When towing a boat, many people simply load it on the trailer, hook it up to the vehicle and start the journey. It only takes them a few minutes to realize that towing a boat is a different ball game. ... read more The car’s handling, stability, maneuverability and many other factors change. The following boat trailer and towing tips will undoubtedly come handy to both a novice as well as an experienced boater.
1. Protection A boat is always under risk of damage when being towed. This is because it is designed to be used in water. This becomes even more critical when being driven on rough terrains, unbeaten path, or a road with too many potholes. The shock, vibration and bumps may damage the boat and also the inboard/outboard or outdrive motor. To minimize the damage use a transform saver, keel guard, skeg protector, and other boat supports during towing.
2. Braking You should always pay special attention to the braking system. Attaching a boat to the vehicle puts more stress on the tires, brakes and braking system. Rule-of-thumb states that when the weight of the boat and trailer exceeds 2000lbs, the trailer should have its owned distinct set of brakes. You may install the surge/ hydraulic or electric brakes. Remember, it will require a longer distance to stop.
3. Weight Distribution Poor weight distribution such as when a boat leans on one side or is tied unevenly will cause undue stress on the vehicle as well as driver. Always try to center the boat and redistributing the equipment on board the boat. The vehicle and boat should be perpendicular/parallel to the ground. In order not to overload the hitch, the tongue weight should be at least 10% of the weight of the trailer and boat. For example a 600-pound tongue will be suited for a boat and trailer weighing 6000lbs.
4. Harnessing Boats have been damaged or lost simply because of failing to secure it properly. A loose or broken strap/ cord led to the boat hitting the hard asphalt/tarmac or falling off the trailer. To avoid such incidences always use ratchet straps to secure the vessel. It’s also advisable to make sure the winch strap on the trailer is fastened to the bow eye. Walking-round the boat after short distances is highly advisable.
5. Speed To make sure the boat reaches the desired location in one-piece always adjust your driving habits to suit the situation. Avoid instant braking, sharp cornering or swerving, or speeding through the rough terrain. This will not only wear you out but also damage the boat. Towing pundits advise that the activities done during normal driving should be reduced by half when towing a boat. For instance reducing the speed by half.
Towing a boat in a safe and effective manner is more than just hooking it up to an SUV (sports-utility vehicle), or pick-up truck with lots of power and torque. It’s also about getting first-hand experience before hitting the road. For instance, you may try backing-up (reversing), turning or braking while at a safe location. Online resources and discussion forums also provide boat trailer and towing tips. Finally, never exceed the rated towing capacity. read less
Video presented by walleyeworkshop.com on how to maintain your boat trailer. You'll learn how to grease your trailer bearings, check tire pressure, lug nuts, lights and connections. ... read more
Video Transcript Hey, welcome back to Walleyeworkshop.com.
You’ve seen us do our preventive maintenance on our outboards and our kicker by changing the gear lube and changing the crankcase oil. .
Today, with a long trip ahead of us, we’re going to make sure the trailer is up to snuff for the long trip. We’re going to make sure we have grease in the bearings, make sure our lug nuts are tight, we’re going to make sure the tire pressure is where it is supposed to be, we’re also going to check our lights and our electrical. So let’s get going. .
Okay, so to do the bearings… this trailer is equipped with what we call, it’s like a bearing buddy, there’s like a grease zerk on the inside of the cap here, the dust cover. It’s right here. It’s kind of a spring-loaded system. So when you are putting the grease into the zerk, you’ll see the spring kind of collapsing and the zerk will come out a little bit. That spring will keep that grease forced into the bearing when you travel. .
If we zoom in on here, when we load it up, you’ll see that spring coming out. You don’t want it to come all the way out tell it stops. Maybe just before it stops. .
Alright, we have the grease in there. You can see that spring collapse most of the way toward the outside of the grease fitting here. So that one is good to go. All we need to do is check the air in the tire and tighten the lug nuts. .
Alright, one tire is complete. We did the grease. We checked the lug nuts and we checked the air. We’re next going to do the other three tires. Then we’re going to check our lights and our electrical connections. .
Okay, we have all the tires where we need them as far as the air pressure, and the grease and the lug nuts and all that good stuff. .
Now we’re going to check the lights. We’re going to get in the truck and we’ll check the running lights, the turn signals and the brakes. .
Alright, we did all the light checks. Because this trailer is basically brand new, we don’t have a lot of issues with corrosion or anything like that. But if you do have an older trailer, one of the ways you can prevent corrosion is with some dielectric grease. .
