Car trailer to haul TJ

ac_

zombicon
Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2017
3,205
3,039
AZ, United States
#1
Hi All,

I am considering buying a car trailer to haul the Tj around. I don't know anything about car trailers. Is there anything to watch for. Anything I absolutely need or don't need?

What is the deal with dove tails? People are sure proud of those? Is that necessary or even wanted in towing my tj?

So far the only thing I really have narrowed down is the cost, really don't want to pay more than 3K, and I want a used one. Also looking for a 16 footer, so what should I be looking out for? Especially in a used car trailer?

Cheers
 
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Squatch

Master Thread Derailer
Supporting Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,723
4,837
Everett, Wash, United States
#2
Dove tails are nice, but definitely not necessary. I wouldn't let that be a deciding factor in a purchase, unless you were also planning on hauling cars with low clearance on 'em, and/or inoperable vehicles. Also, dove tail trailers tend to command more money. For your needs, I just don't think it's necessary. Of course, that's only my opinion, but I've been taking my own advice for most of my life. :D
 
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ohiopatriot

TJ Enthusiast
Jul 28, 2017
697
789
ohio
#3
Like @Squatch said, dovetails mostly needed for low cars or if you don't want to use the ramps when loading your Jeep you can just drive on.

Wood deck trailers come with level decks or ones that are below the frame rail. It truly doesn't matter for car hauling but if your loading skids of stuff with a fork lift you'll have to block everything up to get the forks out. The level ones are easier to hose the mud off of to. I leave my jeep on the trailer after a trip to run the sprinkler under and then power wash the wheel wells etc. Its like a raised platform so you don't have to bend over or crawl around.

Some also have a removable driver side fender, once again for low cars.

Most new don't come with a spare, that's optional, but needed.

Led lights are optional and recommended.

Most wood decks are untreated, so paint or seal accordingly.

The paint they use on the frames is terrible, it'll chip and fade in the first year.

Around here you can get a level deck, dovetail, removable fender, spare, LEDS and 10k straps for under your budget including a gallon of sealer from Lowes.

Metal deck trailers are great, but $$$$.

YMMV.

Going to need a brake controller for the truck too.
 
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ac_

ac_

zombicon
Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2017
3,205
3,039
AZ, United States
#4
Like @Squatch said, dovetails mostly needed for low cars or if you don't want to use the ramps when loading your Jeep you can just drive on.

Wood deck trailers come with level decks or ones that are below the frame rail. It truly doesn't matter for car hauling but if your loading skids of stuff with a fork lift you'll have to block everything up to get the forks out. The level ones are easier to hose the mud off of to. I leave my jeep on the trailer after a trip to run the sprinkler under and then power wash the wheel wells etc. Its like a raised platform so you don't have to bend over or crawl around.

Some also have a removable driver side fender, once again for low cars.

Most new don't come with a spare, that's optional, but needed.

Led lights are optional and recommended.

Most wood decks are untreated, so paint or seal accordingly.

The paint they use on the frames is terrible, it'll chip and fade in the first year.

Around here you can get a level deck, dovetail, removable fender, spare, LEDS and 10k straps for under your budget including a gallon of sealer from Lowes.

Metal deck trailers are great, but $$$$.

YMMV.

Going to need a brake controller for the truck too.

Great advice! I do have a brake controller already, so I got that going for me. So metal decks are better if I find someone selling one for my budget? I was wondering if they would be too excessively heavy.

I see a lot of them for sale and none of them have brand names or the people don't state what the brands are. Are there some to worry about or are they all about the same?
 

Ranger_b0b

Rust Belt Heavyweight
Supporting Member
Feb 28, 2017
3,213
3,400
Grand Rapids, MI, United States
#5
Look at the construction vs name brand. There are literally thousands of trailer manufacturers in the states. If it were me, I'd get aluminum, with a wood deck. No corrosion concerns with the frame and the deck can be replaced.
 
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Squatch

Master Thread Derailer
Supporting Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,723
4,837
Everett, Wash, United States
#6
Look at the construction vs name brand. There are literally thousands of trailer manufacturers in the states. If it were me, I'd get aluminum, with a wood deck. No corrosion concerns with the frame and the deck can be replaced.
If you were him, you'd be living in Arizona, laughing at the word "corrosion"! :D
I agree with it for the weight savings, as well as the wood deck being replaceable. However, aluminum ones tend to be pricey, at least up here in the PNW.
 
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Ranger_b0b

Rust Belt Heavyweight
Supporting Member
Feb 28, 2017
3,213
3,400
Grand Rapids, MI, United States
#7
If you were him, you'd be living in Arizona, laughing at the word "corrosion"! :D
I agree with it for the weight savings, as well as the wood deck being replaceable. However, aluminum ones tend to be pricey, at least up here in the PNW.
True. Corrosion may not be a factor in Az. :) Aluminum does command a premium price...probably more so used than new.
 
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Squatch

Master Thread Derailer
Supporting Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,723
4,837
Everett, Wash, United States
#8
True. Corrosion may not be a factor in Az. :) Aluminum does command a premium price...probably more so used than new.
Statement was made in good fun, my friend. There are definitely benefits to the aluminum versions, overall. If corrosion isn't a primary concern, the weight savings alone could push a fella to purchase one, for sure.
 
