The beginner’s guide to car trailer types

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The world of trailers is filled with lingo that might make you feel like you’ve driven into a foreign country. Our list of definitions will help you understand the differences between car trailer types.

Trailer: Let’s start with the basics: what classifies as a trailer? It’s really any vehicle that needs towing – that is, it doesn’t have power of its own. It could be something pulled by a car, truck, tractor or other vehicle. In the definitions below we’ll focus on a variety of trailers.

Pig trailer: When a trailer has just one axle, it’s defined as a pig trailer. The axle is found in or near the middle of the trailer, holding the weight of the load with two wheels. It has a drawbar connecting it to the towing vehicle. Most caravans, boat trailers and box trailers fall into the pig trailer grouping.

Dog trailer: These car trailer types have two axles, one at the rear and one at the front. The latter has a drawbar attached, from which a vehicle tows the trailer, and this is how the dog trailer is steered.

Semitrailer: If a trailer has a rear axle and wheels (or several) but no front axle, it’s considered a semitrailer. The front of the trailer is supported by a vehicle – usually a truck – and the axle’s composition means that the vehicle supports the heavy weight.

Converter dolly: A dolly is a smaller trailer that can be attached to allow a semitrailer to tow another load.

Caravan: Classified as an enclosed trailer, a caravan generally provides sleeping quarters and living space. There are many different types of caravans – you can find all the definitions here. [link to article: Caravan definitions]

Boat trailer: A boat trailer is the transport for your ultimate lifestyle purchase – a boat. There are two types of boat trailers. A roller trailer contains a number of rollers to help glide the boat onto the trailer, while a float-on trailer is more basic and relies on the boat being winched onto the trailer. A boat trailer can have many safety features. [link to article: How to keep your boat trailer safe]

Horse float: Designed specifically to safely carry livestock, a horse float includes a bay for each animal to keep multiple animals separated and secure.

Box trailer: With walls providing an enclosure to the load, a box trailer may have a canopy to attach to it, but isn’t generally a sleeping area.

Cage trailer: A cage trailer has a higher cage providing protection to the load.

Table-top trailer: Otherwise known as a tray body, this is a flat trailer without sides, and is used for many general purposes.

Now that you’re informed, you can confidently purchase your next trailer.

Now that you have an understanding of what each trailer term means, check out the uses for each.


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