Boat Towing and Trailer Safety Tips

Written by on . Posted in Summer

Trailering your boat safely and free from worry is the first step to enjoying a great boating season. We have put together some great safety tips to provide you with the knowledge and tools to do so safely. And, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please stop in or call us for more information. We’re here to help.

Always check your tow vehicle’s compatibility:

  • To determine the towing capacity of your vehicle, check your vehicle owner’s manual
  • Determine if the coupler, hitch, and hitch balls are compatible and meet state standards

Securing your boat:

  • Make sure the coupler and safety chains are secured to the hitch of your tow vehicle. Safety chains must be crisscrossed.
  • Secure tie down straps, winch/bow line (the winch line is not a tie down), and any gear in your vessel
  • Tilt and secure the engine
  • Remove the drain plug & drain any water-related equipment (required by Minnesota law)


  • Be sure tires are properly inflated
  • Always check the wheel lug nuts to be sure they are properly tightened
  • Keep the wheel bearings properly adjusted and maintained
  • Determine if the load is within maximum load carrying capacity


  • Double check trailer lighting is working properly.
    • Minnesota requires two red taillights, license plate light (not required on trailers with permanent registration), and two red reflectors on the rear of all trailers.
    • Signal and brake lamps are recommended on all trailers and required whenever the signals of the towing vehicle are not visible to other drivers.
  • Be sure trailer brakes are properly adjusted and working
  • State regulations may vary regarding brakes and any additional required equipment, so double check 

For more safe boating questions and tips, please consult the Minnesota DNR Boating Guide brochure.

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