We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Boat Trailer?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

At its most basic, a boat trailer is a wheeled frame designed to transport a boat across land by towing it behind a vehicle. The frame can be basic for small boats, but larger boats require more complex designs. The boat's weight, overall length, width, center of gravity, hull shape, engine(s), and many other factors determine the best boat trailer model. A sailboat, for example, requires a special boat trailer because of its deep keel and high winch stand.

New powerboats are often purchased with custom trailers made especially for the boat, right down to a matching paint scheme. The boat trailer might come with custom chrome wheels, electronic brakes that work in tandem with the vehicle's brakes, and other optional accessories.

A boat trailer can have a single, double or triple axle, depending on its rated weight capacity. While a small boat trailer sports a manual winch to haul the boat on to the trailer, larger models have one- or two-speed automatic winches. Most frames are made of a welded steel construction that features weatherproof paint. Lights and axles are fully submersible for launching.

The "bed" of the trailer consists of one or more sets of "bunks" or treated wood planks covered with durable indoor/outdoor material. The bunks are positioned lengthwise on either side of the trailer, slanted inward. The hull rests against these bunks. A boat trailer can have adjustable bunks, but most have stationary bunks. The shape of the hull determines the required positioning of the bunks.

The boat trailer connects to a car or truck via a locking "coupler" positioned at the end of the tow bar. The coupler slides down over the ball hitch on the vehicle. When the boat trailer is not in use, the coupler can be fitted with an optional flat lip coupler lock that will protect the boat trailer from theft by making it impossible to drop the coupler on to a ball hitch.

Before towing a boat, ensure that the winch and coupler are both locked and the boat has been secured. The electrical harness should be connected and all lights should be functioning properly. Routinely check tire pressure and tread wear. Some boat trailers provide a frame-mounted spare tire. For those that don't, this is a modification worth considering.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By pollick — On Feb 17, 2014

Before taking a boat out to a public launch, I'd highly recommend practicing driving with an empty boat trailer attached. Maneuvering a boat on a trailer is not as easy as it looks, and a mistake at the launch site can be very expensive. I would practice things like backing the boat trailer into the water and straightening it out if it veers left or right. Normal driving instincts don't apply when maneuvering a boat trailer, because the trailer will move in the opposite direction of a turn. It will jack-knife if not handled correctly.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.