Dump Trailer Basics: Choosing the Right Trailer for your Business

December 15, 2022 by

Dump Trailer Basics: Choosing the Right Trailer for your Business

Buying a dump trailer is an investment that can last you many years. Getting a dump trailer that fits your needs now and in the future can save you a lot of money and stress. Dump trailers have many different configurations, from the length, front post style or scissor lift, type of brakes, and the size of the wheels. Learning about some of the options can help you choose the right one for your needs.

What Size Dump Truck Is Right For You?

Dump trucks come in lengths from 8 feet to 30 feet. A 14-foot trailer is a recommended size for most people for its flexibility in hauling lumber or landscaping materials. It can handle a skid steer or a load of furniture if you’re moving. You do need to think about what vehicle you’re using to pull a trailer to make sure that the tow load fits the size.

Lifting Mechanisms

The lifting mechanism is what makes a trailer a dump trailer. Instead of having to shovel off a load of soil or gravel, you can simply raise the trailer up and let gravity take over. A common type of lift is the scissor lift, which uses one cylinder to push up the trailer. It’s a cheaper option than the hydraulic lift or dual-piston style. Lifting mechanisms use a battery to push the bed up. Choose a gravity-down option instead of a power-down. A gravity-down option uses gravity to lower the dump box, instead of relying on power. This lets you do more work with less battery use.

How Thick Does The Metal Need To Be?

Trailers are made of metal, which determines the durability of the trailer. The bed will have a thicker piece of metal than the sides because the bed takes more abuse. The trailer needs to be sturdy enough to haul your loads, but keep in mind that the heavier the trailer is, the less load it can carry. If you need to haul mulch or lighter loads, you can certainly get away with a thinner bed. If you have heavier materials, such as gravel or heavy equipment, you want a thicker metal that will stand up to the weight.

Wheel Options

Aluminum wheels are an affordable option that won’t rust, so your trailer will look better for longer. Steel wheels are sturdier and can haul more weight. The downside is that you’ll pay more. Undersized tires are a hazard, so get the right tires for the loads you are hauling. Never try to just get by on cheap tires. Don’t forget to ask if the trailer has the option to carry a spare tire. You want the tire out of the way, but you also want it to be accessible in an emergency.


When you’re hauling tons of materials on the road, the last thing you want is for your brakes to fail. There are two different types of brakes for trailers. Surge brakes do not connect to your vehicle’s braking system. These brakes detect when the towing vehicle slows, then slow the trailer down. There is usually a slower response time. Surge brakes aren’t allowed for some sizes of trailers and in some locations. Electric brakes are the most common style and connected to the towing vehicle’s brake system. They stop the trailer when you stop the towing vehicle. Electric brakes are generally safer, but you do have to make sure the system is connected properly. Trailers should also have an emergency brake system, giving you added control in case the trailer becomes detached from the towing vehicle.

There are many other accessories and options for dump trailers, depending on your business to get the most out of your trailer. Still not sure what type of dump trailer suits your needs? Ask the experts at McFarlane Trailer Sales for guidance. We know dump trailers.