Anywhere you have a connection here, be it in the main part of the truck, or in your five prong or four prong connector, get some dielectric grease on that. That will prevent it from getting corroded while your in storage, or just while the boat is getting dumped underwater, or whatever you are doing. .
We don’t seem to have any trouble with that. .
If you do have connection problems, or some of your lights aren't working, 99 percent of the time you are probably looking at a grounding issue. Either you white wire is not making a good connection or your not getting a good connection between the truck and the trailer at the ball. So a lot of that is kind of simple stuff. You don’t want to wait until the day you are leaving to check on this stuff. .
Its two days before we leave for South Dakota. If we waited until the last minute, and we had a lighting issue, we’d end up leaving late because of it. .
So that’s about it. All this trailer maintenance is pretty simple. You don’t want to be that guy sitting on the side of the road with a blown bearing or getting a ticket because your lights are out. .
That’s it. Thanks for watch this week. Next week, not sure what we’ll be doing . But we’ll be doing something. We’ll be out in South Dakota. Maybe we’ll have some cool stuff from out there. .
Thanks for watching…See you! .
As a boat owner, knowing boat trailer towing regulations should be a priority. Once in a while, you may need to move your boat, Jet Ski, personal watercraft (PWC), or ... read more any other water craft via road. With the right tools and skills, you will manage to do it safely. However, matters get a bit complicated when you are towing across different states. In one state you will be abiding by the stipulated rules. But in another state, you will count yourself lucky if the only thing you get is a ticket. Regulations on towing a boat vary depending on the following factors:
Regulations of Towing Weight Towing regulations aim at addressing the additional weight. Towing a trailer adds pressure on the vehicle. More power and torque is demanded from the engine. The vehicle’s suspension and stability is affected. The effect is also felt on the brakes as well as road handling. The more the weight, the more the strain. It is prudent to match the vehicle to the correct trailer hitch. Class I - less than 2000lbs, Class II-less than 3500lbs, Class III – less than 5000 pounds and for more than 5000lbs but less than 10,000lbs use a Class IV trailer hitch. A hitch that is in good condition will remain in place throughout the tow.
Regulations on Trailer Lighting Towing a boat may cause inconveniences to other road users. First, you will be obstructing their view ahead. Second, you will have extended the distance they need in case they want to overtake you. Third, the trailer may have made the road narrower. To make their lives much easier, it is vital to ensure the boat and trailer is visible from all angles at all situations. All the brake lights, clearance lights, and turn signals should be working as required by law. The reflectors should also be clear and visible from a distance in any type of weather.
Requirements on Trailer Brakes One of the main reasons why boat trailer towing regulations exist is to ensure good braking procedures are followed. Most towing accidents are caused due to human error especially when braking. The driver either underestimates the weight of the trailer or the distance. A small trailer can rely on the vehicles braking system, but, larger trailers need to have their own brakes. What constitutes the legal requirements differs from region to region. In some states, the weight is set at 1000kgs (2200lbs), others it’s 1200kilograms (2600 pounds), while in some it is 1360kgs (3000lbs). The general rule however, is that the kerb weight of trailer plus boat should not be more than 85% of the towing vehicle.
Variance on Speed Your speed should reduce when towing a boat. This also applies to vehicles that have big and powerful engines. It is never so much about the ability to pull or tow, but more of being able to stop in time and safely. Lower speeds allow the driver to control the vehicle better. It also puts less stress on different components such as hitch, suspension, brakes and more. Usually, the speed on single carriageways is set at a maximum of 50mph, while motorways and dual carriageways have the speed limit set at 60mph.
Towing Safety Towing regulations require the trailer to be properly secured to the vehicle. The first step is using the right Class of trailer hitch. The next step is making certain the boat is properly harnessed to the trailer using chains, straps, lines or any other method. To secure the trailer even when the main attachment fails, a secondary linkage is used. Safety chains that come with latched hooks should be crossed beneath the hitch. In case of failure of the main connection, the trailer will still remain secured thus avoiding an accident or loss. The chain’s breaking strength should not be less than the trailer’s gross weight.
Many boaters dread towing a boat due to the varying regulations in different states. Nonetheless, this should not be the situation. Trying to cram or memorize the different regulations is also not feasible. All what you need is the State Trailer Towing Laws Chart/Table. The Table outlines all the regulations in different states. It covers the maximum trailer length, height, and width. The Chart also offers insight on the permissible length of the vehicle and the different weights that require brakes. With proper preparation and understanding the boat trailer towing regulations, towing a boat will become less of a challenge.
