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  1. #1
    tempest.runner's Avatar
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    Question Need some advice on what to look for when buying a trailer...

    I've been looking the last couple weeks for a Single Triton trailer with torrsion suspension. I found one for sale privately. The seller states that he had a SeaDoo HX but sold it recently because it died on him so now he's left with a trailer.

    I want to know what kind of questions I should be asking when inquiring about this trailer... He's told me that the trailer is in excellent condition and has brand new tires on it and the electrical is good also. It's a 2007. How do I know if this is a legitimate deal and not some stolen property? Do trailers have a serial number on them?

    Question for Ontario residents; since this is my first trailer that I would buy used, how do I transfer ownership over? Can I get plates for this before ownership is transfered?

    I'm hoping to pick it up either May 18th or 19th!

    Thanks guys!



    Some images of the trailer;
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  2. #2
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Trailers have a VIN number and an ownership slip, just like cars. If the trailer had an Ontario plate on it previously, it should be in the MTO database.

    Make sure the VIN plate/sticker is actually on the trailer, and the VIN number is readable.

    Go to your local MTO office with the VIN number, and ask them what they can tell you about the trailer. There might be a small fee for this.

    If the MTO data matches what the seller is telling you, then the trailer is probably a legitimate sale.

    If the MTO has no entry for the VIN, then it gets trickier. You would want to know where the trailer was previously plated (another province, or the US).

    Does the seller have the paid dealer invoice from when he purchased it?

    If it is a US trailer import, was it declared and taxes paid when it was imported? Was it inspected by Canadian Tire (yes, CanTire is the official trailer inspection agency for Border Services), and was the proper 'Form' stamped to indicate it had passed, and is now ready for plating in Canada? Those papers will be needed to get it plated at MTO.

    Make sure the Bill of Sale has all the details, including the seller's full legal name and address (ask to see their driver's license to check), the trailer make, model and description, VIN number, date of sale, price, etc.

    And your info - name, address, etc.

    Sample 1999 Triton VIN plate photo attached;
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  3. #3
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tempest.runner View Post
    I've been looking the last couple weeks for a Single Triton trailer with torsion suspension...

    I want to know what kind of questions I should be asking when inquiring about this trailer...

    He's told me that the trailer is in excellent condition and has brand new tires on it and the electrical is good also. It's a 2007...
    The Triton Elite is a very nice trailer - I have the Triton Elite double, and a Triton single with leaf springs - the torsion is a much nicer riding suspension.

    Under any normal use, the tires on a trailer will last for years, and will usually be retired from old age (five years) long before the tread has worn down. Are the tires really newer than the trailer? That would be suspicious

    The trailer VIN sticker has a manufacture date, and the DOT code on the tires also has a date code. Both should be similar dates/years, although it is common for the OEM tires to have been made well before the trailer, since they are often from China.

    Check that the tire type is the same as the type listed on the VIN sticker - same size and load range. Often folks do get upgraded tires from the dealer, but they should at least match the minimum tire spec'ed on the label.

    Electrical - it probably is in good condition overall, but check the white licence plate lamp - that one seems to fail more frequently.

    Make sure all the nuts and bolts are in place, especially for the bunk brackets and winch stand. The winch tower adjustment nuts are on the underside of the frame.

    There should be a simple owner's manual with it, and a warranty page. Even if the warranty has expired, if the seller has the papers that is a good sign.
    Last edited by K447; 01-23-2010 at 09:44 PM.

  4. #4
    tempest.runner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K447 View Post
    Trailers have a VIN number and an ownership slip, just like cars. If the trailer had an Ontario plate on it previously, it should be in the MTO database.

    Make sure the VIN plate/sticker is actually on the trailer, and the VIN number is readable.

    Go to your local MTO office with the VIN number, and ask them what they can tell you about the trailer. There might be a small fee for this.

    If the MTO data matches what the seller is telling you, then the trailer is probably a legitimate sale.

    If the MTO has no entry for the VIN, then it gets trickier. You would want to know where the trailer was previously plated (another province, or the US).

    Does the seller have the paid dealer invoice from when he purchased it?

    If it is a US trailer import, was it declared and taxes paid when it was imported? Was it inspected by Canadian Tire (yes, CanTire is the official trailer inspection agency for Border Services), and was the proper 'Form' stamped to indicate it had passed, and is now ready for plating in Canada? Those papers will be needed to get it plated at MTO.

    Make sure the Bill of Sale has all the details, including the seller's full legal name and address (ask to see their driver's license to check), the trailer make, model and description, VIN number, date of sale, price, etc.

    And your info - name, address, etc.