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ac_

ac_

zombicon
Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2017
3,205
3,039
AZ, United States
#10
@ac_ if you can weld you can find plans on the internet and build it to your liking. I do know in Arizona it is easy to register a home built trailer.
Not a welder, well I have been known to weld up holes in auto bodies, and I welded a battery box on my tent trailer, but I by no means am a welder.
 

alittleoff

TJ Enthusiast
Apr 27, 2018
228
176
So. Cal.
#12
I've got a 14' Big Tex, steel frame, wood deck, non dove. And the fenders are a "tear drop" style, the kind you can stand on.
The only option I purchased was addition of electric brakes on the second axle.
The things that I've added are, LED's, wider wheels and bigger tires and a spring over axle kit and a junk box for ratchet straps, ropes and the registration papers. And sealed the deck.
Oh and I added a complement of bolt-on & weld-on "D" ring tie down points.
 
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ac_

ac_

zombicon
Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2017
3,205
3,039
AZ, United States
#13
I've got a 14' Big Tex, steel frame, wood deck, non dove. And the fenders are a "tear drop" style, the kind you can stand on.
The only option I purchased was addition of electric brakes on the second axle.
The things that I've added are, LED's, wider wheels and bigger tires and a spring over axle kit and a junk box for ratchet straps, ropes and the registration papers. And sealed the deck.
Oh and I added a complement of bolt-on & weld-on "D" ring tie down points.
That sounds cool we have a Big Tex dealer here in AZ.
Any chance I can get you to post a pic or two?
 
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Oct 4, 2016
88
80
#14
I like having a dovetail for easier loading/unloading (no ramps needed). The one big suggestion i'll make is to get 5000lb axles rather than the 3500lb axles you'll mostly come across. With 3500lb axles, you're trailer should only be loaded with about 5K lbs of weight. Stock TJ's can push 4000lbs, and it's very easy to creep past 5000lbs with modified TJs, especially with spares, tools, fluids, camping gear, etc. I also like to keep a toolbox bolted to the front of my trailer which also adds weight.

Kind of like with toolboxes and sheds, always go bigger, you'll be thankful in the long run.
 
Oct 31, 2015
2,454
2,249
Kootenays, BC, Canada
#15
What is the deal with dove tails? People are sure proud of those? Is that necessary or even wanted in towing my tj?
Dove tails add 5' to the trailer, plus a lot of weight when you add in the ramps. No you do not need them. They are actually designed for equipment trailers.

Think weight first. Simplicity second. Decide on low profile vs high clearance. Tilt trailers are cute. And a TJ is only 12' long.

Do you want it to do anything else?
 
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ac_

ac_

zombicon
Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2017
3,205
3,039
AZ, United States
#16
I like having a dovetail for easier loading/unloading (no ramps needed). The one big suggestion i'll make is to get 5000lb axles rather than the 3500lb axles you'll mostly come across. With 3500lb axles, you're trailer should only be loaded with about 5K lbs of weight. Stock TJ's can push 4000lbs, and it's very easy to creep past 5000lbs with modified TJs, especially with spares, tools, fluids, camping gear, etc. I also like to keep a toolbox bolted to the front of my trailer which also adds weight.

Kind of like with toolboxes and sheds, always go bigger, you'll be thankful in the long run.
Nice Tip thanks!
 
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ac_

ac_

zombicon
Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2017
3,205
3,039
AZ, United States
#17
Dove tails add 5' to the trailer, plus a lot of weight when you add in the ramps. No you do not need them. They are actually designed for equipment trailers.

Think weight first. Simplicity second. Decide on low profile vs high clearance. Tilt trailers are cute. And a TJ is only 12' long.

Do you want it to do anything else?
You never know, but mostly it will haul my TJ and some camping gear.
 
Oct 31, 2015
2,454
2,249
Kootenays, BC, Canada
#19
Stock TJ's can push 4000lbs, and it's very easy to creep past 5000lbs with modified TJs, especially with spares, tools
This plus, you get bigger brakes with a 5K# axle. Altho you can buy a 7000# trailer with 3500# springs and spec 5000# axles and brakes.... which is what I do. Just make sure the GWR exceeds what you will haul. One of the first things we do at accidents is record the GVWR, tires, coupling and lighting. Once you have an accident you cannot get away with jack shit.

Even single vehicle accidents, especially in the winter, we record tires... ie winter grips with snow flakes.... vs bald summers.

On trailers, tire condition, rating and tread depth are the factors. Up here, they will cancel your claim if your $25K Wrangler was on a trailer with under rated tires.
 
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alittleoff

TJ Enthusiast
Apr 27, 2018
228
176
So. Cal.
#20
That sounds cool we have a Big Tex dealer here in AZ.
Any chance I can get you to post a pic or two?
Right now it's in a storage lot about 30 miles away. I'll get some pics later in the week.
The model # is a 70CH, 14' Tandem Axle at 3,500 lbs. ea. 7,000 gross. I bought it new back in 2004, so the model # could be the same if you look on their web site.
 
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