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Discussion Starter #1
I've never owned a car hauler but the time has come to get something to haul my LJ on long road trips. Please tell me your thoughts on what to look for and look out for in buying a used car hauler.

For example:
-how big, 16" or 18"?
-axle rating?
-whats to know about brakes?
- dovetail, beaver tail or ???
-side rails or not
-tongue jack?
-steel, aluminum. wood?
-what to look out for when buying used
-???


Appreciate all your comments, nothing is too basic...Thanks
 

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What is your tow vehicle, and the amount of weight it will tow? Is it already equipped with a brake controller for a trailer?
 

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Assuming you already have an adequate hauler, properly setup with good brake controller, here's a few thoughts...

How much work do you want to do to the trailer in the beginning? Are you willing to buy a used trailer for cheap and re-deck it, new lights, new jack, new paint, etc., etc. and whatever else it takes to turn it into a good runner again? I've bought and sold many used trailers in rough shape and re-built them to turn a profit. Kept a couple, but overall, it's kinda fun. If you're willing to look for the "right" deal, you can get them pretty cheap. to the other extreme, you can spend a small fortune on a used trailer in decent condition for the wrong deal and not have to do a thing to it. Be smart with your purchase and don't be afraid of the "little" things if need be. Sometimes the deals are too good to pass up.

I'd personally not go less than 10K-you run out of weight real quick with a loaded LJ, gear, supplies, etc. Lots of carhaulers are 7000lbs. (twin 3500lbs. axles) and this is NOT enough for a week long camping trip with a loaded Rubi. I always go larger than I think I need on the trailers axles-my 18 runs twin 7,000 lbs. axles-and I've used every bit of them.

16' is kinda short-I like 18' but 16 will work.

Aluminum-nice, but $$$$ and I doubt you'll find many used that you'll want to rebuild for cheap-likely get top dollar even for used ones and there better not be anything wrong with it used either unless the price is a steal...

Steel trailers-great depending on how they're built. I prefer wood decks for many reasons. I think all my trailers are steel with wood decks with the exception of my current off-road trailer I'm building and a few of our stock trailers, which are aluminum and/or steel. One or two is a mix of both. I like steel.

Brakes-get them on both axles. Some states are OK with just one axle, but you'll be much happier and able to run in my state should you choose with brakes on both axles...

Sides- I wouldn't worry about them. If you want them later, build them for cheap to use the trailer for utility work. Definitely would NOT make or break a deal on a good trailer without sides...

I'm personally not a fan of the beaver tail, but that's just me. Ramps are fine. Lots of folks love them. Beavers still have ramps, just lessen the angle a bit.

Look it over carefully, ensure frame is sound, not tweaked or bent, or other damage. Don't worry about the jack too much-I go through a LOT of jacks on my trailers. They're cheap and an easily replaceable part. Wiring, lights, etc., are all easily replaceable and relatively cheap. Tires-just like the Jeep, they're a maintenance item. It's a bonus if you get a deal on a trailer with good tires, otherwise plan to replace. You'd be surprised how many Brand New trailers are sold with tires that are NOT rated for the trailer they are on... Paint is cheap/easy. Don't forget markers and reflectors/reflective tape. Check your local state laws for rulings on that. Be sure to have the 7 pin RV style wiring plug whether you buy with or re-wire it. You can always go DOWN in wire/plug size but you can never go back up. Meaning, you'll want brakes on both axles, marker lights, stop lights, possibly backups, possibly accessory power, etc., etc. A 4 flat won't allow any of those items... Believe it or not but I have seen a few cobbled together 18's with 4 flat wiring. :roll:

Most of all, Have Fun!!!

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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I have a steal car hauler for my LJ.... Carson Trailer. 16'. Steel deck. 10k rating. Dual axles. Beaver tail. Dual axle brakes. Tongue jack (a must, these trailers are heavy!!!). The trailer is a beast. Tows great. No complaints. Perfect for hauling a Jeep. I like the beaver tail cause I can load and unload the Jeep without the ramps (running 37s).

Hauling with a dodge cummins 2500 with prodigy brake controller.

If I did it over again, I'd want something a bit more versatile. I'd get a deck-over design to increase deck width for other projects (that increases height, so that's a compromise). I'd get aluminum to keep it as maintenance free as possible (compromise on cost). I'd still do the heavy-duty axles with brakes. Still do a tongue jack. 16' would still work fine. If I had space and a long garage, I'd do 18' or 20' "just in case". I wouldn't do sides but would have stake pockets to make some wooden sides for my other projects.

