In The Market For a Used Boat Trailer? Read This!

As the boating season draws to a close in many parts of the country, boat owners may be looking for a trailer to store their craft for the winter months. This week, the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS), outlined some important tips for those who might be shopping for a used trailer.

Bring a Measuring Tape
With older trailers, the capacity plate or sticker may be long gone or too hard to read after being outside in the weather for years. But if you’d like to know a rough idea of a spring-axle trailer’s capacity, simply measure the diameter of the axle. An outer diameter (OD) axle tube size of 1.75 inches is typically rated for about 1 ton; 2.375 inches for 3,500 lbs.; and 3 inches for 5,200-7,000 lbs. – remember to subtract the weight of the trailer from the gross capacity.

All boat trailers aren’t built the same, because states’ trailering regulations aren’t the same.
All boat trailers aren’t built the same, because states’ trailering regulations aren’t the same.

Buying Out of State
All boat trailers aren’t built the same, because states’ trailering regulations aren’t the same. While most states require brakes for trailers rated to carry than more than 3,000 lbs., some states require brakes on trailers as light as 1,500 lbs., while a few others let you coast up to 4,500 pounds – although that’s not recommended. It can be expensive to retrofit brakes, and some states such as Florida require brakes on each axle. State-specific trailer registration information can be found at

Why Tire Diameter Matters
After an hour at highway speeds, a 13-inch tire will have spun 10,000 revolutions more than a 15-inch tire, which means more heat, bearing wear and increased chance of problems. Having a fully-serviced spare tire ready to go – and the tools to install it – will solve many of the most common reasons for a trailer breakdown.

Watch Out For Paperwork Snafus
Not having ownership documents can sink a sale faster than you can say, “Did you put the plug in?” If the trailer is missing the vehicle identification number (VIN), it cannot be legibly read or doesn’t match ownership paperwork, you may run into an issue with the DMV and have to apply for a replacement. It’s better to have the seller handle this before the sale.

For a full look at this topic, see “Buying a Used Trailer?” at

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