Buying a Boat or Watercraft Trailer

Trailering your boat can save you money and allow you to discover new water for boating, fishing or play. With a boat trailer you can store your watercraft at home, take care of maintenance and avoid any third-party storage, transportation, or maintenance fees.

How to know what kind of boat trailer to buy?

Major things to consider when shopping for a boat trailer are the size of your boat and where you intend to use the watercraft. Salt and fresh water have different effects on trailers as do sites with deep ramps.

  • Boat trailers for sale will have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. To determine if the GVWR is sufficient for your boat, calculate the combined weight of your boat, engine, fuel, water, batteries, and gear. Add another 15-20% as a safety buffer.
  • Boat trailers are available with single or multiple axles. For most boats under 20 feet, a single axle is sufficient. Single axles are easier to maneuver and less costly to maintain, but multiple axles can provide more stability on the road.
  • Frames for boat trailers are made of steel or aluminum. Aluminum is lighter than steel and the best choice for boating in saltwater. Some steel frames are galvanized, which can cut down on rusting. Painted steel is also less likely to rust.
Deciding between bunks and rollers

A bunk trailer has a wide base with two raised supports on either side of the boat’s hull. The ship rests on a series of cylinders in a roller trailer. The bunk trailer is best for pontoon boats and better for storing your boat. However, you will have to get your trailer wetter to launch from bunks. Roller trailers can deform a hull over time, but they make launching easier. Rollers are usually more expensive.

Are there particular concerns with purchasing a used boat trailer?

You will want to carefully check the wear on used boat trailers for sale by owner. In particular, inquire about wheel bearing wear. When purchasing a trailer in another state, check that the trailer meets the road requirements for your state. Used boat trailers may no longer have the original GVWR sticker. To calculate the weight capacity, measure the diameter of the axle.

  • 1.75 inch axle diameter = 1 ton weight capacity
  • 2.375 inch axle diameter = 3500 pounds weight capacity
  • 3 inch axle diameter = 5200 to 7000 pounds weight capacity