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Grain Trailer Values Drop With Age

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. 

Ag hoppers (with higher clearance for driving in fields) are highly sought after, as are roll tarps (Shur-Lok brand tarps add value), pneumatic suspension, remote dumping (so you don’t have to get out of the cab to unload), and aluminum rims (to save on trailer weight). 

Values on Timpte trailers trail off slowly
The fact that trailers lose little value over their life is typical of another popular make of hauler. Analyzing 20 years of Timpte sales, I found that 40- to 42-foot-long trailers of this make that are 15 to 20 years old sell for only half the value of units that are 5 years old or younger, as is reflected in the following averages.

  • 1 to 5 years: $24,240          
  • 6 to 10 years: $18,857   
  • 11 to 15 years: $17,540   
  • 16 to 20 years: $12,583

This comparison is restricted to 40- to 42-foot-long Timptes. It was difficult to segment out trailer width and height, as these dimensions are not always listed in sales reports. To help you qualify the averages listed above, I pulled out the highest-priced trailers (determined either by age, appraised condition, or accessories) that sold by age group. Consider these examples as the upper limit you will want to pay for a trailer (by age) when shopping around.

  • $28,000 each was paid in February for two 2012 farmer-owned Timptes that sold in Minnesota rated as like-new. Both trailers had fewer than 3,300 original miles, were 42 feet long, 66 inches high, and were equipped with ag hoppers, a Shur-Lok roll tarp, and spring suspension.
  • $21,400 was paid for a 2007 40-foot-long, 66-inch-high Timpte that sold September 2013 in Indiana. It was equipped with ag hoppers, pneumatic suspension, fixed tandem axle, and almost-new rubber.
  • $19,400 was paid for a 2002 Timpte that sold in Wisconsin July 2013 that was 42 feet long and 78 inches high. It was equipped with aluminum rims, good tires, and brakes that were rated at 50%.
  • $14,800 was paid for a 1997 trailer that sold in August 2013 in Iowa that was 42 feet long and 78 inches high. It was equipped with aluminum and steel rims, spring suspension, a roll tarp, and tires rated as poor.


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