That's what I would do for a "dream" trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm hauling with a 2500 Suburban 6.0l, so trailer weight shouldn't be that much of an issue. Thanks for the in-depth responses, this really helps a lot.

16 vs 18 - on a 16 is there still room to mount a box up front to store some spare parts, tie downs, etc.?

Is there much difference in maneuverability between a 16 and 18?
 

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The suburban would work fine since a 2500 is a 3/4 ton. But look at your owners manual for recommendations and capacities.

For a 16' it depends on the size of the box. On mine, I could mount a box between the tongue-jack and the deck. A low profile box would work on the deck, if you parked the front end over it and it was narrower than the tires.

As with all trailers, you park your Jeep on it for appropriate balance. So distance from front to back will vary depending on the trailer design, the weight of your jeep, etc. 16' is a full trailer with an LJ.

Not sure about maneuverability between the two as I've only towed a 16'.

My trailer, when new:



If you have an ATV, consider a 20' trailer so you can mount your jeep and the ATV behind it.
 

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Beau Bo said:
I'm hauling with a 2500 Suburban 6.0l, so trailer weight shouldn't be that much of an issue. Thanks for the in-depth responses, this really helps a lot.

16 vs 18 - on a 16 is there still room to mount a box up front to store some spare parts, tie downs, etc.?

Is there much difference in maneuverability between a 16 and 18?
You see, that's why I asked - the max tow rating on the 4WD Suburban 6.0l is 7,500lbs with 3.73 gears, and 9,500lbs with 4.10's. The 2WD version adds just 300lbs capacity to make that 7,800lbs and 9,800lbs. Nor can you do a gooseneck hitch with an SUV, instead you will have to use a weight-distributing hitch and sway control. Not to mention, the wheelbase is relatively short compared to a fullsize truck.

I'm gonna say spend the bucks for the aluminum trailer, definately get the 16' version, spend the money on a good proportional brake controller and brakes for both axles, and be carefull. Put as much weight as possible in the rear cargo space of the Suburban, and lighten up the trailer load where possible (assuming you are not using the 3rd seat). But make sure anything you are carrying in the rear of the Suburban is properly restrained.
 

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With my baby girl, and the wife wanting another, I've been kinda thinking of a 3/4 ton burb for a while now. Had a couple of them in the past-great rigs. Can't afford a new crew cab d-max but you can often find used burbs for cheap-finding a 3/4 ton is tough though. Granted it won't tow as much as a d-max but you should be fine with the right trailer and load-I have pulled a LOT with those burbs and they handle great.

Like Kidmugg mentioned, I'd not waste space on the deck for a box if you get a 16'. The bumper overhang of the LJ will likely go over the top of the box, but will leave little room to access it. I have the V-nose boxes on several of our trailers which work great. They sit up on the tongue and depending on size, can hold quite a bit of gear. You can fit them to hold a winch inside the box as well and still pull something up on the deck using a fairlead properly. I just bought a Delta Pro black diamond plate nose box for my off-road trailer build here recently. It's a bit smaller width wise than I wanted, but was on sale and all I could find local. Will work great for my needs on this particular trailer though.

I don't personally notice much of a difference between towing a 16' and an 18'. With a 20', you'll notice that a bunch in all kinds of different areas. The deck space is nice and I do appreciate it a lot depending on what I'm carrying, BUT combined with a full crew cab long box-or a Suburban in your case-it's a long setup that can get tricky in places. Axle placement on the trailer will have a lot to do with load placement on top of the trailer-my 18' has the axles pulled a little further forward than the one in the pic above so where his Jeep sits further back, mine sits further forward-not by a lot, but enough to notice. Mine's balanced very well though and between it and the one above, likely has a lighter tongue weight overall. Then again, it's rated at 14K so placement is slightly different. Just things to keep in the back of your mind with regards to tow ratings on the Sub like Kaiser mentioned. A slightly lighter tongue weight with a more balanced trailer might be a slightly better idea. There are several 10K tandem builders who place the axle WAY back and have a TON of nose weight-I'd not want that style behind any rig-Sub OR D-max. Having pulled them a time or two, they just don't handle as nicely as a trailer built with axles a little further forward and a better overall load balance. Kind of splitting hairs a bit, but if you find you have several choices available for a good deal, keep that in mind. If you can tow them, do so-will give you the best idea of how the Sub will handle it.

