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8 Different Types of Trailers for Cars

SUV car pulling utility trailer with heavy loads.

I have a friend who maintains that they only bought a trailer to carry all their baby’s goods when they traveled. I know what they mean. It’s quite simple: kids need lots of stuff and our cars are not usually enough.

Once you invest in a trailer, though, it is only the beginning of a relationship with these convenient and useful extensions to your car. Not all cars can pull trailers and not all trailers can be pulled by cars.

In fact, the size and power of the car is a very important factor in understanding trailers that can be pulled by cars. Conversely, it is the size and style of the trailer that affects how it can be pulled and by what.

Versatile Trailers

1. Flatbed Trailers

Plain blue flatbed trailer.

The trailer you are most likely to recognize being pulled behind a car is a flatbed trailer. This must be the most amenable of trailers because the bed itself is so accessible. A flatbed is also a very versatile trailer.

The name ‘flatbed’ describes this trailer accurately: the surface of the trailer is flat and stands only about a foot (30cm) above the ground. Most flatbeds do have a low rail on the four sides, to prevent the contents from sliding off the bed.

The back railing can lie flat, creating a ‘gate’ that leaves the trailer flat and open. All of these aspects mean that it is quite easy to load items onto the trailer. Even a large piece of furniture can be lifted a short distance onto the back of the trailer and then slid along the bed to the desired position.

Flatbeds come in different lengths, and with single or double wheels. The railing around some trailers is relatively high (about 2 feet (60cm). This is useful for leaning items against, or even as an anchor to which they can be tied.

Because of the low profile of the trailer and the low center of gravity, flatbed trailers are generally well-balanced. They also allow for the load to be arranged in a way to keep that balance quite easily.

2. Utility Trailers

Utility trailer on standby in an asphalt road.

There are some trailers that are specifically meant to help you with your domestic loads and to facilitate you having to carry things around. These are really useful utility trailers. An alternative name for this type of trailer is the Q-trailer.

There are many similarities between this utility trailer and a flatbed. The base of the trailer is completely flat, and the wheels don’t intrude into it at all.

The bed is surrounded by cage sides, which are useful for holding loads in place by tying straps or rope around the items and then onto the bars. The rails also contain the load within the trailer.

Trailers like this can be used to move some pieces of furniture, or a load of garden refuse. Because the railing is usually relatively high, the trailer can often be loaded a bit above the rails, which still hold the contents in place.

Perhaps most importantly, the back of the railing either opens sideways like a gate, so that it is easy to load the trailer, or it folds down, making a ramp that something can be pushed up onto the bed.

It can also act as a ramp for a quad bike to drive up onto the trailer to be transported.

3. Dry Trailers

Dry trailer on standby beside the road.

I always think of a dry trailer as being the quintessential domestic trailer. In fact, I firmly believe that every household should have one, especially where there are kids.

A dry trailer is basically a closed box on wheels. Most often, the lid of the trailer opens, which means that you need to reach into the interior over the side to get things in and out.

This is not always easy, especially for average-sized people. There are dry trailers that have the equivalent of a tailgate, which opens outwards, so you can reach into the interior of the trailer from its floor level.

You will find that dry trailers come in single and double levels. The single-level is equipment for a marimba band. What is great about dry trailers is that they literally keep the goods inside dry, and mostly free of dust.

The box of the trailer is not sealed airtight, so some pesky dust particles may get inside. A dry trailer also protects the things inside from the sun, and from some bumps and grinds.

Specialized trailers

Sometimes you need a specialized trailer to transport something specific, like equipment for sport, or to keep things cool and fresh. In these cases, the trailer must fit the purpose.

1. Refrigerated Trailer

Car carrying refrigerated trailer on the road.

A refrigerated trailer is specifically set up to be able to transport goods at a constant, chilled temperature and to deliver them in a chilled state. To do this, it is set up with a highly effective system that simultaneously insulates and cools the interior.

The system runs on a small diesel engine and does not put any strain on your car’s electrical or fuel systems. A refrigerated trailer is basically the same as a dry or box trailer, with the motor on the front.

Refrigerated trailers are very specialized and will not be used in the normal course of things. If you have a specific reason for wanting to keep things cooled and don’t want to, or can’t, invest in a refrigerated truck, then a trailer is the way to go.

Florists will find this type of trailer invaluable for keeping their arrangements and bunches of flowers fresh either from the market to the shop, or from the shop to a venue. Small-scale caterers will also find many uses for a refrigerated trailer that can be pulled easily to venues.

You are unlikely to use a refrigerated trailer for your domestic use, even if you take a long journey through the desert. On the other hand, you never know when you need to stay cool, so keep these trailers in mind.

2. Horsebox trailer

Horsebox trailer standby beside the road.

When you are involved in the world of horseback riding, you will always need to get your horse from point A to point B. There are plenty of professional horse transport firms that use horseboxes to transport numerous horses around and about.

Professional transport is expensive, and often it is better to use your own one-horse trailer to get your horse around.

 A small horse trailer is not terribly heavy and could most probably be towed by a number of cars. However, the horse adds to the weight of the trailer enough to make it necessary to pull these trailers with an SUV or a pickup.

3. Glider Trailer

 A row of glider trailer in an open field.

Extreme or unusual sports need specialized equipment. If gliding is your passion, then you are going to need a customized trailer to transport your craft. Glider trailers are long and relatively thin.

he glider itself can be taken apart to fit into the trailer. The wings are divided into two pieces and are loaded with the fuselage. As with most specialized trailers, it is best to pull them with an SUV or vehicle of a similar size.

4. Camper trailer

Camper trailers in an open field area.

When you go camping, you need plenty of space to pack all the equipment and food into. You can use a dry trailer for your tent and other things, or you can take the plunge and get a camper trailer.

Camper trailers come in a range of sizes and amenities. When you are planning to take a camping trailer on a journey, remember to relate the size of the towing vehicle to the size of the trailer. All camping trailers are highly specialized and are designed as all-in-one units.

The smallest option of a camping trailer is a self-contained unit that opens up to reveal a tent and other equipment used for camping. This type of trailer can quite easily be drawn by any average-sized car.

Then you have the full-on camper trailer that is a complete house on wheels, albeit a compact house. It is usually better to pull these caravan trailers with a slightly bigger vehicle. What a caravan trailer like this offers is a complete vacation option in one.

5. Boat Trailer

Boat trailer carrying boat.

If you are a boat enthusiast or would like to get into water sports, then you need to research what boat may suit you. That is only the beginning, though. Your research must also include how to get the boat around. This means looking into boat trailers.

There are just about as many types of boat trailers as there are boats. These are not the same as trailers that can carry a domestic load, nor can you put a boat on a flatbed trailer. A boat trailer is specifically designed and created to hold the hull of a boat.

Boat trailers also have to be able to be driven at least some way into the water when you launch your boat. This makes boat trailers highly specialized and they really do need to be researched.


Can any car pull a trailer?

Theoretically, you can pull a trailer with any size car, especially as there are many types of trailers available. Pulling a trailer safely means that the power of the car must be matched to the size of the trailer and the load. This means that smaller cars should tow smaller trailers and bigger cars bigger trailers.

What is the most versatile type of trailer?

 The two styles of trailers that are used with cars are the dry trailer and flatbed trailer. The one thing that dry trailers offer is that they are covered, but it is flatbed trailers that are more versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes.