Do Jet Ski Trailers Have Brakes?

Whether you own a jet ski trailer or are in the market, it will be good to know if your trailer or your potential trailer will have breaks installed.

Do jet ski trailers have brakes?

Most single and double jet ski trailers do not have trailer brakes. Some double trailers can have brakes be an option by some manufacturers. Quad jet ski trailers typically have brakes installed. Most jet ski trailers with a Gross Weight Rating (GWR) of 3,000 pounds or more will have trailer brakes.

Not all jet ski trailers have brakes. Many of them are lightweight and some are made from aluminum making them even lighter. They haul one jet ski and by law do not have to have brakes.  These are stopped by the tow vehicle that you are pulling them with. 

Most drivers recognize they have extra weight and use caution when driving down hills or when stopping. With a lighter load, your tow vehicle as long as it is under the maximum tow capacity, will be able to stop your trailer with ease.  It is easier for many to handle their trailers if they do have brakes on them.  Some trailers are designed with brakes even if they are not required to have them, while others are required.

Selecting Your Trailer

When you are selecting your new jet ski, is a perfect time to be selecting your new trailer.  You will have to have something to pull your jet ski to and from the lake.  Sometimes when you are selecting your trailer at the same time you are selecting your jet ski; you might be able to work a better deal.  Many people do not pay any attention to what type of trailer that they select and do not figure that it matters.  The trailer is not as expensive as the jet ski but is a decent price to be purchasing the wrong one.  Then you must consider if you want brakes on our trailer.

Having brakes on your trailer can sometimes up the tow rating on your tow vehicle. For example with a vehicle you may be able to tow 1,500 pounds. With that same vehicle if you have trailer brakes installed, the manufacturer may recommend that you can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Keep that thought in mind if you are planning on towing two or more jet skis.

Jet Ski Trailer Considerations

There are several things to consider when selecting your trailer.  Do you think a single jet ski trailer will be all you need within the next few years?  Do you think that you will purchase a second jet ski before long for your spouse or for your kids?  Do you want a single axle or a double axel?  Do you want your jet ski trailer to have brakes?

There are many different decisions that need to be made when purchasing your jet ski and trailer.  There are trailers that are made from aluminum and others that are made from Steel.  The aluminum trailers are lighter in weight than the steel ones. Here is a quick guide about how heavy jet ski trailers are. 

Do You Need Brakes on A Jet Ski Trailer?

Normally a single aluminum jet ski trailer that is being pulled by a pickup or an SUV will not require brakes.  For a weight load under 3,000 lbs. most states do not require them to have brakes either.  If you get your trailer weight over 3,000 many states will require them to have brakes. 

So, if you have a steel double trailer and are hauling 2 jet skis and extra gas and gear, you are probably looking at needing a trailer with brakes.  The laws may differ some from state to state so double-check what your state requires so that you know what you need to purchase.

Trailer Size

There are jet ski trailers that can haul up to 4 jet skis and is honestly a fairly popular choice if you have a larger family. It sure beats having two 2 place jet ski trailers and having to take two vehicles to the boat launch.

They can set 2 jet skis side by side in two rows on the trailer.  These trailers will definitely come with brakes due to the weight they can haul.  Most people prefer the tandem axels due to reliability and towing ease which also is going to make them heavier and they are normally made from steel.  These would be required by law because of weight and possibly size to be manufactured with brakes on them.


Sometimes getting brakes on your trailer is a preference.  When you have brakes even on a single jet ski trailer it makes them easier to control and stop in an emergency situation.  If you have to make a sudden stop while you are pulling your trailer, brakes can keep your trailer from jackknifing and can help to prevent damage to your trailer and your jet ski. 

If you are in a hilly area, it is sometimes safer if you have brakes on your trailer. If your vehicles towing capacity is lower such as with some cars, it also helps to have brakes to help to control and slow down your trailer.

What types of brakes are on jet ski trailers?

Electric Brakes 

On many trailers, electric brakes seem to be one of the most popular choices.  For a long time, they were the most common brake systems on trailers.  They work when you apply pressure to your tow vehicles brake pedal, pressure is also applied to your trailer brakes through a brake controller. 

These brakes do not apply as much pressure against your tow vehicle and can be adjusted to the amount of pressure that is given to your trailer.  The problem with using this system on the jet ski trailers is that it must be unplugged before you back your trailer into the water.  It kind of goes along with electricity and water do not really mix well.  Electric brakes are not waterproof. They can come in both disc and drum styles.

Hydraulic Brakes

Hydraulic Surge Brakes seem to be the brake of choice on most of the newer jet ski trailers. Hydraulic brakes use the force of a tow vehicle to apply the brakes on the trailer. The force is applied to the hydraulic cylinder that is on the hitch of the trailer. You do not seem to have as much control of the brakes to the trailer and can create an issue if you are trying to back your trailer uphill.  This type of braking system is self-contained and is not connected to your vehicle.  

Drum Brakes

Drum brakes are inexpensive but require a bit of upkeep.  They must be flushed with water and are hard to service.  To stop when pressure is applied, shoes press against a spinning surface called a drum and create the friction to stop the trailer.

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are a bit more costly than some but are easier to work on and have less rusting problems as they can drain very easily.  They are easier to maintain than drum brakes.  They also have a better stop time than most drum brakes seem to offer.  


When purchasing your new jet ski, know that the trailer does not come with it unless you are buying a used package deal.  Your trailer will have to be purchased separately and it should really be given some consideration. 

First, consider your vehicle that you will be towing your trailer and jet ski with.  Not all vehicles offer the same towing capacity and you will need to know what your vehicle’s towing capacity is.  You want to purchase a trailer that will handle the number of jet skis that you are planning on towing. 

You need to consider the number of axels that you want your trailer to have.  Know that you can get jet ski trailers with and without brakes.  This needs to be a consideration that you make when making your purchase. 

Brakes on your trailer can make them safer to pull and easier to control in many situations.  Also, keep in mind that in many states there is a weight limit and anything over that limit will be required to have brakes.  You do not want to make your purchase and then realize that you are overweight and must legally have a brake system put on your trailer.  It will just be an added expense.  As you are shopping for your new jet ski, make sure you are also shopping for the trailer to pull it with so that you can make the wisest choice for your situation.