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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[quote='05TJLWBRUBY]I'd personally not go less than 10K-you run out of weight real quick with a loaded LJ, gear, supplies, etc. Lots of carhaulers are 7000lbs. (twin 3500lbs. axles) and this is NOT enough for a week long camping trip with a loaded Rubi. I always go larger than I think I need on the trailers axles-my 18 runs twin 7,000 lbs. axles-and I've used every bit of them.

16' is kinda short-I like 18' but 16 will work.

Brakes-get them on both axles. Some states are OK with just one axle, but you'll be much happier and able to run in my state should you choose with brakes on both axles...

[/quote]

Ditto on all the above.

I started with a 7k trailer for my TJ. it worked fine for the Jeep, but I found I wanted to take my dualsport motorcycle too, which left me no room for a tool box, so I was strapping down little boxes where'd they'd fit.

PJ makes a very nice trailer. I'm on my second one, which is an 18' model. .

loaded, my jeep, trailer and gear was under the 7k weight rating of the 16' trailer I had, but just barely.... and the tires were light duty tires considering the long distance trips I keep making. I traded it in because of some sort of axle problem it had (no fault of PJ - it was a bad axle I suspect).

Mine had a wood deck, and I installed some floor mounted D rings in the wood deck along with some severely oversized backing plate I made from some aluminum stock I bought from a scrap metal yard.

Some trailers will have welded on D rings. Some have a side rub rail or stake pockets. I used 8 tie downs, 4 to my floor mounted D rings and 2 on front to stake pockets, 2 on rear to the rub rail.

C CHANNEL!!!!!!!!!!! forget angle iron trailers. they flex
 

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Discussion Starter #11
KaiserJeep said:
Beau Bo said:
I'm hauling with a 2500 Suburban 6.0l, so trailer weight shouldn't be that much of an issue. Thanks for the in-depth responses, this really helps a lot.

16 vs 18 - on a 16 is there still room to mount a box up front to store some spare parts, tie downs, etc.?

Is there much difference in maneuverability between a 16 and 18?
You see, that's why I asked - the max tow rating on the 4WD Suburban 6.0l is 7,500lbs with 3.73 gears, and 9,500lbs with 4.10's. The 2WD version adds just 300lbs capacity to make that 7,800lbs and 9,800lbs. Nor can you do a gooseneck hitch with an SUV, instead you will have to use a weight-distributing hitch and sway control. Not to mention, the wheelbase is relatively short compared to a fullsize truck.

I'm gonna say spend the bucks for the aluminum trailer, definately get the 16' version, spend the money on a good proportional brake controller and brakes for both axles, and be carefull. Put as much weight as possible in the rear cargo space of the Suburban, and lighten up the trailer load where possible (assuming you are not using the 3rd seat). But make sure anything you are carrying in the rear of the Suburban is properly restrained.

Just curious - where did you get your towing specs? Looking at the specs for a 2002 2500 4WD surburban in Edmonds it lists a 12000 towing capacity...

Base Number of Cylinders: 8 Base Engine Size: 6 liters
Base Engine Type: V8 Horsepower: 320 hp
Max Horsepower: 5000 rpm Torque: 365 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm Maximum Payload: 2840 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 12000 lbs. Drive Type: 4WD
Turning Circle: 44.3 ft.
 

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Beau Bo said:
KaiserJeep said:
[quote="Beau Bo":kc80oqrn]I'm hauling with a 2500 Suburban 6.0l, so trailer weight shouldn't be that much of an issue. Thanks for the in-depth responses, this really helps a lot.

16 vs 18 - on a 16 is there still room to mount a box up front to store some spare parts, tie downs, etc.?

Is there much difference in maneuverability between a 16 and 18?
You see, that's why I asked - the max tow rating on the 4WD Suburban 6.0l is 7,500lbs with 3.73 gears, and 9,500lbs with 4.10's. The 2WD version adds just 300lbs capacity to make that 7,800lbs and 9,800lbs. Nor can you do a gooseneck hitch with an SUV, instead you will have to use a weight-distributing hitch and sway control. Not to mention, the wheelbase is relatively short compared to a fullsize truck.

