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octavious Dork
9/9/19 3:54 p.m.

Bringing up an old thread instead of new for a question:

My tow vehicle will be a 2011 Lexus GX460 tow hitch and rating of 6500lbs.  Vehicle is a 2005 Mustang GT 3300-3600. The GX towed the Mustang fine the 5 hours to get it home on a crappy Uhaul car hauler. I’m looking for trailer suggestions and have some questions:

Do I need a metal deck?

If I get a wooden deck how do I chalk the wheels? The Uhaul has that bar you drive over?

Factory tie down points? Are there any or do I add some?

Do I need a winch?

What length and width do I need? 

Electric brakes or surge brakes? GX has the 4 prong and circle prong airing harmess attachments.

So what kind of open trailer should I be looking for? 


EvanB MegaDork
9/9/19 4:38 p.m.

I prefer a wood deck. No need to chock the wheels. If you tow the same car all the time you could screw down some small strips to get it in the same place everytime once you figure out the best place for tongue weight. 

I love having a winch on my trailer but I also end up towing a lot of cars that don't run. 

Electric brakes for sure. 

chada75 Reader
9/9/19 4:47 p.m.

The few folks I know that have Open Aluminium trailers loved then but they're not cheap.

codrus UberDork
9/9/19 5:07 p.m.

If you're going to tow it to the track, you need a plan for how you're going to get it onto the trailer if/when the motor blows up at the track.  An electric winch is the best choice, but a come-along is probably good enough as an emergency measure if the car is reliable.

You don't need to chock the wheels unless you plan to tilt the trailer enough that the parking brake won't hold it securely enough for you to get out and attach a tie down strap.

There's lots of discussion about tie down points on the car and which side of the suspension it should be on.  I run axle straps through the wheels, hasn't let me down yet.

Length & width depends on how much room you have to store it, how much flexibility you want to tow other cars, and what you're going to use as tiedown points.  Remember that you need a minimum of 2-3 feet between the anchor point on the trailer and the tie down piont on the car for the ratchet, axle strap, etc, and that putting ratchets underneath the car may mean that you don't have enough clearance to operate them properly.  The easiest/most convenient way to do it is to have that space between the bumper and the edge of the trailer.

Definitely electric brakes.

18' wood deck car transport trailers are cheap and easy to get.  Once you replace the tires & brakes, you probably won't save much buying used as opposed to new.


bearmtnmartin SuperDork
9/9/19 5:16 p.m.

I usually just rent a trailer now if it's anything out of the ordinary. I can pick up any one of about 15 different styles, GVW's  and lengths of trailer for about $150.00 CDN for a two day job. I pickup after work and return within a half hour of them opening two mornIngs later. I always have the right trailer for the job and they are never blocking my yard. That would be a lot of rentals to make buying one worth it.  I do have a race car trailer but the car is usually sitting on it and it's kind of specialized for race cars. 

frenchyd UberDork
9/9/19 8:14 p.m.

In reply to octavious :

People have different preferences and priority’s. 

Up front my preference is minimalist.  Having said that one thing I really liked was towing with a motorhome.   It was so nice to have a shower and my own bathroom right there. Air conditioning for swelteringly hot days or a warm cozy place to get out of the cold rain.  A kitchen to fix meals of my liking. And not having to lug bags and luggage up into the room and then back down to the car.  Familiar beds Free of the need for black lights to discover the horrors of motel bedspreads etc.  

Open trailers are lighter than most enclosed. I suspect Featherlite and my own SIR trailers would prove the exception.  Plus I’ve seen some extremely light enclosed trailers used by lawn mowing people  but wow do they have thin skins. 

Enclosed trailers keep the car clean. You arrive without the need to spend time cleaning off the road debris. In addition race cars are eye candy and not all people on the road or at an event are honest.  A night in a motel/hotel with the car safely out of sight  isn’t spent looking out the window.  Heck stopping for lunch or any meal only to come out to see someone looking or climbing all over it. 