    Sample 1999 Triton VIN plate photo attached;
    Thanks for the response K447, as always you always have sage advice!!! I have one other question in regards to the VIN... what if the sticker with the VIN is scratched off the trailer? He doesn't have one on it. I asked why it doesn't, and he the seller stated he bought it from someone else. The VIN on the ownership is some madeup number and the MTO stated the trailer is registered as a homemade utility trailer. I contacted the police and they said they don't care since trailer isn't reported as stolen... I felt like they maybe didn't want the hassle...

  5. #5
    I'm not in Canada, but here in TX - they don't care and don't monitor trailer VIN. I can register anything as homebuilt.

    In terms of trailer care - check the lights yourself.
    The other item is trailer bearings. Lift a wheel. The wheel should turn 100% freely without any notches. Wiggle the wheel in/out - you shouldn't feel any play. If you feel play, the bearings need to be tightened slightly...

    Bearings are the #1 failure item - I go through them on every trailer if I'm towing more than 50 miles.

    Other than that, check out the bunks.. A trailer is pretty much a trailer.

  6. #6
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tempest.runner View Post
    ...in regards to the VIN... what if the sticker with the VIN is scratched off the trailer?

    He doesn't have one on it. I asked why it doesn't, and he the seller stated he bought it from someone else.

    The VIN on the ownership is some made up number and the MTO stated the trailer is registered as a homemade utility trailer.

    I contacted the police and they said they don't care since trailer isn't reported as stolen... I felt like they maybe didn't want the hassle...
    Sounds like the VIN sticker was removed on purpose - they generally don't just peel off by themselves.

    As you have discovered, with the VIN sticker removed, the authorities don't have a link to connect it to the original owner.

    Without the VIN sticker, it is pretty much un-traceable.

    At some point it may well have been stolen. You need to decide if you want to give the current seller money for it, and become part of that chain.

  7. #7
    tempest.runner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K447 View Post
    Sounds like the VIN sticker was removed on purpose - they generally don't just peel off by themselves.

    As you have discovered, with the VIN sticker removed, the authorities don't have a link to connect it to the original owner.

    Without the VIN sticker, it is pretty much un-traceable.

    At some point it may well have been stolen. You need to decide if you want to give the current seller money for it, and become part of that chain.

    Well, I went for it. I called the police multiple times to see if they were interested in finding out if it's stolen or not... I tried... but they don't care unless the VIN is flagged as stolen...



    $700....

  8. #8
    Reservoir Dawg BobOnThis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K447 View Post
    Sounds like the VIN sticker was removed on purpose - they generally don't just peel off by themselves.

    As you have discovered, with the VIN sticker removed, the authorities don't have a link to connect it to the original owner.

    Without the VIN sticker, it is pretty much un-traceable.

    At some point it may well have been stolen. You need to decide if you want to give the current seller money for it, and become part of that chain.
    Not quite..None of my trailers have the vin sticker on them and some have worn off or are unlegable. I usually repaint all my trailers and the stickers usually become a casuality of this process. In Ohio they just require a weight slip then you can take it to the bmv and they will issue you a registration under a home built trailer. If you worried about your trailer getting stolen, do as I do and stamp it somewhere only you would know with the last 4 of your social security and take a picture of it. Then if it ever gets stolen repainted..etc..you have some proof its yours.

  9. #9
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobOnThis View Post
    ... If you worried about your trailer getting stolen, do as I do and stamp it somewhere only you would know with the last 4 of your social security and take a picture of it.

    Then if it ever gets stolen repainted..etc..you have some proof its yours.
    Unless the trailer crosses your path some time after it is stolen, hidden ID markings without contact info don't help. The Police won't know what to do with the 'secret' code, and you won't know where the trailer is.

    If you are going to mark it, mark it in a manner that deters theft, like putting your phone number or other contact info on it, clearly visible. Then the thieves will see that someone has taken steps, and won't know what else you have done to make it difficult for them to resell, and easier to trace back to you.

    If you don't want to put your own contact info on it, there are companies that sell tracing plates and kits. The Police contact the issuing company with the code, and they connect the Police to you. UV readable markings, multiple hard-to-remove durable stickers, embossed markings - lots of ways to mark it.

    Even just stamping the VIN number into the frame in multiple places is a theft deterrent.

  10. #10
    Reservoir Dawg BobOnThis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K447 View Post
    Unless the trailer crosses your path some time after it is stolen, hidden ID markings without contact info don't help. .
    Exactly my point.. the only way your going to find YOUR stolen trailer is if YOU happen to see it somewhere..believe me..The police nor nobody else is going to care about your trailer. Buying vins or stamping it or anything else is not going to deture anyone..its all removable and fixable so no reason to waste the time and money on that stuff.

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