What makes a trailer “commercial”?

Hi all: My team is looking to buy a new trailer and we want to put sponsor logos on it. I have been told that merely placed sponsor logos will qualify the trailer as commercial, even if it gets used solely for non-commercial purposes, also called “not for hire”.

We are a Michigan team but may travel to other states. The trailer will be titled and registered to the team and only towed by mentors.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated. If you can point me to specific regulations that would be helpful too.

Thanks, Chris.

I can point you to where the laws are, and you can probably do a little more searching and find the Michigan vehicle regulations that are derived from the laws

This stuff is all state specific, so what I know about Arizona motor vehicle laws, won’t apply, because you are in Michigan.

The use of sponsor logos is not part of the definition in the Michigan commercial vehicle code. If the combined Weight is more than 10,000 pounds then it could be a commercial vehicle from what I have read.

I have used trucks and trailers for over 30 years for business and none of those vehicles or trailers ever had a commercial plate.

This is my opinion and experience. Ask the SOS, DOT, review MI Law, ask an attorney ask the State Police. Don’t depend on what someone tells you.

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Seconded. We’re on our second trailer, both with logos, and we’ve never had an issue with commercial/non-commercial.

Now, that may just be luck because we’ve never been pulled over either. Note: We’re in Michigan.

I completely agree. Contact the highway dept, DOT, a lawyer who specializes in business law, etc.

Upon further reading of trailer regulations I now believe we are not considered a commercial vehicle. The three things to consider are: “for hire” status, GVWR and GCWR.

The first is self-explanatory, we are not being paid. There is no wording about what is painted on a trailer.

The second, GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), is the maximum weight of a vehicle and its contents as published by the manufacturer. If the GVWR of either the pickup OR trailer is > 10000 lbs then it qualifies as commercial. In my case my truck’s GVWR is around 5500 lbs and a tandem axle trailer is 7000 lbs. neither of these exceed 10000 lbs and so not commercial.

The last is GCWR, or gross combined weight rating. This the combined GVWR of both the tow vehicle AND trailer, and cannot exceed 26001 lbs to not be considered commercial.

It is the GVWR where the interpretations vary. If you take the GVWR to be total of both vehicles, then every single person pulling a tandem axle trailer would be considered commercial, that is unless your tow vehicle weighs less than 3000 lbs.

That’s my take.

I agree with your research and conclusion.

Our team’s concern with our trailer is insurance. Typically a trailer would be insured through the vehicle policy that is towing. That is how my personal policy is structured.

We have had several mentors tow our team trailer. I know that it is not listed on my policy. I do have several other personal trailers on my policy. They are all minimal add on’s to the policy.

I think a call to my insurance agent will be happening next week to see what coverage or exclusions apply. Michigan No-Fault is different from most other states in how coverage is applied.

We are not a 501 c3 and operate under our schools insurance and that discussion is above my paygrade. :stuck_out_tongue:

Can’t answer that specific question for you, but I can highly recommend R & R Trailers out of Three Rivers, MI. We purchased our new one from there a little over a year ago. To get the Force Elite customized was cheaper than purchasing a stock trailer from a dealer around here (MN). We added all the extras needed for hauling robots and our pit including an additional 6" height - well worth the money.

Here it is in all of it’s glory:


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