How Much is your Boat Trailer Worth?

Sometimes when we are trying to find a good price to ask for a used boat, you have account for all of the extras. Will you include one or more propellers, paddles, radio, safety equipment and other stuff. The biggest extra is always the trailer. Most boats need a trailer and most buyers consider this a very key part of the package. Let’s take a quick look at a few styles of trailers and what they might be worth. Knowing how much your trailer is worth will help you price your boat or even help you decide to upgrade it.

Firstly, the trailer is critical for the safe use of the boat, be sure to inspect it all the time. I don’t want to make this a maintenance article, that’s not the point, but always insure your connections aren’t corroding, the brakes are functioning and the bearings and seals are okay. Check the tires for pressure and wear frequently. Some people who launch in salt, carry a spray bottle with salt away to spray the brakes while they are on the water, because otherwise the salt just sits all day.

To find the value, you can always price out a new comparable trailer and determine your value based on condition, age and quality. A top brand that is 5 to 8 years old, with high quality parts can be worth 50% to 60% of it’s value if it has been maintained and in great condition. Because of the high cost, it often makes sense to upgrade an existing trailer, provided the frame is in good shape. Aluminum trailers are expensive and can hold more value over time and are the choice in salt water applications. Galvanized are common for value and longevity as well. For freshwater, painted steel can work but won’t hold up in salt or brackish water for long.

If a new version of your trailer is $5,000, which is close to what a 22’-23’ tandem aluminum trailer can cost, and you have used it for about 5 years, maintained it well, you could expect it to be around $2,600 to $3,000. That is a approximate based on depreciation and use value. Many large manufacturers include a trailer as part of the package and the value is really strong as those trailers are obviously packaged as a deal. Buying one on it’s own commands a premium at retail.
aluminum trailer
Generally, a 5 year old boat usually experiences a similar depreciation when the market is normal. The 2020 and 2021 market is a bit heated and inflating used boat prices. Let’s a assume a $80,000 boat, well maintained and in great mechanical condition, is often in the 55% to 70% of its original value. Obviously, the brand and boat type are really key parts. When boats are older than 10 years old, the value starts to get a little tricky. An older boat can hold decent value when systems, hardware and power has been upgraded but it then comes down to condition, brand, survey and other factors.

Can a $100,000 boat be worth $25,000 or more when it’s over 10 years old? Possibly. We certainly see older boats that look better than newer ones but it would have to be inspected more carefully. With a trailer, older ones that need axle replacement, new bunks, brakes and other parts; may not be worth much as the cost gets too great to repair. However, it is possible to redo a trailer on your own and make it significantly better. A trailer in need of a complete overhaul may only be worth about 10% of it's replacement value.

A quick note about trailer types. Many older boats used roller trailers where the bunks are adjustable rubber wheels to easily load the boat but the problem is they put a lot of spot pressure on the hull the boat can move around a lot. They can be okay on small boats to temporarily load and unload but not for long term trailer use. 

The 2020 and 2021 market are anomalies. Boat prices are high and it won’t last forever but that doesn’t mean upgrading your trailer and keeping your current boat in the best condition possible won’t pay off. Your boat will depreciate but well maintained boats with service records and surveys command more on the used market. Trailers are a huge part of your boats value and safety, don’t skimp, maintain and upgrade parts when it needs it.