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  1. #1
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    Tips for Inspecting Used Open Car Trailer

    Hey Everyone,

    Tried doing some searches for Vipers and open car haulers but haven’t come up with a whole lot of info. Mainly topics such as can you tow a Viper with a U-Haul trailer pop up.

    Been looking at used open car trailers; not looking to get into an enclosed trailer. This will likely be used to tow my 02 from NY to Miami and back. Then may get used only a couple of times a year after that.

    So far I’ve been primarily looking at 18x7, wood deck trailers. Just found a local Facebook market post for 2010, 18x7 wood deck with spare tire and tie down straps. Pictures look promising and got the guy down to $1,900 before even looking at it.

    If all checks out this weekend, then I may pick it up. New to trailers and towing, so am curious on what to focus on during inspection. I’m fine with checking tires, but how do you know electric brakes/ lights / axles are working? Is a tow test a common request? Obviously checking for major rusting or other major damage, but are there any other key indicators to test? I’m very handy if I do need to replace something, but don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of replacement parts and it end up costing more than a new one. Also, was doing some reading last night and read that it may be prudent to change the tires every 3 years, which seemed a bit on the conservative side, but maybe that's common for trailer tires.

    Towing truck is all cleared for towing this setup.

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    Last edited by thetalonguy; 02-12-2020 at 08:52 AM. Reason: dreaded ' issue
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  2. #2
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    Biggest wear areas are the leaf spring bushings. Are you able to hook it up and take it for a test? Would be nice to check and see if the brakes work properly. Also if you hook it up take it over some uneven ground at a slow speed. Trailers like that will groan and pop when things start to wear...
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tip...Didn't think to check that, but I think it would be prudent to take it for a test haul prior to purchasing.
    Matt-
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    Do trailers like that require license plates? If so, maybe there's an inspection required?

    I'd look for signs of deep rust on anything load-bearing, or rotted/cracked planks.

    See if you can hook your truck up to the electrical connector, but not the hitch. A prybar between the brake pedal and the driver seat, or second set of eyes will tell you if the lights work, and then you can see if you are able to roll the trailer. If the trailer brakes appear to be working, then maybe ask for a quick road test up and down the street to look for vibrating wheels and listen for nasty noises.
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  5. #5
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    For me lights, cracked/rotted planks are in no way a deal breaker, if anything that's a plus and it gives you some bargaining power. Unless your looking for a like new trailer, then you'd be better off buying new.
    Rot/rust through would be a concern.

    Trailer looks fairly new, chances are ( if there are lightning issues) it's simple. Cutting some planks to size and bolting them down is so easy, even a Brian could do it...
    (So glad to see you back on the Forums, Buddy!!)

    Suspension and brakes arent cheap if you're having them done at a shop, tires are nominal..
    Last edited by Mopar'er no car; 02-12-2020 at 02:21 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Savage View Post
    Do trailers like that require license plates? If so, maybe there's an inspection required?

    I'd look for signs of deep rust on anything load-bearing, or rotted/cracked planks.

    See if you can hook your truck up to the electrical connector, but not the hitch. A prybar between the brake pedal and the driver seat, or second set of eyes will tell you if the lights work, and then you can see if you are able to roll the trailer. If the trailer brakes appear to be working, then maybe ask for a quick road test up and down the street to look for vibrating wheels and listen for nasty noises.
    Yep, NYS will require it to be registered with a plate and for it to be inspected before use. The one I'm looking at is like 20 mins away from me and believe it would have been previously registered in NYS.

    Yea, I think at minimum, I'm going to have to connect the 7 pin and make sure we have lighting. Although, I think new lighting would be the cheapest of my concerns. New tires, brakes, leaf spring components and axles would put me over the price of a new one assuming worst case scenario. I guess there should be no reason that he shouldn't let me tow it, or even allow him to tow it as I ride shotgun.
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  7. #7
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    I know you've probably already thought of this, but you need to make sure you can get a viper up the ramps and onto the trailer. Vipers are low riders.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LifeIsGood View Post
    I know you've probably already thought of this, but you need to make sure you can get a viper up the ramps and onto the trailer. Vipers are low riders.
    Yessir, I foresee a custom wooden step up ramp system, which sounds like a fun project for me :-). Hoping the beaver tail makes things a tiny bit easier.
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  9. #9
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    Unfortunately, it appears the seller sold the trailer before I could even take a look. Spoke to a couple of others that I saw for sale, but still seems that good condition 18's are going for the lower $2K range.I found a few places that I could get new for mid $2K's. To me, it doesn't seem the price spread between new and used is far enough to warrant risking having to replace stuff on a used trailer. At least I would have the peace of mind everything is completely new. I'm just going to get hosed a bit more on the sales tax when I register in NY.

