7 Tips for Renting a Semi-Trailer

April 21st, 2021

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There are many factors to consider when you’re thinking about renting a semi-trailer. Whether you’re working on a short-term project, traveling for work, or just need a semi-trailer for the day, rentals are always a convenient option. Here are a few reasons you may want to consider a rental trailer:

  • You need a storage trailer for a limited time
  • Your company wants to take advantage of yearly tax benefits
  • You need a trailer for a short-term contract or project
  • Your business needs a specific technology but is not ready to invest long-term

Now, before scheduling a semi-trailer rental, you’ll want to narrow down a few things. There are different types of trailers for different purposes. Storage trailers, mobile offices, and heavy haul trailers are just a few examples. You can also opt for a short-term rental or a long-term rental, depending on how long you’ll need to keep it. Let’s explore some of the points to be considered when renting a semi-trailer.

1. Find the Right Semi-Trailer Rental for Your Needs

As stated above, there are multiple types of semi-trailers. Before you pay for a semi-trailer rental, you’ll want to narrow down what your business needs to accomplish with the trailer. What type of goods or equipment will you be transporting? Are you hauling oversized equipment or shipping perishables? Do you need access to a specific technology? Do you need to stay within certain semi-trailer rental prices? Once you sort out your needs and budget, finding a commercial trailer rental that matches your requirements will be much easier.  

2. Keep Specific Needs in Mind for Certain Models

Now that you’ve determined what you will need from the trailer, let’s review the type of freight each trailer type is meant for:

  • Dry Vans: Suitable for non-perishable food and liquids, textiles, plastics, cars, and housing relocation
  • Reefer: Ideal for any freight that needs its temperature controlled. Your freight may include pharmaceuticals, perishable foods and beverages, and tobacco products
  • Tankers: Safe for any flammable or potentially toxic freight such as liquids, gases, chemicals, or fuel; additionally, pneumatic tanks can transport dry bulk materials like sand, clay, or plastic pellets
  • Dump: Use for projects that require aggregate, such as rocks, gravel, sand, or garbage, metal, and other construction materials
  • Lowboy: Designed to fit tall, heavy, or wide equipment, such as excavators

Before you commit to semi-trailer leasing, you’ll want to confirm the rental company has the type of trailer that will keep your freight safe.  

It’s also possible that you’ll need access to certain technology. One benefit of semi-trailer leasing is that the trailers are consistently upgraded with advanced technology and equipment. Some features you may want to be included in your lease are:

  • Temperature control and tracking
  • Self-steering axles
  • Anti-corrosion technology

Lastly, it is highly beneficial to identify the conditions along your route. Road type, condition, weather, and distance can all be accounted for in the type of trailer you choose. More specifically, if you plan to be driving in winter weather, you’ll want to pick a trailer that is well suited for extreme weather conditions. And if you are traveling across the country, a trailer with GPS may be more fitting.

3. Make Sure You Have a Truck to Go with the Trailer

One important thing to note when renting a trailer is that you will need to have a truck prepared to haul the trailer. If you do not have a truck, you may want to look into tractor-trailer leasing or a semi-truck and trailer rental. You’ll need to be aware of the specific size and weight guidelines from the U.S. Department of Transportation. There may also be state and local requirements that go along with each semi-trailer and truck combination. Take note of the guidelines in your area before choosing a truck and trailer combination. To make it easier, let’s review each commercial truck configuration:

Illustration of the most common commercial truck configurations.
  1. Combination Trucks: These “18-wheelers” are five-axle semi-trailers. Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll either use a truck with a sleeper cab or a day cab. The freight-carrying unit can be between 40 and 53 feet long. However, some states allow semi-trailers to reach 59 feet and 6 inches.
  2. Straight or Single Unit Trucks: This commercial freight vehicle is ideal for tasks such as beverage delivery, parcel delivery, concrete mixing, construction debris dumping, trash compacting, and snow plowing. You’ll find that the vehicle chassis and power unit are permanently attached.
  3. Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs): Unless you’re in a state that permits freight trucks exceeding 80,000 pounds, you won’t necessarily see these regularly. They have three- or four-unit combinations that allow one long trailer up to 48 feet or three shorter trailers.

