Buyers Guide to Boat Trailers

Ashton Marine Services are one of the few companies in the UK to offer such a wide variety of boat trailers and as keen boaters ourselves we hope you find the below guide interesting and helpful

Type of Boat Trailer for Easiest Recovery

Like a lot of subjects in the marine trade there is huge range of opinion as to the easiest type of trailer to use when recovering i.e. bunked or roller

With recovery being the hardest part, a lot of people and trailer companies will tell you the more rollers the better and the more the cradle moves with the rollers the better.  However, in our opinion this is only true if recovering in very shallow water, as the bunked trailer needs the boat to be floated on. 


Bunked: Best for when you can float the boat onto the trailer i.e. launching from a good slip

Roller:  Best for shallow water i.e .where the boat can not be floated on and the the most versatile 

Recovery Arms

When the wind is blowing across your boat, having recovery arms makes recovery far easier even if buying a beak back roller coaster type. This is one option that we would suggest you seriously consider as the little extra for these could save you a lot of time and trouble and even more so if you are short handed!

Best use for Roller Coaster Trailers

They are by far more versatile than a bunked trailer as bunked requires the boat to be floating on and this means short steep slips or very shallow water are far easier with the roller coaster type.

Best use of Bunked Boat Trailers

Most suited for a good to steep slip where the water depth means you can float the boat on to the boat trailer. Please note that it is not advised to use these in very shallow waters so if you do need versatility this is not really an option. 

Best of Both Worlds

The best trailers that do both of these are made by Vanclaes as they keep the principle of the bunked system that gives all of the advantages but the design incorporates the Gyro roller system making it far easier to recover in shallow waters hence giving you the versatility of a roller trailer



In addition to the type of trailer (bunked or roller) the next big consideration for most people is cost and value for money for example, is the extra money worth the extra benefit?

 The Best / High Usage Trailers

If you are someone that tows a lot and / or is simply wanting the best that you can get then the choice we believe is simple as Vanclaes trailers are:

  • By far the easiest to use due to the Gyro roller system
  • Stainless steel frames that don’t rust
  • Option of disk brakes
  • Sealed bearing hubs so never get wet
  • Waterproof LED lights (no light board to take off before launching)
  • Add the highest resale value when selling you boat compared to other makes of trailer
  • Look amazing

If however you only tow a few times a year then there are a number of options available as follows:

  • Used
  • Standard galvanised
  • Quality galvanised
  • Hiring


One of the most common problems we see when buying used is the cost of maintenance as it is often hard to see what state the axle is in, have the brakes just been disconnected or removed, is any rust serious of just surface rust, can it be adjusted to the boat etc.

Having said all that for people who go far or often there are bargains to be found if you are willing to do the work yourself. They are often less good value if you pay someone and need new parts as these quickly add up so our tip would be yes if you can self-service and if you can actually find one!

Standard Trailers

These are simply cheaper versions of good boat trailers and represent great value for money and perfect for people who don’t use the trailer a lot or are not looking to keep the boat for a long time. Most of these come with a single galvanised frame, cheaper and less rugged jockey wheels, more basic winches, smaller tyres etc.

Quality New Galvanised Trailers

These trailers are better suited to people who tow on a more regular basis and plan to keep the boat for more than just a few years. Additional galvanised bars on the trailer provides more strength, 2 speed winches helps with recovery, bigger wheels for smoother towing etc.


Hiring for a standard boat trailer costs approx £100 per day so, great if you only need it once or twice a year but very expensive if you need to use it a bit more. Also remember that the hire companies don’t like you using it for supporting your boat for maintenance work i.e. anti fouling etc.


We would always recommend getting 2 quotes that are the closest fit to your needs i.e.

  • Used and standard new trailer
  • New standard and a quality new trailer
  • Quality trailer and Vanclaes

This will make it far easier to evaluate if the added features are worth that bit extra

Buying a Used Boat Trailer

We have added this small section to help people who do want to self source a boat trailer and though we are talking about potential problems these trailer often represent good value for money and hence please do not be put off

Visual and Physical checks

Check that the hitch is working and locks into place. There should also be a metal wire on braked trailers that goes through your tow ball to engage the brake in the very unlikely event it the boat trailer becomes unattached

Tap the trailer lightly with a hammer on areas that have rust. This will make a dull sound compared to the rest of the trailer if there is a problem

On bunked trailers check to see if the bolts holding the bunk can be removed/ loosened so it can be adjusted i.e. they don’t need to be drilled out

For roller trailers inspect that all rollers and cradles move. Note that very stiff is not a problem as they can be freed up easily with a bit of work

Look for signs that there is no excessive play in the bracket holding the jockey wheel. On older trailers it is common to find the metal has been bent, bolt holes stretch and widened and this will result in the jockey wheel not being vertical and hence makes the trailer harder to push

Bearings: This is the most common problem with trailers and hence pull and push every wheel to see if there is much horizontal movement as this is a classic sign of a problem. Please note that bearings are very cheap to replace and easy to do so it is vital these are checked as worn bearing can result in wheels falling off!

Wheels and Tyres: Like car tyres they need to be legal to avoid points on your licence so, a quick inspection by jacking a wheel up and spin it to see if they are running free, not buckled, no bulging or cracking in tyre sidewall

Please remember the 750kg legal requirement to have working brakes and if anything does happen how vital they are and how much worse it could be with the police if you are in an accident.

Axle’s: These are the hardest to inspect as the moving parts are not easy to see and rust at either end does not give a good indication of problems. A tip here is to ask questions and see if you can work out how often the trailer has been used and if so was it in the sea and how well has it been maintained

Brakes and Bables: As not many sellers like you taking wheels off it is hard to see if they are still there and have been disconnected or removed. You can however, jack or lift a wheel up and see if it spins freely with the brake off and then put the brake on and check that it doesn’t spin


There are lots of options when looking at a new/used trailer and we are happy to help and offer advice

Or, if you would like a quote on a new trailer, please call Ashton Marine Services on 07595 638185 we are open 8am to 8pm 7 days a week including most bank holidays or click here to send us a web enquiry