Towing & Trailering
Trailering can add new dimensions to the sense of freedom that comes with boating, and that's one of the reasons it’s so popular. With a trailerable boat, you're free to boat on just about any lake, river, bay or inlet. Trailering is great way to explore different waterways in your state or region it’s also the most affordable way to store your boat. The tips below can help you learn all about towing and boat trailer maintenance.
Look for Certified Trailers
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) operates a trailer certification program to help boat trailer manufacturers comply with established industry standards and federal safety regulations. The NMMA Certified Trailer program gives boat trailer owners peace of mind, by helping them identify trailers that comply with applicable federal highway regulation, industry standards and State brake requirement. Trailers are certified in several areas, including of VIN plates, capacity ratings, couplings, safety chains, lighting, winches, brakes, and registration procedures.
Highly trained third-party inspectors visit the manufacturer each year and physically inspect boat trailer models, ensuring compliance to all certification requirements.
You can view our complete list of certified trailer manufacturers for more information.
If you've never trailered a boat, there are several things you need to consider. First, determine the towing capacity of your car, truck or SUV. You can find this information in the owner's manual of your vehicle. Usually compact family sedans are not suitable for towing more than a small, aluminum fishing boat or PWC with a properly mounted hitch and lighting plug . Most standard pick-up trucks and SUVs can trailer boats up to 25 feet, but always consult your vehicle owner's manual for limitations.
The owner's manual or sales brochure of your boat will list the "dry” weight of the boat, less engine(s) fuel, coolers, gear, etc. When you're assessing your vehicle's towing capacity, be sure to add several hundred to several thousand pounds to the dry weight to account for the engine(s), fuel, coolers, gear and other accessories that every boater seems to accumulate.
As the weight, length and beam (width) of a given boat increase, so does the muscle power needed to launch and retrieve it. A small boat may be easy for one person to handle at the ramp, but larger boats (generally those more than 25 feet) may require additional hands. Don't be afraid to ask for help at the ramp if you need it, trailer boaters are always happy to help.
Consult Your State Laws
Trailering laws vary somewhat from state to state. Special requirements may apply and often are based on weight and beam
Boat Trailer Maintenance
Trailer hubs and lights are submerged twice every time you go boating. An essential element of boat trailer maintenance is to pamper them as you would your boat. Make sure to do an occasional inspection by inspecting the grease fittings on the hubs. Remove the rubber cap if there is one, then try to rock the grease fitting back and forth. If it rocks, you need more grease. Any service station can add it quickly and cheaply in a matter of minutes.
When you trailer your boat, it’s a good idea to stop periodically and lightly and quickly pat the wheel hubs. If they are too hot to touch, Your hubs need grease at least, and possibly replacement.
Check your lights before each trip. Have a friend or family member stand behind your trailer while you activate the brake lights, headlights and turn signals.
If you boat in saltwater, thoroughly rinse your trailer, paying special attention to the brakes, axles, hubs and bunk mounts.
Many trailers don’t come with a spare tire and none come with a jack. Sometimes your car jack will lift it. And, sometimes your car’s tire tool will loosen and tighten the lug nuts. Be sure they’ll work before you need them.
When your boat is off the trailer, inspect trailer bunks or rollers to be sure the padding on the bunks is not worn or embedded with grit or gravel, or if you trailer has rollers, make sure they all spin freely.