Introduction to How Utility Accessories Work

truck and trailer
Jill Frommer/istockphoto
If you have a tire pressure monitor, you won't have to leave the comfort of your SUV to check your trailer's tires.

If you have a few extra dollars that are burning a hole in your pocket or need to buy a present for the friend who has everything (plus a trailer), consider purchasing some useful add-ons for the utility trailer in your life. You can, after all, never have enough utility trailer accessories, because the right accessories can make towing large loads both easier and safer.

But where should you start? We're glad you asked. The Internet is filled with ideas for ways to make your trailer experience less risky and more pleasant. You just need to know where to look. From toolboxes and spare tire covers to stairs and ramps, you can probably spend more money turning your trailer into a luxury home than you paid for the trailer in the first place.

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Consider some of the electronic trailer monitors that are available. These can be pricey, but they're also a great way to protect the investment you have in your trailer and cargo. Tire pressure monitors tell you if any of the tires on your tow vehicle or trailer are losing air. Other monitors check to make sure the brake and backup lights on the trailer are still working. And you can monitor all of these things from the comfort of the tow vehicle.

For something cheaper, think about getting some simple safety devices like trailer tie-downs and straps to secure your cargo so that it doesn't shift in transit. As accessories go, these are quite inexpensive, but they can save you a lot of money in the long run. Trailer lights are also very inexpensive and come in a wide variety of types, any of which can make it safer for you to take your trailer out on the road.

On the next page, we'll take a deeper look at the accessories you can buy for your utility trailer.

The Most Popular Utility Trailer Accessories

The first consideration in buying accessories for a trailer is safety. As tempting as it may be to give your trailer that fresh paint job, there's no point in painting it if it isn't safe to tow. Here are some things you can buy that will make your trailer safer:

  1. truck and trailer
    pixzzle/istockphoto
    Wheel chocks will prevent your vehicle from rolling off the trailer.
    Trailer lights. Lights on the outside of your trailer make it easier to see. Lights inside the trailer make it easier for you to find things. Trailer lights come in many varieties. There are side marker lights, to help drivers avoid you in the dark; reflectors, which do the same job a bit more economically; interior lights, so you don't have to carry a flashlight when you check out your cargo; replacement taillights and backup lights; and utility lights that can be placed inside or outside the trailer.
  2. Tire pressure monitors. If one of the tires on your trailer starts losing pressure, you might not know about it until it's too late. A tire pressure monitor helps you watch changes in the pressure of all your trailer's tires from the comfort of the tow vehicle's cabin. Other monitors are available to signal failures in brake lights, changes in tire temperature and problems with the trailer's batteries.
  3. Tie-down straps. These help you secure your cargo safely so it doesn't fly around the trailer. Types of strap include nylon straps, chains and bungee cords. You can also buy hooks to serve as anchors for the straps, if these aren't already available in the trailer.
  4. Wheel chocks. If you transport vehicles like motorcycles or tractors, these wedge-shaped blocks fit under their wheels to secure them in place. Most wheel chocks can be removed when you're hauling other cargo.

Once you've made your trailer safer, you can start thinking about making it more useful. Consider some of these accessories:

  1. Cargo trailer organizers. These let you keep your special items in special places so you can find them when you need them. Available organizers include racks designed to hold items as varied as gas cans, hedge trimmers and beverage coolers. Tool racks are also available. Or consider buying a shelf kit for constructing shelves on the trailer's interior walls.
  2. Toolboxes. What's a trailer without a toolbox? Toolboxes are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, and many are designed to be secured inside the trailer for easy transport.
  3. Trailer jacks. These heavy-duty jacks are designed to handle the weight of a trailer and even have their own accessories available, including replacement handles and feet.
  4. Spare tire covers. Spare tire covers aren't just pretty. They protect the tire so that it's always ready when you need it.

Those are just a few ideas for utility trailer accessories that are both safe and useful. On the next page, we'll give you some links to Web sites where you can do some accessory shopping of your own. (It's OK to just window shop.)

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • AllPro West Trailer Superstore. http://www.allprowest.com/1Trailer_Accessories.html
  • Dutton-Lainson Company. http://www.dutton-lainson.com/index.php
  • Etrailer.com. http://www.etrailer.com
  • Northern Tool + Equipment. http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/category_6970_166839
  • Rack'n'Road. http://www.racknroad.com/trailer-hitches-and-accessories.html
  • RedTrailers.com. http://www.redtrailers.com
  • Sport Utility Trailers. http://www.sportutilitytrailers.com/
  • TP Trailers Inc. http://www.tptrailersinc.com/Accessories/Accessories.htm
  • Trailer Parts Superstore. http://shop.easternmarine.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=catalog.catalog&categoryID=153
  • Tramp Trailers. http://www.tramptrailers.com/tramp-trailer-accessories.php
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