets the maximum bar on towing capacity and the towing elements cannot override that.

What a Tow Package Doesn’t Do:

  • Increase Vehicle’s GVWR
  • Increase Vehicle’s Payload Capacity
  • Increase Vehicles Maximum Towing Capacity

How Do You Know If Your Vehicle Has a Tow Package Installed?

If you don’t see a trailer hitch or receiver on your rear bumper, that is a good sign you don’t have a towing package. However, what does a towing package look like? A hitch and wiring doesn’t give any clues to what else is installed for towing. This is especially difficult to know for sure if you bought or your vehicle used. Sure, there are other hints like dashboard trailer controls, however, your best bet is contacting the dealer or manufacturer. Beyond that, answering this can take a little research.

To start your investigation, check what available towing options exist for your vehicle. This can be found by checking brochures specific for your exact model. These brochures will list tow package options available on your model.

Some packages could be simple like the hitch, wiring and connectors. Others may have extra components included. When you buy preowned, you can use this research along with looking up the vehicles VIN history to know what (if anything) has been modified. Maybe a previous owner installed improved parts or upgraded the hitch. Whether you are buying used or new, check to make sure the invoice matches what comes up on the window sticker.

Close up of a ball hitch connection between a trailer and a car.

Can You Add a Tow Package If You Don’t Have One?

There is no need to worry if your vehicle doesn’t have a tow package. You can easily call your local dealership to get the part numbers for your exact model. You can also get a quote for everything you’d like to have installed. However, you may prefer to do some or all of the work yourself.

If this is the case, you can do the research to find and order the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or the equivalent. A complete list of heavy-duty towing upgrades will include things like larger brakes, auxiliary transmission cooler, and upgraded rear shocks or springs. You may also want to purchase a “full-size” spare tire, instead of the regular spare most vehicles come with.

Are Factory Tow Packages Better than Aftermarket?

The factory tow package is composed of OEM tow parts designed to match your vehicle exactly. This makes factory installations safe and reliable. Conversely, aftermarket tow packages can vary in quality depending on the brand. Additionally, aftermarket installations may be limited to what some refer to as “trailer package.” A trailer package is simply a tow hitch and electrical wiring for trailer lights. However, this doesn’t always mean factory installs are best.

A truck with a UTV in the trailer.

If you are looking to tow lighter loads, like a couple of jet skis, on a trailer, then an aftermarket install would suffice. Although factory tow packages are more comprehensive, they are generally more expensive. Additionally, factory installs handle poorly and lose fuel efficiency when dealing with lighter loads. So go with factory pre-installed towing options when you plan to pull boats, large campers, or livestock trailers. You may want to make sure it includes heavy-duty shocks, stronger brakes, a transmission cooler, upgraded battery and a quality tow hitch.

How Much is Too Much?

Depending on your vehicle, you may not need the highest-rated towing parts. For example, if your truck’s maximum towing capacity is 10,000 pounds, then you would only need a good class 3 hitch instead of a class 5 trailer hitch. And if you are planning towing with a gooseneck hitch, know your truck’s max payload capacity so you don’t overload your wheels and rear axle. Although it takes a little effort to reference your manufacturer’s weight limits, it pays to respect these numbers. Literally! It can save you money to know when you are going overboard.

At Country Blacksmith Trailers, we know trailers and towing! Between our two trailer dealerships in Illinois, we have hundreds of trailers for sale, from top brands like Aluma, Homesteader, Top Hat and more! We also specialize in selling and installing pickup flatbeds and service bodies from Bradford Built, Knapheide, Cadet, and CM Truck Beds. Whether you are looking to purchase a trailer or towing and trailer parts, let our friendly team of experts assist you today!

Trailer Hitches: What You Should Know

When it comes to towing a trailer, one of the most important things needed is a hitch. Without it, of course, you can’t haul a trailer. Having the proper trailer hitch is crucial. This includes the correct type, strength, and hitch ball size. There are a lot of great hitches out there that can do the job, however. We’ll dive into the types of hitches and important features of each.

What is a Trailer Hitch?

A trailer hitch or tow bar is an accessory that attaches to your vehicle’s frame or chassis to allow the safe connection and towing of a trailer behind a vehicle. The only part of the hitch that may be visibly seen is the square shaped receiver tube, which the ball mount slides into. It is common to see the ball mount and trailer ball collectively referred to as a hitch as well.

Close up of a ball hitch connection between a trailer and a car.