Plus heavy rain or other miserable weather  the enclosed trailer can be where you hide it out. Cone time for winter storage, you already have a place for the race car. 

Wood deck vs metal deck. Yes you can nail a board to indicate the stopping or balance point on wood But you can bolt a piece of angle almost as easily on a metal deck. 

With metal you will need plenty of ratchet straps not only on metal but also wood.  Wood however isn’t as prone to slippery ness.  A little oil on wood will be absorbed, metal will•••••• oops!  

Look very carefully at  the design of trailers.  I built mine extremely low as some are. It sure made loading a lot easier. Plus a steady nice low center of gravity. The down side is occasionally I would drag a corner or perhaps the whole back  of the curb or whatever was steep. I dealt with it with a wear plate while some put a roller or even caster wheels. 

Some will never have that issue. Instead loading will involve long ramps or dragging/ hooking  the race car.  Plus the higher the car is the greater the chance of tip over/loss. And the greater the effect should sway happen. 

Surge brakes VS Electric brakes?  I’m a fan of surge others swear by electric.

The simplicity  of surge brakes allows them to be pulled by any vehicle while Electric require the proper controller, and connector.  Some don’t bother doing the required maintenance and suffer with poor braking. However I’ve seen the same with electric brakes.  Poor electrical connections, worn linings, weak magnets etc. just because it’s a trailer doesn’t mean you can endlessly ignore it.  Chevy or Ford? Electric or surge.  

No matter which you choose buy bearing buddies. A squirt or two of grease might keep the bearings together and it’s massively easier to do than removing the cap, split pin, nut, pack the bearings with grease. 

I do agree that used trailers are almost never a bargain. Decades later I see my old trailers sell for 50% or even more given the effects of time and inflation.  At that they need plenty of work and parts to bring them back to the condition I sold them. 

Tom1200 Dork
9/9/19 8:37 p.m.

I have a 1990 camper van and an open trailer. Both of my race cars are light (1600lbs & 560lbs) and my single axle trailer only weighs 700lbs so my experience is going to be colored by that.

If my wife and I didn't also use the van for camping I'd strip out most of the RV stuff and make it a mobile work shop and lounge. When I go to out of town events I actually get a room  even though I could sleep in the van.

I'd find a stand up van; they have a couch, unlike an enclosed car hauler they have the option of heat and AC. You can also watch TV or review in car camera footage.  

I'd never store my race car in an enclosed trailer unless it could be behind a very secure gate. I know of several race cars that were stolen, the thieves only wanted the trailer and the tools inside.  The race car was collateral damage.

frenchyd UberDork
9/10/19 12:47 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

True enough. If thieves want what you got  a secure gate won’t be enough. Nor will anything else. 

Once you accept that just hope that the noise of breaking in will prevent attempts.  Until outta sight is outta mind. 

frenchyd PowerDork
1/29/20 6:58 a.m.

In reply to Cactus :

Your skills, and ability to think ahead, determine just how much truck you need.  More so than any load capacity or rating.
 I've towed  tandem enclosed trailers with a little S10 SUV  all over the country without a single problem.  

I strongly recommend a SUV for towing a race car over a pickup.  It's just more useful at the race track.

Pick  the right one with a flat floor and you can stretch out and pick up some sleep either at the track orroadside rest  on the highway.  Plus your stuff is inside locked up rather than in the open bed of a pickup ( I own a pickup and have owned many SUV's )  SUV's come in two basic types. Truck based and Van or mini van based. 

Age of the truck will determine its suitability more than just a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton etc.  Modern  pickups are more like medium duty trucks than grandpa's pickup  ever was.  

Bigger brakes, bigger tires,  better suspension, more rated capacity.  having said that. Beware of too big a truck.  The 4 door  8 foot box may seem attractive until you try to live with it dY to day . Then it's extra length limits where you can park it, where you can store it, and fuel mileage.  Plus just driving it adds a whole new demension. Turn a sharp corner and the back wheels might hop a curb or worse..  you have to drive further forward into the intersection  to avoid that issue.  

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