Hitting the road with your boat trailer is fun and exciting, but don’t forget to take the proper safety measures when towing a boat. Take a look at these seven boat towing tips to keep you and fellow travelers safe.
1. Slow and Steady
Keep your speed in check! This may seem like an obvious tip when towing a boat, but it is an important one if you want to get to your destination safely. Just as when you’re towing anything else, when towing a boat, you want to travel at a safe speed. Your stop time is increased when you are towing, so leaving plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you will help prevent any accidents. If the weather is bad, you will want to leave even a bit more room.
2. Check the Weather
Speaking of weather, it can be a big factor when towing a boat. If it is a windy day, there is a good chance you might experience trailer sway. If you’ve ever experienced trailer sway, you know how unsettling it can be when your trailer starts to move side to side. Whether it is wind from Mother Nature or a passing tractor trailer, being prepared is key. Installing a device to prevent trailer sway, like the Blue Ox SwayPro, can keep trailer sway from starting and keep you safe.
3. Take Turns Carefully
Towing a boat or any other trailer means you cannot take corners as sharply. When making a turn, the trailer’s wheels end up being closer to the inside of the turn than the tires of your tow vehicle. If you don’t compensate for this, you may end up hitting the curb or worse. So approach the turn with your tow vehicle outside of the lane to allow room for the trailer wheels to make the turn safely. Once your vehicle’s rear wheels have passed the inside curb, it is safe to cut the steering wheel.
4. Check Your Tires, Brakes, and Lights
Before you depart on your trip, take the time to check the tires, brakes, and lights on your boat trailer. The trailer tire sidewall should have a sticker that will tell you the correct tire pressure. If you’re on the low side, go ahead and add some air. If your trailer has been around for a while, it is also worth checking the tire manufacture date and replacing tires that are more than six years old. Some states have specific trailer brake requirements, so look into this before your trip as well and confirm that the emergency “breakaway” cable is attached to your tow vehicle properly. Don’t forget to check the brake lights and tail lights of your boat trailer and check the tire pressure on your tow vehicle!
5. Don’t Overload Your Tow Vehicle
Every vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle. So be sure that the vehicle weight when empty, plus tongue weight of the trailer, plus the weight of all cargo and people in the vehicle does not exceed the GVWR.
6. Correct Tongue Weight
Having improper tongue load can put you at a higher risk for trailer sway. Check your trailer owner’s manual to make sure you know the appropriate tongue weight. It is generally between 10-15% of the total loaded trailer weight, but boat trailers may be outside of this range.
7. Use a Weight Distributing Hitch
A weight distribution hitch may just be your best asset when it comes to towing a boat trailer. If your trailered weight is more than half the weight of the tow vehicle, you will need a weight-distribution hitch, and a device for trailer sway is recommended as well. With the SwayPro by Blue Ox, you get it all in one device! SwayPro is a user-friendly weight distribution hitch that prevents trailer sway before it starts, and can be used in all weather conditions. When using the SwayPro with a boat trailer, most will need the BXW4023 Pole Tongue Adapter. Boat trailers tend to have a long pole tongue, but this adapter will fit tongue widths of 2 ¾ “ to 4 ½ “ and tongue heights of 3”-6”.
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