Bumper Pull vs. Gooseneck Trailer Hitches

Bumper Pull Hitches

Bumper pull hitches are easier to hook up, and can be used with any vehicle. They’re ideal for first-time trailer buyers and those with pickups who desire truck beds clear of the gooseneck hardware. An open truck bed without the gooseneck hitch and trailer tongue increases your payload capacity without going over your GVWR. However, bumper pull hitches have limitations on the weight and size of the trailers and cargo they can haul. Additionally, there is more trailer sway with bumper pull hitches if they are not hooked up properly or if cargo is unbalanced. Lastly, there is a limited turning radius with bumper towing, so turns must be wider around corners.

Gooseneck Hitches

Gooseneck hitches provide amazing stability because the weight is placed over the rear axles of the truck compared to the bumper. This also gives gooseneck hitches the ability to tow larger trailers and heavier cargo. Additional benefits include improved maneuverability and a tighter turn radius. This means turns can be sharper than a bumper pull. The main disadvantages with pulling longer and heavier trailers with goosenecks is that you need a heavy-duty truck. You may also need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). However, CDLs depend on the length of the trailer and the state you’re are driving in.

Enclosed cargo trailer that hitches in a truck bed. Possibly a gooseneck trailer hitch.

What is the Strongest Trailer Hitch?

Overall, trailer hitch strength breaks down into 5 classes. Gross Tow Weight (GTW) increments from 2,000 pounds all the way to 20,000 pounds. However, even if a hitch is in a particular class, it could be rated differently depending on the model and manufacturer.

  • Class 1 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 2,000 lbs. / 1.25” Receiver Tube)
    This class is for light duty work, and you’ll find it on most compact and midsized cars.
  • Class 2 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 3,500 lbs. / 1.25” Receiver Tube)
    This hitch is for moderate use and can be found on cars, crossovers, and minivans.
  • Class 3 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 8,000 to 12,000 lbs. / 2” Receiver Tube)
    Most commonly installed on pickup trucks and SUVs, this hitch is strong and versatile.
  • Class 4 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 12,000 to 14,000 lbs. / 2” Receiver Tube)
    This class is more for full-sized and heavy-duty pickup trucks towing larger trailers and heavier loads.
  • Class 5 Trailer Hitch (GTW up to 16,000 to 20,000 lbs. / 2” or 2.5” Receiver Tube)
    You’ll find these installed on heavy-duty pickups or truck flatbeds for commercial or heavy-duty work.

Trailer Hitch Safety Checks and Maintenance Tips

Use the Correct Ball Size

Most towing jobs can be done by between a 1 7/8-inch, 2 inch or 2 5/16-inch sized trailer ball (or hitch ball). However, the diameter of your ball must match your trailer’s coupler opening size. You can use a ruler or measuring tape to determine the opening size on the coupler’s head. If it measures 2 inches, your hitch ball must be 2 inches. Having the exact fit is necessary for both safety and usability.

Person connecting a bumper pull hitch.

 

Cross Safety Chains

A common mistake is connecting the safety chains straight across instead of crossing them. Chains should be loose enough for turns and cross over each other in an “X” shape under the trailer coupler. If the trailer should ever disconnect on the road, the crisscrossed chains will catch the trailer tongue like a safety net. Otherwise, the trailer tongue would drop directly to the ground, digging into the road. This could cause considerable damage to your vehicles and put your safety at risk.

Use Ball Grease

Hitch balls receive a lot of friction from the trailer’s coupler sliding around it as it’s pulled. Greasing your hitch ball will help extend the life of it, reducing scratches and pitting. Even though the coating painted on some hitch balls looks great, it alone is no replacement for a little bit of grease.

Check Electrical Components

When you pull a trailer, always ensure your wiring harness connects and powers it’s components like lights and brakes. This is especially important when driving at night and visibility is limited. You may not always see burnt out taillights or brake lights when on the road, so always test them out before taking off.

Trailer full of oranges being towed.

Respect Weight Limits

When you buy hitches and accessories, ensure they are rated for the weight of your trailer and the cargo you intend to pull. In addition, make sure your cargo load is balanced properly. Too much weight in the back will lighten the tongue weight, and your vehicle to fishtail more when changing lanes.  Too much weight on the front will put undue stress on the hitch and tow vehicle, which can cause excess wear and damage.

Lock-Mounted Trailer

Once your trailer coupler is connected to the hitch ball, it’s never a bad idea to add a security lock to keep anyone from stealing your trailer and potential cargo.  Vehicle and trailer theft is common in the United States, happening once every 40 seconds in 2017. A formidable lock is a small price to pay to deter thieves and keep your trailer in your possession.

