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9 Utility Trailer Upgrades to Get You Through Winter

A red canoe loaded onto a truck trailer by a river

For many outdoor activities, there’s a trailer specifically designed to haul the associated gear. If you only have a couple of hobbies, motorcycle or car trailers may be ideal, but overall, utility trailers are more versatile. Buying a utility trailer is a good start, but many are minimally equipped to get you and your gear down the road. While you wait for spring to put your trailer into action, check out these nine DIY utility trailer upgrades to make during your winter downtime.

1. Trailer Breakaway System

Most states require breakaway systems on larger trailers, but even small runaway trailers can be a hazard on the road. One good option is a breakaway system with electric brakes that can be mounted to any trailer.

2. LED Lighting

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are more shock and vibration resistant than incandescent bulbs, making them perfect for bouncy trailers. Modern LED lighting fixtures can often be directly swapped to replace existing incandescent fixtures.

3. PVC Pipe

PVC pipe is a versatile construction material. If you regularly carry long items, like molding, corner guards or fishing rods, mount PVC pipe horizontally along the trailer sides. When mounted vertically with open tops, PVC pipes can be used for hauling rakes, shovels and fishing rods, too. Large-diameter PVC pipe can be cut to build solid storage for ratchet straps, ropes or cargo nets.

The humble D-ring is one of the most important utility trailer upgrades.4. Tie-Down Points

You can’t have enough tie-down and tie-off points on a utility trailer. Marine cleats are great for rope tie-downs and can help you cinch a load tight. D-rings are another great addition and can be mounted on the walls and floors for ratchet strap hooks.

5. E-Track Systems

E-track systems offer a lot of functionality. The rails bolt into the floor or walls parallel to each other. Then, compatible ratchet strap tie-down points can be mounted anywhere on the rails for custom load securing. The wood beam socket can be used to place a load separator to keep items from shifting during transit.

6. Cargo Net

Even tied down, some loads have the tendency to shift and loosen. To keep everything in the trailer, use heavy-duty cargo netting. Install appropriately spaced D-rings to match the net’s tie-off points, then store the net in one of the pipes or in the toolbox.

7. Loading Ramps

Loading wheeled toys and equipment is much easier with ramps, but not all utility trailers come with them. Some 2-by-6 or 2-by-8 lumber and ramp fixtures make loading lawn mowers and quads easier.

8. Boat Winch

A boat winch is a great utility trailer upgrade. Use the winch and a set of ramps to self-load a quad, lawn tractor or other heavy loads. Do not use the winch to secure the load — that’s what ratchet straps are for.

9. Toolbox

Miscellaneous parts, accessories and tools need a home, too. Toolboxes are available in many sizes and configurations. Some mount on the tongue, bed or fender. Choose one that fits your needs, and fit it with a weather-resistant lock.

When making utility trailer upgrades, consider what type of fasteners you use. Nails and screws will loosen, but carriage bolts with locking nuts work for most applications and are available in many sizes. When possible, bolt accessories directly to the metal parts of the trailer for the most secure connection.

Check out all the trailer and towing products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on utility trailer upgrades, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Benjamin Jerew View All

Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.

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