Boat Trailer Towing Is
A Skill That Can Be Learned And
Adds To The Enjoyment Of Our Boats

The following list of trailer towing tips will help ensure a safe towing experience for you and everyone else on the road.

Getting Started With A Trailer

  • Make sure the trailer capacity is correct for the boat and the vehicle tow capacity is correct for the boat and trailer unit.
  • Make sure the boat is fitted correctly to the trailer

Tying Down The Boat

  • Tie down the transom of the boat with quality transom tie down straps (either ratchet straps or the cam lock style that hook over the top of the transom)
  • Make sure the winch strap is attached to the bow of the boat
  • Make sure the winch safety chain is hooked to the bow of the boat
  • Tie down the gunwales of the boat by using a long ratchet strap over the boat (especially with collapsible inflatables that are very light for their size and can bounce around on the trailer)
  • The outboard motor should be in the lowered position when trailer towing to safeguard from damage to the lift mechanism during travel (many boaters use special outboard motor brackets called transom savers to stabilize the motor in a partially lowered position during road travel)

Connecting The Tow Vehicle

  • Make sure you use the correct ball size on the tow vehicle hitch before connecting the trailer for towing
  • Hook up the trailer safety chains by crossing them under the hitch on the vehicle
  • Plug in the lights before driving and check that they work every time you hook them up!(boat trailer lights are notoriously finicky since they go swimming so often)


  • After trailer towing for a short distance (like just outside of town if it is the start of a long trip) stop and double check, tie downs, safety chains, hitches and lights.
  • At every stop check the tie downs, safety chains, hitch and wheel bearing (touch them to see if hot) to make sure things are riding properly. Frequent checking can save you from big repairs down the road.
  • A mechanic advised me to touch the wheel hubs at every stop to check for heat build up - so I do!(this is a great way to catch a problem before it becomes a seized bearing).
  • Remember to take corners wide if trailering is a new experience for you. The trailer tires follow a different path than the tow vehicle! You don't want to knock over the stop sign with your boat making a right hand turn or a left hand turn in countries that drive on the left side of the road!
  • practice backing the trailer in a vacant parking lot to become comfortable backing down a boat ramp.

The Trailer

  • Check tire pressures on the trailer tires frequently (I visually check the tires every time I use our trailer)
  • Wash off the trailer with fresh water after use in salt water (this will greatly increase the life of your trailer)
  • Wash off the trailer if planning to launch in a new body of water. This will help stop the spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals.
  • Service brake assemblies regularly
  • Make sure the hubs are repacked yearly, and other maintenance is done on the trailer by yourself or a mechanic you trust

Trailering Checklist

  • lights working
  • ball/receiver latched and locked
  • safety chains connected to tow vehicle
  • fenders secure/ tires not rubbing
  • tire pressure correct
  • boat secured to trailer
  • test brakes (if applicable)

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