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Grain Trailer Values Drop With Age

Machinery Insider 05/07/2014 @ 12:22pm The Successful Farming/Agriculture.com Machinery Insider is your source for all the latest auction price data and analysis on the used farm machinery marketplace.

Hopper-bottom grain trailers defy age when it comes to their resale values, I recently discovered. I was researching the values of Wilson Pacesetter DWH-500 series trailers before attending a truck and trailer sale, and I ended up with 353 auction reports of that model. I winnowed down my research to Wilson trailers built in the last 20 years, and then I crunched numbers to determine the average price for these grain haulers in the segments shown below.

  • 2013-2008 models: $24,300
  • 2007-2005 models: $22,250
  • 2002-1998 models: $16,956
  • 1997-1993 models: $14,785

Price spread over 20 years
Look at the first two averages. There is only a $2,050 difference between the two groups. Even after 15 or more years, Pacesetter average values depreciated a little less than $9,600.

For added measure, I took a look at the low/high price ranges for these trailers and found the following:

  • 2013-2008: $14,600-$33,000
  • 2007-2005: $16,600-$28,250
  • 2002-1998: $14,000-$20,350
  • 1997-1993: $11,000-$19,500

Again, notice how little difference there is between those values. Wouldn’t it be nice if tractors, trucks, and combines retained values so well? Unfortunately, their engines and transmissions wear more rapidly and are more expensive to repair than semitrailers’ tires, wheel bearings, and fifth wheels.

Dick Phelps of US Auctioneers, a national auction company that specializes in semitrucks and trailers, says, “The most common factors of trailer condition are often its wearables. This includes tires or rims as well as corrosion in the frame.” 

Phelps is adamant that you inspect any trailer you are considering. “If you can’t be there in person – if you are buying online, for example – then hire someone to inspect the trailer for you,” he says, “At the very least, call the auctioneer and ask about the condition of the trailer. Also, get the name of the seller and call to get information on how the trailer was used and maintained or if it suffered damage.”

Differences are considerable
A large part of your research prior to buying is narrowing your choice of trailers. Semitrailers, like semitrucks, vary considerably. 

A trailer is just a trailer, unlike some semitrucks, which can be sold with as many as three different makes of engines and several different transmissions. However, hopper-bottom dimensions vary considerably. 

Plus, there is a wide array of differences in how a trailer is equipped – aluminum vs. steel rims, spring vs. pneumatic suspension, 275/80R24.5 vs. 11R24.5R rubber. This doesn’t even touch the accessories, such as steel corners and catwalks and their impact on price. 

The preferred farm trailer is one that is 42 feet long by 96 inches wide with 66-inch-high sidewalls. That configuration provides for a loaded weight that is more easily pulled through fields or past (and under) smaller commercial elevator doors. 

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