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Five Tips for Buying the Right Used Horse Trailer

Last updated October 14, 2023 by Brad Heath

For some horse owners, a used horse trailer sounds like a great idea.  It’s just a matter of finding a well-built trailer that has been gently loved.  You know, one that still has years of life left in its old bones. Easy, right?

But in order to separate the diamonds from the duds, you should take a very close look at any potential used horse trailer for sale.  A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in covering up a rusted frame or poor construction. 

The last thing you want to do is invest a few hundred or a few thousand dollars in a trailer that is going to be dangerous for your horses. That’s why we’ve put together this article with the top five things you should check on a used horse trailer before you buy.

Where’s the Best Place to Find a Great Used Horse Trailer?

If you’ve found our website, then, chances are you know about the unique safety features and custom horse trailers we design for our clients.  Each model that rolls out of our factory is truly one of a kind.  The specs have been tailored to fit the exact needs of each buyer.

So, how do you get your hands on a USED trailer from Double D Trailers?

We’re so glad you asked!  We actually have a trailer listing program where we list used trailers on our website for anyone interested in selling.  There’s a one-time fee of $350 for sellers who want their trailer advertised on our company’s Facebook page, horsetrailerworld.com, on our Used Horse Trailers for Sale page, and included in our email blasts (Join our List here.)

(By the way… if the seller is planning to order a new Double D Trailer from us, this $350 is applied towards the new trailer’s purchase price… it’s a really great deal!)

These are all great places for you to check if you’re looking for a used trailer from Double D trailers.  But watch out, these used models normally sell very quickly!  Lots of people are watching these channels hoping to get their hands on one of our trailers.

That’s because our trailers hold their value much better in comparison to other horse trailer brands.  This is due to the great materials and building techniques we use.  This long lifetime means the cost ends up being much lower over the life of the trailer.

5 Things to Check Before You Buy a Used Trailer

If you haven’t had any luck on our used horse trailer channels, then you may be tempted to find a trailer some other way.  Maybe it’s an ad in your local newspaper.  Maybe a friend of a friend has an old gooseneck trailer they want to get rid of.  Maybe you saw a trailer parked alongside the country road with a “for sale sign.”  Regardless, here are a few things to inspect before you whip out your checkbook:

1.  Check the Chassis. 

The chassis is the base frame that forms the foundation of your horse trailer.  It will be made of some type of metal: usually steel or aluminum. Double D Trailers have a chassis made of Z-frame for higher durability and strength.

A quality chassis should be free from rust, dents, missing/broken bolts, or cracks.  Also watch out for damaged wiring hanging down anywhere. You’ll probably need to crawl under the trailer with a flashlight in order to get a really good look.

If you suspect that the chassis is made of aluminum, you should walk away immediately.  Aluminum is very brittle when twisted and tends to crack and weaken over time.  This is especially true with an older aluminum trailer.

2.  Inspect the Exterior, Seams, and Tires. 

If everything checks out underneath, it’s time to look at the trailer’s outside.  Examine the seams on the used trailer carefully, looking for missing rivets or rivets that have started to work their way out. Any openings like this mean that water has had a chance to penetrate the layers of the trailer.  This makes it a high risk for rust or weakening over time.  In fact, our trailers don’t even use rivets to avoid this problem. Also look for damage around the windows and doors, significant rust patches and deep dents. 

Check the tires next. Make sure they’re a matched set, have good pressure and have a strong tread. Since horse trailers are usually stored outside in the sunlight, tires often “age out” before they “wear out.”  This means the tread may look perfectly fine, but the material in the tire has degraded over time. In fact, it’s common for used trailers to be listed with a note: “Tire tread like new!”  This doesn’t mean the tires are actually safe to use.

When tires become weak and brittle, they are likely to blow out suddenly while on the road. You can find the true age of a tire by checking the date code imprinted on the outside of the tire. If you’re not sure, it’s best to replace the tires on a used trailer regardless of how “new” they look.  Well-maintained tires are vital to safe transport.

3.  Think Like a Horse. 

Next, it’s time to walk on board the used trailer and start thinking like your horse. Avoid any of the dangerous design features we’ve often written about.   Features like aluminum floors, a mill finished roof, or small windows means the trailer is likely to overheat in the summer and dehydrate your horse from excessive sweating.

Things like solid head dividers and a narrow loading door will make your horse feel confined and claustrophobic.  He might give you trouble loading onto this trailer model. Features like thin single-layered walls and aluminum floors are downright dangerous for your horse and could result in structural failure and injury.

Plus, you want the space to be something your horse will actually enjoy.  Is there enough headroom for your tall jumper?  Are the doors wide enough so he’ll feel comfortable walking on and off?  Does the trailer rattle loudly when you move around?  These are all elements that will influence whether your horse wants to travel in the trailer.

4.  Scan the Storage. 

Next, consider how you’ll use the used horse trailer.  Does it have enough room for all of your equipment and tack? Does the dressing room or living quarters feel like a space you’d want to use?  Is their good airflow throughout the trailer?  We tend to focus on the horses when we talk about trailer qualities, but YOU need to enjoy the trailer as well.

5.  Engage the Electrical. 

Last, but not least, you’ve got to take a look at the electrical system.  Check that the lights all work properly, both indoor and out.  If it’s a living quarters trailer, check that any appliances are functioning and that the outlets have plenty of juice.  While you’re at it, count the outlets and the lights -- you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough power to run whatever you’ll be taking on trips, be it a cell phone, a laptop or a space heater.

Look into the onboard water tanks and waste water systems. Give the AC system a spin to make sure it’s pumping cold air.  Spend a few moments hanging out in the living quarters to make sure everything feels “right” while it’s all up and running.  After all, you may be spending days on end in the space during camping trips or shows.

What if a Used Trailer Doesn’t Pass These 5 Checks?

Many shoppers become discouraged when they see a promising ad only to discover the trailer is lacking in some way.  The last thing you want to do is compromise on your purchase.  Most of the items we outlined above have to do with safety issues that could pose a real problem for you and your horses.

A better option is to think again about your ability to buy a new trailer.  If you’re truly concerned about the safety of your horse -- and if you’re planning to continue your horse hobby for many years -- it makes more financial sense to invest in a new horse trailer.

Even with limited budgets, financing can be a great option.  You can submit a small down payment and finance the balance over a 15 year period.  Low interest rates, combined with long term results means you get a very affordable, high quality, and safe trailer to use for years to come.  For instance, the SafeTack 2 horse bumper pull is a very popular model many first-time owners like to explore.

Remember, “Cost is the difference in what you pay for something, and what you can sell it for.” So, if you invest in a Double D Trailer, you’ll be in great shape.  The time may come for you to upgrade to a larger model like our customer favorites Gooseneck 3 Horse Trailer or the SafeTack Reverse Living Quarters model. 

Then, your used Double D Trailer can be quickly sold using our used trailer program described above.  The cost of the advertising can then be put towards the purchase of your next new trailer.

So, when you’re looking for used horse trailers, take a look at our online inventory.  We’ve got a great selection of used trailers for sale in a range of prices to meet any budget.  Unlike the strangers in the paper, we’ll stand behind our trailers and ensure that you’re happy with your used horse trailer purchase for years to come.

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