Which trailer do I need?

Getting Started

If you have gotten this far, you may have made up your mind what you are going to use your trailer for, and hopefully what style of trailer is required to accomplish this. If not, here are a few things to consider before deciding on what type and size trailer you need.


What do I need a trailer for?

You may think that you will only use a trailer a couple of times a year, the reality is that once you have your own trailer, you will find more uses for it than you can ever imagine!

List everything you will need the trailer for and everything you think you may, for example –

  • Taking your rubbish/tree prunings to the tip
  • Picking up or delivering firewood
  • Moving the ride on mower between sections
  • Taking the kids' motorcycles to events
  • Moving house or flat
  • Landscaping
  • Camping
  • Renovating the house
  • Moving stock or animals
  • Contracting
  • Business loan trailer
  • General day to day use










What deck size do I need to fit the biggest item in?

With most trailers, you can fold the front and rear tailgate down to allow for long lengths of timber or panel and also run the wheels of your quad bike or ride on mower over the front tailgate if the deck length is insufficient.

When considering the width of the trailer deck, do not forget to include the thickness of the sides/tie-rails and mudguards. Legal overall trailer width is normally 2500mm.

What is the heaviest/maximum weight I will be transporting?

This will determine whether you need a single or tandem axle, braked or unbraked and whether you have a tow vehicle that can tow the trailer – See Braking Rules.

Next consider the towing capacity of your vehicle?

Towbars are rated and certified to transport a certain GVM (Gross vehicle mass) which is based on the strength of the tow vehicle (2WD or 4WD), engine size, braking capacity etc. Also the towbar will have a rating for a braked and unbraked trailer setup. The GVM is the combined weight of the trailer and the load.

A mid sized steel single axle trailer can weigh between 170 to 250kg (tare weight), and if the towbar capacity is rated at 800kg, the load you are sensibly able to carry on the trailer would be 550kg if the tare weight is 250kg.

Just bear this in mind when considering transporting the likes of firewood which, when freshly cut, can weigh up to 800kg per cubic metre.

It is pointless to build a trailer to transport a couple of cubic metres of firewood (which if wet can weigh up to 1.6 tonne) with a small car or truck with a towing capacity of 1250kg.

Just remember that while it is not technically illegal to load over the towbar certification, if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, you may find yourself incurring serious penalties as well as possibly voiding your insurance.

Where am I going to store the trailer when not in use?

Your trailer will be sitting idle more than it will be used and having a suitable area to store the trailer will make life easier. Having to move the trailer out of the way everytime you or your family need to do a day to day task can quickly become a burden.

  • If you have a small townhouse section, what overall width and length will fit in the small gap down the side of the house?
  • Do I need to look at a collapsible trailer that can sit up against the side of the house under the eaves, or at the back of the garage?
  • Is there anywhere I can put the trailer where it is protected from the elements?
  • How secure will the trailer be?
  • Will my trailer get stolen or vandalized where I want to store it?

Remember that whether you build your own trailer, or buy a new or second hand trailer, it is an investment and worth protecting.