JTI Inc. Cleveland

Trailers, Hitches, & Maintenance

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Does it Make Sense to Buy a Used Trailer?

Many customers call us because they think they want a used trailer.  Not surprisingly, the primary reason they say that is because they want to save money – and that’s a good reason! But in most cases, we explain that buying a used trailer can be less of a “value” than they think at first.

Below, a little information about how we see it. But before we go there, a little disclosure is in order. Chiefly, we want to to explain that while we sell more new trailers than used trailers (and equipment), it’s not because we make more money on new equipment. In fact, the margin on a used trailer is often a tad higher than on a new one. It’s not exactly a straightforward equation, as the cost factors are different. For example, there are often more administrative expenses associated with selling used trailers (verifying actual ownership and obtaining certificates of origin, for example). But the point is this: we don’t really care whether we sell a new or a used trailer. What we strive to do is sell the RIGHT trailer to each customer for the job(s) they want to do.

Trailers, after all, are supposed to make our work – and therefore our lives – a little easier. Well. Enough with the philosophical side of things. Let’s talk about new and used trailers, and find out what makes sense for you!

Are Used Trailers Cheaper than New Ones?

Used trailers are, of course, typically cheaper than new trailers. In that way, they’re much like cars. However, while a used car with light mileage might be a good deal, there aren’t many trailers with “light mileage.” Trailers are typically used a lot, or not at all.

A trailer that’s been used a lot is likely to have been overloaded more than a few times, and possibly under-maintained as well. A trailer that’s not been used at all will have other problems. Dry rot on tires is a sure sign. Another common but less obvious sign is rust, can which can affect breaks, bearings and axles.

Evaluating a Used Trailer

We’ve written about this before. So much of the answer to the new-or- used question depends on the condition of the trailer. And that means you need to understand a little bit about trailer construction, materials, and the most likely points of failure. Another major consideration when thinking about buying a used trailer: how handy are you, and how experience

When looking at a used trailer, pay primary attention to these major items:

  • Trailer Frame  Is it sagging at all?  How does it feel when you stand on the floor of the trailer?
  • Trailer Brakes  Yes, most brake problems can be fixed, but like trailer lights, brakes are important. Make sure they work before you put the trailer to work for you.
  • Springs and shackles Springs can often be adjusted. If the bolts in spring shackles are elongated, however, that can tell you that the trailer has high mileage, has been seriously overloaded, and/or hasn’t been maintained on schedule. Both springs and shackles, however, can be replaced.
  • Axle condition  If your axle is broken, you’re not going. We recamber axles, can order new ones, and even make custom axles here.
  • Trailer equalizer and bushings  Like axles, important items to ensure the safe operation of your trailer.
  • Gate(s) and door functionality  If the gates, doors, or locking mechanisms are not working very well, you stand to lose your stuff. We can virtually guarantee that will ruin your day. While trailer locks and gates aren’t complicated, they’re critical to securing your stuff.

You’ll also want to check these minor, but still important, items on a used trailer: 

  • Exterior lights  Most lights problems can be fixed quickly, easily, and inexpensively. However, lights aren’t optional, so make sure yours work!
  • Coupler  Does the locking lever work? A crack underneath the coupler usually indicates the trailer has been backed into something. Also, check for thin spots in the ball socket.
  • Tongue and jack   These are important, but if they’re sub-par, don’t worry, as these can usually be easily fixed (or replaced)
  • Safety chain  You hope you’ll never need it, but it’s something you need to know you can depend on!

Just How Used Are the Trailer’s Tires? 

When you’re looking at a used trailer, tires are an easy item to check. Of course, you’re not “just” checking on tire condition. You want to look for uneven wear or signs of rubbing that may tell you there’s a ride problem. Once you understand the issue, you can determine how easy it is to fix (and how much it might cost!).

Good news: it’s really easy to check for tire dry rot. While there’s no way to fix dry rot, replacing the tires is a quick (and relatively inexpensive) solution. When checking for dry rot, inspect the tire all the way around, as dry rot typically shows up only in one place on the tire, particularly when the trailer has been stored in one spot for a long time. Oh, and more good news: there are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your tires and prevent dry rot.


JTI, Cleveland trailer expertsPeople who depend on their trailers depend on JTI. Since 1935, we’ve been Cleveland’s Trailer & Hitch experts. Yes, we love to sell new trailers. We also love to help people keep their trailers working safely for as long as possible. Need trailer repair (new axle?), routine maintenance, parts, or something else?

Call or stop in to see why our customers have stuck with us for 80 years. www.JTIinc.com

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Some Trailer FAQs – and Answers – from the Trailer & Hitch Experts

When it comes to trailers – and many other things – there’s no such thing as a dumb question! Very often, safety is compromised because drivers don’t ask enough questions. Below, answers to some of commonly-asked trailer questions along with answers. We hope these will help new trailer owners as well as experienced haulers.

