Tips for Buying the Right Dump Trailer

McFarlane-Blog-Tips for Buying the Right Dump Trailer

If you own a construction or landscape company, a dump trailer is useful and versatile and can change the way you do business, making it much easier and more efficient to haul dirt, sand or mulch.

At first glance all dump trailers look and operate the same; you fill them up, you dump them out, the job is done. What more do you need to know? Actually, there is quite a lot more to dump trailers than you may think. You have to be careful when considering utility trailers that are for sale because not all are created equal. When you start doing your research and take a closer look at what is on the market, you will see that there are several key differences and a number of features that will make one dump trailer superior to another.

What to Look for in a Dump Trailer

Sizes matters

You can get dump trailers that vary in length from 8-ft. to 30-ft and when choosing a trailer, you need to decide what you will predominately be using it for as this will determine the size. The most common size is 14-ft because it has good capacity but is still reasonably maneuverable. You want a trailer that can do the job, but you don’t want to spend a lot of extra money on something that is far bigger than you will ever need. Before you buy a trailer, check the towing capacity of your tow vehicle.  

Axle Options

Most dump trailers will have either torsion axles or leaf spring axles. Torsion axles are quieter and require less maintenance as there are fewer moving parts, but leaf spring axles are typically a better choice as they are more robust and perform better on uneven ground or rough terrain. Dump trailers are frequently overloaded and if the torsion axle bends, the entire axle will need to be replaced. But if you damage a leaf spring axle you usually only need to replace the broken leaf springs, a far cheaper option than buying a whole new axle.

Lifting Mechanism

There are several different lifting mechanisms that you can choose from.

  • Telescopic-style hydraulic lift – This type of lift is typically mounted on the center front of the box and will lift the box all the way to its dumping angle with just one cylinder.
  • Dual-piston hydraulic lift – Two pistons placed under the trailer are used to push the trailer up to its dumping angle.
  • Scissor lift – This is currently the option most favoured by manufacturers. The scissor lift is stronger than a single ram and uses one cylinder to push the trailer up to its dumping angle, working like a scissor to get maximum leverage when dumping.  

Some dump trailers have a power down system that uses the battery when lowering the dump box, but this will reduce your battery life, so it is better to choose a trailer with a gravity down system, saving your battery for the heavy lifting.

Sidewall and floor options

Most trailers have a standard 24-in. wall height, but you can add removal solid metal or expanded metal lath extensions if you need greater sidewall height. The floor of your trailer obviously needs to be thick and sturdy but the spacing and size of the cross-members under the trailer will also have a big impact on durability and strength.  If the floor metal and the cross-members are not strong enough, your trailer floor will bend and warp.

Don’t compromise on tires

The tires on your dump trailer are extremely important. Tires need to be the correct size as undersized tires are a safety hazard. Bias ply tires are cheaper but radial tires are far superior and you need to look at the load rating of the tires to make sure that they are designed to carry the loads that you will be hauling, you do not want your tires to wear out quickly or have a blow-out.

There are many utility trailers for sale and if you are buying one for the first time, all the options can be confusing, but McFarlane’s can help you find the best dump trailer for your business.