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Choose a Trailer and Towing Vehicle

The trailer and towing vehicle should be designed to fit your vessel.

  • Use the size of your vessel to determine the dimensions of the trailer needed. Today, most trailerable boats are sold as a package with a trailer of the appropriate size.
  • Look at the load capacity of the trailer stated by the trailer's manufacturer. If the combined weight of your vessel and its engine is more than 90% of the recommended load capacity, buy the next larger trailer. This is because your gear (fuel, life jackets, anchors, lines, etc.) will increase the overall weight by at least 10%.
  • Check the owner's manual of your towing vehicle to ensure that your vehicle is rated to tow the combined weight of your vessel, engine, and trailer.
The Parts of a Trailer

The image below shows the parts of a typical trailer.

Trailer parts
The Towing Hitch

The towing hitch must be appropriate for the loaded trailer.

  • The coupler on a trailer connects to a ball hitch on the towing vehicle. A frame-mounted hitch on the towing vehicle is better than a bumper-mounted hitch. If you are using a bumper-mounted hitch, do not exceed the weight rating of the bumper.
  • Make sure the size stamped on the ball hitch on the towing vehicle is the same size that is stamped on the trailer's coupler. If the ball hitch is too small, a bump in the road could cause the coupler to lift off the hitch.
  • "Tongue weight" is the amount of the loaded trailer's weight that presses down on the towing hitch. The tongue weight should be about 10% of the combined weight of the vessel and trailer ("gross trailer weight" or GTW). If the tongue weight is too light, the trailer will tend to swing from side-to-side (or "fishtail"). If the tongue weight is too heavy, the rear wheels of the towing vehicle will be weighted down, making it difficult to steer.
Safety Chains

Two strong safety chains should be crisscrossed to support the trailer's coupler if it becomes disconnected from the towing vehicle. The chains should be strong enough to hold the combined weight of the vessel, engine, and trailer.

Crossed chains on trailer hitch
Crisscross the safety chains under the trailer's coupler when attaching them to the towing vehicle.