Utility Trailers vs. Cargo Trailers Which Is Better?Eric Johnson
In This Article:
How to Choose the Cargo Trailer or Utility Trailer that’s Best for You
Comparing Cargo Trailers and Utility Trailers: What’s the Difference?
The Benefits of Cargo Trailers
The Benefits of Utility Trailers
Which Type of Trailer Construction Is Best: Aluminum or Steel?
Which Is Better for Your Trailer—Radials or Bias Ply Tires?
For Both Cargo Trailers and Utility Trailers, Pay Attention to the Tire Load Ratings
The Best Trailer Tire Has a Sufficient GVWR
Also Check the Tire’s Speed Rating
You May Want to Consider Wheel and Tire Packages
When You Need Trailer Tires for Your Cargo Trailer or Utility Trailer, Count on Treadworld
As you know, there are a ton of different trailer types available to make your life easier. If you want to haul it, you can find a type of trailer to help you—a trailer for work, a snowmobile trailer, a construction trailer, or a personal trailer, for your landscaping or construction business, for recreation, for travel or for your farm or livestock. The tire experts at Treadworld are here to help you navigate the difference between cargo trailer vs. utility trailer options, then for good measure, we’ll give you some tips to be certain your trailer is equipped with the best, never-let-you-down tires.
Your first decision when you’re selecting a trailer is whether to go with a cargo trailer, also known as an enclosed trailer—usually with walls, a roof and a locking gate or door typically found at the rear—or a utility trailer, which is generally more of a flatbed trailer variety, with no walls or roof. While it’s true that trailers are basically the same in that they attach to a towing vehicle and help you haul your gear and toys around, there are some differences between trailer types that can help determine which style will better meet your needs. Not surprisingly, your best choice will be guided a great deal by how you intend to use your trailer.
Cargo trailers are probably the most versatile trailer type on the market and can transport all kinds of stuff for recreation, work, business and your home—high value cargo, sports equipment like jet skis and ATVs, vehicles, motorbikes and more. Landscaping companies often use cargo trailers to safely transport and store their mowers and equipment, and construction companies will frequently use cargo trailers to keep tools, paint, supplies, and even some heavy equipment safe and out of the elements. Cargo trailers are also a good choice for electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other types of contractors.
One big benefit of a cargo trailer is security—security from theft and prying eyes, security from damage caused by the sun, rain, wind, snow, road debris and flying dust, and security from items flying off into the road. They also tend to be more aerodynamic on the road, with a better ability to cut into the wind at high speeds. Additionally, you have the option of customizing the inside of a cargo trailer with shelves, benches, sinks or desks, whatever you need to organize your tools and supplies—and your box trailer can even act as a billboard to advertise your company and add a professional appearance. Plus, cargo trailers often prove useful even when they’re not on the road, because they can be used a mobile office, as tiny, temporary housing or a camper, as a mobile storefront, and more.
Utility trailers include many style types, from horse trailers, car haulers, and motorcycle trailers to flatbed trailers and basic open-bed trailers. Since utility trailers don’t have an enclosed space, they’re generally easier to load with cargo. They’re ideal for hauling many types of equipment, small vehicles, supplies, furniture and also for hauling trash to the dump. These lightweight trailers are especially helpful for oddly shaped or extra-large items which may not fit within the walls of an enclosed cargo trailer. There’s no doorway or ceiling to worry about. Instead, it’s quick and simple to place items onto the utility trailer bed.
Dimensions being equal (length, width, construction type, etc.), open trailers are lighter than their enclosed trailer counterparts, thus making them easier to tow and maneuver, while allowing for tight turns and easier parking, with less strain on towing vehicle—which means they will affect your tow vehicle’s fuel efficiency less. Height is not an issue. With a utility trailer, you won’t have concerns about whether your cargo is too tall to clear the ceiling, plus, in most cases, you’ll have better visibility while towing—which comes in especially handy whenever you find yourself backing up. Utility trailers can also be also easier to maintain, wash and inspect. They can also be easier to store—something to consider
Summing Up: Utility trailers are better for short distances because they’re lighterweight lightweight and and offer load flexibility, which gives them an advantage for local hauling and everyday duties. But they are less aerodynamic. Cargo trailers have the advantage on longer distance trips because they provide added protection and security. But, they are more difficult to maneuver and will likely result in higher fuel costs in the city.
