Should You Rent, Lease, or Buy a Flatbed Trailer

The only consistency in the year 2020 is that things have been pretty uncertain. If you need to move products from your business to other points in the country, the addition of a flatbed trailer to your fleet may seem a good idea. However, there are decisions you need to make before you settle on that purchase.


What Are You Moving?


The articles you’re moving will have an impact on the type of vehicle that you invest in. If you’re moving anything that needs to be kept at a particular temp or humidity level, a reefer truck is a great choice, but it’s risky and expensive to use it to haul anything else.


If you’re hauling items that can be strapped down and don’t require temp or humidity requirements, a flatbed can be a valid investment. Depreciation is always an issue, and once you own it, you own the maintenance, theft and vandalism risk, and wear and tear as well.


How Often Are You Shipping These Items?


Your volume of product and shipping frequency should have a large impact on your decision. Experts with Hale Trailer recommend,  “…a rental if your shipping frequency is only once or twice a month, renting or leasing a trailer may be a better choice.”


Modern transport tools feature many sensor options to make sure that

  • the tire pressure levels
  • location
  • weight limitations


can be checked from anywhere. Owners will appreciate the chance to trace their transport loads, and these tracking devices can lower the risk of theft.


Where Will You Store Your Trailer?


Storage is critical if you intend to buy. Sunlight is hard on tires and can dry out the lumber on the bed of your trailer. Moisture is hard on sensors and can lead to corrosion of the trailer framing. One of the nice things about buying a trailer is that it will likely have a lot of life left once you pay it off, but if it’s not protected from the elements, it may start to break down while you’re still servicing the debt.


If you’re building up to a heavier delivery schedule, you might prefer semi flatbed rentals until you’ve built up the shipping requirements to justify buying a trailer.


Paperwork / Taxes


Both buying and renting a trailer can give you a tax deduction, but owning it will also give you a depreciation break. Again, utilization and storage are key. Every day the trailer is sitting outside, it’s making you no money and may be racking up repair expenses. If it’s sitting inside a storage barn, it may be costing you rent.


However, if your facility allows you to store the trailer inside and not cost you anything in terms of workflow, this option to load the trailer undercover may benefit workflow and protect your investment.


Rental Benefits


A rental trailer can help you cover new accounts or one-time deliveries. Once the account is solid and the business is secure, a purchase may be called for. Rental trailers can also be a good choice during a heavy shipping season. Finally, if you’re hauling goods through rough terrain or on two lane roads that don’t offer a lot of flexibility, renting a smaller trailer may keep your driver and goods safer.


Renting is also a good option if you like to track technological improvements or have specific leveling requirements. Every new generation of technology makes transport safer, and not every system can be easily upgraded.


Making Your Choice


If your shipping needs and capital options are directing you toward a purchase, your first decision is to buy used or new. A used trailer can be a good deal if you either have a good repair shop in mind or know the seller. In any case, take it to get inspected and be prepared to pay for the inspection even if you don’t buy it. The purchase you walk away from can sometimes be a great deal!


Once you’re sure a used rig will work with your trucks, check out

  • electrical components
  • frame
  • wheels
  • tires
  • brakes if applicable
  • bed
  • strapping platform


The bigger and more complicated the trailer, the more intense your inspection process will need to be.


Your business needs flexibility and the chance to move your products efficiently. If you’ve got a steady transport requirement, a trailer you can schedule and control can be a great investment.


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