What Size Trailer Do I Need to Haul a Car? (6 Helpful Examples)

Choosing the right trailer size is crucial when planning to haul a car.

Taking into account the vehicle’s dimensions and towing capacity is essential for safe and efficient transportation. In addition, it’s important to understand the various trailer options available, such as U-Haul auto transport trailers, which have a maximum load towing capacity of 5,290 lbs.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with CCC. Here’s a guide to understanding CCC numbers for trailers.

Minimum Size of Car-Carrying Trailers

The trailer needs to be at least as long and wide as the car itself, plus some additional room for safety.

Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Length: The trailer should be long enough to accommodate the entire length of the car, with some room to spare. For most cars, a trailer that is 16 to 20 feet long should suffice. Larger vehicles like SUVs or trucks may require a trailer of 20 feet or more.
  2. Width: The trailer should be wide enough for the car to fit comfortably, with enough room on each side for securing the car and protecting it from potential damage. A width of 7 to 9 feet is typically sufficient for most cars.
  3. Loading Ramp: Remember that the trailer should have a loading ramp or a tilt mechanism for getting the car onto the trailer. The ramp should be wide and strong enough to support the weight of the car as it’s driven onto the trailer.
  4. Weight Capacity: Perhaps most importantly, the trailer needs to have a weight capacity that exceeds the total weight of the car. This includes the weight of the car itself, plus any fuel or other items inside the car. Be sure to check the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the trailer to ensure it can safely carry the car’s weight.
  5. Wheel Chocks and Tie-Down Points: The trailer should have wheel chocks and multiple points for attaching tie-down straps. These are crucial for safely securing the car during transport.

Always check the specific dimensions and weight of the car you plan to transport, and ensure the trailer is suitably sized and equipped to handle it safely.

If you load your trailer too much it will shorten the lifespan of the trailer. Here’s a guide to how long a cargo trailer lasts.

Average Dimensions of Each Car Type

There is a wide variety within each category and the specific model of the car can significantly influence its dimensions.

  1. Compact Cars (e.g. Honda Civic):
    • Length: 175-180 inches
    • Width: 67-70 inches
  2. Midsize Sedans (e.g. Honda Accord, Toyota Camry):
    • Length: 190-194 inches
    • Width: 71-73 inches
  3. Full-size Sedans (e.g. Chevrolet Impala):
    • Length: 195-200 inches
    • Width: 72-75 inches
  4. SUVs (e.g. Toyota Highlander):
    • Small SUV:
      • Length: 167-170 inches
      • Width: 70-72 inches
    • Midsize SUV:
      • Length: 185-190 inches
      • Width: 74-76 inches
    • Full-size SUV:
      • Length: 190-210 inches
      • Width: 75-80 inches
  5. Pickup Trucks (e.g. Ford F-150):
    • Length: 210-230 inches
    • Width: 75-80 inches
  6. Vans (e.g. Honda Odyssey):
    • Minivan:
      • Length: 190-205 inches
      • Width: 75-78 inches
    • Full-size Van:
      • Length: 200-224 inches
      • Width: 78-80 inches

Again, these are general averages and specific vehicle models can vary in size. Always refer to manufacturer specifications for exact dimensions.

Trailer Types

When it comes to hauling a car, several different types of trailers are available.

Determining the best option for your needs typically depends on the size and weight of the car, as well as the towing capacity of the vehicle you’re using to tow the trailer.

Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed trailers are a versatile option for hauling cars.

They feature an open, flat deck, allowing for the transport of various vehicle sizes and shapes.

Some key points to consider when selecting a flatbed trailer include:

  • Towing capacity: Check your towing vehicle’s weight limit to ensure it can handle both the weight of the trailer and the car.
  • Trailer size: The size of the trailer should accommodate the length and width of the car you’re transporting. Flatbed trailers can range from small single-axle units to larger models.
  • Load capacity: A typical flatbed trailer can carry a weight ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 pounds.

Enclosed Trailers

Enclosed trailers provide added protection from the elements and potential damage during transit. They are ideal for hauling classic, luxury, or expensive cars.

