Buying A Dump Trailer

6 Things To Keep In Mind When Buying A Dump Trailer

The humble dump trailer stands as an indispensable tool for many professionals and businesses. Whether you're hauling construction debris, transporting agricultural goods or disposing of waste, buying a dump trailer can significantly streamline your operations. However, with so many options available, each boasting different capacities, materials and features, finding the best dump trailer for your business isn't always straightforward. This guide aims to shed light on the critical factors to consider, ensuring that your investment meets and exceeds your hauling needs.

1. Getting the Best Dump Trailer to Meet Your Requirements

Before you begin your search for the best dump trailer, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your specific requirements. A trailer that's perfect for a large-scale construction company might be overkill for a small-time farmer, just as a lightweight trailer ideal for garden waste might fall short for industrial debris. Before buying a dump trailer, review the following to ensure your needs are met:

  • Purpose of the Trailer: What will you primarily be hauling? Is it heavy construction debris, agricultural products or household waste? Each type of material requires different features in a dump trailer.
  • Frequency of Use: Will you be using the trailer daily, weekly or just occasionally? A trailer for frequent use should prioritize durability and ease of maintenance.
  • Towing Vehicle: It's essential to match your dump trailer with the vehicle you plan to tow it with. Ensure your truck or tractor has the necessary towing capacity for the loaded trailer.
  • Load Volume vs. Load Weight: Sometimes, you might need a larger trailer to handle bulky materials that aren't necessarily heavy. In other cases, the material might be dense and heavy, so the best dump trailer for your purposes will be a robust model with a strong dumping mechanism.

If you're carrying hazardous materials, make sure the dump trailer you choose complies with all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.

2. Dump Trailer Size & Capacity

Dump trailer size and capacity are arguably its most defining attributes. You wouldn't use a pickup truck to do the job of an 18-wheeler. The right dump trailer should be proportionate to its intended task. Here's what you need to know:

  • Dimensions Matter: The physical dump trailer size – length, width and depth – dictates how much material it can carry. Think of the largest loads you intend to transport and ensure the trailer can accommodate them.
  • Weight Capacity: Every dump trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This number tells you the maximum weight the trailer can safely carry, including its own weight. Always ensure your loaded trailer remains below this limit. Weight restrictions are set by the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Single Axle vs. Tandem Axle: Single axle trailers are typically more maneuverable and suited for lighter loads. On the other hand, tandem axle trailers, which have two sets of wheels, can handle heavier loads and offer better stability, especially at higher speeds.
  • Tri-Axle Trailers: For those who need to haul exceptionally heavy loads, tri-axle dump trailers with three sets of wheels are the best dump trailers for the job. They provide superior weight distribution and stability, albeit with a higher price tag.
  • Consider Expansion: While it's essential to think of your immediate needs, also consider any potential expansion in your operations. Investing in a slightly larger trailer now might save you from needing to upgrade in a short time.

3. Dump Trailer Comparison: Materials & Construction

Dump Trailer Comparison

The durability, longevity and even the efficiency of a dump trailer can be greatly influenced by its construction material and build quality. Like the foundation of a house or the chassis of a car, this aspect demands careful consideration. Here's a dump trailer comparison to help you decide:

Steel vs. Aluminum

When weighing your options between steel and aluminum dump trailers, it's pivotal to consider the inherent strengths and limitations of each material. Both bring unique advantages to the table:

  • Steel Trailers: Often the go-to choice for heavy-duty tasks, steel dump trailers are known for their strength and ruggedness. They can withstand substantial abuse, making them ideal for rough terrains and heavier loads. However, they tend to be heavier and, without proper care, might be susceptible to rust over time.
  • Aluminum Trailers: Lighter than their steel counterparts, aluminum trailers offer ease in towing and generally resist rust better. While they might not match the brute strength of steel trailers, they're sufficiently robust for many tasks and tend to have a longer lifespan if maintained well.

Flooring and Walls

The integrity and durability of a dump trailer often hinge on the construction of its floor and walls. These elements bear the brunt of the load, and their design can significantly impact the trailer's performance and lifespan:

  • Thickness Matters: A thicker floor is less likely to get dented or punctured when hauling heavy or sharp materials. When buying a dump trailer, look for models with reinforced floors to transport such items.
  • Wall Reinforcements: Side walls might also need reinforcement, especially if you're hauling large rocks or heavy metal debris. Some trailers come with removable side extensions for added flexibility.

Welds and Joints

A well-constructed dump trailer should have clean, robust welds. The welding quality can indicate the overall attention to detail and durability of the trailer. Avoid trailers with sloppy or inconsistent welds, as they may become points of weakness.

Corrosion Resistance

Even with aluminum trailers, it's essential to check for features that combat corrosion, such as coatings or treatments. For steel trailers, look for ones that have been galvanized or have a high-quality paint job. Remember, rust can significantly reduce the lifespan and safety of your trailer.


Quality undercoating can protect your dump trailer's underside from damage and corrosion. It can be especially valuable if you frequently drive on gravel or rough terrains that can throw debris.

