Quality Control 3

Purchasing a trailer is no small decision. It’s important to consider several factors so that you are not only getting a great price, but you’re also getting a great trailer for that price.

Not all side dumps are created equal. That’s why we’ve created a blog series to highlight a few key criteria you should use to evaluate which side dump trailer is right for your needs, even if it’s not a SmithCo Side Dump.

Many side dumps look similar from the outside, but inside the frame rails, it’s a different story. Make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck by looking at the following:

Frame Cross Members

Some manufacturers cut corners to save weight and manufacturing costs by using thin-walled tubing/pipe. This might save you money in the short term, but it will cost you in the long run: thin-walled tubing or pipe will fail.

King Pin Plate

Side dump trailers exert significant forces on the king pin plate that other trailer types do not experience. SmithCo recommends a 3/8” thick king pin plate on over-the-road side dump trailers with thicker plates for off-road units. Some manufacturers use ¼” thick king pin plates, which will warp over time, causing them to fail DOT regulations.

Hoses and Electrical Connections

Watch for the following:

  • Does the side dump manufacturer use DOT approved brake hoses connected to the brake cans, or are they using lower-quality Synflex tube?
  • Are non-light harness electrical connections housed in weather-tight enclosures, or are they in the open to the elements?
  • Does the trailer use larger diameter hydraulic hoses to ensure proper hydraulic oil flow, or smaller diameter hoses to cut costs? (Remember, the dumping speed of a side dump is dependent on oil flow gpm.)


  • Think twice about trailers that have “off brand” tires. They might be cheaper now, but they won’t last as long, and you will be replacing them often.
  • Be wary of manufacturers that claim you can carry the same weight on super single tires mounted on offset wheels as you can with a set of dual tires. A super single tire mounted to an offset wheel will NOT have the same capacity as a set of 22.5 or 24.5 tires in a dual configuration. Tires that exceed their capacity not only put the tire at risk, but also put the driver at risk of a DOT fine.

Frame Flange

How the frame beams are constructed is vital. Avoid frames that are built with ¼” frame flange. While less expensive and lighter, side dumps built with ¼” flange are not strong enough to withstand the stresses a side dump frame goes through. It’s not uncommon for trailers with this type of lighter construction to suffer large-scale frame failures.

      When making a sizable investment in your equipment, you want to be confident in your decision. Quality equipment is built by true craftsmen and will run for years with minimal maintenance.

      Learn more about the components of SmithCo trailers in our Learning Center.

      Don't miss the other blogs in our Look Beyond Price series:

      If you want more information on what sets SmithCo side dump trailers apart, please contact us at 800-779-8099 or sales@sidedump.com.

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