A Guide to Trailer Brakes
Brakes are arguably the most important part of any vehicle: when you hit the brake pedal, you want to make sure your whole vehicle comes to a stop. While there are situations where your vehicle’s brakes are enough, a heavy trailer can quickly overload them.
For this reason, most trailers should be equipped with brakes of their own. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about trailer brakes. This includes when a trailer is required to have brakes, what kinds of brakes they can have, and some tips for making sure your electrical brake system is working properly.
When Are You Required to Have Brakes?
In Arkansas, new trailers must have brakes if they weigh 1,500 lbs or more. Trailers manufactured before this guideline came into effect will need to have brakes installed if they weigh at least 3,000 lbs.
What Kinds of Trailer Brakes Are There?
There are three major types of trailer brakes: surge, electric, and emergency.
Surge brakes are separate from your vehicle’s brake system. This means it detects when your vehicle is slowing down and then begins slowing the trailer. If you choose to use this brake system, you’ll need to ensure you’re slowing down steadily, as it takes a second for the surge brakes to detect the slower speed.
Electric brakes are connected to your vehicle’s brake system, which means that they’ll stop at the same time you hit the brake pedal. While this gives your trailer’s brakes a quicker response time, it also means you have to ensure that your brake systems are properly connected. In the next section, we’ll cover some troubleshooting tips for that connection.
If your trailer has brakes, it will always need to have emergency brakes as well. These are designed to stop the trailer if it ever disconnects from your vehicle.
Checking Your Electric Brakes
It’s important to make sure your electric brakes are working before you’re on the road. The first step is to check the wire connections. The ground function brake controller wire should run to the negative battery, while the 12V power function brake controller wire should run to the positive battery.
These wires will be different colors, but the exact coloring scheme will vary based on the manufacturer, so you should reference the manual.
A 12V probe-style circuit tester should be used to double check the wiring connections, as well as whether or not a brake signal is present.
Once you’ve determined that the connections and signal are sufficient, you’ll want to perform a visual inspection to ensure that wires connecting your vehicle to the trailer brakes haven’t been damaged. If they have, electrical tape may be sufficient for repairs.
You’ll also want to check the magnets for damage and the plugs for corrosion.
Looking for Trailer Parts in Arkansas?
As a dealership, Silver Moon Trailers offers a variety of different trailers for sale. However, we also have a number of different trailer parts available. If a part of your trailer isn’t working and you need to repair it, we can help you get back on the road.
Have any questions about our dealership? Want to see if we have a certain trailer part available? If so, please contact us by calling 870.330.9133 or by emailing us at SILVERMOONTRAILERS@GMAIL.COM.