    I was looking at these 3 places for new:

    http://www.econotrailer.com/Open.html

    Seems to be a better design than the full wood decks and lighter at 1,551 lbs. Price is cheapest at $2,399, but will have to buy a spare (Probably another $125-$150). It also comes with ply tires, but might be able to upgrade to radial for another $160. Side pockets can be added for $10/each. Biggest problem is the distance. It would be a 700 mile round trip to pickup. It could be delivered at $1/mile, but then that would erode any savings.

    https://www.appalachiantrailers.com/...car-trailer-7k

    Full wood deck design, comes with radial tires and 10 stake pockets. Spare add on is $100. So total would be $2,600. This would only be a 400 mile round trip

    https://harrisburg.craigslist.org/tr...075368230.html

    Full wood deck design, but don't have the full specs on tires. Includes free spare for total of $2,588, 400 mile round trip.

    Will have to mull it over a little more.
    Matt-
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  10. #10
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    Talon guy, I looked quick at Craigs list for LI, a decent new one in south Jersey for $2800 and a better one in CT for $4k

    New or used here are some things to consider; D rings, how are you going to secure the viper? Fenders, are they removable? If not can you open the drivers door? If not you need to add a winch or crawl out the window. Removable ramps included? In addition, Vipers are low so you probably will need to supplement with boards.

    If you buy used, check to see if the brakes are in good working order. You definitely want electric brakes. They are drum brakes, so how old/mileage on the brakes. Also make sure they have a break a way set up. Wheel bearing are very important too. When were the last changed, packed, lubed? then the obvious such as lights and any damage to the frame. Tires, check the date codes as well as tread pattern and check for cracking. Tires over 4 year old get iffy. Also, what brand of tire, some obscure brand or great tires like good year marathon trailer tires. Also make sure they are trailer tires with the correct load not something someone threw on. Somebody mentioned leaf springs, mine is a solid axel as I think most are so not sure about that, but look underneath and make sure the axels are not damaged.

    Lastly, I would strongly suggest that you get a weight distributing anti sway hitch system.

    Good luck and remember your car and your safety, get something good not something cheap. Mike
    1994 Red/Tan RT/10, '99 red ACR- sold, '06 Red/Silver Coupe-RIP, '06 Red/Silver Coupe - Sold, '08 Red/Silver ACR-C sold, 2006 Comp Coupe C-92

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedTanRT/10 View Post

    Good luck and remember your car and your safety, get something good not something cheap. Mike
    Thanks for the tips and suggestions. I didn't think about an WD, anti-sway system. I will look into those as well. Was thinking about a winch system to make loading a little more easier.

    I did see the one in South Jersey in my search. That was an option as well within a reasonable distance.

    I also have the option of renting a trailer (not U-Haul) locally. For the time I would need it for NVE 4, I'll be into it over $1K in rental and taxes.

    I still have some time to make a decision I guess.

    Thanks again, that was very helpful.
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  12. #12
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    Matt, $1k may not be so bad if you only need it to go to the Viper event. I live in SoCal and pay $200 a month to store mine in a guys backyard on a dirt lot!

    There is a used one listed on CL in Uniondale for $3k. I also see a Rental available East Haven. See if he or the other guys has a good WD hitch you can use.

    I'd rent you mine if you were closer!! Good Luck




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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedTanRT/10 View Post
    Matt, $1k may not be so bad if you only need it to go to the Viper event. I live in SoCal and pay $200 a month to store mine in a guys backyard on a dirt lot!

    There is a used one listed on CL in Uniondale for $3k. I also see a Rental available East Haven. See if he or the other guys has a good WD hitch you can use.

    I'd rent you mine if you were closer!! Good Luck
    Damn, $200/month. I have a backyard that I could throw mine in; not sure how much wifey is going to like that lawn ornament.

    Thanks, much appreciated. I just called a rental place in LI and they said they have one available, but they would have to show me how to fabricate wood ramps to get a Viper onto it. I asked if they rented the WD/Anti Sway hitch and they said rental trailer has surge brakes (non compatible w/ WD system), which definitely scared me a bit. He claimed that I didn't need electric to tow a Viper and swore up and down that he's had vettes, porches with no problem. Don't need 2,700 miles of white knuckle driving.

    Saw some other places in NYS region that rent out. Might have better luck with them. Will check out the East Haven spot too.

    Maybe I am better off with renting...This will be pretty much the only time that I have to trailer very far. I can always do a day or two rental if I want to trailer to the track. No maintenance, registration or other long term upkeep costs....Hmmmm
    Matt-
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  14. #14
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    Another thing to consider is can you open the doors once you load the car preventing having to crawl out the window. Winches can be a winch in a box setup if you buy. They are pretty slick and just fasten in when needed. Need to consider tie down method. Macs, over the wheel, easy track, etc., are all options. Even on my custon aluminum ATC trailer made for low cars I had to buy race ramps for my stock GEN IV in order not to scrape on the way in or out. Also highly recommend you carry two spares. Sometimes the front tire blows and takes out the rear. Luckily Vipers are fairly lightweight. God luck whatever you do.
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  15. #15
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    Matt, look up Dennis Corpora on Facebook he makes the perfect Viper trailer, out of NJ.
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