Some factors to consider when choosing an enclosed trailer are:

  • Payload capacity: The trailer must be able to support the weight of your car. Enclosed trailers can have weight capacities ranging from 1,700 to 6,000 pounds.
  • Ventilation: Proper airflow is essential to prevent moisture buildup inside the enclosed space, which can cause damage to your car.

Read Also: What do thieves do with stolen trailers?

Tow Dolly

A tow dolly is a compact option for hauling front-wheel-drive cars. It lifts the front wheels off the ground, while the rear wheels roll on the road. When considering a tow dolly, keep in mind the following points:

  • Vehicle compatibility: Verify that your car is compatible with a tow dolly. Most front-wheel-drive cars are suitable, while rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicles often require additional preparations or the use of a car carrier instead.
  • Weight capacity: A typical tow dolly can support up to 5,000 pounds, but be sure to check the specific capacity of the unit you’re using.

Car Carrier

Car carriers, also known as auto transports, are specialized trailers designed specifically for hauling vehicles. They fully support the car off the ground, providing even greater protection during transit. When selecting a car carrier, consider the following:

  • Towing vehicle requirements: Ensure that your towing vehicle can handle the combined weight of the car, the carrier, and any additional equipment needed.
  • Load capacity: Carriers can handle weights ranging from 800 to 3,000 pounds.
  • Preparations: Properly secure the car to the carrier using appropriate tie-downs and safeties to prevent damage and ensure a safe transport.

Understanding the different trailer types will help you make an informed decision when choosing the best option for hauling your car. Assess your specific needs, including the size and weight of your car, as well as your towing vehicle’s capabilities, to find the ideal trailer for your situation.

Other Things To Consider

When selecting a car carrier trailer, it’s essential to consider the dimensions of the vehicle you’ll be hauling. Full-size SUVs have an average length of 16 to 20 feet and a width of about 6 to 7 feet. Keep these measurements in mind while exploring your options for a suitable car carrier trailer.

One option for hauling a car is a flatbed trailer. These trailers are typically available in lengths ranging from 16 to 20 feet, which should be sufficient for transporting most full-size SUVs. When selecting a flatbed trailer, it’s important to consider its load capacity as it’s based on axle ratings.

The two most common axle ratings for consumer-style car trailers are 3,500-pound and 5,000-pound.

  • Flatbed trailer
    • Length: 16-20 feet
    • Common axle ratings: 3,500-pound and 5,000-pound

Another option for hauling a car is an enclosed trailer. Enclosed trailers provide extra protection for your vehicle and are commonly available in lengths of 20 to 24 feet. Just like with flatbed trailers, pay close attention to the load capacity of the enclosed trailer to ensure that it can safely transport your full-size SUV.

  • Enclosed trailer
    • Length: 20-24 feet

While you’re considering a car carrier trailer, take into account the weight of the car towing equipment as well. This includes the weight of the trailer hitch and any necessary accessories.

For example, the weight of a tow dolly for towing a car ranges from 400 to 800 lbs, and the weight of a motorcycle trailer can vary from 100 to 600 lbs.

Legal Limitations

These limitations include weight limits and license and registration requirements.

Weight Limits

Check the maximum towing capacity, which is stated in the vehicle’s owner’s manual and/or in the door jamb. This maximum towing capacity must not be exceeded to ensure the safety of both the towing vehicle and the towed car.

In addition, some states require trailers equipped with brakes when the combined weight exceeds a certain limit, which can be as low as 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms).

When loading the trailer, remember to place 60% of the weight in the front half of the trailer closest to your towing vehicle. Secure the load with tie-downs to prevent it from shifting during transit.

License And Registration

When towing a car, it’s important to comply with license and registration requirements. In many areas, registration is required for trailers, particularly when they exceed a certain weight or size.

These requirements can vary by state or region, so be sure to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for specific guidelines. Additionally, some states may require a special towing license or endorsement on your driver’s license to tow a car.

In summary, understanding legal limitations when choosing a trailer to haul a car is essential to ensure you follow the rules and maintain safety on the road. Be aware of weight limits and license and registration requirements for your specific location.

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