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How To Trailer a Jet Ski Safely and Legally? [Video]

How To Trailer a Jet Ski Safely and Legally? [Video]

Trailering a jet ski is the most popular and safest way to transport a jet ski.

As smaller jet skis can be towed with sedans and can be stored easily in a garage, they become increasingly popular over boats.

But if you have a pickup, you can still choose from some exciting alternatives if you want to haul your jet ski without a trailer.  If you stick to trailers, you may want to know how to trailer a jet ski properly. Before you head to the water, make sure to check this boat ramp and marina locator tool to find the closest places lo launch your jet ski!

Get The Trailer and The Jet Ski Road-Ready

Trailering a jet ski always starts with thorough preparation, as an unsecured trailer or jet ski on it can lead to many dangerous situations, and even accidents! Because of this, you may want to do a safety inspection before you hit the road. Let’s see the most important tasks to look out for.

How Should a Jet Ski Sit On a Trailer?

A jet ski should always sit on a trailer in a centered position, fully loaded on the trailer. Having the jet ski in the right position on the trailer means that the hull is supported with the rollers/bunks properly. Also pay attention to the proper weight distribution!

How Do You Secure a Jet Ski On a Trailer?

Once it’s in the right position, you can secure your jet ski with some straps on the trailer. The best practice is to use three of them; two straps for the stern and one for the front. Make sure that all of them are tight!  Another key point to remember is that you always have to remove the cover while trailering the jet ski as it can damage the paint coating!

How Do You Secure a Jet Ski Trailer?

To secure a jet ski trailer, always make sure that the coupler is compatible with the ball hitch. Attach and secure the hitch to the ball, and don’t forget to attach the safety chains as well. The best practice is to crisscross the chain under the trailer’s frame, as it should support the weight of the load.

Also, take a look at the tires; they should be in good condition and properly inflated. The leading reason for trailer issues is a bad tire, so never overlook this step.

You may also want to check the wiring connection; make sure that the brake lights and turn signals work. If the trailer features a jack, don’t forget to fully retract it too.  Finally, never overlook the trailer’s load as well as your car’s towing capacities!

Gear up

Don’t forget to add your gear into the jet ski, but just make sure that everything is secured in the storage compartments. Also, don’t forget your key at home, which shouldn’t be left in the ski for security reasons.

Jet Ski Trailer Weight Distribution

Beyond the preparation check, don’t forget proper weight distribution. Even if jet skis don’t mean as much load as heavy boats, the weight distribution could be an issue, especially if you have a lot of gear and a ski full of jerry cans.

As a rule of thumb, around 60% of the total weight has to be distributed on the trailer’s front half, while the other 40% is on the rear. But for more information, always check the trailer’s owner’s manual, as different designs may require different weight distribution (e.g., single or dual axle).  Pay attention to the capacities of your trailer and car, and never exceed them! Also, your jet ski has to be centered on the trailer.

Jet Ski Trailering Checklist

While preparing your jet ski for towing, always check all of these carefully:


  • Trailer coupler compatibility
  • Make sure the trailer is hooked up properly
  • Attach the safety chains
  • Condition of the tires
  • Condition of the frame (look for rust!)
  • Wire connection and lights
  • Brakes (if the trailer features)
  • Fully retract the trailer jack
  • Double-check the trailer and tow vehicle capacities

Jet Ski:

  • Load the jet ski on the trailer properly
  • Secure the jet ski with 2-3 straps
  • Remove the cover
  • Load your gear into the jet ski
  • Pay attention to the right weight distribution
Beyond the above, it’s always wise to inspect the towing vehicle carefully, and make sure that a fire extinguisher is available in case something goes wrong. Once you’ve done this preparation, let’s see how you can tow a jet ski with a car properly!

How do You Tow a Jet Ski With a Car?

When it comes to towing a jet ski with your car, there are many details to look out for. The most important is to always drive carefully, as the trailer makes your car less responsive.  This means you’ll need more time to react and maneuver with the car.  Beyond a more challenging driving experience, there are many other important factors to look for. Let’s check them one-by-one.

Towing a Jet Ski Trailer

When you tow a jet ski with a car, the key is to always be aware that there’s a vessel attached behind you. This means you have to moderate your speed, especially during the turns.

