To take your boat across the country or to another state, you need to use a boat trailer. There are two popular boat trailers: a single axle trailer and a tandem or dual axle trailer. There’s a boat trailer that matches your type of boat. Use the right one to keep your boat and your tow vehicle safe and secure on the road.
Types of Boat Trailers and Their Uses
Boat trailers can efficiently and safely tow your boat to your destination. Aside from towing a boat to and fro locations, you can use a boat trailer to haul your boat for repairs. Boaters also use trailers to store their boats during the winter, after winterizing their engines. Many boat trailers are available in trailer dealerships or from trailer rental companies.
Single Axle Trailer
The axle is the spindle or metal rod located in the center of the trailer wheels. Single axle boat trailers have only one axle that’s through the wheels.
Single axles are meant for towing lighter loads because it only has one axle. Thus, if you have a small craft or a light vessel, a single axle boat trailer may be the most suitable trailer.
Advantages of a Single Axle Trailer
- Light and easy to tow – if you’re new to trailering, this trailer is straightforward to maneuver.
- Very affordable – whether you’re renting or buying one, it’s always the most affordable choice.
- Saves you fuel – it’s lightweight, so it’s fuel-efficient.
- Low maintenance cost – single axles have only two tires and brakes, so affordable maintenance and repairs.
Disadvantages of a Single Axle Boat Trailer
- May sway, especially during high speeds.
- Limited to only lightweight crafts.
- Tires and brakes may be more prone to wear and tear.
- A flat tire can be a disaster.
Double or Tandem Axle Trailer
Tandem axle boat trailers or double trailers are best for larger and heavier boats. This type of trailer can haul heavy weights because it comes with two more tires. The two tires offer better weight distribution and keep the trailer stable, especially when driving at high speeds.
Tandem axles are more expensive than single axles, but many boaters agree that it’s a small price to pay for safety. This trailer has four brakes, which can help you stay safe while carrying a considerable load.
Advantages of a Tandem Axle Trailer
- Can carry heavier boats – double axles mean double the towing power.
- Will less-likely sway – this is more stable compared to single axle trailers.
- With four wheels and brakes – safer to use in busy and steep roads.
- Having a flat tire won’t be too problematic.
Disadvantages of a Tandem Axle Trailer
- Will need a tow truck with more pulling power.
- Very heavy to take anywhere.
- Not as fuel-efficient as single-axle trailers.
- It is not easy to maneuver, especially on narrow roads.
Tri-Axle Boat Trailers
Not all boat trailer rentals have triple axle boat trailers. This trailer has six wheels, three axles, and six brakes, so you can safely tow very large, very heavy boats. Most of the time, triple axle trailers are tailor-made to fit a boat’s dimensions.
Advantages of a Triple Axle Boat Trailer
- Can haul huge and heavy boats – has three axles, six tires.
- Safer on the road – have more brakes, so your boat is secure even when at full speed.
- Will never sway – very stable because of its triple axle design.
- Most triple axle trailers come with complete accessories.
- A flat tire or two is okay because you have many spares.
Disadvantages of a Triple Axle Trailer
- This is very expensive.
- Hard to maneuver because of its many axles.
- Very costly to maintain with many wheels and brakes to check and replace.
- Not readily available from a local trailer shop.
- You may need to have this pre-ordered ahead of schedule.
4-Axle Boat Trailer
A 4-axle trailer is very rare. You’ll only find this in trailer specialty dealers or sold as a pre-used trailer. Like the name says, this type of trailer has four axles, eight wheels, and more brakes. This means it’s safer on the road while hauling your big and heavy boat.
Advantages of a 4-Axle Boat Trailer
- Very stable – it has more axles and tires, so it’s impossible to sway.
- Very efficient – this trailer can accommodate heavy and complex boat sizes.
- It will keep you and your boat safe – it has multiple brakes, so you’ll stay safe even on rough, steep, or busy roads.
Disadvantages of a 4-Axle Boat Trailer
- Very expensive to buy and to maintain – more tires and brakes means more components to maintain and repair.
- Complicated to steer.
- May need a professional to operate.
- It is not readily available from a boat trailer dealership.
Which is the Right Trailer for My Boat?
It would help find the right boat trailer to match your boat. Otherwise, you’ll be risking your boat, tow vehicle, vehicles, and pedestrians on your way to your destination. Also, you can avoid being flagged by authorities while you carry an improperly towed boat. So how to tell which trailer is which?
Boat Trailer Weight Rating
The trailer must be rated according to your boat and trailer weight. The GTW or gross trailer weight is indicated on the trailer. It combines factors like the axle ratings, tire capacity, and frame material.
The tongue weight is also considered. It is the weight applied by the coupler over the tow hitch. This is around 10% of the gross trailer weight. If the tongue weight is too light, the trailer may sway uncontrollably. Too much weight can affect the tow hitch and rear suspension. A heavy tongue weight makes it harder to steer.
Trailer Frame Material
There are many kinds of trailer material, but aluminum or galvanized boat trailers are the most common. Aluminum trailers will work best if you sail or fish on brackish or saltwater. Aluminum trailers are more expensive than galvanized trailers, but most boaters agree that it’s worth the price. Aluminum boat trailers last longer and will look great even after years of use.
The most popular trailer supports are rollers and bunks. Bunks are usually covered by thick carpet and have plastic runners to support the hull well. On the other hand, rollers make it easier to haul a boat but are careful as the boat can roll off.
Boat Trailer Suspension System
Leaf-spring suspensions cradle your boat but can be prone to bouncing. Torsion axles are best to prevent bouncing and offer enhanced stability.
Boat Trailer Tires
Boat trailers need ST – tires. These tires are designed for special trailer services as they come with very tough sidewalls. Always consider the maximum capacity rating at the maximum air pressure. Also, the tires’ total rating should match your rider’s GWT.
Choose from traditional incandescent or LED bulbs for your trailer. Standard bulbs are readily available and are inexpensive. However, LED lamps last longer, are cooler, and have low maintenance.
Most states in the U.S. require large trailers to have brakes. Large trailers come with a 3500++ pound GTW. There are many kinds of brakes, and the most popular are disc brakes. This type is self-adjusting and can work on water compared to other brakes. Meanwhile, surge brakes are great for boat trailers as these can be submerged in saltwater or freshwater.
The right boat trailer can take you and your boat to places you can only imagine! Take time to find the right trailer to efficiently and safely tow your boat no matter where you wish to go.