So you are ready to buy a new boat, but now find yourself with the pesky problem of figuring out exactly how you're going to get it to and from the lakes. And whether you picked up that small bass boat you’ve been eyeing, or the luxury pontoon
you plan to lounge on this summer, you are likely going to need to tow it at some point.So what kind of vehicle will you need to tow your boat?
Sure, you can attach a hitch to your 4-banger Honda Accord, but that doesn’t mean it has what it takes to tow a trailered boat!
Picking the perfect tow vehicle can be as difficult as choosing the perfect boat. Not only does the vehicle need to handle your towing needs, but you will typically want it to be multifunctional so that it can still meet your needs on the day-to-day basis.
Let’s spend a little time exploring what you should be considering when looking for a tow vehicle.
What's The Deal With Tow Vehicle Rating?
It's important to know your vehicle's maximum towing capacity before you hitch your trailer and boat on to head out to the water. Did you know that pulling a trailer that's too heavy for your vehicle can cause a dangerous driving situation, damage to your vehicle, and possibly voided warrantees?
Some of the problems you'll likely run into include damages to the suspension and braking systems, transmission issues related to overheating, stress to the frame of the vehicle, and damages to the engine.
Thankfully, these issues are avoidable!
Every vehicle undergoes extensive testing by the manufacturer to determine the tow vehicle rating.
To come up with this rating the manufacturer factors in the engine size, the axle ratio, chassis, transmission, suspension, brakes, tires, cooling systems and any tow packages.
All of this boils down to coming up with that magic number that will tell you exactly how much your vehicle can safely tow.
You can easily find this information in your vehicle user's manual, online, or by contacting the manufacturer.
Can I Tow a Boat With a Car?
As mentioned earlier, your Honda Accord might not make the cut as the ultimate tow vehicle, but that’s not to say you cannot tow a boat with a sedan.
Not surprisingly most car owner manuals will tell you that the vehicle is not recommended for towing.
That said, there are some exceptions to the rule, even though they have a considerably lower tow rating than a truck or SUV.
So while you may be able to tow a small boat with certain cars, it likely isn't your best option in most cases.
Asides from the lower tow ratings, another issue with trying to tow a trailered boat with a car is that boats usually launch off trailers into the water. Depending on how steep the boat ramp is, you will often find yourself backing your tow vehicle into the water until the boat is buoyant and can float off the trailer.
This means your tow vehicle will often be partially in the water. And while a big truck will offer all the clearance you need to stay dry, a low to the ground sedan will likely struggle a little more to stay above water.
So keep in mind you might be dealing with water hitting your exhaust, and even trunk!
Do Trucks Always Make For The Best Tow Vehicle?
It's hard to argue the fact that for real no-nonsense hauling, your best bet will always be with a heavy-duty pickup that is stacked with a towing package!
The large full frame pickup trucks are designed with a full-steel ladder frame, and engines that are optimized for the low end torque that is needed for towing.
They really just are towing machines.
They offer the best tow ratings, high clearance for launching, and are much better equipped to drive off of that wet and often slimy boat ramp with ease.
That said, the almighty truck isn’t an option for everyone. May it be a cost issue (have you seen the price of trucks lately?), or a space issue, you may want to consider an SUV.
What About Towing With an SUV?
Most modern full size SUVs and crossover utility vehicles can pull a fair amount of weight.
In fact, these practical and multifunctional vehicles often combine luxury and comfort with a powerful engine and truck-based chassis.
With SUVs increasingly in demand, vehicle manufacturers have continued to make advancements and there are now numerous options available on the market to satisfy your towing needs.
Obviously you need to check the tow rating for your SUV to make sure it can handle the weight of your boat and trailer, but you will likely be surprised to find out that most modern SUVs are going to be capable of towing more weight than expected.
So, whether you are buying your tow vehicle to match your already purchased boat and trailer, or you are going to base your boat buying decision on your current vehicle capabilities, the main priority is finding the right match and not exceeding the towing capacity. Because you need to get your boat to the water safely before you can start cruising and making memories.