Buying a new or used lowboy trailer for sale can feel overwhelming—even for experienced heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, or business owners. But it doesn’t have to be! In this handy guide, we’re going to examine what to examine when looking to buy a new or used Lowboy trailer.
Before we get too far along, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
A lowboy trailer is a specialized type of trailer that is designed to transport heavy equipment and machinery. Lowboy trailers typically have a drop deck design with the main deck positioned lower to the ground than the front and rear sections—allowing for the transportation of taller cargo while complying with height restrictions. This design provides stability and allows for the safe loading and unloading of heavy equipment.
Lowboy trailers often feature multiple axles and a robust suspension system to distribute the weight evenly and ensure safe transportation. They are built with durable materials to withstand the demanding nature of hauling heavy loads. They’re equipped with various loading configurations—such as ramps or hydraulic lifts, to facilitate easy equipment loading and unloading.
There are many scenarios in which a lowboy trailer is the best choice for a hauling job. Let’s look at when a lowboy trailer shines.
Got big tools that need movin’? A lowboy trailer is usually your best bet. A primary purpose of a lowboy trailer is to transport heavy equipment and machinery. Their robust construction and specialized features mean they can handle the immense weight of large equipment, including bulldozers, excavators, cranes, and other oversized machinery—safely and intact.
Got tall equipment? Get low! Lowboy trailers are specifically designed with a low deck height, allowing for the transportation of taller cargo. This is particularly important when hauling equipment that exceeds height restrictions on regular flatbed or open trailers. By utilizing a lowboy trailer, taller equipment can be loaded and transported without the risk of damage or violating height regulations—making it easier to move oversized machinery.
Staying low often means remaining stable. The low deck height of a lowboy trailer contributes to its ability to keep heavy equipment stable during transportation. By keeping the center of gravity closer to the ground, the lowered design reduces the risk of swaying or tipping—especially when navigating uneven terrain or sharp turns. Additionally, lowboy trailers typically feature multiple axles and a well-designed suspension system to ensure proper load distribution and minimize stress on the trailer and the towing vehicle.
Loading heavy equipment can be a nail-biting experience but lowboy trailers help crews keep their fingernails nibble-free. But how?
Lowboy trailers provide versatile loading and unloading configurations, making them highly adaptable to different types of equipment. They often include features such as ramps, hydraulic lifts, detachable goosenecks, or folding decks, allowing for convenient and efficient loading and unloading processes. The flexibility offered by these options enables smoother operations and saves time and effort for operators.
As an example, check out this awesome video of a crew loading an excavator onto a lowboy trailer.Video Source: Decorative Landscape Borders, Denver, CO.
Because they need to haul the heaviest equipment over potentially challenging terrain, lowboy trailers are built to withstand heavy loads and harsh conditions. They are constructed using durable materials—such as high-strength steel—to ensure longevity and reliability. The robust construction, reinforced frames, and high-quality components make lowboy trailers capable of withstanding the demanding nature of hauling heavy equipment—providing a durable solution for long-term use.
When transporting heavy equipment, safety is key. Lowboy trailers are designed with safety features in mind. Some of these features include properly secured tie-down points, effective braking systems, adequate lighting, and reflective markings. Furthermore, they have to comply with transportation regulations, ensuring that the load is securely fastened and the trailer adheres to legal requirements—promoting safe transportation practices.
Even within the world of lowboy trailers, there is a wide variety of styles to choose from—each with its own specialized application. Let’s see what kinds of lowboy trailers are available, where they shine, and their weaknesses to help you make the best buying decision based on your needs.
Detachable Gooseneck (DGN) Lowboy Trailers—also known as Removable Gooseneck (RGN) Lowboy Trailers—feature a detachable front gooseneck section. This gooseneck can be disconnected from the trailer, allowing for easy loading and unloading of equipment. These tend to be the most common style of gooseneck lowboy trailer used.
DGN lowboy trailers have enhanced maneuverability, as the detachable gooseneck provides greater flexibility when navigating tight spaces and making sharp turns. The detachable design also allows for increased height adjustability—making it suitable for transporting taller equipment.
The downsides of DGN lowboy trailers include the need for additional equipment, such as a heavy-duty truck with a hydraulic system, to detach and reattach the gooseneck. This adds complexity and cost to the operation. Additionally, the detachable gooseneck design may have slightly lower load-carrying capacities compared to fixed gooseneck trailers.
Fold-down gooseneck lowboy trailers feature a front gooseneck section that can be folded down to create a ramp for easy loading and unloading. The gooseneck is hinged near the trailer's front, allowing it to be lowered to the ground and serving as a ramp for equipment to be driven or rolled onto the trailer.
The fold-down design of the gooseneck of this lowboy trailer makes for easier loading and unloading—especially for self-propelled equipment. However, the reduced ground clearance of a folded gooseneck and the need for additional space behind the trailer to accommodate the extended length when the gooseneck is in the lowered position can be a bit of a drawback.