If you’re looking for the best trailer hitches, quality parts or accessories, Country Blacksmith Trailers has what you need. Our expert staff members can answer any question and check if the trailer parts you’re looking for are in stock. In addition, we carry hundreds of new and used trailers for sale at our two trailer dealerships in Illinois. Contact Country Blacksmith Trailers and let us serve you today!

Best Pickup Trucks for Work in 2022

There’s no doubt about it. Pickup trucks are the top work vehicle choice for most general contractors, new construction companies, and other industry professions. What is it that makes them so desirable? Well, many factors like versatility, power, and storage ability. However, not all trucks are made equal, and we’ll share what we feel are the best pickup trucks for work use in 2022.

Best Pickup Trucks for Trades

According to a study done by “Tools of the Trade,” 56% of General Contractors used a pickup truck as their work vehicle. And it is no surprise that trailers ranked number two as the vehicle used for trade jobs. Trucks are natural work horses, with the greatest capacity to tow a trailer and carry heavy payloads. The advantages of trucks over work vans and cars are the following.

Ram with Trailer
Image courtesy of Ram Trucks.
  • You can tow a bumper pull or gooseneck trailer. Yes, a car, SUV, or van can be hitched to a bumper pull trailer, but they are not adaptable for gooseneck or “fifth wheel” style trailers. Why is that important? For the most part, gooseneck trailers offer better maneuvering and can hold more weight than their bumper pull counterparts. This enables you to haul anything your truck can tow behind you without limitation.
  • You can convert the standard truck bed into a service body, dump body, or pickup flatbed design. Although utility vans can be customized with shelves and outside compartments, it comes with the cost of space. Service body truck beds can offer the same kind of enclosed storage combined with an open floor and racks to lay down large equipment, pipes, carpet, or other odd-shaped items. And if you just need more space to drop bulk building items like lumber, bricks, hay bales, or bags of soil, then a regular pickup flatbed may do just fine. In addition, having the option to add a dump body for construction or landscaping is a big plus that you won’t get with a car or work van.
  • Trucks are now being made with bigger cabs to accommodate more passengers or storage, in sizes and seating comparable to small to mid-size cars. Small crews can arrive together at a job instead of having to spend more on fuel for taking separate vehicles.
  • Trucks separate the cargo area from the cab, which can keep the smell of the dirty tools, materials, or chemicals from affecting drivers as they travel. Also, it is easier to load and unload cargo in the back of a pickup truck than a van or car.

Best Pickup Trucks – Heavy Duty

2022 Ram 3500
$38,565 MSRP
Payload Limit: 4,644 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 37,090 lbs.

With some models offering six seats, you get plenty of seating and power with this truck. Winning a J.D. Power award in “Quality Among Large Heavy-Duty Pickups,” the Ram 3500 has enhanced features like a digital rearview mirror to show the road behind you if your view is obstructed by cargo or a trailer. If you are looking for a truck with plenty of tow power for the price with great safety features, the Ram 3500 is a good choice.

2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD
$40,095 MSRP
Payload Limit: 4,572 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 36,000 lbs.

Having almost semi-truck like strength, the GMC Sierra is a five-seater that comes in many models. The more popular model is the Denali Crew Cab with a 6.6L V8 engine which will run you close to $70,000. If you are looking for a similar option with slightly lesser price tag, you can check out the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD. The Silverado offers the same towing abilities and brings an additional seat to the cabin, but lacks some of the Sierra’s visual thrills in its design.

Ford Super Duty towing a livestock trailer.
Image courtesy of Ford.

2022 Ford Super Duty F-350
$39,705 MSRP
Payload Limit: 7,850 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 35,750 lbs.

This five-seater is as impressive inside as it is on the outside, with tech to impress any passenger. If you want a F-series truck that pulls out all the stops, then this is the pickup truck for you. With a comfortable ride, luxurious interior, and incredible power, the F-350 will get you between jobs in style.

2022 Nissan Titan XD
$48,000 MSRP
Payload Limit: 2,240 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 11,040 lbs.

The Titan XD offers a smoother ride than most competition and bridges the gap between regular full size and heavy-duty pickup trucks. This Nissan model has definitely carved out a niche for those who want a balance of power and drivability. However, with recent advances in full size pickup technology, the Titan XD is failing to show its worth. Yet, it remains a respected name that can get the job done.

Best Pickup Trucks – Full Size

If you are looking for something a little less overpowering and more affordable, here are some great full size pickup options for getting the job done.

2022 Ford F-150
$31,685 MSRP
Payload Limit: 3,250 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 14,000 lbs.

No list of best pickup trucks can exclude Ford’s flagship F-150. Whether you are a contractor, ranch owner, or just a truck enthusiast, the F-150 has the looks and features to appeal to all. In addition to versatility, it’s one of the most affordable trucks in its class. And for those who desire to go green, there is the full electric Lightning model which boasts 10,000 pounds of towing and 300 miles of driving between charges.

The Sierra 1500, one of our best pickup trucks.
Image courtesy of GMC.

2022 GMC Sierra 1500
$32,495 MSRP
Payload Limit: 2,240 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 13,000 lbs.

With high tech features like Hands-Free Towing, Automatic Lane Change, and enhanced voice activated navigational systems, driving a truck has never been easier. The Sierra also incorporates the world’s first Six-Function MultiPro Tailgate which allows you to have several configurations of the tailgate to load or secure cargo in the truck bed. The Sierra combines superb luxury, absolute comfort, power, and drivability together into one masterpiece.

2022 Ram 1500
$34,400 MSRP
Payload Limit: 2,300 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity: 12,750 lbs.

When outfitted with a 5.7L HEMI® V8 engine with eTorque, the Ram 1500 easily wins as one of the best pickup trucks in its class. And when towing a trailer, you can rely on the Trailer 360 Surround View camera, Trailer Reverse Steering Control, and Trailer Hitch Light for maximum awareness around your vehicle. The entry level Tradesman model starts at $34,400 and the price tag goes up from there.

All these pickup trucks are great choices to assist you in getting the job done. However, sometimes the standard pickup truck beds limit your payload carrying capacity or the way you can arrange your tools and cargo. If you are looking to convert your pickup truck bed to a service body, dump body, or pickup flatbed, contact  Country Blacksmith Trailers. We carry hundreds of new and used truck beds from trusted brands like Bradford Built, Zimmerman, and CM Flatbeds for sale. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about compatibility with your truck and ensure you get the best pickup truck bed for your job!

Cargo Trailers: The Best Brands to Shop

There are dozens of manufacturing companies producing high-quality trailers of every size and color. However, how do you know which brands make the best cargo trailers? Well, we’re going to highlight a few names we feel have earned a spot as some of the most trusted and reliable trailer manufacturers around. In addition, we’ll note important features you may want to consider during your next purchase. 

Enclosed Trailer Manufacturer Highlights 

The amazing thing about an enclosed trailer is that they can be used for almost anything! They provide your cargo protection from the outside elements; thus, you can store anything from sensitive equipment and tools to big-ticket items like cars and ATVs It’s also possible to customize these trailers with shelves, sinks, and other fixtures, turning your trailer into a mobile workshop or temporary home. Standard sizes for enclosed trailers are between 5 and 8.5 feet wide. Lengths can vary from 8 to 32 feet long, and heights can be customized to be raised incrementally by 6 inches. Below are some brands we chose which are both well-built and reliable. 

Homesteader enclosed cargo trailers red

Homesteader Trailers

GVWR: 7,000 – 9,950 pounds (bumper pull)

This trailer brand currently produces six different bumper pull models of enclosed trailers, from more affordable (like the Challenger Series) to more expensive models. All Homesteader models come standard with a 32” side door for easy access to the front of the trailer, as well as front aluminum treadplates to protect your trailer from bouncing road debris.  Trailers come in single or tandem axle for heavier loads, along with several rear door options.  Many models are built with an V-Nose which is said to be more aerodynamic, and definitely increases floor space. Homesteader also makes a horse cargo trailer called the Stallion for horse enthusiasts, and for extreme heavy lifting the Hercules gooseneck series which can with GVWR of 15,600 pounds! Whether you are looking for a small cargo trailer to pull behind a car or SUV, to larger models that can hold a car inside, this brand has a model for you! Whether you are looking for a small cargo trailer to pull behind a car or SUV, to larger models that can hold a car inside, you will want to view our Homesteader enclosed cargo trailers for sale!

