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What’s a transporter trailer?

A transporter trailer is a trailer designed to transport vehicles of all kinds from cars to forklifts to mining vehicles to motorbikes.

See our article on car transporters for the type of trailer that carries multiple cars – this article is focusing on generic transporter trailers.

Transporter trailers have ramps to load a vehicle. These are either fold-up ramps at the rear, or they detach and are stored on the deck or in a frame on or under the trailer.

A small transporter trailer is designed to tow one car or motorbike. It can be open or closed. These are commonly used to transport everything from large ride-on mowers through to race cars.

Bugatti in an enclosed trailer

Transporters and low-loaders or low boys

Heavy transporter trailers have heavy duty ramps and are often low-loaders so that the deck is as low, keeping the centre of gravity as close to the ground as possible.

Four-axle tractor unit being loaded to a low-loader transporter trailer
The gooseneck or step deck enables the front part of the trailer to sit over the fifth wheel on the tractor unit. The ramp allows vehicles to be driven onto the front portion.
Transporter trailers do not usually have sides. This is to enable them to carry oversized loads, if required.
On this trailer, the loading platform is not totally flat. The front has a small gooseneck at the front, while the rear drops away so that the loading ramps can be shorter while still maintaining a realistic gradient for loading items like road rollers with low grip metal drums rather than rubber tyres.
Wooden ramps and decks provide more grip when wet, but wear more quickly.

The gooseneck in the transporter trailer can be used to block the load and stop it sliding forwards, as you can see in this diagram

Bulldozer blade blocked against the gooseneck

Load security

Transporter trailers have chain rings and/or rope rails for attaching chains or ratchet straps. The gooseneck serves the same purpose as the headboard, allowing loads to be blocked against it, but the load will still need to be tied down securely.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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