What Tow Vehicle is Right For Your Boat?

Choice of Tow Vehicle is of the Utmost Importance

Despite the opinions of everyone, there is no one brand of truck, car or SUV that’s better than the others for towing your boat. However, choosing a tow vehicle may be the most important decision you ever make for your boating “career”.

Terms to Know

There are several very important terms to familiarize yourself with when choosing a tow vehicle: 

    • Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): The total allowable weight of the truck, the trailer, the cargo in each, fluids and occupants.
    • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The total allowable weight for the vehicle, including fluids, options, occupants, cargo and trailer hitch weight. The trailer’s GVWR is sometimes referred to as Gross Trailer Weight Rating.
    • Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): The total allowable weight on any given
      Tow Vehicle Capacity
      This label will generally be on the door frame of your vehicle

      individual axle. Note that this includes the weight of the tires, wheels, brakes and axle itself.

    • Maximum Tow Rating is the vehicle manufacturer’s weight limit for towed loads. For conventional trailers, this normally includes a hitch-weight limit as well. The GVWR and GAWR for all motor vehicles are listed on the data plate, which is usually found on the driver’s door frame, glove box or other easy-to-access location. Remember that these figures are limits and that exceeding them towing will, at the least, void the vehicle warranty and at the worst over-stress the engine, transmission and other equipment.

Know Your Boat and Trailer Weight

It is very important to have a good knowledge of what your boat and trailer weigh together. If you’re buying a new boat, the documentation that comes with it will list a “dry weight” and the trailer, if new, will also have a weight listed. It’s important to remember that those weights, when added together, are NOT the total weight. What also matters is the amount of fuel (add approximately 7 pounds per gallon), how much gear is loaded on the boat, etc…

How to Get an Accurate Boat/Trailer Weight

The absolute best way to get an accurate boat + trailer weight is to load the boat as you typically would for a trip, drive to a truck scale, detach the trailer and get the weight. It’s probably not necessary to do this but you should definitely, as a minimum, get an accurate estimate including all equipment and fuel. Then, to get the truck weight, be sure to add passengers, equipment, etc… Then you will know what “Maximum Tow Rating” you need in order to safely tow your boat.

Something to Remember

When someone doesn’t safely tow a boat or trailer, more times than not the unsafe tower is not the one in danger. By unsafely towing, you’re endangering the people around you. If your boat detaches or sways off the hitch, someone driving nearby is going to have a collision with your boat. Your only real danger is in using a tow vehicle that can’t handle the load. That can result in a damaged engine, transmission and, in probably the worst situation, losing your tow vehicle in the water at the ramp.


Tight Lines, My Friends!

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