4. Dumping Mechanism

Best Dump Trailers

The core functionality of any dump trailer is its ability to unload materials efficiently. The dumping mechanism is pivotal in this process, ensuring ease of use, safety and longevity. When evaluating this feature, consider the following to ensure you're getting the best dump trailers for your business:

Hydraulic vs. Mechanical Systems

The method by which your dump trailer raises and lowers its bed can greatly influence its performance and maintenance needs. Let's delve into the distinguishing features of both:

  • Hydraulic Lifts: When buying a dump trailer, you'll find the most common lifting mechanisms utilize hydraulic fluid to generate the force needed to lift the bed. Their strength and smooth operation make them suitable for heavy-duty applications, though they require regular maintenance to ensure the hydraulic system remains leak-free and efficient.
  • Mechanical Lifts: Generally found on smaller trailers or older models, mechanical lifts use a series of gears and levers to raise the bed. While they can be less expensive and simpler in design, they don't offer the same lifting power as hydraulic systems.

Tipping Angle

The steepness at which the trailer can tip determines how easily materials will slide out. A higher tipping angle can be especially beneficial for sticky or compacted loads, ensuring complete and efficient unloading.

Dump Trailer Comparison: Dual vs. Single Ram

The lifting power and stability of the best dump trailers are influenced by the configuration of their hydraulic rams. Understanding the distinction between single and dual ram systems can help determine which best suits your operational demands:

  • Single Ram Systems: These are more common on smaller trailers. They're centrally located and provide a direct lift. While efficient, they might not offer the same stability as dual ram systems.
  • Dual Ram Systems: Having two hydraulic rams (one on each side) provides better stability, especially for larger trailers. This system ensures an even lift, reducing the chances of the trailer tilting to one side during dumping.

Scissor Lift vs. Telescopic Lift

The mechanism by which your trailer achieves its maximum lift height can vary, with each type offering distinct advantages. Let's compare the operational nuances of both to help you determine which is the best dump trailer for your needs:

  • Scissor Lifts: These offer more stability due to their design, especially when the trailer is fully raised. They're great for heavy loads and ensure an even lift.
  • Telescopic Lifts: These utilize multiple hydraulic stages to raise the trailer. While they can achieve a higher lift, they might not provide the same level of stability as scissor lifts.

5. Safety Features

When operating heavy equipment like dump trailers, safety should always be paramount. The right safety features can protect your investment and, more crucially, prevent accidents and safeguard the well-being of your team. Here are some essential safety considerations:

  • Braking System
  • Lighting and Reflectors
  • Stability During Dumping
  • Safety Chains and Cables
  • Locking Mechanism
  • Emergency Shut-Off
  • Guardrails and Barriers

6. Ease of Maintenance

A dump trailer's longevity and reliable performance hinge significantly on regular maintenance. While all equipment requires upkeep, some designs and features can simplify this process, ensuring your trailer remains in top shape with minimal hassle. Here's what to look for:

  • Accessible Components
  • Quality Materials
  • Grease Points
  • Protective Coatings
  • Removable Parts
  • Clear Documentation
  • Manufacturer Support
  • Dump Trailer Reviews

Buying a Dump Trailer From Dragon Takes a Load Off Your Mind

When making a substantial investment in equipment, you deserve both quality and peace of mind. With Dragon Products, you're not just buying a dump trailer; you're investing in a legacy of excellence, reliability and unparalleled customer support. We have the best dump trailers on the market, each designed with the user in mind, ensuring durability, efficiency and safety. Beyond the product, our commitment to our customers sets us apart. Now that you know what to look for when buying a dump trailer, it's time to explore the quality products at Dragon. Contact us today!


Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a Dump Trailer

Dump Trailer Size

Below are answers to some common questions about buying a dump trailer. Please contact us for additional information about dump trailer size or any other aspect of this product.

What Size Dump Trailer Should I Buy?

Choosing the right dump trailer size depends on your specific requirements and the type of materials you'll be hauling. If you're transporting lighter materials like mulch or grass clippings, you might opt for a larger trailer. However, for denser loads like gravel, dirt or construction debris, you'd need a trailer designed to accommodate such weight. Additionally, consider factors like your towing vehicle's capacity, storage space and any legal restrictions on dump trailer sizes in your area. It's always a good idea to evaluate both your current and future needs, ensuring your chosen trailer remains versatile and relevant for various tasks.

What Are the Cons of a Dump Trailer?

While dump trailers offer incredible convenience and efficiency for hauling and unloading materials, they come with some drawbacks. First, they often require a significant upfront investment compared to other trailer types. Their specialized design can also add weight, potentially reducing fuel efficiency when towing. Additionally, maintenance for hydraulic lifting systems can be more intricate and costly than for simpler trailers. Finally, their larger size may demand more storage space and can pose maneuverability challenges in tight spaces or congested areas.

How Long Will a Dump Trailer Last?

The lifespan of a dump trailer can vary based on several factors, including the quality of its construction, the materials used, frequency of use and how well it's maintained. Typically, a well-constructed dump trailer can last 10 to 20 years or even longer with regular maintenance and moderate use. Premium materials and protective coatings can further extend its longevity. However, trailers exposed to harsh conditions or heavy daily use might experience wear more quickly. Regular inspections and timely repairs can significantly improve the trailer's durability and operational life.

42' RANCO Side Dump Trailer

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