How to Choose a Boat Trailer
Navigate your options with help from our trailer experts.
Picking the right trailer shouldn’t be difficult. We want to provide all of the information you could need so you can get out on the water faster. Here are a few questions to guide your decision.
What’s Your Boat Length and Weight?
The Bow Eye to Transom/Drain Plug measurement is the most critical measurement when selecting the proper trailer for your boat. When determining boat length, you should never include the swim platform, bow pulpits or Euro transoms. Many boat manufacturers include the length of swim platforms and bow pulpits in the overall boat length (LOA). Make sure you get the correct bow eye to transom/drain plug measurement otherwise it can result in an improper fit. Below are some forms that will help you get the closest fit for your boat. Print the form, take the measurements of your hull and provide to your dealer to assist in getting the right trailer for your boat.
When considering the proper weight capacity for your trailer, the boat’s “wet” weight is the most important. Most boat manufacturers publish a “dry” weight which is the weight of the boat minus the engine, fuel, and equipment. It is the boat owners responsibility to find out how much the boat weighs fully loaded with fuel, water, batteries, outboard engine(s), equipment and T-top or hard top if applicable.
Bunk Trailers or Rollers Trailers?
There are two types of boat trailers to consider when buying a boat trailer: bunk trailers or roller trailers. Both types have advantages and disadvantages.
Bunk trailers are more affordable than roller trailers due to the simplistic design that requires fewer working parts. Less working parts equal less maintenance and repair over the life of the trailer. Most bunk trailers allow for drive-on capability because the trailer must be relatively deep in the water to launch and retrieve your boat. They operate best in optimal ramp and tide conditions.
The disadvantage to bunk trailers is that because you have to submerge the trailer deeper into the water your running gear (brakes, hubs, springs, axles) is more vulnerable to damage, especially in salt water environments.
Roller trailers are the best option when you are launching and loading at shallow ramps or low tides. Because of the design, roller trailers do not need to be submerged in the water as deep as bunk trailers typically do. The running gear (brakes, hubs, springs, axles, etc.) is not exposed to the salt or fresh water as frequently which causes less damage long term. Roller trailers are typically more expensive to purchase and more costly to maintain.
Venture Tip: Looking for a less expensive option? You can get a bunk trailer and invest in poly bunk sleeves for a quick and easy launch.
Are you storing your boat on your trailer?
When boats tend to sit for long periods of time, they can deform where the weight rests. Slight divots may appear in the hull over time. This can happen with both bunk and roller trailers but can happen more often with rollers. Bunk trailers provide great support for boat storage because the bunks spread the weight load over a larger area.
Aluminum or Galvanized Steel Frame?
There are two types of materials used to manufacture boat trailers: aluminum and steel.
Galvanized Steel Trailers
Galvanized steel trailers protect light wiring and brake lines inside the tubing. However, while it is more resistant to corrosion than raw steel, galvanized steel is more prone to rust. Galvanized steel trailers do weigh more than aluminum which is important when looking at your tow vehicle capabilities and the weight of your boat and trailer package.
Aluminum trailers tend to get the popular vote in many geographical areas because they are lightweight, easier to maneuver and offer great corrosion resistance. Aluminum will corrode, but it will not rust. Aluminum trailers improve fuel economy because it will lighten the weight of your tow package versus steel. Aluminum trailers also get a high degree of aesthetic appeal.
Venture Tip: Acid based hull cleaners will damage aluminum and galvanized steel frames. Be sure to cover your trailer before washing your boat with these cleaners.
Torsion or Spring Suspension?
Both torsion and suspensions have a record of reliability. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but it comes down to your preference because they both work great in their own way.
Torsion axles are made up of thick rubber cords concealed in the axle’s tubing. As each wheel moves up and down, the rubber cords compress offering an even wheel suspension for a smooth ride. Each wheel acts independently, moving and absorbing shocks. Torsion axles are mounted directly to the frame which means fewer moving parts compared to spring suspensions, resulting in a smoother shock action. This stiffens the frame, reducing flex.
This system is also less likely to corrode because the axle tube is galvanized inside and out. There are no metal-to-metal action like springs, so bare metal isn’t exposed, preventing corrosion. There are fewer working parts in a torsion suspension, therefore less maintenance is required.
The disadvantages of torsion are they are more expensive than spring suspensions and more expensive to repair or replace. There is also no impact distribution, so if you hit a curb, the full impact is on one wheel or set of wheels.
Leaf springs have been used for centuries and have proven to be solid performers. This is the most widely used suspension system due to its affordability. Spring suspensions are the most dependable for even tire wear and a steady ride, especially in multi-axle applications. Leaf springs better absorb the load from uneven ground or shock from a pothole. Each tire has its own set of springs. If you have to store your trailer on uneven ground, the independent wheel suspension means the trailer will hold up better over time. Spring suspensions are cheaper and easier to repair compared to torsion suspensions.