The extra weight results in slower acceleration and a longer stopping distance. Because of this, it’s recommended you drive defensively and keep a greater following distance. An emergency stop can be very dangerous with a jet ski and the trailer pushing you.

If your trailer features brakes, it can help a lot especially when you drive down hills, as it can support your car’s brake system. If your brakes are getting too hot on the slopes, they can even stop working completely. Because of this, it’s recommended you purchase a jet ski trailer with brakes. Unfortunately, single jet ski trailers usually arrive without brakes.

You also have to change lanes and pass other vehicles carefully, as these maneuvers are always risky with a trailer. On a two-lane road, try to avoid passing other vehicles!

If passing or changing lanes is unavoidable, make sure that you have enough room for your trailer to avoid collisions with other vehicles. Hopefully the other drivers will be polite and give you some extra space.   When another vessel is passing you, stay calm and patient. Towing a jet ski with a car isn’t a drag race!

Turns and Backing up

When it comes to tight corners, always try to make as big an arc as possible. If you turn too narrowly, accidentally, don’t worry. You can back up with the trailer carefully; just make sure that there isn’t traffic behind you.

Backing up a jet ski trailer could be a little tricky, and needs a little practice at the beginning. If you need some help, ask one of your passengers to watch your trailer from outside and advise you how to steer the car.

Stop and Check the Trailer

Even if you’ve secured the straps tightly on the jet ski, the vibration on the road can result in loosened straps. So after 10- 20 miles, it’s recommended to stop and check if everything is right with your trailer.

If you tow a jet ski with a car for a greater distance, you may want to check the trailer every time you stop. You should inspect the hitch, wires, chains, straps, and the jet ski itself. Don’t forget the tires; if one of them is much warmer than the others, it’s a clue there’s something wrong with it.

Jet Ski Towing Tips

For your convenience, we’ve gathered the most important things to keep in mind while towing your jet ski with a car:
  • Inspect your trailer and secure the jet ski on it properly.
  • While towing, always be aware that a jet ski is towed behind you.
  • Drive defensively and moderate your speed.
  • Leave plenty of room around your trailer and tow vehicle.
  • Use brakes carefully, but with a steady and firm pressure.
  • Also steer straight if you apply the brake to avoid jackknifing.
  • Expect slower acceleration; you’ll need more distance to get up to speed.
  • Keep a longer following distance.
  • Be careful while changing lanes or passing vehicles; you’ll need extra distance to stay safe.
  • Avoid sharp and fast turns, as the trailer always cuts the corners more sharply than your car.
  • Stop after 10-20 miles and check the jet ski and the trailer.
  • Always back up the trailer carefully, you can learn the basics here.
  • Before you launch your jet ski, don’t forget the pre-ride checklist.

Jet Ski Trailering Insurance Issues

Is towing a jet ski covered by car insurance?  This is a typical question and with good reason.

When it comes to vehicle insurance, the rules of thumb is: if you ride your jet ski, you’re covered by jet ski insurance, but if you’re on the road, your car insurance covers you.  If your trailer damages other vehicles or property while you tow it, it usually covered by the car’s insurance.

But if your jet ski causes damage after it detaches from the trailer accidentally, it could be a tricky situation. It also could be an issue if another car damages your jet ski, as car insurance may not cover damage in many cases.  Finally, it always depends on your insurance policy, so don’t forget to check it before you hit the road.  If your jet ski is not covered with insurance while it’s towed on the road, you can probably add towing coverage to your car insurance.

Conclusion – How Do You Trailer a Jet Ski?

As they say, prevention is better than cure, so trailering a jet ski always starts with thorough preparation.  You should inspect the trailer and secure your jet ski on it carefully. Make sure that your jet ski is centered on the trailer, and pay attention to the proper weight distribution while you load your gear.

Make sure you don’t exceed the capacities of the trailer as well as the towing vehicle. A jet ski’s weight can vary widely, so it’s also wise to know your jet ski’s exact curb weight.

While you tow the jet ski with your car, you should always drive carefully and moderate your speed. Keep in mind that you’ll need much more space to pass another vehicle.  Also, don’t forget to check the applicable laws and regulations as the legal requirements for towing a jet ski may vary from state to state.  Beyond the proper trailering, you may also want to know how to launch and retrieve your jet ski!

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