Are You Breaking the Law When You Haul Your Snowmobile?
There's a fresh layer of snow blanketing the ground and a few free days on the calendar. It's time to ride! But, resist the temptation to tuck the snowmobile in the back of the pick-up and hit the trails.
Trailering or towing your sled illegally can lead to some hefty fines and put other motorists at risk of an accident if the machine is not properly secured or hangs over the end of the truck's open tailgate.
Transporting a Snowmobile Legally
Avoid any run-ins with local authorities. Use a snowmobile trailer that is street legal.
Some states require specialized licensing for the trailer, sled and hauling vehicle. Contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Natural Resources for local regulations. Or, browse Trailers.com's state-by-state online listing of trailer regulations. Here's a helpful look-up to get started:
Note: Don't forget to inquire about adjacent states if you're traveling or live on the border of more than one state.
Find the Rules in Your State:
Buying a Snowmobile Trailer
Don't have a trailer? It's time to go shopping. Since most snowmobiles won't fit in a standard 6-foot truck bed and homemade trailers are often not the most reliable option, it's safest to buy a snowmobile trailer designed to handle the weight and length of hauling one or more sleds.
The two main types of trailers to consider are flatbed open trailers and taller enclosed trailers. Both styles of trailers must have a ramp (with optional tilting features), winch or folding door system that doubles as a loading ramp.
Some manufacturers, like PROLine Products LLC in Milton, New Hampshire, offer custom trailers with features such as floor rails to tie down sleds, extra-wide trailer tires for even weight distribution on the road and interior lighting systems in enclosed trailers for avid travelers.
A few snowmobile trailer brands to explore include Triton, Trailswest, Cargo Mate, Class Act, Hallmark Car Hauler, Charmac, Featherlite, Wells Cargo, Pace American, Tri-Sport, Mirage and Interstate.
Snowmobile Trailering Safety Tips
Once you've found a trailer to make transporting the snowmobile possible legally, be sure to set it up properly to stay safe. The Snowmobile Safety Awareness Program (SSAP) recommends checking to make sure you use:
- the proper hitch and ball size for your vehicle and trailer combination
- safety chains in addition to the hitch
- a secure electrical connection with working tail lights and turn signals
- proper tire pressure based on the weight of your sled
- a vehicle that has a tow rating strong enough to pull a loaded trailer
Always make sure the trailer is fully secured to the towing vehicle before loading and unloading the snowmobile. This reduces unwanted jarring motions and shifting at the hitch, which can cause damage to the ball joint.
It's best to have at least two adults available during loading and unloading. One drives or winches the sled while the other assists. When loading a sled, hoist it halfway onto the trailer, then turn off the engine and pull it the rest of the way into its final parked position.
Secure the skis in place with snap pins and a cross bar to ensure the sled doesn't shift during transportation. The SSAP recommends having 60 percent of the snowmobile's weight between the trailer axle and the back of the hauling vehicle.
Finally, engage the machine's braking system and use tie downs for added stability inside the trailer.
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About the author: Angela Tague writes blogs for major brands including Bounty, Lowe's Home Improvement and Hidden Valley. She also provides feature content to newspapers and writes blogs for Daily Glow, Everyday Health and Walgreens.
Angela has worked in news writing since 1998. Her journalism career has led to positions at The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, The Sioux City (Iowa) Journal and several weeklies in the Midwest.
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