Boat Towing Regulations by State
|States ||Maximum Trailer |
|Maximum Trailer |
|Maximum Trailer |
|Total Vehicle/trailer |
Combined Length (feet)
|Gross Weight of Trailer |
Requiring Brakes (lbs.)
|Alabama ||13.5 ||8 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Alaska ||14 ||8.5 ||40 ||75 ||5,000 |
|Arizona ||13.5 ||8 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Arkansas ||13.5 ||8.5 ||43.5 ||65 ||1,500 |
|California ||14 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||1,500 |
|Colorado ||14.5 ||8.5 ||NS ||70 ||3,000 |
|Connecticut ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||60 ||3,000 |
|Delaware ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||ALL |
|District of Columbia ||13.5 ||NS ||NS ||55 ||3,000 |
|Florida ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Georgia ||13.5 ||8 ||NS ||60 ||3,000 |
|Hawaii ||14 ||9 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Idaho ||14 ||8.5 ||48 ||75 ||1500 (A) |
|Illinois ||13.5 ||8.5 ||42 ||60 ||3,000 |
|Indiana ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Iowa ||14 ||8.5 ||53 ||70 ||3,000 |
|Kansas ||14 ||8.5 ||NS ||65 ||ALL |
|Kentucky ||13.5 ||8 ||NS ||65 ||NS |
|Louisiana ||13. ||8 ||40 ||70 ||3,000 |
|Maine ||13.5 ||8.5 ||48 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Maryland ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||55 ||3,000 |
|Massachusetts ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||60 ||NS |
|Michigan ||13.5 ||8.5 ||45 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Minnesota ||13.5 ||8.5 ||45 ||60 ||3,000 |
|Mississippi ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||53 ||2,000 |
|Missouri ||14 ||8 ||NS ||55 ||NS |
|Montana ||14 ||8.5 ||NS ||65 ||3,000 |
|Nebraska ||14.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Nevada ||14 ||8.5 ||NS ||70 ||1,500 |
|New Hampshire ||13.5 ||8.5 ||48 ||NS ||3,000 |
|New Jersey ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||53 ||3,000 |
|New Mexico ||14 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|New York ||13.5 ||8 ||48 ||65 ||3,000 |
|North Carolina ||13.5 ||8 ||48 ||60 ||4,000 |
|North Dakota ||14 ||8.5 ||53 ||75 ||3,000 |
|Ohio ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||2,000 |
|Oklahoma ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Oregon ||14 ||8.5 ||45 ||65 ||NS |
|Pennsylvania ||13.5 ||8.5 ||NS ||75 ||3,000 |
|Rhode Island ||13.5 ||8.5 ||NS ||60 ||4,000 |
|South Carolina ||13.5 ||8.5 ||48 ||NS ||3,000 |
|South Dakota ||14 ||8.5 ||43 ||75 ||3,000 |
|Tennessee ||13.5 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||NS |
|Texas ||14 ||8.5 ||NS ||65 ||4,500 |
|Utah ||14 ||8.5 ||40 ||65 ||NS |
|Vermont ||13.5 ||8.5 ||NS ||75 ||3,000 |
|Virginia ||13.5 ||8.5 ||45 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Washington ||14 ||8.5 ||53 ||75 ||3,000 |
|West Virginia ||13.5 ||8 ||40 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Wisconsin ||13.5 ||8.5 ||48 ||65 ||3,000 |
|Wyoming ||14 ||8.5 ||45 ||85 ||NS |
The state laws data is provided by the American Automobile Association. Neither AAA or iboats.com can guarantee its accuracy and assume no responsibiltiy for errrors or omissions. Changes may have been made since this data was compiled. Visit drivinglaws.aaa.com or contact your local government offices for additional details.
- "NS" = Indicates not specified, please contact local government for requirements.
- (A) = Weight
How to determine the proper trailer hitch weight, presented by Rusty Stainless ... read more
Video Transcript Rusty Stainless here. Today we are going to look at how to get the correct ball weight for towing. We are going to fix an unbalanced trailer. So how do we do it? Well bathroom scale sitting under the jockey wheel. We have the car here so that when we want to start doing some work at the back end, we can hook the trailer to the car and that will steady the whole unit as we adjust the axles at the back.