Gray stealth cargo trailers

Stealth Trailers

GVWR: 2000-21,000 pounds (bumper pull)
Offering up eight different lightweight cargo trailers, Stealth delivers a lot of features for the price. From their entry-level Mustang to the heavy monster hauler like the Hercules. Many models have the choice between a rear single barn door or a ramp, as well as a side entry door option. Most bumper pull models sport the aerodynamic V-nose and front aluminum treadplates. Stealth also produces an enclosed trailer with a gooseneck called the Raptor that has a GVWR of 15,240 pounds. Yet that pales in comparison to their Hercules triple axel, multi-car stacker with a whopping GVWR of 21,000 pounds! For transporting heavy loads and toughness, browse Stealth cargo trailers for sale! 

Gray Haulmark enclosed trailers for sale at Country Blacksmith.

Haulmark

GVWR: 2,990–9,990 pounds (bumper pull) 

Haulmark offers four types of enclosed trailers which all have a V-nose style. The Passport is the starter model capable of hauling loads 1,795 to 4,875 pounds. All models have the option of a side door and various rear door types. The heavy duty and aluminum constructed Grizzly ALX yields a lightweight trailer that can haul payloads up to 6,290 pounds. For both light and strong constructed trailers, check out our Haulmark enclosed cargo trailers for sale! 

Red enclosed Look trailers.
Photo Courtesy of Look Trailers.

Look Trailers

GVWR: 2,990-9,950 

Truly the manufacturer that has a trailer design for any occasion, Look enclosed trailers come in all shapes, sizes, and can suit any purpose. You can find a small cargo trailer to pull behind your car or SUV like the Element or Platinum Aluminum. Or you can tow your vehicles, ATVs, motorcycles, or other toys in the many larger models. Specialty enclosed trailers like the MOAB UTV Trailer come standard with a sink and bed turning your trailer into a small lodging as well. Gooseneck variants (like the Ignite) have added payload capacity raising the GVWR to 18,000 pounds! If you are seeking out very uniquely built custom trailers, give Look Trailers a look. 

White Featherlite enclosed trailers.

Featherlite Trailers

GVWR: N/A 

Just like Look Trailers, Featherlite has many design options for their enclosed trailers to suit many purposes. Recreational models are made for ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Their horse trailers have models with living quarters which resemble fifth wheel campers. With 30 years of NASCAR experience, Featherlite prides themselves with their aluminum car haulers that are both heavy duty and lightweight. Another point worthy of mentioning is that this brand can do large scale custom builds that can turn any trailer into a mobile business. Featherlite Trailers may be light, but they are loaded with features which make your enclosed trailer more than a storage space, but rather an extension of your home or business. Looking for a trailer that will make you and your stuff feel at home? Check out these Featherlite enclosed cargo trailers for sale! 

Gray Country Blacksmith enclosed cargo trailer.

Country Blacksmith Trailers

GVWR: 3,500-10,400 (bumper pull) 

We couldn’t finish a list without highlighting our own brand of trailer. Country Blacksmith produces our very own custom enclosed trailers. Coming standard with side doors and aluminum built with a steel frame, our trailers can carry heavy loads without being heavy themselves. See our new and used enclosed cargo trailers for sale! 

Whether you need a new enclosed trailer or another trailer type, our team here at Country Blacksmith Trailers is happy to assist you with all your trailer needs. We offer many new and used cargo trailers for sale in Illinois, from brands like Homesteader, Featherlite, Haulmark, Stealth, Delta, Diamond Cargo, and more! From trailer parts and accessories to new custom trailers, Country Blacksmith is here to serve you!  

Buying Used Utility Trailers

Is your truck bed not enough to haul your stuff? Or maybe you want to upgrade from your current trailer. However, with upgrading comes cost and new trailers can be expensive! Yet, we find out renting frequently can be costly along with the burden of filling out paperwork, dealing with trailers in poor condition, and then returning equipment on time to avoid penalties. There is a better way to get what you need within your price range and avoid the pitfalls of renting. Buy used! The question then becomes, what should I look for when buying a used utility trailer? We have compiled some great tips to make you a pro at picking.

Picking Used Utility Trailers

We’ve written an article about how to choose a good utility trailer and we’ve included some of those points here. You need to have a solid idea of what you need your trailer to do before picking one out. In addition, when buying used, the condition is key to getting both value and reliability. Keep these factors in mind when shopping around, and that will keep your decision making balanced between what you want and getting what you need.

Trailer Age

The number one factor with any used trailer is age. Even if the trailer is well kept, time, wear and tear will take its toll, especially if it’s been stored uncovered outside. However, most well-built trailers are known to have a life expectancy of 15 years or longer. Keep that in mind when making your final choice on your used utility trailer.

Car with covered tarp on used utility trailers in the roadway in Poland.

