Tips to Safely Tow a Boat Behind Your Vehicle

Wisconsin has 15,000 documented lakes with plenty of opportunities to have fun this summer. Boating is escape for many water enthusiastic people. Whether taking leisurely boat rides, fishing, tubing, or swimming, a boat can be equally practical and fun. No matter your pick for summer fun, one thing is certain, safety should be a priority.

How to safeLy tow a boat

Know Your Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle is the first step to successfully and safely getting to your destination. Before getting a boat, make sure you know your towing capacity to understand how much your vehicle can safely tow. What you’ll be able to tow is based on the overall weight of the boat, and many boats will need to be towed by a truck or large SUV due to their weight. The average towing capacity of a vehicle should be between 1,800 lbs. and 2,000 lbs., but it’s best to check your owner’s manual beforehand for this information. Boat trailers also have a weight capacity how much they can hold. This capacity is all inclusive of the boat itself, the motor, fuel and any additional items stored in the boat.

Ensure all tires on your vehicle are inflated to the proper PSI. This will minimize a flat tire causing unstable foundation to tow your boat on. 

Prepare Your Boat and Trailer

Start with packing when preparing your boat for a successful trip. If you’re storing items in your boat, make sure to arrange them evenly so that the weight is distributed on all sides. This will ensure the boat won’t sway on the road and will keep your items secure. Make sure to use a cover to secure the top so items don’t fall out while traveling leading to a hazard in the roadway.

Once you’re packed, it’s time to check over your boat and trailer.

  • Check your trailer’s tire pressure to ensure they’re filled to the proper PSI, as well as the tire pressure in the spare tire.
  • Ensure all lug nuts on your trailer’s tires are tight and firmly in place.
  • Make sure your trailer’s lights work and are bright enough so others can easily see when you’re braking, turning or backing up.
  • Ensure your trailer is even and level, as an uneven trailer can be dangerous to tow behind your vehicle. Check the level and stability of the trailer after you’ve loaded the boat onto it, as the weight of the boat may shift after you’ve loaded it onto the trailer.
  • Make sure your trailer hitch is secure on your vehicle through the ball attachment and all chains and straps are secure.

It’s always a good idea to conduct regular maintenance on both your vehicle, trailer and boat before long trips to protect from wear and spot any unusual issues. It’s also a good idea to check your boat insurance to see what’s covered, and in what situations.

Once you’ve made your checklist, ensured everything is secure and have hitched your trailer to your vehicle, it’s time to hit the road.

Take It Slow

While preparation is an important first step, a safe journey continues with careful driving. Towing a boat will add weight to your vehicle, making it harder for you to act quickly and make invasive maneuvers. Because of this, it’s important to leave enough space between you and other vehicles, watch corners when you turn, always check your mirrors, and when in doubt, take it slow.

According to The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, boat trailer tires have a maximum speed rating of 62-68 mph. If you fishtail, an occurrence where your boat sways side-to-side due to imbalanced weight distribution, continue to slow down—but don’t brake— while keeping the wheel steady. You might have to take it slow, but a safe trip is worth the extra drive time.

Don’t let accidents or damage interrupt your summer plans. Having the right auto insurance can give you peace of mind that if something happens, we’ll be here to get your plans back on track. Rural Mutual can also protect your boat as an endorsement on your homeowners insurance policy. To find the insurance that best fits your needs, contact your local agent.