Currently I have got a ball weight of 22 lbs (10 Kgs). So this combination back here has a weight of around 800 kilos. So I will be wanting to have a ball weight around about 10% of that. So I have got to get this figure up to 80 kilos. I will tell you what pounds that is later when I work it out.
The chassis is separate from the spring and axle assembly. The spring and axle and mud guard sit on this beam here at this angle and the chassis is here. So to balance this trailer all we have to do is push that back and it becomes heavier at the front. If you have got a brake trailer don’t forget to unhook the brake cable first because as this guy is back, it could snap your brake cable.
Before we get started we do need to remove the u-bolts that secure this. I did that earlier; I had to use a grinder to cut the bolts, to cut the top of the u-bolt and dropped them away. So the jockey wheel is now up, the trailer is now down on the ball and locked. And I’m now ready to go back on the axle and move it back. And we just have to do it little bit by little bit and see how the weight goes as it builds up.
We start off by marking the current position and that way we can see any progress that we make. I have jacked up the back of the boat and put it on some stands, that way I lift a little bit of the weight off the axle assembly so it makes it easier to slide it back.
To knock it back you will need a FBH. I will let you work out the acronym but this is an FBH and I’m going to start by knocking back this way here. The bigger the hammer you’ve got the quicker it going to move. So I have to move this axle assemble back 12 1/4 inches to reach my target. So there it is a little over 80 kilos a little over 180 lbs. And the whole thing is sitting clear of the ball there. So very happy I got up to my target weight, but it was a big shift moving it back 12 1/4 inches. read less
Learn how to Tow and Trailer a Boat. ... read more
Video Transcript [Male] Most of us live within 90 miles of boat accessible waterways. And the fact is most recreational boats are trailered to and from the water. Trailering your boat can add new dimensions to the freedom that comes with boating, that’s one of the reasons it’s so popular. You are free to boat just about anywhere: Lakes, rivers, bays or inlets. Using a boat trailer is also the most affordable way to store a boat.
[Female] If you have never trailered a boat there are several things to consider. First, the towing capacity of your car, truck or SUV. Most standard pickup trucks or SUVs can trailer boats up to 25 feet, but always check information about towing capacity in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. When shopping for a trailer make sure that it bears the national Marine Manufacturers Association certification label. This means it complies with established industry standards and federal safety regulations.
[Male] Safely hitch the trailer to your vehicle using these steps. First back the ball under the hitch and couple it. Latch the hitch by inserting the safety pin and connect the safety chains. It’s always a good idea to cross the chains. Connect the lights. If your trailer is equipped with brakes, connect the safety brakes cable to the vehicle. After that’s done check the headlights, brake lights and turn signals to ensure all trailer lights are working.
[Female] Now you’re ready to go. Before setting out, plan your trip well using a map and noting turns and exit numbers. If you can plan your route online and printout directions, all the better. In general it helps to travel about 5 mph slower than the traffic on the highway. Stay in the right lane unless passing. You’ll get there with less stress and nearly as quickly. Stop periodically to check the wheel hubs for excessive heat a sign of problems.
Leave plenty of space in front of you when you drive. Even a trailer with brakes will double a vehicle’s emergency stopping distance. Turning a corner with a trailer takes double the arc. Check traffic before you start a turn and swing wide enough to avoid curbs, signs or any other obstructions on the inside of your turn.
[Male} Pulling a boat holds a few challenges for boaters. But the steepest learning curve comes with backing the trailer into its parking place or into the ramp. It’s not intuitive and in fact it works just the opposite of how you think it should. In essence when you steer, you turn the wheel in the opposite direction. For example if you want the trailer to back to the right, you have to push the tongue to the left. And if you want to back it to the left, you have to push the tongue to the right.
With most boats is best to look over your shoulder and drive with the left hand. Remember you’re pushing the trailer not pulling it. Practice in an empty parking lot with lots of space until you get hang of it.
[Female] It’s important to maintain your boat trailer. Hubs and lights get dunked twice every time you go boating. Pamper both as you would your boat, it’s an essential element of boat trailer maintenance. Periodically inspect the hubs by popping off the cap. If the bearings are dry add grease. Have a friend or family member occasionally stand behind your trailer and make sure to brake lights, tail lights and turn signals work. As with your boat, a thorough fresh-water cleaning of your trailer after each use way extend its life. It’s also a good idea to invest in a spare tire just in case.
[Male] For more information on towing and trailering visit your local boat dealer or go to discoverboating.com. read less