Frame and Structure

Steel is cheaper and stronger than aluminum, however, it is also heavier and rusts. Extensive wear could be found on steel trailers along coastal cities or places where roads are salted during the winter. Aluminum may be a better option for that reason if your climate encounters a lot of salt and water. However, if properly cared for and coated, steel can endure for long time as well.

Single vs. Tandem Axle

Single axle trailers are good for some furniture or yard equipment. However, if you think you’ll be doing some heavier lifting with large equipment or dense building materials, go with the tandem axle trailer, which significantly increases your payload capacity.

GVWR

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that your trailer can hold. This also includes the weight of the trailer itself. If you’re looking to increase payload capacities, search trailers with tandem axles.

Used Utility Trailer Buyer’s Checklist

This checklist is comprised for used utility trailers in mind, however, it could apply to buying new or used trailers of any type. Trailers are a big investment, so it’s wise to take whatever precautions you can to get the best value from your purchase.

Tires

See that the trailer tires are the right size and check tire condition, check hubs, brakes, tread wear, and wheel bearings. Along with checking the tires, look at the axles to ensure they are in good condition. Tires are expensive and the need to replace tires needs to be factored into your cost. If you would like to learn more on tires, read our article Picking, Maintaining & Replacing Trailer Tires.

Wooden used utility trailers, red, parked and left in the grass.

Floor & Frame

Inspect everything you can see on the unit including the bottom, floor and floorboards, loose or missing screws/rivets/bolts, cracks, ramp quality and corrosion. Steel rusts, but aluminum can become corrosive over time as well. Inspect the hitches for wear and tear as well. Make sure that the key components have not be replaced with incompatible parts like weaker hitches or axles.

Electrical

Finally inspect the lights and wiring to verify that electrical is in working order. Hitch up the trailer to a vehicle and ensure the lights, brake lights and turn signals are not missing and are in working order. If your utility trailer has any motorized parts like a lift or jack, operate those components to ensure they are functioning as expected.

Test Drive

If you can test drive the trailer, do it! Listen for any high-pitched humming. That could be from the bearing not being properly sealed or lubricated. You can also get a feel for how the trailer rides and know if it turns properly, vibrates usually, and alignment and brakes (if any) are good.

Mechanical Inspection

If you are not a mechanic and you are able to, drive the trailer to a trusted mechanic to give their opinion or point out any flaws you may be missing. This could be part of your test drive as well!

Outdoor stacking the logs on utility trailer for transport at sa

Purchasing and Financing

After evaluating the used utility trailer of interest, make a checklist of any potential fixes needed. If you don’t know the cost for repairs, call around and get some quotes, then see if the dealer can either take care of it or adjust price for work that needs to be done. You can also ask about warranties or quality guarantees the dealer provides for peace of mind. If cost is keeping you from your potential purchase, also ask about trailer financing.

Used Trailer Dealership vs. Direct Seller

Buying from a dealer has advantages like producing a bill of sale and passing over the existing title. To properly register your trailer and ensure that it’s not stolen or free of liens, you legally need these things. And if you don’t like the model you came to see on the lot, trailer dealers usually carry a variety of other models to browse. You don’t always have these options when shopping from a direct seller on a classified. In addition, trailer dealers may provide warranties or incentivized trailer maintenance plans, along with discounts for onsite service. Many dealers will also take trailer trade-ins, where direct sellers are strictly looking to sell only.

Country Blacksmith Trailers is a trailer dealership you can trust. Country Blacksmith carries dozens of quality used utility trailers from brands like Aluma, PJ Trailers, Diamond C, FLOE, Load Trail, and Top Hat. We also provide our own brand of utility trailers called “eConoBody” which is exclusively offered through us. We pride ourselves in both our quality selection and excellence in customer service. We don’t just sell you a trailer. We are here to answer your questions and assist you from searching to purchasing. And from accessories to service, we’ll help keep you and your trailer rolling on the road!

5 Top Service Bodies and Utility Beds Brands

Service Bodies, also known as utility beds, truck beds or pickup flatbeds, are essentially mobile storage for equipment and tools that attaches to trucks. They not only provide massive amounts of storage, but make keeping things organized and accessible. This makes you as a business more efficient, not to mention, more professional looking. However, what makes features make a good service body and which brands are the best? This is what we’ll discuss.

Service Bodies and Trusted Brands

When choosing a brand for a service body, you may want to consider these things:

Steel Or Aluminum Pickup Bed?