Some notable provisions found in the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982 include:

  • States cannot impose a length limitation on a truck tractor-semi-trailer combination that is less than 48 feet.
  • On a trailer or semi-trailer operating as part of a truck tractor-semi-trailer combination, states cannot impose a length limitation of fewer than 28 feet.
  • States may not ban truck-tractor semi-trailer commercial vehicles.
  • States may not limit the total length of a commercial vehicle operating as part of a truck tractor-semi trailer-trailer or truck tractor-semi trailer combination.

4. Check That the Trailer Properly Hooks Up to Your Truck

You may think that nothing could be worse than showing up to a trailer that does not hook up properly with your truck. Nevertheless, driving away with an unsecured trailer can be dangerous and detrimental to your freight. Before you leave, you’ll want to do a thorough inspection to make sure the trailer is in place and ready for the road ahead. You can prevent a mismatched trailer-truck combination by checking beforehand that the trailer is compatible with the trucks on your fleet. Refer to the guidelines from the U.S. Department of Transportation listed above for a complete overview of acceptable combinations.

5. Consider How Long You Need the Semi-Trailer Rental

Semi-trailer rentals typically offer a variety of rental terms. Determine if your company needs a weekly, monthly, annually, or multi-year contract. Then, check to see if the trailer you need is available for the appropriate amount of time. It’s also important to check the maintenance options your rental company offers on rentals. Oftentimes, they’ll range from net-net to full-service maintenance. But the length of the lease will determine the amount of maintenance you’ll want to sign up for.

If your fleet needs a commercial trailer for a year or more, you may want to consider the benefits of buying vs. leasing a semi-trailer. Commercial trailer leasing is best for:

  • Seasonal use
  • Short-term routes or new accounts
  • Maintenance and road service included with your rental
  • Regular upgrades and access to equipment that’s only needed in the short-term
  • Spending less up-front

If those don’t apply to you, buying a semi-trailer may be the better option. Some of the benefits of buying a trailer include:

  • Expanding your company’s assets
  • Paying less overtime on various rentals
  • Always having the semi-trailer available for use

6. Inspect the Rental Before You Drive Off the Lot

Inspecting your semi-trailer rental before you leave can save you the headache of having to return to the leasing office. It also helps prevent any surprises when you go to drop it off. Go through this inspection checklist when you arrive to pick up your rental:

Illustration of checklist to use before deciding on renting a specific semi-trailer.
  1. Check the trailer-truck compatibility: Of course, trailer compatibility is essential to verify. Always make sure you are getting what you requested.
  2. Test the electrical components and technology: This includes lights, hydraulics, sensors, climate control, refrigeration, and other requested add-ons. The process will also help you confirm that you are getting the technology you need.
  3. Take note of any pre-existing damage: Check that your brakes, wheels, and other general functions are working and ready to go. With rental trailers, it’s always best to make sure the last driver didn’t leave any wear and tear. This is a matter of your safety and your liability for damages.

7. Choose a Reliable Dealer

When the safety of your fleet is on the line, choosing a trustworthy and high-quality dealer is vital. You can start by checking reviews of your local trailer and truck dealerships. Then, talk to someone at the dealership about their policies and inventory. Remember there is nothing wrong with visiting multiple locations and evaluating semi-trailer rental rates before making a final decision. Selecting the right dealership ensures a much smoother rental experience.

Visit Hale Trailer for Your Semi-Trailer Rental Needs

Expertise and quality service should not be overlooked when deciding where to rent your semi-trailer. When you visit Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel, Inc. you’ll be met with both. Our friendly team is comprised of trailer experts who know what it means to provide a top-of-the-line semi-trailer rental experience. Our 12 convenient locations and vast inventory guarantee you’ll get the trailer you need. Browse our semi-trailers for rent to find the right semi-trailer for your project and fleet needs. Contact us to learn more about renting a semi-trailer and the perks that come with it!

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