Trucking is on a meteoric rise with the industry gaining hundreds of billions of dollars just last year. As the industry continues to evolve, we expect to see business people expand their fleets so they can solidify their footholds on their markets.
If you’re interested in expanding your involvement in trucking, you’ll want to build relationships with truck trailer distributors. Truck trailer distributors are groups that can outfit your tractors with both used and new trailers. Before you go shopping, understand that not all distributors and their inventories are created equal.
Below, we walk you through key questions to ask that will help determine if what a distributor is selling is good and if the distributor itself is trustworthy.
1. Do the Trailers You Sell Work With My Truck?
Large truck trailer distributors sell trailers that are suited for various tractors. From 53-foot vans to reefers, they’re a one-stop-shop for your needs. Other truck trailer distributors are more niche.
To make sure you’re not wasting your time with a distributor that can’t help you, make your first question one covering the topic of whether or not they have inventory that accommodates your needs. If they don’t, look for other local distributors that can better assist.
2. Why Was This Used Trailer Traded In?
Are you eyeing a used trailer on a distributor’s lot? If you are, make it a point to ask why it was traded in.
Much like purchasing a used car or tractor, a trailer’s history can give you a great idea of how well it’ll perform for you in the future. Stay away from trailers that were traded in because they incurred structural damage. Even if they are refurbished, these trailers may malfunction and put your loads at risk.
If you find that your distributor is coy about giving you a rundown on a trailer’s history, move on.
3. Do You Match Your Market’s Prices?
Whether you’re shopping locally, online at AAA trailers, or anywhere else, you’ll find that different distributors offer different prices on trailers. While price isn’t everything when it comes to buying a trailer, you must get a beat on what current trailer rates are so you can avoid overpaying.
Some distributors will price match local competitors so be sure to ask the group you’re talking to if they have a policy like that in place. If you can show a distributor a trailer that’s selling for less than what they’re offering, chances are, they’ll bring their price down even if they don’t advertise price matching.
4. Are Your Trailers FHWA Inspected?
The FHWA is the Federal Highway Administration. This group is a national agency that enforces various laws having to do with road safety.
When it comes to trailers, the FHWA will inspect them to ensure they meet their standards. Post-inspection, the trailer will receive a seal of approval that’ll afford you some peace of mind. While not the end all be all of whether or not a trailer is in good condition, it certainly helps to purchase a product that has been signed off on by safety professionals.
5. Is There Rust or Damage I Should Be Made Aware Of?
Even when you’re buying new trailers, rust or other damage could be present. The odds of this are heightened with old trailers.
Ask your distributor about rust when you’ve decided on a trailer. Even if they say that their trailers are fine, grab a flashlight and give your trailer’s undercarriage an inspection. If you find ample rust, know that your trailer’s integrity will be affected by its presence.
6. Are Your Reefers Air Tight?
Buying reefers can get tricky since structural defects are particularly costly in climate-controlled trailers. Make sure your distributor is keeping the integrity of the reefers they sell, new and old, at top of mind by questioning them on how well their products hold cold air.
After, hop inside one of their reefers during the daytime and have someone shut its doors. If you notice light pouring in through holes, know that each of those holes represents energy loss that will make your trailer exponentially more expensive to run.
7. How Are Your Trailer’s Breaks and Tires?
Some professionals that are shopping for trailers neglect to check on its breaks and tires and focus more on their cabins. That’s a big mistake.
Talk to your distributors about the integrity of their trailer’s breaks and tires. Then, test them to make sure they feel good when synced with a tractor.
8. What Does Your Warranty Look Like?
Good truck trailer distributors will stand by the products they sell. Fly-by-night distributors will not.
One of the easiest ways to weed out a good business from a bad one is to see how much they’ll put in writing regarding the level of support they’ll give you after you purchase your trailer. Note that new trailers should come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Some distributors will go beyond that and add in additional warranty time or other perks to further secure your purchase.
Partner With Good Truck Trailer Distributors
If there’s one thing we know about trucking it’s that having good truck trailer distributors on your team can make growing a lot easier! We hope that that the questions we’ve shared help you to vet distributors and what they’re selling.
If you find that you need more guidance when it comes to trucking or other business questions, check out related content on our blog.