Picking the Right Trailer For Your Vehicle

October 11 2019
west coast trailers

Choosing the right trailer can be an overwhelming task. We recommend that a good place for you to start is to consider what size of trailer will be best suited for the size of your towing vehicle.                                                                   

After you know what size of trailer is best suited to your vehicle, you’ll then need to consider what you’ll be needing to carry. Is it building supplies? Dirt bikes? A horse? Or maybe it’s all of the above? Either way, this will be the deciding factor on what specific type of trailer you will need – but first, which size vehicles suit which size trailers?

Which Size?

Find Your Vehicle’s GCM

The key to knowing which trailers could possibly be suited for your size vehicle is to find out the maximum possible weight your vehicle can carry. To do so you must first find out your vehicle’s GCM (Gross Combination Mass) which is also referred to as a GCW (Gross Combination Weight). The GCM is the maximum combined weight a vehicle can carry and tow.

Find Your Vehicle’s GVM

Once this has been determined, you must figure out your GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass). This is the total weight that your vehicle can withstand, including all your car’s fluids/ fuel, your passengers, and your vehicle’s cargo.                                                                                 

Calculate The Aggregate Trailer Mass

So, now that you know these two figures, you must minus the GVM from the GCM. This will give you the ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass), which is the total possible weight of a trailer that your vehicle can possibly tow. It must also be noted that 10% of the ATM is transferred to your vehicle’s GVM when they are attached, this 10% is called the Towball Download.                                                                     

Once you know your ATM, you can now assess various styles of trailer. While doing so, you must keep in mind that the sum of the trailers Tare (it’s weight by itself without any cargo) must not exceed your ATM. This is because you must leave room for the weight of whatever load you wish to carry with it. This is called the trailer’s load capacity.

How To Calculate Aggregate Trailer Mass

If all this is a little confusing to you, not to worry. As previously mentioned, it can be quite overwhelming. To help you understand, take this example:

Say your vehicle’s GCM is 6000kg and your vehicle’s GVM is 3000kg, this will make your ATM 3000kg. If the Tare of the trailer you are considering is 2000kg, then the possible weight you can carry in that trailer (Its load capacity) will be the ATM (3000kg) minus the trailers Tare (2000kg), which makes its load capacity 1000kg.                                         

BUT WAIT, factoring in the Towball Download once the trailer is hitched to your vehicle, 10% of the ATM will be transferred to your vehicle’s GVM. As 10% of the ATM (3000kg / 10) is 300kg, this means that your trailer’s Tare must be no more than 1700kg. This is called your GTM (Gross Trailer Mass).

Due to the Towball Download (300kg) minus the original load capacity of the trailer (1000kg), the trailers actual load capacity will be 700kg when hitched to your vehicle.

Hopefully, that is a little easier!

Which Style?

Now that you know which size you can work with you can now move on to choosing a style. Below is a guide to help you choose the trailer that will meet your needs. The two main types of trailers are Cargo Trailers (enclosed) and Utility Trailers (open).

Types Of Cargo Trailers:

Car Trailers:

These types of trailers are made specifically to safely transport a vehicle.

Travel Trailers:

This style of trailer is usually used as a portable home. They can come with inbuilt beds and kitchens, making them a very comfortable and economical living space.

Horse Trailers:

As you’ve probably guessed, this trailer style has been specifically designed to carry horses.

Toy Trailers:

The name can be misleading, but make no mistake, this style of trailer is no children’s toy. These are specifically designed to carry grown-up toys such as dirt bikes, golf carts, dune buggies, diggers, and the list does on. They can come in an array of sizes for whatever your toy may be


These are hauled by a semi-truck and are used to transport extremely heavy loads.

Types Of Utility Trailers:

Box Trailers:

This type of trailer has sides fitted so that it resembles a box shape and is the most widely used among all trailer styles.

Low Loader Trailers:

This style is used for transporting long cargo such as multiple cars, industrial equipment and heavy-duty building supplies.

Dolly Trailers:

This style of trailer can be attached to trucks, tractors and road trains. They don’t actually carry a load but are usually used to support semi-trailers.

Boat Trailers:

These are of course used to transport your boat. There are two types of this style of trailer. One is a roller trailer which consists of a number of rollers that glide the boat on and off the trailer. The other type is called a float-on trailer. This type is much more simple as the boat merely needs to be winched to the trailer.

Table-top trailer:

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

Cage trailer:

A cage trailer has a higher cage which provides protection to the load.

Now that you know what size trailer is right for you, and what style is right for you, you can now begin to browse trailers for sale. Picking the trailer that is right for you is key for correctly transporting your load and ensuring that your trip is as safe as possible – happy towing!

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