If you do not already have a truck and trailer when you are buying an ATV, that can be a big part of the ATV buying experience. Buying a new ATV, truck and trailer is an expensive ordeal so it is important to make sure you plan ahead and that everything will fit. If you have a truck and and only one ATV, you may get away with hauling your ATV in the truck bed, but if you need a trailer, there is a lot to consider. First and foremost is what size trailer you need to buy.
The short answer is that you can fit many single ATVs in a 4 x 6 foot trailer, although a 5 x 8 foot trailer will fit any single ATV much more comfortably. For two ATVs, you will need at least a 6 X 12 trailer loading nose to tail or 6 X 10 foot if you can load side by side. You can also get away with a 6 X 10 trailer for most ATVs by loading one of them sideways and one normally. If you are getting into larger ATVs, bigger than 550cc I would say, you need to look at the dimensions to see if you are going to need something even bigger like a 7 X 12. For three or more ATVs, You are going to want to run your measurements, but will likely need at least something 16 feet long. You also need to take into account any large racks or other accessories you may have on your ATV, or potentially want to purchase later. Beyond those basics, there are a lot of considerations that should go into buying an ATV trailer and picking the right size trailer for you. A good place to begin your research after this article is to check out our extensive guides to ATV dimensions and ATV weight.
Can you just Use your Truck Bed and what if you don’t have a Truck?
If you only have one ATV, you are likely fine using your truck bed unless you have a large ATV and/or small truck bed. If you want to see if you can haul an ATV in your truck bed, check out our guide that covers almost every truck make and model available. Even if you don’t have a truck, do not think you absolutely need to go spend a chunk of change on a new truck. Many ATV trailers are just fine being pulled by a small SUV or even a minivan so you don’t necessarily need a truck to tow an ATV.
You will want Extra Space in your Trailer
When you are looking to buy a new trailer and are taking measurements, do not forget you are going to want extra room in the trailer to carry things other than the ATV. For that reason, it is pretty common advice from almost every ATV rider to buy a trailer a little bigger than you think you need. While a 4 X 6 trailer may get the job done, a 5 X 8 or even a 5 X 10 trailer will give you enough wiggle room to carry the extra supplies you need and more enjoyably haul your trailer.
Finding the Right Tire Size
There are a couple other reasons people generally recommend avoiding a smaller trailer to haul an ATV. One of the biggest reasons is the tires. Generally, smaller trailers come with smaller tires. Smaller tires can be trouble on the many dirt and gravel roads you are likely to be driving down to get to good riding paths. Another problem with smaller tires is they wear out quicker than larger tires. While changing tires is always a painful ordeal, you especially do not want to worry about a worn tire on some remote road hundreds of miles from help. Since those are the places I want to ride, I want to have bigger tires on my trailer. I also want the extra room in a trailer to carry a couple spare tires just in case. As a general guideline, you want to get a trailer with at least 13 inch tires if possible.
Obviously, the last thing you want is a busted trailer during an ATV trip, so make sure you get a trailer with enough capacity to carry your load. Some trailers will give you an overall load capacity or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which is the maximum the trailer can hold (including the weight of the trailer), but you also want to be sure to check the axle and tire ratings. As a general rule, make sure the tire and axle ratings are enough to carry the full weight of all ATVs you are carrying plus five hundred pounds.
Other Things you Need with a Trailer
Unless your vehicle includes a towing package, you will not be able to just hook the trailer up and go. You will need to make sure you have the proper lighting accessories, like a plug-in wiring harness, to ensure your vehicle controls the lights on the trailer. You will also need proper hitch hardware and a trailer ball and mount to ensure the trailer can be properly connected to your vehicle. You will also want a pin, clip and coupler lock to keep the trailer safely connected and something to lock the trailer and prevent it from being stolen when not in use. As mentioned above, you will want spare tires and somewhere to mount them if there isn’t room in the trailer. Finally, you will need ramps to actually load and unload the ATV.
Other things to consider
If you are planning on loading an ATV sideways now or in the future, it can be super helpful to have a trailer that has side access so you can drive an ATV up the side to load rather than having to lift and turn the ATV on your own.
Buying used on a trailer is usually a great option if you don’t have money to burn. Trailers are pretty basic pieces of equipment. If they look like they are in good condition, drive well, have good tires and don’t have any electrical issues, there shouldn’t be much risk in getting a lemon. You can save yourself some money picking up a used trailer with little risk.
There are considerations for driving convenience that need to be addressed. Where possible, you would be better off with a longer, rather than wider, trailer. Ideally, you would like a trailer the same width or only slightly wider than the pulling vehicles. This makes it easier to haul and saves on fuel as well. If you are getting an enclosed trailer, the same consideration should be given to the height of the trailer. If the trailer is significantly taller than the pulling vehicle, it can make it a rougher and less fuel-efficient drive.
Do not forget you need somewhere to store your trailer. If you are storing it in a garage or outdoor storage, you need to make sure it will fit, with enough room to maneuver and make parking less frustrating. It may also be necessary to check your CC&Rs, if you are subject to them, to ensure your neighborhood allows parking a trailer where you are planning to keep it stored.
Finally, you will likely need to license your trailer. The requirements may vary by state, but the process should be pretty simple. The trailer should come with a Manufacturer Certificate of Origin if you buy a new trailer. You can take that and a bill of sale to your DMV to obtain a title. If it is a used trailer, you should get a title with the trailer. As an attorney, I have helped someone obtain a title to a trailer they owned, but didn’t have documentation for. Trust me, it is not worth the hassle or cost, so make sure this is in order when you buy the trailer.