Steel is stronger than aluminum, however, aluminum is lighter and doesn’t rust. In addition, think of what kinds of equipment and tools you’ll be storing in your utility beds. Do you need a stronger frame for heavy duty work, or is the cargo be lighter?

Open Or Enclosed Utility Truck Beds?

Are you carrying things in your truck flatbed that need to be covered from the outdoor elements? Then you want to go enclosed. If you have large or awkward shaped equipment, you may decide going with a open design is better.

Road work company and service bodies on trucks loaded with signs and orange road cones. Road workers are in the background

Size & Weight of Service Bed

If you are buying the service body, and important thing to consider the most is the size and weight. All pickup trucks have “payload” capacity and GWVR that can’t be exceeded. With this in mind, you may need to opt for a lighter aluminum frame to get the storage you need rather than a steel flatbed with less cabinet space.

Accessories for Service Bodies

Things like storage space, locking cabinets, lights, hitches, equipment racks, side rails, and more maybe important based on the work you do with your service body pickup truck. Make sure you keep these desired upgrades in mind with your budget.

 Aluma Truck Beds

Made from aluminum, Aluma Truck Beds are simple, effective and lightweight options for a pickup flatbed.

Standard Features:

  • Extrude aluminum floor with drop rear skirt
  • ½”x2” Rub rail with stake pockets
  • Headache rack with sealed beam lights
  • 3” channel main stringers adjustable to fit different models of trucks
  • Recessed sealed beam lights 4 taillights; 11 clearance lights/2backup lights
  • License plate light
  • Re-wired and lights installed.

Some additional upgrades available for these are the Gooseneck Hitch Opening with removable door, Sides Racks and Tailgate, Mudflap Bracket set.

Bradford Built Work Beds

If you want the option of either steel or aluminum for your service body truck, that’s is simple and made for endurance then Bradford Built is your brand! Base models come with an extensive list of features like LED lights all around, mudflaps, and wiring harness.

Standard Features:

  • 4” Flip Down Rails Extended Skirt
  • Gooseneck and Receiver Hitches
  • Formed Headache Rack
  • Stake Pockets

In addition, you can add crossbody toolboxes and underbody toolboxes. Internal storage comes standard on the 4-Box and Regulator models.

Back view of open truck body delivering from nursery plants and flowers seedlings for gardening at city park or garden. Lanscaping design and replanting of city streets. Cargo vehicle on bright day.

CM Truck Beds

From plain flatbeds to fully decked out service bodies, CM Truck Beds has made a name for itself as both a diverse and established brand. To keep the comparisons fair, we’ll only list features found on the flatbed models.

Standard Features:

  • Headache Rack
  • 4” Frame Rails
  • Gooseneck & Bumper Pull Hitches
  • 7 Pin Trailer Wiring for GN and BP
  • Lockable Toolboxes (Optional on Aluminum Models)
  • Tiedowns / Attachment Rings (Steel Models Only)

There are unlimited customizations beyond these and if you are interested, we encourage you to check out CM’s website.

Cadet Truck Bodies

Just like CM, Cadet Truck Bodies has a wide variety of service bodies and flatbeds for any job. One unique thing about this brand is that they use a Polyurethane Wet Paint instead of a powder coat that most competitors use. This coating on their products touted to keep the metal protected longer from rust and corrosion.

Standard Features:

  • Stake Bodies
  • Skirted Bodies
  • Gooseneck Hitches
  • E.D. Lighting (Cadet Models Only)
  • Toolboxes (Aztec & Laredo Models)

Zimmerman brand service bodies truck bed parked

Zimmerman Trailers & Truck Bodies

The Zimmerman Trailers brand shines when it comes to well-rounded aluminum service bodies with storage. Different models come standard with many features depending on the task at hand. However, we listed what all models have in common below.

Standard Features:

  • Aluminum Build
  • Beds with Front/Rear Box Storage
  • Sides and Tail Boards
  • Mud Flaps

For a list of more features and specific service body models, check out Zimmerman Trailers website!

What to find out more on quality brands that make service bodies? Country Blacksmith Trailers can answer your questions! We sell new and used flatbeds from brands like Aluma, Bradford Built, Cadet, Stellar, CM, Zimmerman, and more! We can also make custom utility truck beds, built to your specifications. Contact us today for an inventory check or quote.