I'm gonna say spend the bucks for the aluminum trailer, definately get the 16' version, spend the money on a good proportional brake controller and brakes for both axles, and be carefull. Put as much weight as possible in the rear cargo space of the Suburban, and lighten up the trailer load where possible (assuming you are not using the 3rd seat). But make sure anything you are carrying in the rear of the Suburban is properly restrained.

Just curious - where did you get your towing specs? Looking at the specs for a 2002 2500 4WD surburban in Edmonds it lists a 12000 towing capacity...

Base Number of Cylinders: 8 Base Engine Size: 6 liters
Base Engine Type: V8 Horsepower: 320 hp
Max Horsepower: 5000 rpm Torque: 365 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm Maximum Payload: 2840 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 12000 lbs. Drive Type: 4WD
Turning Circle: 44.3 ft.[/quote:kc80oqrn]


Don't believe everything you read. In particular, the 12,000lb tow rating only applies to one particular version of the 2002 2500 Suburban, which is the 4WD with 8.1l V8 and 4.10 axle gears. The 4WD 6.0l with 3.73 gears is the low end spec of 7,500lbs. Edmonds is always incomplete and in this case is deceptively and dangerously wrong.

This is a better source, go to page 4 for the 2500 Suburban and match up the equipment on the vehicle:

http://www.coachmenrv.com/owners/guide/assets/pdf/2002-tow-rating.pdf

In fact, any trailer or RV dealer or U-Haul rental will have a similar and accurate reference. Don't just accept the first spec you find online, you could get killed that way.

YES, I am conservative about such things as maximum tow ratings. We don't know how this vehicle is equipped (2WD vs. 4WD, 3.73 or 4.10 gears) but I reccomended a short lightweight trailer with premium braking system, a weight-distributing hitch, and sway control. That is a good reccomendation for any version of the Suburban.

Conservative is good when your family is aboard the tow vehicle.
 

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Good idea on the weight distribution hitch. I'd probably go with 1000lb torsion bars on the hitch.

Even towing with my 2002 2500HD 6.0L as well as my current 3500HD dually with D/A, I use a weight distributing hitch with towing the Jeep.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for that reference KaiserJeep, what I didn't know could hurt me! I too like to go on the conservative side of things so I'll look a lot more closely at that trailer weight/design than I had planned to...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Help me understand the tow ratings. For example, for the 02 3/4 ton Suburban, the tow ratings range from 7500 to 12000 depending on the engine/gearing. If the engine/gearing are the only variables it seems that the tow rating difference is based soley on the ability to pull. The basic ability of the 3/4 vehicle to control and stop a load shouldn't be significantly different regardless of which engine/gearing is used, right? There may be some difference due to the weight of the engine but the rest of the vehicle - wheelbase, brakes - wouldn't change.

If this is true I don't feel as concerned by having the tow vehicle/trailer close or even at the 7500lb range. If the basic vehicle is capable of controlling and stopping up to 12000 lbs it shouldn't be a safety issue at 7500, the only thing I would notice is the ability to pull up hills.

With my rig at about 4500 - 4700 loaded, without people I should be able to look for a max 2800 trailer and still be within the limits. It might be a bit sluggish going up hills but from a safety factor it shouldn't be an issue if the 3/4 ton Surbaban can control and stop a 12000 load.

Am I looking at this right or am I missing something?
 

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Beau Bo said:
Help me understand the tow ratings. For example, for the 02 3/4 ton Suburban, the tow ratings range from 7500 to 12000 depending on the engine/gearing. If the engine/gearing are the only variables it seems that the tow rating difference is based soley on the ability to pull. The basic ability of the 3/4 vehicle to control and stop a load shouldn't be significantly different regardless of which engine/gearing is used, right? There may be some difference due to the weight of the engine but the rest of the vehicle - wheelbase, brakes - wouldn't change.

If this is true I don't feel as concerned by having the tow vehicle/trailer close or even at the 7500lb range. If the basic vehicle is capable of controlling and stopping up to 12000 lbs it shouldn't be a safety issue at 7500, the only thing I would notice is the ability to pull up hills.

With my rig at about 4500 - 4700 loaded, without people I should be able to look for a max 2800 trailer and still be within the limits. It might be a bit sluggish going up hills but from a safety factor it shouldn't be an issue if the 3/4 ton Surbaban can control and stop a 12000 load.