One con of springs is the metal-on-metal design can lead to faster wear, leading to more frequent repairs. Spring suspensions also tend to be a bouncy ride with an empty load or on uneven, rough roads.
Are you buying a trailer for a Pontoon Boat?
Here are some specific things to consider when buying a trailer for your pontoon boat:
Correct Trailer Length for your Pontoon Boat: Pontoon Tubes
Your trailer should be the length of the pontoon tubes plus anywhere from 3′-5′ to allow for a swing radius at the front of the tubes. If you put a 20’ pontoon boat on a 20’ trailer, in a tight turn there won’t be enough trailer tongue, the front of the tubes could hit the back of the tow vehicle.
Brake laws vary from state to state. Brake laws are based on GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). The GVWR is the empty weight of the trailer plus the capacity for which the trailer is rated. We’ve attached a listing of brake requirements per state for your convenience.
Tow Vehicle Capability
Check the owner’s manual and review the manufacturer’s guide to see if the vehicle you plan to buy can tow a trailer. After you have reviewed the vehicle capabilities, you also must investigate the capabilities of compatible hitch systems for the vehicle. This is especially important if you plan to purchase a hitch from a source other than the vehicle manufacturer.
If you already have a tow vehicle, look up its tow rating: size, maximum loaded weight, and the maximum tongue weight of a trailer that the tow vehicle is capable of towing. The vehicle owner’s manual contains these specifications. Most automotive manufacturers and dealerships have towing specification guides with tow ratings and detailed information if extra equipment is needed to tow a trailer. While your vehicle may have certain tow ratings, remember you must have a matching hitch system that can handle the same specifications. To ensure safety, you may have to install extra towing equipment.
Two types of lights are available on our boat trailers. Incandescent and LED. All Venture Trailers are manufactured with submersible incandescent lights. The lights are manufactured with a sealed gasket, making them waterproof. If you are looking to upgrade your trailer, we offer LED lighting for a minimal cost. LED lights, due to their design using light-emitting diodes, last longer than incandescent because they withstand road vibration and shock much more effectively than bulbs. LED lights are growing in popularity in the trailer world.
Tongue jacks are a piece of equipment that can make your trailering experience easier. A tongue jack raises and lowers your boat to allow you to hook and unhook boat trailer, as well as move your trailer around with ease. Venture Trailers that come standard with brakes manufactured on them will come with a tongue jack. The type and capacity of the jack will vary based on the size of the trailer. We have three types of tongue jacks. You can always upgrade your tongue jack to any of these styles if your trailer does not come with it.
Single Wheel Tongue Jack
Single wheel jacks typically have a capacity of 1200lbs or less and are used on trailers with a capacity of 5700lbs and down.
Dual Wheel Tongue Jack
Dual wheel jacks make maneuverability easy with larger boat and trailer packages.
Foot jacks have a foot versus a wheel on the bottom. These styled jacks typically come with higher capacities as they are used on larger boat and trailer packages that you would not typically move around on your own. Their purpose is to extend up and down.
Load guides are optional accessories that make it easier to center the boat on the trailer during loading. They attach to the rear of the trailer and extend out of the water providing two visual targets. They are particularly helpful if you do a lot of loading and launching in windy conditions or river currents.
Poly Bunk Covers
Most Venture Trailers come standard with marine carpeted bunks. Marine carpet is made of a polypropylene material which is very similar to other plastic parts on boat trailers. Carpet will protect the fiberglass gel coat and allow for a gentle load and launch. Poly bunk covers are optional accessories applied to the top of trailer bunks so your boat launches and loads effortlessly. Poly bunk covers are UV resistant making them tough and durable in a marine environment. They are less likely to split or tear over time.
Tires on boat trailers have to be ST tires which stands for Special Tire. ST tires are designed specifically for trailers. They are built to carry heavy loads on non-powered axles. All Venture Trailers, with the exception of some of our smaller capacity models, come with balanced radial ST tires. Radial tires have more flex, therefore, allowing more ground contact. The end result is better traction and tread wear.
We use Counteract Balancing Beads in our tires to increase your tire life, reduce vibrations and improve fuel economy.
Another added feature with Venture Trailers is the Tredit Advantage Program. The Tredit Advantage Program powered by Urgent.ly is your nationwide, 24/7, on-demand, roadside assistance app. It’s just like Uber, only for roadside assistance. If you require a tow or a winch, a jump for your dead battery, help to change a flat tire, key replacement or are locked out we’ve got you covered.
Venture Tip: Never substitute light truck (LT) or passenger (P) tires for trailer tires.