Photo showing a GMC pickup truck trailering a boat.
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Heading to the water this summer? Here are some useful pointers for trailering and launching watercraft, along with ways GMC trucks and SUVs can make trailering easier.

Whether you own a jet ski, speed boat, a small sail boat, a pontoon, or a bass fishing boat, there’s no better time to get out and enjoy life on the water than summer. That said, unless you happen to live on the water or have access to a private slip, chances are you’ll need to trailer your vessel from your home to shore.

“Boating safety doesn’t only apply to principles applied while out on the water,” says Ted Sensenbrenner, assistant director of boating safety programs at BoatUS, the Boat Owners Association of The United States. “It also applies when you trailer and launch your boat, jet ski, or other watercraft.”



  • Check your trailer before you go. Inspect your tires and axles before you head out on the road. If tires are old, dry-rotted, or show signs of damage or excessive wear, have it inspected and or replaced by a professional tire shop before progressing further. If tires are in good condition but are under-inflated, add air until they reach their specified pressure. If axle bearings are dry, add grease/ lubrication as necessary. Also, connect your trailer wiring to your tow vehicle and test trailer lighting. Replace any bulbs as needed.
  • Drive Safely. A loaded trailer adds extra weight, so allow plenty of following distance, and accelerate and brake gradually. Keep in mind a trailer also affects your vehicle’s turning radius – be sure to use your mirrors and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Be prepared to launch. Boat launches can be busy on weekends or holidays, especially with good weather. Don’t hog the launch ramp or dock – have your boat ready to launch before you’re in a position to back down the ramp. Use the parking area to remove transport straps, secure docking lines, load lifejackets, skis or towable toys, and other cargo. Now’s also a good time to ensure you locate the vessel’s ignition key. Make sure to also unplug your trailer’s electrical connection before backing into the water in order to prevent shorts or burned-out bulbs.
  • Drain closed, battery on. Boats and watercraft frequently have a transom drain plug. Make sure this is installed and fully seated before backing into the water. Likewise, if your vessel has a battery cut-off switch, ensure it’s switched to the on position.
  • Have a helper: Yes, it is possible to launch a boat single-handedly, but having a helper or two) to not only guide you down the ramp but also help secure the boat to the dock once free of the trailer can make for an easier, more efficient launch.
  • Lock your rig: If you plan on leaving your vehicle and trailer in a parking lot while spending a day on the water, make sure it’s locked before you leave. In addition to locking the vehicle doors, aftermarket locks for both the trailer hitch pin and the trailer’s hitch release help can help secure your trailer.

While those basic boat trailering skills are essential, GMC vehicles offer a number of features and amenities to help make boat trailering a (sea) breeze.

  • Rear-view camera: Standard on all GMC trucks and crossovers, this camera gives the driver another view of what’s behind the vehicle – which can be especially helpful when backing down a boat launch, or even backing up to a trailer in the first place.
  • Integrated Trailer Connections: Available on Sierra, Canyon, and Yukon, this provides both 4- and 7-pin trailer wiring connectors at the rear bumper, making it easier to connect to your trailer’s wiring harness.
  • Integrated Trailer Brake Controller: for larger boat trailers with electric-over-hydraulic brakes, the available Integrated Trailer Brake Controller, offered on Sierra, Canyon Diesel, and Yukon, allows the driver to adjust brake application in order to provide smooth, controlled stops.
  • Trailering Mirrors: Available on Sierra and Sierra HD, these large mirrors not only provide a convex section, but slide out, giving a wider viewing angle. Certain models are also available with rear-facing lights, which illuminate to provide extra visibility when hooking up to a trailer at night.
  • Automatic Locking Rear Differential: Available on Sierra, Canyon, and Yukon, this intelligent rear axle senses if one wheel loses grip on the launch ramp and automatically locks, ensuring power is sent to the wheel with the most traction.
  • Tow/ Haul Mode: To provide ready power for accelerating when trailering or hauling heavy loads, Tow/Haul mode – available throughout the GMC lineup - raises transmission upshift points.
  • Digital Steering Assist: Sierra HD models are available with this innovative power steering assist, which reduces effort when maneuvering large boat trailers in parking lots.
  • Active Tow: Available on the GMC Acadia, Active Tow allows you to not only line your hitch pin with a trailer with unique guide lines, but also quickly check your hitch connection while on the road.

For more information on trailering with a GMC, visit the GMC Trailering and Towing page.

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