Check out this demonstration of the a folding gooseneck trailers from ITI Trailers & Truck Bodies, Inc.
Video Source: ITI Manufacturing.
Less frequently used but still with their function Fixed Gooseneck (FGN) Lowboy Trailers have a permanently fixed front gooseneck section. FGN lowboy trailers include their high load-carrying capacities, stability during transportation, and accessibility for equipment loading through ramps or hydraulic systems. The fixed gooseneck design provides a solid connection between the trailer and towing vehicle—enhancing stability and maneuverability.
One downside of FGN lowboy trailers is their limited maneuverability in tight spaces or when navigating sharp turns compared to detachable gooseneck trailers. They also typically require additional assistance from cranes or forklifts in order to load. Additionally, the fixed gooseneck design may restrict the height adjustment capability, which can be a drawback when loading taller equipment. Always double-check the manufacturer's use recommendations for FGN lowboy trailers.
Hydraulic (or Pneumatic) Tail Lowboy Trailers feature a hydraulically or pneumatically operated tail section at the rear. These trailers are sometimes called “beavertail” trailers because the tail section can be raised or lowered to create a ramp for easy loading and unloading of equipment. Hydraulic/Pneumatic Tail Lowboy Trailers are great for their versatility and convenience in loading a wide range of equipment—including wheeled and tracked machinery.
Another form rear-loading equipment trailers are axle tilt-bed trailers. These trailer use hydraulics to tilt and lower the entire bed for easy rear loading. While growing in popularity due to convenient loading and unloading because there’s no need to disconnect the gooseneck, equipment rides higher than the average lowboy trailer—leading to increase traveling height.
Check out this quick demonstration of the loading and unloading capabilities of a real-loading axle tilt-bed low trailer from Landoll. Video Source: The Official Landoll YouTube Channel - Landoll Trailers
The hydraulically or pneumatically operated tail eliminates the need for additional ramps or equipment, simplifying the loading process. These trailers also offer a lower deck height for taller equipment and provide better ground clearance during transport.
A downside of Hydraulic/Pneumatic Tail Lowboy Trailers includes potential maintenance and repair costs associated with the hydraulic system, as well as the added weight of the hydraulic or pneumatic components, which may slightly reduce the overall payload capacity.
When purchasing a lowboy trailer, it's crucial to consider various factors to make an informed decision. The right lowboy trailer should match your specific hauling needs and provide the necessary features for the safe and efficient transportation of heavy equipment.
Let’s take a look at these factors to help us make a great decision.
It is essential to consider both the payload capacity and deck length when looking to buy the right lowboy trailer. The payload capacity determines the maximum weight the trailer can safely carry, so it should exceed the weight of your equipment or machinery.
The deck length should be sufficient to accommodate the dimensions of your cargo. Longer deck lengths provide more flexibility and versatility in transporting various equipment sizes. Considering the payload capacity and deck length will ensure that you select a lowboy trailer capable of safely and efficiently hauling your specific loads.
Axles play a key role in distributing the weight of your loads but can also contribute to the weight—making it important to strike a good balance of support and weight. The axle configuration determines the number of axles and their arrangement on the trailer. Different axle configurations offer varying load-bearing capacities and maneuverability.
Extendable (34-60) w/ Hydraulic Flip Axle from Tri-State Trailer Sales, Inc — Pittsburgh, PA
The weight distribution across the trailer also affects the trailer’s stability and handling. Proper weight distribution ensures that the load is evenly distributed over the axles—minimizing the risk of overloading or unbalanced weight distribution. Evaluating the axle configuration and weight distribution will help you choose a lowboy trailer that can safely handle your intended loads while providing optimal stability and maneuverability on the road.
The suspension system plays a vital role in providing a smooth and stable ride while minimizing the impact of bumps and vibrations on the cargo being transported. Air-ride suspension systems offer superior shock absorption and can be adjusted to accommodate different load weights, ensuring optimal ride quality. The suspension system should be durable and capable of handling the demands of heavy-duty hauling.
The deck material of any lowboy trailer should be strong, durable, and capable of withstanding the weight and demands of heavy equipment. Common deck materials include steel, aluminum, and wood. Steel offers exceptional strength and durability but can be heavier. Aluminum provides a lightweight option with good corrosion resistance. Wood decks are often used for their affordability and versatility.
The deck construction should be robust, featuring reinforced beams and cross members to ensure structural integrity. By carefully considering the deck material and construction, you can choose a lowboy trailer that can withstand years of heavy hauling and provide a reliable platform for transporting equipment.
Good ramps are the key to loading and unloading equipment onto the trailer, making it important to evaluate their design, strength, and ease of use. Look for ramps that can handle the weight and size of your equipment and have a suitable incline for safe loading.
