Most folks have no idea what dictates the need for new brakes in an RV type of trailer. Bottom line, any trailer that weighs more than 3,000 pounds, should be outfitted with brakes. (Contact your local DMV for the trailer brake guidelines, in your state.) So, do you have a fifth wheeler, car hauler or RV trailer featuring brakes? Almost all of these trailer models have electric brakes. What distinguishes these kinds of trailers from other towing types? The big difference is that while many towing vehicles utilize hydraulics to prompt your braking system, trailer RV, car haulers and 5th wheelers use electricity. Other than then that, electric trailer brakes operate in fundamentally the same way as the hydraulic brakes used on trucks & cars. This posting’s purpose is to point out the best process for ascertaining that your RV trailer, fifth wheeler or car trailer’s brakes are in good working order, without tearing your system down.
In your trailer’s front section, (commonly known as the tongue area,) you’ll observe a breakaway switch (figure #1) and/or a small battery (figure #2). These two components work together as your backup, emergency system. Should your trailer become disengaged from the tow rig, your emergency system will trigger the brakes, automatically. Once the break-away switch plunger is snatched out, the breakaway switch is activated. This switch sends current to the your braking system, activating the brakes, stopping the unhooked trailer as quickly as possible.
How best to determine that your car hauler or 5th wheeler ‘s break-away system is truly working correctly? Start with a simple test that we recommend you incorporate into your preparation routine, every time you travel. Number one, start by pulling the emergency plunger switch from its receptacle. (figure #3). Find a wheel with a braking drum and touch any available screw driver to that brake drum. (figure #4). Should the screw driver react as if you’re touching a magnet, you have just confirmed that your emergency break-away system and battery are working properly. Bottom line, regardless of whether it’s an RV, car trailer or fifth wheeler, your trailer’s brakes are comprised of an electromagnetic, braking engagement system. When a current is relayed to the braking magnet, the magnet’s surface interfaces with the brake drum, magnetizing the drum. As we’re focusing on magnetizing drums, it’s critical to understand that with many years of use, your trailer’s brake drums may ultimately become permanently, magnetized.
Once this happens, it’s essential to be able to separate this problem from brake shoe, brake cluster and brake adjustment problems. This can eliminate unnecessary diagnostic or part replacement, expenses. Not to mention the potential agony of having your system stripped down. The minute you feel that your trailer RV or car hauler’s braking system isn’t up to snuff or reacting correctly, the first step is to immediately disengage the trailer’s electrical connectors, (figure #5), from the towing rig.
Next, take a screw driver and touch it to the brake drum. If the screw driver is drawn to the brake drum as if it were a magnet, your drums are now magnetized and are going to have to be replaced. (figure #6).
Folks are very curious about a brake’s internal configuration and what prompts this issue. Bottom line, it’s pretty much like the effect created when two magnets repel one another. They’re expected to attract one another, so, clearly something is out of sorts. Here, you’ve got an electro-magnet, prompting the braking system with its strong magnetic current. It dominates the drum with its stronger magnetic pull, but, cannot work properly if the drum starts repelling it, no matter how modestly. When the electro magnet and the drum are working correctly, you can set the brake control head to its highest power, without locking the brakes. Once a drum becomes magnetized, the brake magnet can no longer interact correctly with the brake drum’s surface. This leaves you with brakes that feel slightly engaged, yet will not brake at full power.
Always be conservative about your trailer brakes. Check them annually. Spring’s a great time for
RV Trailer owners, keen to get their gear ship-shape for the upcoming year of trailer fun. Contact your trailer’s manufacturer for safety instructions specific to your equipment. All reputable manufacturers should offer materials designed specifically to help you stay compliant and as safe as possible.