If you’re like us, you probably transport running and non-running 4x4s on a trailer fairly regularly. The process of getting your 4x4 on and off the trailer may seem like a simple task, but it can quickly become a nightmare if something goes wrong or you lose a ramp. Having loaded and unloaded many different car hauler and equipment trailers over the years, we’ve learned one thing for certain: loading ramps make your life a lot easier. Oh sure, your big-tired 4x4 can drive right up onto your trailer without ramps, but what about when it’s broken? Most car hauler trailers don’t come with ramps, but you can order them as an option. The ramps are typically stowed away where they rattle in carriers on the underside of the deck. Pulling them out and putting them back in gets old real quick, not to mention that they sometimes fall off when the trailer moves while loading your 4x4. We’ve even had a ramp jettison itself from the carrier on the highway. To make our life easier, we decided to convert our removable car-hauler ramps into something more like what you would find on an equipment trailer. With a welder and a few inexpensive bits of steel from your local metal supply shop, you can add adjustable folding loading ramps to just about any trailer.
Our Carson trailer had ramps that slide into ramp holders under the deck. The removable ramps are heavy and cumbersome to use. Over a particularly bumpy section of road, this pin fell out and one of our ramps shot out across the freeway.
Using our Miller welder and a chop saw, we built a matching replacement ramp from 3x2-inch and 2x2-inch 3/16-inch-thick steel angle iron.
We added a heavy-wall DOM tube to one end of each ramp. This will act as part of the hinge for our fold-up ramps. The inside diameter of the tubing is slightly larger than the 1-inch steel rod that will act as the other part of our ramp hinge. A few 2-inch welds is all that’s needed to keep the tubes in place.
You may or may not want to add a grease fitting to your ramps. It’s a good idea for wet and salted environments, but the excess grease will ooze out at about pant-leg, dog, and kid level.
We cut out four mounting brackets using a Miller 375 X-Treme plasma cutter. The brackets were then properly located on the trailer and welded into place. We used 3/16-inch steel for the brackets on our 7,000-pound trailer. You may want to use thicker material for trailers that are more heavy-duty.
The 1-inch solid steel rod is used to align the brackets on the trailer prior to welding. You can mount the brackets in different locations depending on how much ramp-width adjustability you need to fit wider or narrower vehicles on your trailer.
We installed the ramps on the trailer and used universal shock pin mounts to help hold them in place and give us more adjustability. The threaded portion of the shock pins have been cut off, and we drilled 5/16-inch holes for the lynch pins.
We used 1n 1/2-inch-wide 3/16-inch strap steel for our ramp supports. Multiple holes and pins give us more options for keeping the ramps in place. Generally, we’ll travel with the ramps in the vertical position. Some longer-wheelbase vehicles will require that our loading ramps be kicked back a bit for bumper clearance.
We mounted the license plate to the ramp for best protection. Most car-hauler license plates drag on the ground and get damaged regularly. You can even add a light. We used a welded washer on one end of the 1-inch steel ramp-hinge rod and a 1/4-inch lynch pin on the other so the ramps are still removable.
With the ramps moved all the way to the outside, we can easily load our wider 4x4s and other wide automotive projects. Trailer ramps for extra-heavy-duty applications should have supports that hit the ground when loading. This will keep the tow-vehicle suspension from unloading while driving up or down the back of the trailer.
With the ramps pushed in, we can load ATVs and other small vehicles. You can compensate for the weight of the ramps and ease lifting even more by installing trailer ramp torsion springs. They are available in different sizes and capacities for different weight ramps.