Log splitters come in a wide range of sizes and weights. While most splitters have a set of wheels, they are usually only meant to help move the splitter from place to place on a small scale like from a patio to a yard, etc.
Larger splitters come with a tongue coupler that is meant for attachment to a ball hitch on an automobile because it is too large to move efficiently by hand.
However, just because it has a coupler, it does not mean that it is meant for towing on roads.
Let’s explore what splitters can be towed, how best to transport most splitters, and in on what roads you can travel safely with a splitter in tow.
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Can a log splitter be towed?
If a log splitter comes with a trailer coupler, it is designed to be towed. However, the smaller the wheels, the less roadworthy it is and without inflatable wheels, it is likely not meant for serious road travel. As the wheelbase and road clearance increases, and the wheel size increases, then the splitter is able to travel faster and in a safer manner on the road.
Ultimately, you will need a vehicle with a hitch and a ball to accept the coupler from the splitter. You won’t need a truck or any special vehicle since most towable splitters only weigh between 500 and 1000 pounds. Most cars can easily pull a splitter with the proper towing gear.
Be sure to consult your vehicle’s owner manual to confirm tow ratings and capacities and follow some basic rules which include using the correct equipment for towing and following towing best practices.
You’ll also need to be familiar with the route you’ll be taking on the road to avoid potentially difficult backing up on public roadways.
It’s always best to inspect the splitter well before your trip and you should be familiar with local towing regulations.
As a basic pre-trip checklist, we suggest you do the following:
- Be sure the towing ball is in the coupler and properly secured.
- Be sure all support legs on the splitter are retracted and secured.
- Check to be sure gas caps and potentially loose items are secured and that there are no dangling hoses, etc.
- Check tire pressure (dangerous if they are too soft)
- Check that safety chains are connected to your vehicle from the splitter
What’s the Preferred Method of Transporting a Log Splitter?
Ideally, a log splitter should be transported in the bed of a pickup truck if possible. Barring that option, using a trailer such as a landscape trailer that is meant for lawn and garden equipment like mowers, tillers and snow blowers is your best bet. If you have (or borrow or rent) such a trailer, you’ll avoid a whole host of other issues that can cause big problems.
Even if you do have a truck (or trailer), it can be challenging to get the splitter into the bed without some help from either a winch or a half dozen bodybuilders! If you move your splitter often, it may be a good investment.
However, not everyone can have access to a trailer, and if that’s the case, there are a number of issues that you’ll need to be aware of.
Does My Splitter Need Special Lights?
Log Splitters don’t come with their own set of lights because they usually do not block the view to the vehicle’s signal and brake lights. That said, if your splitter is large enough to potentially obscure the vehicle lights from anyone traveling behind your vehicle, then you can add a set of portable magnetic lights made especially for such conditions.
Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to have a slow-moving vehicle sign if you plan to travel slower than around 30 mph, especially if you don’t have extra lights.
Do I Need Special Towing Equipment for a Log Splitter?
You won’t need “special” equipment to tow a log splitter, but you will need some basic items to allow for safe towing. At a minimum, you’ll need an installed towing hitch assembly attached to your vehicle, but for most log splitters, you won’t need an electrical hookup.
However, without an electrical hookup connection, your towing options for other items (like trailers) will be very limited since it is not legal in most jurisdictions to tow a trailer without brake lights and turn signals.
On your hitch, you’ll need a receiver and ball. It’s important you have the right-sized receiver (the part that the ball is screwed on) to fit the hitch on your vehicle. Trailer hitch sizes come in 4 different sizes; 1-1/4″, 2″, 2-1/2″, and 3″ sizes are normal. 2″ is the most common size.
In addition, you’ll have to be sure you have the right-sized ball for your log splitter’s coupler. Common ball sizes are 1-7/8″, 2″ and 2-5/16″
Any of these options are large enough to accommodate most log splitters, but it’s important to have the right system for your splitter.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON BALL MOUNTS: A trailer ball mount is an item upon which your towing ball is mounted, and it’s also the item that slides into the towing hitch on your vehicle. Ball mounts come in a variety of configurations to allow for raising and lowering the ball to make your trailer (or log splitter) sit level.
You’ll need to make sure your splitter can be attached to your vehicle without slanting significantly up or down. You may need a special ball mount that drops the angle from your vehicle’s hitch.
Do I Need a License / Plate for my Log Splitter?
Different jurisdictions have different rules, so it’s best to call your local Department of Motor Vehicles. I live in Ontario, Canada, and log splitters are considered towable equipment and not trailers. Only trailers need licensing.
How Fast Can I Tow a Log Splitter?
Log splitters are not meant to be towed using their own wheels for long distances on highways, etc. They are meant to be towed locally or even just on one rural property. If you do take it across town, a 500 lb to 1000 lb splitter should be towed at a top speed of around 40 mph.
Remember that most log splitters are not equipped with shocks or suspension of any kind. That means that they will rattle and bounce more than a trailer, and more importantly, it means they can sustain expensive damage like damaged wheels, broken axles, or worse!
Log splitters tend to have a narrower wheelbase than even a small trailer, while at the same time being slightly top-heavy. These two qualities mean that log splitters have a higher potential for tipping over if the vehicle turns quickly and sharply, or if one wheel hits a larger obstacle.
It’s crucial to understand that the speed at which you tow your splitter will be determined in large part by the size of the wheelbase (how far are the wheels from each other) and the size of the wheels.
Most splitters have wheel rims that are about 8 inches in diameter and tires just under 5 inches wide.
However, if you make your own log splitter (yes it’s totally possible), or you modify your splitter carefully and skillfully, you can add larger wheels that will allow for a faster tow. Standard trailer wheels are 13″ and they can travel as fast as any vehicle goes on the highway.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON ROAD SPEED: As you may have guessed if you’ve read this far in the article, slower speeds are better for towing a log splitter. However, it is unwise to travel so slow (20-30 mph) that you annoy drivers behind you. At such slow speeds it’s possible to cause major traffic annoyances and even potential accidents with drivers that need to pass you and travel at normal speeds.
How Do I Backup Properly?
Backing up with your log splitter in tow can be a big problem. In fact, it’s because of its small size that it becomes a big problem. As a rule, the longer the tow vehicle is and the shorter the trailer, the more difficult it is to back up.
With short trailers, every minor movement of the steering wheel will greatly affect the movement direction of the trailer while backing up.
Log splitters are very short as far as trailers go and that means your backup driving skills need to be advanced. The use of both wide side mirrors (that extend far from your vehicle) and a pole with a small flag attached to the splitter, may help with backing up.
If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, consider that most log splitters are too narrow and short to be seen by the driver of the tow vehicle, which makes it even more difficult to back up.
If the log splitter turns quicker and is harder to control, AND you can’t even see it to correct any problems, you’d be best to not back up at all, or use a larger trailer or truck bed to transport it.
In most cases, it’s just easier to unhitch the splitter and use your muscles (and maybe borrow another person or two if necessary) to move the trailer instead of attempting to back up.
Remember that most towable log splitters are meant to be towed only around a large property (backwoods) or maybe across town (local or rural roads), but not 80 miles per hour on the highway.
Using a GPS to find “back roads” is also another good idea when towing a log splitter on public roadways.
If at all possible, it’s best to use a pickup truck bed or landscape trailer to move the splitter though it may be difficult to get the log splitter into a pickup truck (or out) without lots of help!