Should You Always (almost) Take the Trailer When Buying a Boat?

Posted By Sean Horsfall On August 23, 2018
Take the Trailer When Buying a Boat?

We have sold many, many boats engines and trailers over the years. About 80-85% of them (under 26’ in length) and sold with a trailer as part of the new or used boat package. Many people feel that they need and or want it for one reason or another. The other 15-20% feel they don’t need the trailer. This post is about why you might want to consider the trailer, even if you are 99% sure you don’t want it.

For people who choose the trailer, the common reasons usually include:

  1. Wanting to launch the boat in different bodies of water and having the freedom to do so
  2. Ability to keep the bottom clean all season long by keeping it out of the water
  3. No permanent dock available or marina on the water they boat on
  4. Freedom to service and/or store at any location they choose
  5. Ability to take the boat out during storms
  6. Ability to more easily do your own service if you want

Now, the “no trailer” arguments are often:

  1. Have a dock and/or marina that the boat stays in all season long
  2. No desire to ever trailer it anywhere to another body of water
  3. No tow vehicle available
  4. Boat on a canal or series of lakes that gives access to anywhere in the world (like Rideau Canal, Trent Severn, Ottawa River, or Thousand Islands as example).
  5. Just another piece of equipment to buy, maintain, and store for no reason

All of those are valid and true as well, and for years we supported those thoughts. Being a full service marina, we are more than happy to handle all of a boaters dock, storage, service needs with our own equipment.

Lately though, we have been changing our thinking on this subject as some trends are occurring in the industry and it makes the question boat trailer ownership more grey.

The two main reasons are resale value / selling frequency, and uniqueness of boat hull design. Over the years of being a marina and in boat sales, we have seen the duration of boat ownership cycle time shorten. We estimate that what typically was a 8-10 year boat ownership before selling or trading has shortened to 4-6 years. This may be partially due to the rise of different types of boats, and where 25 years ago, almost everyone had one of 2-3 types of boats, now there is a diverse range and as people’s wants change, so does access to different types of boats.

Also, boats have become more complex and use specific (bass boats, walleye boats, center consoles, inboard towboats, forward facing drive boats, dual pontoons, triple pontoons, multiple engines, etc.). They also are now available in many more lengths. The number of trailers needed to move them safely down the highway and around the yard safely has multiplied. It would have been common to have 2-3 “yard trailers” in the past around a marina. At the moment, we have about 10 different ones to accommodate all these boat styles; many smaller marinas don’t have that capacity.

Chaparral surf boat on trailer

Owning your own trailer that perfectly matches your boat’s design guarantees it is safely and properly moved around and stored, with way less possibility of damage due to using the wrong trailer type or size. Your boat spends a lot of time out of the water and being on the right trailer will reduce the chance of long term hull damage. Having a trailer also allows you to pick any marina/boat dealer for your service as you aren’t tied to any of them.

triple pontoon boat

Now onto the financial part. If you think you will own the boat for anytime up to 8 – 10 years (and no longer), you will find that owning the trailer actually costs you very little. Let me explain:

As I mentioned earlier, about 85% of people want trailers for their boats.  Because of that, not having one reduces the number of potential buyers dramatically and therefore the time to sell can increase. Often people will like your used boat and say “is there a trailer included”. When you say no, they may pass altogether or look for a used trailer to fit. This is a very hard thing to find. Often they end up shopping for a new trailer. This causes them to devalue your boat in the buyer’s eye, and they offer less.

The same thing happens when you trade it in. The dealer knows there is a strong likelihood that they will need to put a trailer in the package, and probably a new one, therefore your trade value can be impacted negatively. In theory, a good used trailer as part of a boat package will retain 70-95% of its value.

So owning the trailer will cost very little when all is said and done, give you way more flexibility and choices, help you sell it quicker and get a better price for it, and be better for your boat in the long run. When you are purchasing a new or used boat, and a trailer is available with the package, we strongly suggest you take it. You may never use it to go anywhere, and that is ok too.

Check out The Used Boat Buying Guide