Boat trailers are essential for boat owners. After all, the noble piece has to get to the water somehow. If you did not have the necessary trailer coupling installed at the factory when you bought a new one, a coupling must be installed later. Before that, there are a lot of things to consider and consider.
9 tips for driving a boat trailer
1) Note the restrictions of the trailer driving license
It sounds banal, but it isn’t. Before you can set off with the trailer and boat, you have to check whether you have the appropriate driver’s license. Driving with a trailer up to 3.5 tonnes is permitted without restriction with old-class driving licenses. Since 1999, a BE class driving license has been required for towing a trailer with a trailer load of 750 kg or more. A separate driving test with a trailer is carried out for this. Boat trailers with boat and equipment usually exceed this limit of 750 kg, so that a driving test may have to be taken.
2) Is your towing vehicle suitable for a boat trailer?
This question is often forgotten. Many have a trailer hitch and simply attach the trailer. But not every car has enough trailer load to tow a boat trailer with cargo.
The technically permissible trailer load of your car can be found in the registration certificate Part I under point O.1 (braked trailer load) and O.2 (unbraked trailer load).
It should be noted that the permissible trailer load or the permissible total weight of the towing vehicle (technically permissible total weight, registration certificate part 1, item F1) could be restricted by further information in the vehicle documents, namely the permissible total weight of the train.
The total weight of the train is made up of the actual total weight of the towing vehicle including the occupants and the load and the actual weight of the trailer including the load. The actual total weight of the train must not exceed the information given in the vehicle documents (registration certificate, part 1, item 22).
If the sum of the maximum permissible trailer load and the maximum permissible total weight of the towing vehicle exceeds the permissible total weight of the train, either the permissible trailer load or the permissible total weight cannot be fully utilized.
In addition to the trailer load, the vertical load also plays an important role. The vertical load acts on the ball of the trailer coupling, i.e. from above. The maximum permissible vertical load (approval certificate part 1, item 13) must not be exceeded either. Too high a vertical load leads to an overload of the rear structure of the vehicle and possibly the rear axle of the towing vehicle. The front axle can be unfavorably relieved (steering and traction). For reasons of driving stability, however, the permissible vertical load should be used to the full.
The vertical load of the trailer coupling is usually matched to the permissible vertical load of the vehicle. In individual cases, the values for the trailer coupling can deviate from the vehicle values. The lower value is then always decisive.
It is important to determine the actual vertical load of the trailer. Corresponding support scales are available in various designs from specialist dealers for this purpose. A bathroom scale can also be used as an alternative. The trailer should stand straight and on level ground. The support load can be determined by carefully positioning the support wheel of the trailer on the bathroom scales.
3) The right clutch model
Rigid, removable or pivotable? That is the question of the questions. Before you buy a towbar, you should consider which towbar is ideal for your use. Do you drive a lot with the trailer? Is it important to you that the trailer hitch is not visible when it is not in use? Is flexibility important to you? For heavy users, a rigid towbar is always a good, solid solution. However, if you want to be flexible and do not want to influence the appearance of the car when the towbar is not in use, detachable or swiveling towbars are a good solution. These are easy to use and do not interfere with the design of the car, but the towbars can be installed quickly and easily if required and are immediately ready for use.
4) Products made in Germany
A trailer coupling is a safety-relevant accessory. Therefore, you shouldn’t save at the wrong end and go for the first, cheap offer. Unfortunately, savings are made in many areas in the manufacture of the coupling. Sometimes the accuracy of fit or the ease of assembly can then differ greatly from higher quality products.
You as a consumer do not have the possibility to distinguish good towbars from bad ones.
By buying a trailer coupling from one of the well-known manufacturers in Germany, you are always on the right side. Design and production in Germany is still a good sign for good quality and excellent products.
A tip: Find out in advance about the various manufacturers on the Internet. Has a friend already upgraded? You will find many reports and reviews on the relevant manufacturers on the German market. It is certainly worth a look.
5) Familiarize yourself with the team
If all the requirements are met, nothing stands in the way of purchasing a clutch and boat trailer.
Beginners in particular should consider before their first journey: When towing a trailer, the vehicle behaves differently than in normal operation:
- The curve radius or the turning radius is larger.
- Additional mirrors may be required if the trailer is wider than the towing vehicle.
- The acceleration and braking behavior are different.
- The length of the team takes getting used to in any case.
- You need to know how big a gap has to be for easy merging into flowing traffic in order to avoid hectic driving maneuvers and accidents.
These circumstances and questions require special attention. It is therefore of enormous importance to familiarize yourself with the team. Driving safety training is best for this, as there are also many tips and tricks about driving a trailer.
6) What is the maximum permitted speed?
In Germany, a maximum speed of 80 km / h is permitted when driving a trailer. However, according to the 9th Exemption Ordinance on the Road Traffic Act, there is a special regulation that allows a maximum speed of 100 km / h. In order to obtain a permit for 100 km / h, the following requirements must be met.
The towing vehicle must not be heavier than 3.5 tons and must have an automatic anti-lock device (commonly known as ABS). In addition, the trailer tires must be less than six years old and have at least speed category L (120 km / h).
If the trailer is also equipped with a brake and hydraulic vibration dampers, nothing stands in the way of driving the boat trailer.
It should be noted, however, that the maximum permissible mass of the trailer, which is to be operated at 100 km / h, depends on other technical factors. If only the above-mentioned equipment features of the towing vehicle and the trailer are met, the permissible mass of the trailer may be 1.1 times the unladen mass of the towing vehicle. So if the towing vehicle weighs 2 tons, the permissible mass of the trailer can reach 2.2 tons.
This value increases 1.2 times if the towing vehicle has a special dynamic stability system for trailer operation (generally known as ESP) or if the trailer is equipped with a suitable coupling with a stabilization device (roll coupling) or with a suitable dynamic stability system is.
If there is no brake or hydraulic vibration damper on the trailer, its permissible mass must not exceed 0.3 times the empty mass of the towing vehicle. That can be too little for a boat trailer.
Last but not least, the permissible total mass of the trailer must be less than or at most equal to the permissible trailer load and must not exceed the permissible total mass of the towing vehicle. The trailer must be loaded in such a way that the maximum permissible vertical load of the combination is approximately reached. Nevertheless, it is advisable to use the permissible vertical load for the driving behavior of the trailer.
7) Maneuvering with the trailer
Maneuvering and parking with a trailer in particular is not easy and should be practiced at the beginning. Each team reacts differently and must be operated individually. Above all, it is important to always remain calm. Hectic steering and driving back and forth is useless and usually does not have the desired effect. Take your time to test how the trailer reacts and what you have to consider with your team. The following applies: When reversing, you have to steer in the opposite direction so that the trailer moves in the desired direction. Beginners in particular should do a few practice laps with the trailer before their first real ride. In this context, reference should be made once again to the driver safety training mentioned above.
8) Driving uphill with the trailer
In general, all-wheel drive vehicles are better suited for driving uphill and can pull the trailer better. The all-wheel drive simplifies the journey, especially when approaching the mountain. Driving with a rear-wheel drive vehicle is also more advantageous, since the traction of the rear wheels is favored with rear-wheel drive. Driving downhill should be in the lowest possible gear in order to take advantage of the engine’s braking effect.
9) cornering with the trailer
Pay attention to the length of the team when cornering. The curve radius is larger for a team. Sometimes you ‘run out of bend’ because the trailer does not follow the line actually driven due to the larger bend radius.