Ask H&H: checking the identity of a trailer

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  • Q: I’m about to buy a second-hand trailer and would like to know how to check the age and identity of a potential purchase. Where should I look for the manufacturer’s plate and what should I do if the trailer doesn’t have one?

    IN the UK, horse trailers do not require registration documents like cars and other vehicles, but to combat theft all new trailers are security marked during manufacture and given a unique serial number. This is usually on the manufacturer’s plate and can be used to confirm a trailer’s age and identity.

    Ifor Williams, Richardson and Rice trailers have the serial number stamped on the A-frame, on Ifor Williams’s trailers it is on top of the right-hand drawbar A-frame. To find out the year of manufacture, contact the maker, or the National Plant & Equipment Register (TER) for trailers built since 1995, with this number.

    TER has an international database and helps the police with the identification and recovery of stolen equipment on behalf of owners and insurers.

    If you’re looking at a different make of trailer and cannot locate the serial number, call the manufacturer or TER, while standing next to the trailer, to find out where it should be sited. If you find out it has been removed or tampered with, don’t buy the trailer, as it’s likely to be stolen and will be confiscated if its true identity becomes known by the police or an insurance company.

    Many makes of trailer also have the serial number stamped into the chassis — check that this matches the number on the A-frame and be wary if it does not. However, Ifor Williams uses a different chassis code comprising a letter or number followed by a plus or minus sign and a further five numbers on its trailers. This is cross-referenced to the serial number on the company’s database and can be used to check on the legitimacy of a trailer via its customer care department.

    As well as operating its own database, Ifor Williams has registered all new trailers with TER since the company set up its database in 1995. Of the 9,900 trailers currently on TER’s stolen equipment database, 2,725 are horse and stock trailers. Potential purchases can be checked for a fee of £25 by calling the helpline.

    Trailer buying tips:

    View the trailer at the seller’s premises, not in a car park or other public place.

    Always ensure the seller has proof of ownership of the trailer and that the manufacturer’s plate has not been tampered with.

    Either ensure the serial number is the same as the number stamped on the chassis, or with Ifor Williams trailers call the company with the chassis code to confirm identity.

    Don’t be tempted by a ridiculously cheap trailer — it could well have been stolen. To find out a realistic asking price for a trailer, either check local papers and manufacturers’ websites or call TER, which has set up a price guide for used trailers.

    Ask for a signed receipt with the seller’s address.


    Ifor Williams customer care Tel: 01490 412626 www.iwt.co.uk
    The National Plant & Equipment Register Tel: 01225 464599 www.ter-europe.org

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (1 February, ’07)

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