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Boat Towing Requirements: Can Your Vehicle Pull Your Boat?

How do you know if your vehicle is powerful enough to tow your boat? In this article, we look at all the things to consider when determining your boat towing requirements.

If you’ve been following along, we’ve covered how to pick the right boat for you and how to know pick the right motor. One last major consideration is whether or not your vehicle can tow the boat you want.

For the most part, it can be summed up like this:

  • A sedan or compact vehicle can probably tow a utility boat.
  • A van or compact SUV can probably tow a full-size fishing boat or smaller pontoon boat.
  • A truck or full-size SUV can probably pull all of the above, plus full-size pontoon boats as well.

Of course, note that the keyword in all of those is “probably”. This is not enough to make a major purchase decision.

Why Boat Towing Capacity Matters

You may be tempted to think that the only thing that matters is whether your vehicle is powerful enough to pull your boat forward. But more important that the ability to pull is the ability to control.

The last thing you want is to be driving down the highway at 100 km per hour, needing to slam on the breaks, and discovering that your boat trailer doesn’t stop with you. This sort of problem can lead to losing control and causing potentially multi-vehicle collisions.

How to Find Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity

This is actually really easy and simple: Just check your vehicle’s ownership manual. It should specify towing capacity. (If it does not, your vehicle may not be able certified for towing any capacity at all.)

Sample maximum towing capacity for a 2014 Honda CR-V.

Sample page from an owner’s manual, showing maximum towing capacity.

In the example above, the maximum towing capacity is 1,500 lbs. See? Nice and simple.

What’s the Heaviest Boat Your Vehicle Can Tow?

The simple answer, as we’ve seen, is that your vehicle can tow as much as the owner’s manual says it can. So can you go ahead and buy any boat that weighs less than that?

Yes, and no.

See, that maximum towing capacity has to also include the weight of the trailer, any gear or accessories stored in the boat, as well as fuel.

To make this as simple as possible, Legend Boats estimates the full weight you need to take into account:

  • Hull
  • Fuel tank (full)
  • Trailer
  • Motor
  • Common accessories

How to find your boat's towing requirements

The boat towing requirements for an X18 fishing boat.

The Towing Weight listed alongside our boats take all of that into account. If it’s less than your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity, then your vehicle is perfectly suited for towing your boat.

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