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Thread: Open trailer advice

  1. #1
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    Open trailer advice

    I have decided the time has come to get a trailer. I've done a lot of searching and there have been a lot of discussions but most of them have focused on enclosed trailers and I do not have the funds nor the towing capacity to consider one of those at this time.

    The only tow vehicle I have access to is a 2000 Toyota Landcruiser with a towing capacity of 6500 lbs. I need a trailer that's a light as possible considering my M3 is still upwards of 3100 lbs in it's current configuration, and I would like as much capacity to pack the LC with track day goodies like fuel, tools, etc. as I can get.

    I've been scouring craigslist and it seems that most used open trailers are pretty weathered but still very expensive. Do trailers really hold their value that well? Am I better off buying new? In most cases it seems like new ones are only $500 or so more than used and they have warranties etc. My budget is literally as low as I can get a quality trailer for. This means aluminum is out of the question.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I will admit that I don't know too much about trailer construction, but I do know that I want electric brakes on both axles. Any additional advice in this area would be great too.

  2. #2
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    Rent a uhaul whilst you scour craigslist for a solution. Cheap ones are out there, but definitely take it to a trailer place for re-packed bearings and a looksee. Keep in mind you will spend easily $250 bucks having it serviced, and depending on if the tires are new another $250 on tires or somewhere around there.

    Bought mine for $1,000. Serviced for $250, new wheels/tires due to blowouts on one eventful trip to Road America = $350.
    Brother scored an aluminium ATC trailer for $2k (thanks to my eagle eye) at a local trailer store. Same story on the bearings/tires.

    I love my old piece of junk and wouldnt trade her for some fancy new lightweight aluminum one until it rusts through the floor. Matches my rat race car to a tee. Might try grassroots motorsports as well for ideas and research.

  3. #3
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    I am pulling with a highlander (5k rating) found a local guy who rents nice aluminum trailers (Performance Trailers in Flanders, NJ), as the Uhaul ones are too heavy for me. You may find that the trailer dealer will rent to you, might be worth a call.

    Check the specs on the LC. Loading of the vehicle will be payload capacity, which is different from tow rating. It will be you, plus your crap in the back plus the tongue weight if I remember right. With a 6500lb rating, you can probably find a steel trailer that will work and will be much less than Al. There is a company in PA called econotrailer that makes pretty light steel trailers, that are reasonably priced (significantly less than a used aluminum). I can't speak for their quality personally...once I found my rental guy, I stopped researching, but they seemed like a good alternative.

  4. #4
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    I think you've got the right idea with regards to price. People charge silly prices for used trailers, even beat up ones. I don't know your area but around here at least, there are lots of small trailer shops out in the boonies that make their own trailers. Not only are they cheaper than the used brand name ones but you can often get them built to your liking.

    Beyond that, not a whole lot matters about the trailer except the frame condition, suspension and ramp design. Everything else is cheap and easy to change or upgrade (wheels/tires/hubs/wiring/lights). Look for a design with ramps that are easy to work with. I've used a lot of trailers with goofy ramp designs, like the kind that you have to carry from one end to the other, pin them in place and stuff. It doesn't sound like a big deal until you're packing up dead tired at the end of a track day, all this stuff becomes a big deal. If you can get a good deal on a trailer with torsion axles, I highly recommend those. It's just personal preference but I think they ride really nice and don't make your trailer sound like pile of scrap metal going down the road. But definitely get the ez-lube style axle where you just pop the grease gun on the zerk on the axle tip and pump while turning the wheel - no bearing packing goofiness and you'll actually want to maintain it.

  5. #5
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    My buddy picked up a used Trailx for cheap... like track cars, there is no cheap trailer. Needed new tires, wheels, brakes, etc... some wiring issues. Age. While it was still a good buy, the maintenance was not cheap and added up (even with $25 wheels and cheap tires).

  6. #6
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    I'm in the same situation, except on the other end of the East Coast. It's almost as if the CL folks used trailer folks didn't actually look at the new trailers listed in the same section for comparison pricing. The cheapest new trailers here, 16' wooden deck, likely brakes on only one axle run about $1850. Metal decks seems to start in the $2300-2400 range. When I started this search, I really thought I'd find something used in the $1200 range. I hate buying new, it's so against my track rat theme.