When it comes to choosing the best material for your cargo or utility trailer, you’ll want to consider strength, weight, maneuverability, maintenance requirements, longevity, and perhaps price and gas mileage. Steel is known for being strong, sturdy and more rigid than aluminum, though it’s important to note that aluminum trailers are not made from pure aluminum—like aluminum foil and pop cans—but rather from aluminum alloys that typically make them nearly as strong as steel. There’s not much question when it comes to weight. Aluminum is typically a third of the weight of steel, which can be greatly impact maneuverability, providing you with better control when driving over winding roads with sharp turns with a heavy load, while also putting less strain on your towing vehicle. Beyond that, the lower weight of an aluminum trailer also translates into a higher payload capacity, since you can load more weight into an aluminum carrier before reaching the GVWR of your trailer—the gross vehicle weight rating (see below). That lower weight can also translate into better gas mileage, though that’s not a given but rather depends on your load. As for longevity, aluminum is more prone to dents and dings, but is less prone to corrosion and rust—though both types of trailers will require routine maintenance to keep them in good shape. A steel trailer may require painting and rustproofing, and an aluminum trailer may require an acid bath.
When it comes to cost of purchase, steel trailers are clear winners in the short term. On the other hand, used aluminum trailers tend to have a better resale value. So, there’s lots to think about.
That’s a trick question because there’s really no “best” when it comes to utility trailer tires and cargo trailer tires, there’s only “best for what you’re using it for.” The difference radial ply and bias ply tires lies in the belt construction. Bias ply cords extend diagonally from bead to bead, crossing the tire at a 32-degree angle to the direction you’re traveling, with successive plies laid in a crisscross pattern. With radial ply tires, these cords run at a 90-degree angle, or across the tire, to the direction of travel. The difference in construction means that radial trailer tires are typically more flexible, which in many situations translates into better traction and stability. They also tend to run cooler, which can provide an advantage in longevity and in tread life. Bias ply tires are a better choice in harsher environments because they tend to have stiffer sidewalls, which makes them superior when it comes to use in agriculture, on country and unpaved roads, at slow speeds, and over rough terrain. They also tend to be cheaper.
In a nutshell, a trailer tire’s load range is how much the tire can carry, and load ratings are listed on the tire (letters B, C, D, E, etc.). The higher the letter, the higher the load rating, and the more the tire can carry. An older version of this measurement was known as ply ratings, during the period when load-carrying capacity was in large part determined by the number of plies a tire had. The number of plies is no longer relevant thanks to advances in tire manufacturing that allow equal strength, with fewer plies.
To determine the load rating, you also need to know the GVWR of your trailer—the gross vehicle weight rating, which includes the static weight of the trailer plus the maximum weight of cargo it can carry. For example, a trailer with a GVWR of 8,000 pounds, that itself weighs 3,000 pounds, can safely carry 5,000 pounds of cargo. In this example, you would want tires with a 2,000-pound load rating (4 x 2,000 = 8,000 lbs.)—though it’s always a good idea to some leeway, with some experts recommending figuring your actual GVWR to 15% less than the maximum, for safety.
Depending on how you’re going to be using your trailer, you may need to consider your trailer tires’ speed ratings. The speed rating probably isn’t a consideration for a work trailer that spends most of its days on city streets, but is more pertinent if you take your trailer on the highway. Tires speed ratings are expressed in letters. J, for instance is used for tires rated up to 62 miles per hour. M, indicates a speed rating of 81 mph. Most trailer tires, unless otherwise noted, are rated at 65 miles per hour as their max speed.
Also known as assemblies, rim and tire packages offer some advantages for both cargo trailers and utility trailers—for example, time savings. Getting wheels and tires for trailers together saves time both in selection and in installation. Additionally, with a tire and wheel assembly, there are no concerns regarding getting mismatched sizes because the tire is matched to the wheel. You don’t have to mount the tires to the wheels, you don’t have to install the valve stems (at least at Treadworld), and you don’t have to put the tires on the wheel. That has already been expertly done for you at the factory, where the tire and rim combos are also balanced.
Another advantage of trailer wheel and tire packages is the savings. First, the trailer tire wheel combo costs you less than buying the tire and the wheel, and the valve stem, separately. And second, you don’t have to pay to have the tire mounted on the wheel, or if you do it yourself, you still save the value of your time spent. You’ll find 22 different options for utility trailer tires and rims and cargo trailer tires and rims here at Treadworld—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our trailer tires and wheels.
When you’re looking for new trailer tires, or a spare trailer tire, or tire and wheel combos, count on us here at Treadworld to provide you with the high-performing, long-lasting trailer tires you can depend on for the long haul—in a wide range of styles and a huge selection of sizes. All our RubberMaster Trailer Tires are manufactured to strict tolerances from top rubber compounds, then triple-tested for quality, balance and uniformity before being X-rayed to be sure they’re perfect. All our dent-proof, crack-proof and virtually indestructible SteelMaster Wheels are manufactured from tough, durable steel then put through several quality checks to provide you with dependable quality. Expect easy ordering, and fast shipping, plus your satisfaction is guaranteed with our no-hassle Ultimate Advantage Warranty. Don’t hesitate to contact our tire experts via live chat or email with any questions you may have, and to get the ideal trailer tires—or the perfect ATV tires, UTV tires, lawn and garden tires, and many others—from our extensive selection. Or use our Treadworld Product Selector Tool to help you find exactly what you want.