Buying a second hand trailer: how to ask the right questions

We all need to get our horses from A to B from time to time and for many of us, that means buying a second hand trailer, which can feel a bit scary. Is it safe to carry our precious horse? We asked Alan Hiscox BHS Director of Safety, to help one reader find her perfect box. 

Your Horse reader asks: "I’m looking to buy a second-hand trailer. What should I look for and what questions do I need to ask before committing to buy?"

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"Our BHS members’ legal helpline takes many calls about unscrupulous sellers, so be cautious and take an experienced friend along with you if you’re not confident that you can assess the trailer’s mechanical condition yourself.

"It’s important to make sure that the seller genuinely owns the trailer, so meet them at their home, not a public place like a service station, and ask for proof of ownership.

"Watch out for signs of tampering with the manufacturer’s plate, which shows the trailer's serial number – this is also often stamped on the chassis of some trailers.

"Be suspicious of a recent paint respray, and ensure you obtain a signed receipt showing the vendor’s address.

"A quick Internet search will tell you approximately what price the trailer ought to be around, so if the seller wants a quick deal and the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is."

Those all-important checks

Some main points to check are:

  • Underneath the trailer for signs of damage to the chassis.
  • Under the mats on the floor and ramp to examine for rotten areas
  • The roof for signs of leaks
  • The tyres' to make sure are in good condition and have even wear
  • The light socket plug in into your vehicle to ensure it’s working properly
  • If you are insured to do so, hitch it up for a test-tow to be certain that it tows evenly and brakes smoothly

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