If you’re a boat owner you are likely going to need a trailer to haul around your investment! And while towing a trailered boat isn’t rocket science, there are some fundamentals you need to know about to make the process safe, stress-free and effortless!
When you are in the market for a trailer, you want to make sure that you are matching it up to the tow vehicle.
A common issue we see is a boater overloading a trailer, or towing a boat that is just not within the tow vehicle's capabilities.
I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a new vehicle, but before you purchase your trailer you should do your homework and look into your vehicle’s towing capabilities.
Each vehicle has a tow rating, and you are going to want to pay attention to the gross vehicle weight rating, the gross combined weight rating, the gross axle rating, the vehicle’s curb weight, and anything (or anyone) else that will add extra weight along the way!
Sorry Dave, we’ve reached full capacity, looks like you’re staying home this time!
What About Brakes?
While requirements for brakes on trailers vary by province, depending on the weight of your trailer Ontario laws requires you to have brakes.
According to the Ministry of Transportation, whether you are towing a trailer behind a car, van or truck in Ontario, the same rule applies: If your trailer has a gross trailer weight, vehicle and load of 1,360 kilograms (3,000 lbs) or more, it must have brakes strong enough to stop and hold the trailer.
Similarly to reviewing your vehicle capabilities and limitations, your hitch system will also need to be checked out to ensure it is the right fit for your boat and trailer.
Ultimately, you need to make sure you match the trailer class to the proper hitch.
If you aren't sure which hitch to go with, you can reach out to the pros and they can give you a hand with figuring out how much of a load the hitch system can handle.
They may suggest some extra equipment like a sway control device or weight distribution system to ensure a stable tow.
Did you realize that towing a trailer with improper tongue weight can lead to trailer sway, wobbling, fishtailing, and an out of control ride?
Tongue weight is the downwards force from the tongue of the trailer to your hitch. In other words, it’s the amount of your loaded trailer weight that sits behind the rear axle of your vehicle.
Your tongue weight should be roughly 10 to 15 percent of your gross trailer weight to prevent your trailer from swaying!
You can check the trailer owner's manual to figure out the downward force that the tongue of the trailer exerts on the hitch.
Towing mirrors are a simple add on that can improve your chances of having an incident free towing experience.
In some cases standard side mirrors just might not be large enough or high enough to get a full picture of the boat and trailer you are towing, creating hazardous blind spots.
You can easily solve this problem by picking up side towing mirrors that will give you a better picture of the road and obstacles around you.
It should be noted that you can sometimes pick up a tow package that will include things like towing mirrors, transmission coolers, and the hitch itself.
Choices, Choices, Choices
When purchasing a trailer you will quickly discover that you have some decisions to make.
And they really do matter! for instance, did you know that the difference in the exterior finish of your trailer can impact your fuel economy?
See, this is why you need to take your time and do your homework, because options and choices are a bonus that allows you to find the most ideal trailer for your needs!
All Systems a Go?
Before you hit the road, you are going to want to pay special attention to your trailer and make sure everything is functioning as it should!
Here are some of the things you should test and check before loading up your boat:
- Brake lights
- Signs of corrosion and damages
- Tire pressure
Practice Makes Perfect
If you are new to towing, you need to test things out! Even before loading that boat of yours onto your trailer (yes, definitely before!), take the trailer out for a test run - preferably on a side street!
You will want to get a sense of what it feels like to tow something behind you. This will give you an opportunity to really test out those side mirrors, and to get familiar with navigating, turning, braking, and backing up.
Once you have your boat loaded up, you are going to want to make sure that it is level on the trailer, and that your fuel and gear is distributed evenly.
Did you know...Instability caused by an uneven load can make steering and maneuvering much more difficult.
Always remember to strap everything down! Triple check that all loose items and gear on the boat are strapped down securely.
Not only will this prevent gear from sliding around and impacting the weight distribution, but you also don't want items flying off the boat while driving. Don't be that guy!
Last But Not least!
- Avoid clipping the curbs by taking wide turns
- Leave extra following room
- Give yourself extra time for accelerating and braking
- Reduce effects of wind blast by taking your foot off the accelerator (don't hit the brakes)
- Use those side mirrors