Am I looking at this right or am I missing something?
Well, I can only speculate - if somebody has more direct knowledge of Chevy Suburban mechanicals, please speak up.

The 8.1l Vortec V8 is basicly the largest and most powerfull gasoline powered V8 in recent production. To get more pulling power, you need a diesel engine or a Dodge V10. It would be logical (but not required) if GM were to use more heavy-duty models of transmission, transfer case, and axles with the larger engines. The brakes would be associated with the model number of the axles - there might not be any clue if the 8.1l engine is associated with upgraded brakes, so I hesitate to agree with you on that point.

The other thing is that the maximum trailer weight is also related to both the maximum gross vehicle weight of the tow vehicle and the suspension height - and the suspension height is tthe most critical of the two. Note for example that the 2WD version of the 2500 has 300lbs higher rating than the 4WD version - and almost certainly, that is because the 2WD is lower and the maximum tire upgrade is smaller in diameter than the 4WD version.

That's the other thing to consider. If the Suburban has had a lift installed and larger tires, the safe tow limit should be derated to match. For example on my TJ, I have a modest 3" of total lift and 33's - so I consider that the maximum tow rating has beed reduced from 2000lbs to 1000lbs. After I gear it down again, I may up that back to 1500lbs - but NOTHING basicly allows you to run the manufacturer's maximum tow rating on a lifted vehicle, safely. On a Suburban, even fitting a larger tire with NO LIFT wouls still reduce pulling power and the tow rating should be reduced. By how much, I would not venture to guess.
 

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From what I recall reading about trucks that have the 8.1L, is they have a beefier axle than the same truck with a 6.0L, which could mean bigger brakes to - I just really don't know for sure. I also don't know if this carries over to Suburbans or not. AAM (American Axle Manufacturing) supplied the axles in GM trucks of recent vintage from what I have read.
 

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About brakes... even if you're truck is rated for the amount you pull, it's still not any fun to slow down your loaded trailer with your truck's brakes. Still feels dangerous with a pucker factor. Trailer brakes are a must.

All that to day that a good trailer brake makes the trucks braking capacity less of an issue if they are already rated for a 7500# trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Checked specs and the 8.1 is less that 300lbs more than the 6.0, same height, same wheelbase. Reading the posts above I'm understanding that the weight height and wheelbase seem to be the main factors in determining if a tow vehicle can pull a load safely.

The 8.1/4.11 is rated at 12,000 and the 6.0/4.1 is rated around 8,000. Once again, the difference seems to be the power, nothing to do with "safety" issues such as weight, wheelbase or height.

So, except for the ability to pull, I'm not seeing where towing at or even exceeding the 8,000 limit with the 6.0 is in any way unsafe, except that you might be pretty slow going up the hills.

Therefore, why would I be unsafe if the combined weight of my trailer/LJ were at 8000 lbs and the trailer was in good condition with good brakes? I might be a bit slow but I'm not seeing where safety would be an issue.
 

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Another thing to factor in is that maximum tow rating assumes an unloaded tow vehicle - it generally includes the weight of the driver and a half tank of gas. The really important thing to look at is the numbers for GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating), which is the combination of vehicle and trailer. Add 1000 lbs of people and cargo (not hard to do at all) in the Suburban, and you just lost 1000 lbs of tow rating (and maybe even more, gotta watch the GVWR too once you start loading the vehicle - if you have a 2000 lb cargo carrying capacity, and have 1000 lbs in the vehicle, you can't tow anything with a tongue weight over 1000 lbs, and then you better have a good weight distribution hitch to get that weight off the rear axle or it will be overloaded).

I run into this because I tow with a half ton truck. It has a 9K lb tow rating, but at about 8K the truck has to be very lightly loaded to not exceed the rear axle rating (an 8000 lb trailer will have about 1000 lbs of tongue weight). I only have about 400 lbs cargo/passenger weight left before I'm smacking up against my limits. So most of the luggage goes on the trailer, not in the truck, and it is just my wife and I so it isn't a problem. When my two sons were teenagers, each weighing in at around 190 lbs, it would have been a different story - I would have needed a different truck...

It's not as bad as it sounds though - a Jeep on a trailer should weigh less than that, generally right about 7K lbs, maybe a bit over if you have a heavy jeep and carry a lot of tools and parts. The only time I'm hitting that close to my limit is when I've had to move my son's big John Deere diesel tractor.
 
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