Buying a trailer is a big investment, whether you’re just starting out in the trucking business or looking to expand your fleet. Here are five trailer components you should inspect before signing those ownership papers.

1. Side Panel Construction

Some trailers will claim to have ‘composite’ design, but are actually the traditional ‘sheet and post’ design with aluminum outer sheets, galvanized steel posts, and interior ‘light’ steel liner. These are far more susceptible to damage than a design that uses galvanized steel sheets bonded to a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) core.

Beware of imported parts – some trailers use panels that are manufactured in Taiwan and assembled in Mexico to avoid labour costs in Canada and the United States. These side panels often have a history of bad corrosion and poor damage resistance. To ensure the highest quality, look for side panels that are 100% North American made.

2. Scuffliner Design

Many scuffliners are attached to the lower wall with aluminum rivets on 12″ centres, which is a cheaper way to manufacture a trailer. Problems arise when the rivet is hit by a forklift or pallet during loading and unloading: the force loosens or shears the aluminum rivet and the scuffliner becomes detached from the side wall, further damaging the scuffliner and possibly freight as well.

Instead, look for a scuffliner designed with stainless steel rivets installed on a recessed top flange of the scuffliner on 8″ centres. This ensures a strong attachment that won’t be damaged by forklifts and pallets.

3. Baserail Design

Baserails are most commonly designed using either steel bolts or aluminum rivets. Aluminum rivets, while cheaper to manufacture, result in base rail rivets that are easily damaged by sideswipes or corrosion. On the other hand, steel cadmium plated torque head bolts eliminate corrosion of the fastener, and provide over 2.5 times more sheer strength of aluminum rivets to protect your trailer lower rail from damage from sideswipes.

4. Anti-Corrosion Features

Galvanized landing gear leg wing plates and cross bracing are the best option to prevent corrosion underneath the trailer. Some manufacturers avoid galvanization to keep costs down, but eventually the wing plates will cost more in repair, downtime, and reduced resale value.

Another anti-corrosion feature to look for is a stainless-steel front apron plateThis eliminates corrosion in a highly visible area of your trailer, and prevents damage when impacted.

5. Tire Quality

Some trailers come with Tier 2 or Tier 3 tires that initially cost less, have lower quality casings, and can typically only be retreaded once or twice before they need to be replaced. Look for a trailer with higher quality tires, such as Tier 1 Bridgestone tires. These have the highest quality casings and can be retreaded 2 or 3 times, making them the lowest lifecycle cost tires you can own.

Don’t Buy Based on Price Alone

Remember that buying a trailer only based on the cost can actually cost you more in the long run. Asking the right questions up front and doing your due diligence can save you thousands of dollars over the lifecycle of your trailer.


Wabash Canada offers a full range of new, used, and rental trailers designed to reduce downtime and provide a lower Total Cost of Ownership. Get in touch with us today so we can help you grow your business!

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TCO Team

The TCO team at Wabash Canada drives our success by delivering on our Total Cost of Ownership promise: to save our customers thousands of dollars in lower maintenance and repair costs over the lifetime of their trailer. We help our customers build the optimal equipment for longer-life assets as opposed to simply supplying stock trailers.
TCO Team