  7. #7
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    Two words for open trailer (if you are not in the price realm to buy aluminum)
    Dively Econotrailer.


    Google it, read thousands of reviews from track rats.
    http://www.econotrailer.com/
    Find a dealer near you, buy one and never look back

    Well made, lightweight for steel, perfect for weekend track rats.
    Literally the perfect first trailer (or only trailer ever).
    Last edited by jimmypet; 07-06-2018 at 11:34 PM.
    jimmy p.


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  8. #8
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    Econotrailer. Mine is from 1999 and still going strong.

    Check your state's requirements regarding brakes on both axles. Most require both. Also, you'll need a good brake controller in the cab. I have a tekonsha prodigy. Usually it plugs right into the factory harness with a simple adapter.
    Be sure the axles are at lead 2x7000lbs tires should be two years old or less (see date stamped in sidewall) and TRAILER tires, not something else.

    LED lights are a huge plus.

    Make sure the breakaway battery and system are operational.

    Consider how the ramps attach and store. Mine slide out of and into the beaver tail.

    Consider whether you need to raise the tongue to load and unload the car without scraping.

    Have fun! Best thing I ever bought other than my snowblower.

  9. #9
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    Econotrailer is, as others have mentioned, probably the best trailer you can get at the price point. I know tons of track rats with them with many years of service.

  10. #10
    MINIz guy's Avatar
    MINIz guy is offline #buttstuff2k14 BMW CCA Member
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    How is the rust situation on an Econo trailer? If you were to store it outside, in the Delaware/NJ. Probably won't get driven in the salt unless transporting the car. I'm liking the full deck 15' trailer.

    My work has a 20' SSI hydraulic tilt deck which is so nice, but it's kind of rusty and larger than what I need. I could buy it for little less than the price of an Econotrailer.

  11. #11
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    The one downside to the Econotraler (at least when I had mine) was that their paint dept is not great.
    They could be painted better (thicker or have better rust proofing).
    That may be done better now (mine was a 1998).
    My solution was at all times I had a case of Rustoleum Rust combatting primer and a case of matte black paint in my shop.
    I just touched it up whenever and wherever needed.
    It was such a good trailer for its price point, I easily overlooked the paint issue.

    A side note,, the open bottom ones serve as an Excellent "at track" lift if you ever need it.
    Not only are they way lighter than the solid deck ones, but I have changed half shafts and had a diff out using mine as a lift, repaired many a busted exhaust clamp.
    They are really pretty useful at the track as a service point.
    A friend just recently changed a transmission using an open bottom Econotrailer at a track day.
    Last edited by jimmypet; 07-09-2018 at 07:32 PM.
    jimmy p.


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    88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - SCCA SPU
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  12. #12
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    Thanks for all of the feedback. Seems like the econotrailer is the way to go. I've been talking to some of the guys I go to the track with and econotrailer keeps coming up there as well. I was weighing the pros and cons of the open and closed decks but Jimmypet made a very convincing argument for the open version. The total weight should keep the load safely below the rating on my LC too.

  13. #13
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    The biggest things I miss about my open trailer are:
    1) Being able to put the car up on the trailer at the track and get under it if I had to check something or fix something without ever getting out a jack or a jackstand.
    2) Pulling the trailer into a car wash on the way home and washing the car top and bottom, this getting to service a sparkling clean car with no extra work.

    Open trailers have their disadvantages as well when compared to enclosed, but those are the main points I miss.
    jimmy p.


    88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - street
    88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - SCCA SPU
    87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car 2.0 Litre
    04 Ford F350 - V10
    06 Audi A3 Brilliant Red / 2.0 / DSG

  14. #14
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    How tall are the Econotrailers? I had an open trailer but it was too tall to load and unload the car easily.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goallie11 View Post
    How tall are the Econotrailers? I had an open trailer but it was too tall to load and unload the car easily.
    Unless you're slammed, they work fine. For the lowest cars I have seen people use a 2x8 ramp to ease things a little.

    The econotrailer open is the "go to" first trailer for almost every racer in existence. I also agree with Jimmy, the open center models can be useful for repairs.

    Just checked craigslist, and it seems people are asking more than retail round here. Check out this link http://www.econotrailer.com/Open.html Less than $2500 including free delivery up to 300 miles.

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