Tips for easily turning a boat trailer

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If you’re new to towing, you’ll find that turning a boat trailer can be quite challenging. Here’s our boat trailer guide to help you turn expertly.

Swing wide

The longer the trailer, the wider your turning circle is. When towing a boat trailer in particular, your load is quite long so you’ll need to take a good swing to make sure you clear any kerbs or other vehicles around you.

Your car and your trailer are two separate identities

Sure, one is pulling the other along, but your boat trailer has its own turning circle that may not be as good as your vehicle. Just because your vehicle can make a turn, don’t assume your trailer can too.

Don’t turn sharply

When learning how to turn with a boat trailer, the last thing you want to do is jackknife (this occurs when the tow vehicle and trailer bend abruptly to form a ‘V’ shape). [link to article: How to avoid jackknifing when driving your boat trailer] Always move calmly and steadily, and give yourself plenty of time and space to make any turns.

Watch your mirrors

Keeping an eye on your mirrors at all times will help ensure your boat trailer clears all surrounding obstacles. If you can’t see past your trailer adequately, you’re legally required to fit extension mirrors.

Check your wiring

To make a safe turn you need to use your indicator, so ensure your trailer is correctly wired into the towing vehicle’s electronics. Check this regularly, so you know it’s still working.

Be aware that your stopping distance is slower while towing a boat, so you should brake and indicate well in advance before making a turn, keeping other drivers informed of your intentions.

Be mindful of your load’s weight

If you’re turning whilst facing down or up a hill, the handling of the vehicle can be affected. For example, if you’re turning up a steep road or driveway, the weight of the boat trailer will be at the rear of the vehicle and on the trailer itself, which may take away the car’s front wheel traction. Try to be aware of where the weight is as you’re turning so you can control or prevent challenging situations.

Know your turning circle

Practice in a large open area and work out how much space you need to make a full turn. That way you’ll be prepared in the event of a dead-end road or when you have to manoeuvre on or near a boat ramp.

Remember, it’s all about repetition, so try different turns and get to know what your vehicle and boat trailer can do.
Now that you know how to turn, it’s time to read up on reversing a boat trailer.


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