Choosing a Utility Trailer

Buying The Best Utility Trailer

The costs, fees and hassles of renting trailers are not always economical. Especially when you see your reserved trailer is a well-worn ’97 model that wouldn’t hold the weight of kitten. Looking for an affordable option to increase your cargo space and take your business or personal items wherever you need to go? Utility trailers are a great option! Gone will be the days of bumping your head and scratching your vehicle as you try to play storage Tetris. Whether you are buying for the first time or you are just looking to purchase as an upgrade, it’s good to know some basics before browsing a dealer’s lot or searching online.

utility trailer - Small trailer loaded with dry leaves when the garden is cleaned up at spring

Utility Trailer Buying Factors

Use – Decide what the main purpose of your trailer is going to be and focus on that. What are you going to be carrying normally? Is your cargo sensitive to the weather? Do you need to pull heavy lawn equipment? You need to make sure that you are honest with yourself and get something that will meet your expectations.

Design – Once you’ve determined your trailer’s main use you can budget appropriately. For example, you may opt for a smaller single axle trailer for carrying just a few push mowers and trimmers. Or maybe you need to carry heavier equipment that you wish to store in your trailer as well, in which case, you’d opt for an enclosed cargo trailer with tandem (two) axles. Check the trailers GVWR to make sure that it can handle the load you plan to place on it.

Vehicle – Can your vehicle pull both the trailer and the payload safely? Also, if it can, do you have a proper hitch to support the trailer? This is where you will have to check your vehicle’s GVWR located on the VIN sticker in the door jamb or manufacture website. Check out this article about weight ratings for vehicles, hitches, and trailers! We also covered some of the best vehicles for towing a trailer.

utility trailer - Trailer with many bags of plant garbage in the garden. Periodic garbage collection.

Condition – Whether the trailer is new or used, it’s good to make sure that it passes a basic inspection. This includes looking over all visible parts to confirm they are in working order. It also includes checking the tire condition, looking for rust, inspecting the brakes and the electrical functionality. Next, verify suspension is free of cracks, test ramps strength, and make sure hitch assembly has no missing parts. Checking warranties may provide some guarantee on the trailer’s quality as well.

Registration – Check your state’s trailer registration requirements. You may need Certificate of Origin & Sales Receipt. This is crucial when buying a trailer used. Ask the seller for any and all paperwork, including service receipts, upon purchase.

Utility Trailer Types: Open vs. Enclosed

Open Trailer – Utility trailers are typically open air, more affordable, lighter, and have a higher weight capacity compared to similarly sized cargo trailers. These trailers usually have flat wood deck floors bordered with a short sidewalls or railing. Most also have a loading ramp which folds and locks upright like tailgate when traveling. These trailers can be customized with racks and storage to hold tools and smaller items in place when on the road. Given the ease of access, open trailers are especially great for hauling trash or rubble. This also makes it easier to maneuver vehicles on and off the trailer. However, due to the open design, your cargo will not be as secure and protected from outside elements as they are in enclosed trailers. These trailers may fall under the label of “landscape trailers” as they essentially share the same purpose and features. Landscape trailers, however, may be larger and come standard with features not found on basic utility trailers.

Green River, United States - September 7th 2014. 2014 model year Ford F-150 with a trailer parked at a rest stop along Interstate 70.
Green River, United States – September 7th 2014. 2014 model year Ford F-150 with a trailer parked at a rest stop along Interstate 70.

Enclosed Cargo Trailer – Given the weight and dimensions do not exceed certain limits, enclosed trailers can be used or classified as utility trailers. They double as a mobile storage unit for your materials, equipment, and tools. A trailer with covered storage area gives your equipment maximum protection against the outdoor elements like sunlight, rain, falling branches or debris bouncing up from the road. You can also add extra security to your trailer by locking the door. Another added benefit to enclosed trailers is the ability to put your logo and contact info on the sides. Your trailer becomes a traveling billboard that advertises your business wherever you go! The disadvantage of enclosed trailers compared to open trailers is that they tend to be more expensive and bulkier.

Buying New or Used Utility Trailers

Your budget may be the main determining factor in your purchase. Or you have the budget, but the model you are looking for is out of stock. Unless you have time to save up money or wait for inventory to replenish, buying a new trailer can seem impossible. At Country Blacksmiths Trailers, we can work with any budget and provide financing for all our trailers. We also offer the best prices for both new and used utility, landscape, or enclosed trailers. If we don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, we’ll custom order it for you or find in-stock trailer that meets or exceeds your expectations. We can even customize trailers and add your business information to enclosed trailers. Let our experienced team at Country Blacksmith Trailers answer your questions and get you the right trailer for the right price.