Trailering a Boat Safely and Efficiently

Trailering a boat involves more than coupling the trailer to your vehicle – it also requires choosing the right vehicle for the task in the first place. For instance, if the combined weight of the boat and trailer is in excess of 6000 pounds, you cannot pull the load with a truck rated to pull only 5000 pounds.

Not all vehicles are built for trailer towing. Keep in mind your trailering needs and basic practicality when choosing a vehicle. You need a vehicle that can meet your daily needs and also be sturdy enough to tow your watercraft when you are ready to play.


Generally speaking, you can choose a GMC truck, van or SUV that meets your needs exactly. The higher the number incorporated into the model name, the larger the hauling capacity will be. For instance, if your boat is in the 6,000-pound range and the trailer is another 1,500 pounds, many Sierra 1500s would be appropriate as the 1500 series has a maximum trailer weight rating of 12,000 pounds. On the other hand, if the combined weight of the boat and trailer is significantly larger, you will need to consider something from a higher series number, such as the GMC Sierra 3500HD, which has a maximum trailer weight rating of 23,000 pounds when using a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer hitch.


Once you have chosen the GMC truck that meets your boat trailering needs, follow these steps to be sure you tow your boat safely and efficiently:


  • Never exceed the trailer weight rating of the GMC truck you are using, and pay close attention to such details as tongue weight and combination weight ratings
  • Before backing the boat trailer down a launch ramp, disconnect your trailer wiring, especially if your trailer uses incandescent bulbs for lighting. Doing so reduces the chance of breaking a light if cold water touches a warm bulb. Remember to reconnect your wiring once you’re out of the water again and ensure your lamps function as normal before heading out on the road
  • When loading the boat onto the trailer, distribute the weight properly; winch the boat forward as far as it can go on the trailer, but make sure the trailer bunks or rollers are evenly supporting the weight
  • Before heading out on the road, secure the boat to the trailer with boat straps
  • Adjust the mirrors properly, and install extended side-view mirrors, if needed
  • Make sure the lights are working properly on your boat trailer
  • Ensure that tires are properly inflated and in good condition
  • Remember that you are pulling a great deal of additional weight, and slow down your driving speed to allow for proper braking distances. Never exceed the speed rating of the tires on either the tow vehicle or trailer.
  • Use the proper hitch for the trailer you are pulling


Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.