Manually lowering and raising ramps can be difficult, making it a good idea to consider additional accessibility features such as hydraulic systems or adjustable ramps. These devices can simplify the loading process and accommodate different types of equipment. A well-designed ramp system and accessibility features can increase the simplicity and safety of equipment loading and unloading operations.
When looking to buy a lowboy trailer, there are some key safety features to look for, including:
- Braking System: An object in motion stays in motion. For this reason, a reliable braking system—such as air brakes or hydraulic brakes—is essential for safely stopping and controlling the trailer's movement. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS)help prevent wheel lock-up during braking. These systems can reduce the risk of skidding.
- Lighting and Reflectors: Adequate lighting—including brake lights, turn signals, and reflectors—is crucial to ensure visibility and promote safe driving. The importance of good lighting elements is especially important at night or during adverse weather conditions.
- Load Securement: Look for features such as tie-down points, stake pockets, or D-rings that allow for secure and proper load securement. These will help prevent equipment from shifting or falling off during transit.
- Safety Chains: Safety chains provide a robust layer of security by keeping the trailer connected to the towing vehicle in case of an accidental detachment.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that the cost of a new or used lowboy trailer just depends. Size, capacity, style, customization—all of these factors impact the price. Prices for lowboy trailers can range from around $20,000 to over $200,000 or more—again, depending on the before-mentioned factors. Age, condition, brand, and any added features or modifications can all impact Lowboy trailer prices.
Consider factors such as the expected frequency of use, the type of equipment to be transported, and the durability required for your operations. While it may be tempting to opt for a lower-priced trailer, it is crucial to balance cost with quality and reliability.
Investing in a well-built, durable lowboy trailer that meets your requirements can ultimately save you money in the long run by reducing maintenance costs and enhancing efficiency.
Research different models, compare prices, and consider the total cost of ownership to make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and provides value for your investment. Also, consider asking an experienced heavy equipment mechanic during an inspection how much they would pay for said equipment if they were in the market.
When looking to buy a lowboy trailer, it is essential to consider maintenance and durability aspects to ensure the longevity and reliability of the trailer.
Look for trailers that are constructed with high-quality materials to withstand the rigors of heavy hauling, such as robust steel or corrosion-resistant aluminum. Consider the structural design, weld quality, and reinforcement elements for durability. Evaluate the accessibility of maintenance points, such as lubrication points and inspection areas, to facilitate regular upkeep. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance guidelines and schedule routine inspections to identify and address any potential issues promptly. And if the seller has a past record of repairs and maintenance, this bodes well for the purchase.
Investing in a well-built and properly maintained lowboy trailer will not only extend its lifespan but also minimize downtime, reduce repair costs, and ensure safe and efficient transportation of your equipment.
In the end, these recommendations are best for narrowing down your lowboy trailer purchase candidates to be inspected by an experienced trailer mechanic. A professional mechanic can easily provide a thumbs-up or thumbs-down for any trailer in question, let you know what repairs it may need, and perhaps give you a rough estimate of how much the lowboy trailer may be worth.
Brand reputation signifies the manufacturer's track record, quality of products, and customer satisfaction over time. A reputable brand ensures that the lowboy trailer is built to industry standards, is reliable, and is durable—thereby minimizing the risk of unexpected breakdowns or performance issues.
Dealer support, on the other hand, encompasses pre-sales assistance, after-sales service, and customer support. A reliable dealer with a strong support system ensures that the buyer receives guidance in selecting the right lowboy trailer for their specific needs, timely assistance in case of any concerns or repairs, and access to spare parts or maintenance services when required.
Purchasing a used lowboy trailer from a private seller offers both benefits and disadvantages. On the positive side, buying from a private seller can potentially save money compared to purchasing from a dealership.
- Private sellers often offer lower prices and may be open to negotiation.
- Private sellers may provide a more flexible buying experience and can offer direct insights into the trailer's history, maintenance records, and any modifications made.
However, there are downsides to consider.
- Buying from a private seller carries a higher risk as there is no warranty or guarantee of the trailer's condition.
- It may lack the comprehensive inspection and certification process that dealerships provide.
Additionally, private sellers may have limited knowledge or resources for ongoing support, making it more challenging to address any issues that may arise after the purchase. Buyers must thoroughly inspect the trailer, ask detailed questions, and assess the seller's credibility before purchasing.
Once you have written a short list of what manufacturers and models of Lowboy trailers you’d like to look into buying, it’s time to find your next trailer from a seller. Fortunately, the internet has made this easier than ever before—and your friends from My Little Salesman are here to help.
Armed with your wishlist, simply head over to mylittlesalesman.com’s Lowboy Trailers for Sale page to find trailer listings from dealers near you. Use the handy filtering tool to dial in all of your preferences—including searching by manufacturer, condition (new or used), capacity, dimensions, axle type, and much more.