Renting a commercial trailer can be more than just a little bit daunting. Suddenly, you’re driving a semi and towing something as large as a tiny house. With this, a thousand questions can pop up, like where in the world are you going to park the trailer in the first place?
However, before you get to this and the other questions, it’s a good idea to start with the basics, like what to know about commercial trailer rental. The process is a little more complicated than renting a passenger car.
Commercial Trailer Rental Tips
Before you sign a rental agreement for a semi or any other type of commercial trailer, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
What Type of Trailer Do You Need?
Okay, you don’t have to become familiar with every type of commercial trailer. Once you know what you need the trailer for, the rental agency will be able to make recommendations. For example, if you are moving a mobile home, you don’t want an enclosed commercial trailer, but the opposite may apply if you are transporting a ton of boxes.
What about technology? Yes, some commercial trailers are surprisingly advanced. Don’t forget about your budget. Different types of trailers have various rental price points. Knowing your budget and what the trailer is for will make it easier to choose the right type.
Types of Rental Trailers
Here’s a quick look at the different types of trailers available from most rental agencies:
- Dry Vans are a good option for transporting non-perishable items. You can also use this type of trailer to relocate a small house or a load of cars.
- Reefer-style trailers are best suited for any freight that has a consistent temperature requirement. Some examples include perishable items like food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and even tobacco-based products.
- Tankers can be used to transport dry goods like sand, gravel, and other construction-related items. With the proper licensing, tankers can also safely transport hazardous materials. However, strict state and federal laws apply to the transportation of hazardous materials, so check with local ordinances before loading up and hitting the road.
- Flatbed trailers are some of the most commonly rented models and are used to transport large items like vehicles and construction equipment.
- Lowboys are commonly used to move wide and heavy equipment. For example, excavators are typically moved on lowboy trailers.
Another type of trailer for rent is a dump—similar to tankers, it can haul rocks, gravel, and other types of aggregates. The primary difference here is it doesn’t carry hazardous materials.
Common Types of Trailer Technology
Some of the available advanced technology on trailers today include tracking systems and temperature controls. You can also find trailers with anti-corrosion technology.
If you’re worried about steering the trailer, look for one with self-steering axles, which can make turning corners and parking a breeze, even if it’s your first time using a commercial trailer.
Consider Your Truck
Not every truck is designed to haul a commercial trailer, and your heavy-duty pickup truck may not have enough torque to tow one.
If you’re unsure what type of truck you need, the U.S. Department of Transportation can help. Don’t forget about local ordinances. Most states and municipalities have strict laws regarding commercial trailer and truck combinations.
This typically means leaving your pickup at home and renting a truck to go with the trailer. Don’t worry, most commercial trailer rental companies offer discounts to customers who rent both.
There are three truck and trailer combinations legally allowed. If you are going on an extended trip, a combination truck is often your best option. This type of truck comes with a sleeper cab, so you can get some rest during the trip.
For shorter trips, a single-unit truck is often your best option. The other type of truck is a longer combination vehicle (LOV), but it’s also not allowed in every state due to its ability to exceed the legally allowed 80,000 pounds.
Know the Surface Transportation Assistance Act
What is the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982? The act outlines the laws and regulations related to trucks and commercial trailers.
Chances are, it’s nothing you need to worry about, but it’s always a good idea to have all of the available information. Some of the act’s key points include:
- All states must allow truck and trailer combinations measuring under 48 feet.
- States cannot ban commercial truck and trailer combinations that meet legal length and weight requirements.
This means that as long as the vehicle does not measure over 48 feet in length and exceeds 80,000 pounds in weight, you can legally drive in all 50 states.
Now that you know a little bit about commercial trailers, you’re ready to head to the rental agency and secure one of your own.
If you still have any potential questions, don’t hesitate to ask the rental company for assistance or advice. They can answer any questions you may have and get you on track to renting the right trailer that meets your unique needs.