Get Ready for Summer Journey: Tips for Towing a Boat

Modern trailers allow you to tow a boat up to three tons. However, even when transporting a light fiberglass one, you should consider several crucial points to make the trip safe. Here are quick tips for those planning to tow a boat this season.

Requirements for towing vehicles

There is no relationship between the weight of the towing vehicle and the weight of the maximum loaded trailer. However, manufacturers of trucks and SUVs for towing designed to carry fewer than eight passengers specify a maximum permissible trailer and cargo weight. This usually assumes that the towing vehicle is only carrying the driver and a full fuel tank. The automaker can also indicate gross weight. In this case, you must not exceed either the total weight of the vehicle and trailer combination or the weight of the towing vehicle.

The Indy Auto Man car dealer experts recommend not to tow more than 85% of the car weight. Typically, this is significantly lower than the manufacturers’ maximum values. When towing a lot of weight, you risk damaging the suspension, the engine, and the trailer itself. In addition, an overloaded trailer will not make driving easier.

From a practical standpoint, it can be hard to determine the exact weight of a boat trailer – many boats are significantly heavier than the manufacturer’s stated figures. Also, be sure to factor in the additional weight of the trailer, spare parts, tools, engine, and personal items. They can add up to 50% of a boat’s weight.

Trailer requirements: things to consider

Water, especially salty, negatively impacts the condition of wheel bearings and brake systems and accelerates corrosion of the chassis. In this case, the frequency of vehicle and trailer maintenance increases.

Trailer tires wear out much faster than their stated service life. So don’t forget to change them.

Bearings are often a problem if hubs become submerged in water. Avoid lowering the trailer into water when the bearings are hot to minimize damage. Sealed bearings found on modern trailers are more resistant to water penetration. However, their disadvantage is that you can’t remove and clean them like the old conical ones.

The standard vehicle lighting system is only suitable for trailers below 80 inches wide and 30 feet long. If your boat is bigger than this, you will need additional lights and reflectors. It’s also worth noting that trailer lights are unreliable – check them whenever possible.

Boat restraint is also vital in keeping it in place, both during impacts and in the event of an accident. Ratchet straps are quick to install and easy to access but not strong enough.

Trailers without brakes

Trailers with a maximum authorized weight of less than 3,000 pounds do not require the installation of a braking system. However, you can only tow an unbraked trailer if its maximum permissible weight is less than half the curb weight of the vehicle. This could cause the figure to be lower than many drivers expect. For example, you can’t use a mid-size family sedan with a curb weight of 2,950 lbs to tow an unbraked trailer over 1470 lbs.

Towing a Boat: Tips Checklist

  • Tow the boat using a suitable vehicle with dedicated towing capabilities. Tow the boat using a suitable vehicle with dedicated towing capabilities. For example, sway control and automatic load leveling.
  • Conduct a complete safety check of the vehicle, trailer, and locking mechanisms before setting off. Make sure the towing vehicle and trailer are properly connected. This includes inspecting the plug, hitch, brake cable, and safety ropes or chains.
  • When the boat is loaded on the trailer, check the bow strap and safety chain to ensure they are securely fastened. Step aboard and inspect anything that is not fully protected. Life jackets, empty coolers, and loose clothing are all items that can fall out of the boat. If there is any heavy equipment, center it in the boat as close to the trailer axle as possible.
  • Nose weight should be approximately 10-15% of the total load but should not exceed the maximum specified by the manufacturer for your vehicle. If the nose weight is incorrect, the trailer may sway and wobble. If you notice this, stop immediately and adjust the load.
  • Check load distribution. Make sure your tow vehicle’s load is level.
  • Unload the boat, trailer, and vehicle as much as possible. That extra weight you’re carrying can significantly increase your braking distance.
  • Complete one last check before heading out on the road. Make sure the brakes, chassis, tail and indicator lights are working.
  • Turn as wide as possible to avoid hitting curbs or other obstacles. If multiple turn lanes are available, use the outside lane.
  • If a gust of wind pushes the boat trailer to the side, put your foot off the accelerator. To reduce the effect, do not apply the brakes.
  • Check the wheel hubs. If they are hot, the bearings will not function properly. Get them repaired immediately, or you may experience bearing failure while driving.
  • Do not remove the winch strap and safety chain until the boat is in the water. If you remove the belt and chain too early, it may slip and cause damage.

If you follow all the above rules, towing a boat will not become a challenge and your summer trip will be a pleasure.