How often do I need to tighten my lug nuts? When beginning to use a new trailer, or after replacing a hub, we caution our customers to check and tighten their lugs, and check again and tighten again. New trailer owners and those who have recently had a hub replaced should check and tighten lug nuts at 25, 50, and 100 miles and then every 100 miles for the first 500 miles. Over time, lug nuts are something you need to check on and make sure they maintain the proper torque. Venture Trailer has a great article on its website.

Why do I need to repack my bearings?  Quite simply, bearings keep your wheels rolling. They’re truly unsung parts – and your trailer (and all its loads) depend on them. Dirt and water get into bearings under normal road conditions, so a regular clean and repack is advisable, but “how often” depends on how you use your trailer. Dexter Axle recommends cleaning and repacking bearings every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or every 2 years, whichever comes first.  It’s not complicated, but it’s messy. Many of our landscaping customers schedule it as part of regular pre- or post-season trailer maintenance.

How long do trailer tires last?  That’s a loaded question, for several reasons! For one thing, the answer depends on the loads you carry – as well as the roads you haul over, your driving style and average speed, climate, type of tires, and more. Generally speaking, trailer tires should be replaced every 5 years regardless of mileage of tire wear. Even if you don’t use your trailer often and you never load it to its maximum capacity, at some point, your tires need to retire. (Heh-heh. Trailer humor…no extra charge.)

How can I avoid trailer tire dry rot? By keeping your tires protected from the sun as much as you can. (Yes, we sell trailer tire covers.) Unfortunately, in time, dry rot happens. But there are a few other things you can do about it.

Which is better for my trailer – bias or radial tires? That’s a good question, with no simple answer. The bottom line is, either is fine, but it’s important to understand the difference. And, it’s even more important to use special trailer tires – despite many who say “passenger tires are fine,” they’re really not as safe, particularly at highway speeds.

How can I prevent corrosion on my boat trailer lights? Those poor lights! Out of sight, out of mind, and in the water so much of the time! The easiest answer: get submersible lights. Don’t have ’em? We’ve got ’em, but if you’re not ready to replace your boat trailer lights, don’t worry – there are several ways to you can protect them and help your trailer lights last longer.

What’s the best trailer for landscaping? The only way to answer that is to know what your landscaping jobs entail. Do you need an enclosed cargo trailer so you can lock up your tools and equipment? A ramp door that can support your Kabota Tractor? Or a dump? Call us when you’re considering a new landscape trailer. We’ll run through your requirements and get you the trailer you need. As for timing, there’s a simple answer: If you want it for next spring, the best time to order is EARLY in the year.

I want to start a snowplow business, what do I need to know? Well, you need a plow… and customers…some nice gloves…an alarm clock… maybe you should read Meyer’s helpful article for folks considering the snowplow business. Looking to finance a plow? We can help you with that.

What’s up with the price difference on these two trailers? They look identical!  Many “little” details make a big difference in trailer performance, from brakes (surge, electric, or none) to load capacities to reinforced gates to LED lights. Questions? Ask us. We’ll help you make sure you get the features, and the trailer, you need.  

Do you sell trailer tires? Yes, radial and bias in virtually every size common to trailers, campers, and related stuff that rolls. The tires we stock are listed on our website, and we can special order any tire or tire/wheel combo you need for your trailer.

Do you sell automobile tires? No. They’re different animals; sorry.

Do you sell boat batteries? Yes, we carry some of the most popular batteries, by Interstate.

Do you make axles? You betcha! We’re really good at it, too. We make both spring and torsion axles. Spring axles usually require a 24-hour turnaround time; torsion axles 48 hrs. Why do we say we’re good at it? Our main man has more than 30 years experience, and he’s shared it with some young guns who do a great job, too. Oh, and our customers agree.

I need to rent a trailer. What do you have, and why should I rent from JTI? Our rental trailer inventory is diverse – from open car haulers to dumps – and we don’t work on commission. Our goal is to get you the trailer you need that’s best suited for your vehicle. Our team members will help you find the correct trailer for the job and get the trailer hooked-up to your vehicle properly. Also, we’ve noticed that our trailers are generally in better condition than those the chains rent, but hey, we don’t rent their stuff 😉 One note: we do not rent trucks; just trailers.

More questions? Please contact us!

JTI, Cleveland trailer experts


Got a trailer or hitch question? It’s not rocket science, but towing is a rather specialized art. We’ve been answering trailer and hitch questions since 1935. Please, keep asking!! We’re here to answer.

Stop in or call us, 6 days a week, at 440.232.4311. We’re open in Oakwood Village Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, and Sat 8am-2pm.