Towing a Boat with a Car – How to Do It?

Last Updated on October 1, 2022

Towing a boat with a car isn’t a difficult thing even if you are just doing it for the first time. Whether it is your new Lund boat or Pontoon, you will have to get it to the waterfront at some point in your life. After all, a boat can’t maximize its full potential by having it in your garage. It needs to be at a place where it can be used. Although getting to that place may seem a bit difficult, there are some rudiments you simply need to follow. In this article, you will learn how to tow a boat with your car and some helpful tips you should consider as well. Let’s dive in!

How to Tow a Boat with your Car

1.   Check your Tow Vehicle Capacity

The first step is to check the vehicle you intend to use for towing the boat. Ensure that this vehicle has the proper towing capacity for your trailer and boat. You can use the vehicle’s manual to check the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) capacity of your vehicle. This capacity reveals the weight limit for every vehicle if it is to be loaded with people, gears, or even trailers.

On many occasions, class one cars can tow a small boat of about 2,000 pounds. Meanwhile, towing a bigger boat like a pontoon requires a bigger vehicle. For instance, class two cars such as SUVs and vans can tow about 3,500 lbs. Meanwhile, you will require big pick-up trucks (class three cars) to tow up to 5,000 lbs. This is more applicable to boats like pontoons.

If you don’t have the vehicle’s manual to check for the towing capacity, you can check the Automobile Association website or use some mobile applications. Many car mobile applications give you every detail you need to learn about the model of your car.

2.   Calculate the Tongue Weight

You should calculate the tongue weight to understand whether you can tow your car or not. After all, the basic rule is that you should not tow anything above ten to fifteen percent of the gross towing weight. You can calculate the gross towing weight by subtracting the GVW from the weight of the vehicle.

3.   Check the Lights on the Trailer

Many states mandate the use of lights on trailers. You can get pulled over for failing to have them. Some boats like pontoons can block your taillights. As a result, you will need an additional wired tow light to inform other drivers on the road. You can get these additional lights where you buy your trailer or simply get them on Amazon. They are inexpensive and are necessary when towing your boat.

4.   Store your Gears Properly

How you store your gear when you are about to tow is another piece that requires consideration. Ensure that everything you need is tied down inside your boat. You can store it under the seats to keep them safe and secured. If you don’t want them under a seat, you could keep them in a container that is properly locked. Also, if you have lots of stuff, ensure you distribute them evenly on both sides before you begin to tow. This prevents it from tilting to a particular side during movement.

5.   Check the Tyres

Your tires are another piece that you need to check before starting the journey. That includes the vehicle and trailers’ tires. For the vehicle, ensure that the tires have the correct pressure and are all even. If they are not, refill to meet the appropriate air pressure. Also, your trailer’s tires are equally important. You wouldn’t want your car to drag a trailer with flat tires. Do the needful. When driving, maintain the slow lane so that you won’t make other drivers inconvenient on the road.

6.   Your Mirrors are Important

When you tow a boat behind your car, you will want to see what is happening at the back of the trailer. As a result, you can purchase new extended mirrors to give you a better view. These extended mirrors allow you to see the vehicles behind you rather than the wall of your boat.

7.   Conduct a pre-trip activity

After checking the towing capacity of your vehicle, you should find out if it is in good working conditions. Conduct a pre-trip activity to discover some parts that are not functioning properly. Inspect the brakes, condition of the tires, air pressure, trailer’s light, trailer’s brakes, and gears before going for the full trip. If you discover any of the aforementioned parts are not working properly, you are best advised to replace them. However, if they are in good working conditions, then you are good to go.

8.   Separating the Trailer from your Boat

Once you have arrived at your destination, you will need to get your boat off the trailer. To do this, you need to get your boat to the launch ramp. Once you are at the ramp, come up with a plan that allows your boat to back down. Here are some tips that can help you launch your boat successfully into the water.

  • Check the drain plug and ensure it is secured
  • Put the key into the ignition to check the battery level of your boat
  • Attach the dock lines to the bow and stern cleats
  • Attach fenders to the dockside of the boat to prevent the boat from rubbing against the dock
  • Load the boat with gear
  • Remove the trailer’s plug from the tow vehicle
  • Remove the tie-down straps from the stern
  • Position the vehicle and trailer such that it will reverse down towards the launch ramp. Slowly submerge the trailer until you see the stern floats. Here, your parking brake is crucial to prevent your car from getting into the water.
  • Unplug the trailer winch and safety chains
  • Slide off the boat gently from the trailer while using the bowlines
  • Tie the bowlines to the cleats or pylon to prevent your boat from floating away.


Towing your boats requires getting the right resources and a high level of commitment. Get the necessary equipment and start towing right away.