Grain hopper trailers are a critical piece of specialized equipment that makes hauling and storing grain more efficient. For those who work in the agricultural business, a grain hopper trailer is a vital piece of equipment to have on hand.
However, not all grain hopper trailers are designed exactly the same. For this reason, it is important to take the time to carefully research the different trailer types prior to pulling the trigger on a purchase.
The following guide will walk you through the details you should consider as you compare and contrast the numerous grain hopper trailers on the market.
Consider Safety Features
One of the biggest considerations when purchasing a new grain hopper trailer is what safety features are included. As anyone who works in the industry knows, grain hauling can be a dangerous business.
A few important safety features to consider include all of the following modern advancements:
- Sidewall windows: These windows allow operators to view their load easily and safely. This reduces the number of times an operator needs to climb the trailer’s ladder to check on the load.
- Safety ropes: These ropes are designed to make it easier for an operator to get in and out of the trailer without falling.
- Electric tarp: Rather than fighting against the wind while trying to tack down a tarp, new electric tarps allow operators to quickly and safely open and close the trailer’s tarp.
- Antilock brake system (ABS): Old grain hopper trailers were not equipped with ABS, which increased the risk of jackknifing. ABS increases safety by keeping the axles from locking up. ABS also helps to prevent flat spotting of tires.
- Increased number of lights: A modern grain hopper trailer is equipped with LED lights, which due to their energy efficiency, can be installed in greater numbers. This improves night visibility and safety.
Safety should be central when determining which grain hopper trailer to purchase. Focusing on improved safety features can lead to fewer accidents and lower risk to your business.
Factor in Long-Term Maintenance
One of the most costly aspects of owning a grain hopper trailer is long-term maintenance. For this reason, when purchasing a trailer, it is critical to factor in potential maintenance costs.
For example, purchasing an older grain hopper trailer might offer you up-front savings. However, be sure to consider the cost of upcoming maintenance tasks. If the trailer’s tires are already nearing their end of use, you need to tack this on to the price of the trailer.
Take the time before purchasing a used trailer to carefully inspect all equipment and make note of upcoming maintenance needs.
Opt for Improved Suspension
Due to the heavy loads they're designed to carry, grain hopper trailers come equipped with heavy-duty suspension systems. However, newer trailers offer improved suspension options.
The two most common types of suspension that you will find on grain hopper trailers include leaf springs and air suspension systems. Leaf springs are the older style of suspension, with newer models featuring air suspension.
Leaf springs will get the job done, but consider air suspension for the following benefits:
- Smoother ride in the field
- Easier driving at highway speeds
- Increased resale value of the trailer
- Built-in gauge that allows you to quickly note how many pounds the trailer is carrying
While air suspension is a nice upgrade, it does come with a cost. Most air suspension systems will increase trailer costs by around $1,000.
Look for Operation Benefits
Grain hopper trailers are equipped with many critical parts that allow operators to quickly load and unload grain. When shopping for a trailer, consider some operational benefits. All of the following modern features to make the process of using the trailer easier for operators:
- Electric tarps that are operated with the push of a button
- Fold-down ladders which are easier to use than older, bulkier styles
- Sealed ball-bearing designed doors which take little strength to open
Even something as simple as a door that opens easily can take out some of the daily back-breaking labor that grain hauling often involves. Consider these extra features when shopping for a trailer.
Take Note of the Number of Axles
Another key consideration when purchasing a grain hopper trailer is the number of axles on the trailer. Do you need a single axle, dual axle, or triple axle trailer?
The answer comes down to the amount of hauling you do. Be sure that you choose a trailer with enough axels to support the heaviest loads you plan to carry. Not only is it dangerous to haul a heavy load with the wrong size trailer, but you can also be fined on public roadways.
Follow EPA Regulations
Finally, a key consideration when purchasing a grain hopper trailer is to ensure that the tarp it comes equipped with will meet EPA standards. The EPA has strict requirements on how loose material is hauled and covered. Their standards must be met on both manual or automatic closure systems. Additionally, the right system will ensure the safety of other motorists.
Work with a Trusted Team
When choosing a grain hopper trailer, the process is made easier when you work with a trusted and knowledgeable team. Before purchasing a trailer, take some time to vet the dealership where you plan to make the purchase. Make sure that you choose a company that offers all of the following:
- Flexible financing options: New or used, a grain hopper trailer is a costly purchase. For this reason, it is critical to choose a dealership that will offer you flexible and fair financing options.
- Experienced sales staff: A grain hopper trailer is a very specialized piece of equipment. Be sure you pick a company with experienced sales staff who understands the important features of this specific trailer type.
- Quality inventory: Not all grain hopper trailers are alike. Be sure you work with a dealership that has a quality inventory of trailers backed by trusted manufacturers.
Purchasing a new or used grain hopper trailer is a big investment. It’s important to take the time to carefully research your options before making this purchase.
At Transwest, we're here to assist you as you browse our quality inventory of trailers, as well as to walk you through available financing options. Talk to one of our experienced salespeople today about your specific needs.