Can I tow a 1650Lbs Popup with No Brakes?

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by JR71, Feb 9, 2021.

  1. JR71

    JR71 New Member

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    Hi All, i am a rookie about to buy a popup camper. The popup weighs 1650lbs dry weight and has no brakes. The gentleman who owns it now pulls it with his Kia Minivan and said hes had no problems. I will be pulling it with a 2016 Toyota Sienna Minivan also. We will be doing 3-4 trips to campgrounds within a two hour drive each year with no mountains, but we will be taking it to my inlaws cabin once a year also on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia and there is a mountain road we go up and down on to get there and back and that drive is more like 5-6 hours altogther.

    So my question is do I need brakes or should i be ok if I take my time?
     
  2. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    No brakes on the trailer or the tow vehicle? :grin:[LOL]

    One thing you need to check are the laws in Nova Scotia. Some States/Provinces draw a line in the sand as to at what weight a trailer is required to have brakes.
     
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  3. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Check your applicable motor vehicle regulations. Some places have mandates over certain weights. If that's the case in your area, then the question answers itself. If you're not required to have brakes, it comes down to how well it tows and stops for your setup. Adding electric brakes takes a certain amount of parts sourcing and handiness (and needs a place to do the work). Of course, qualified RV technicians are more than willing to do the work in exchange for funds.

    Of course the dry weight isn't what you will need to tow. Add propane, water, "stuff", food, and so on and you're likely to be more around 2,000 lbs down the road.

    You could always tow it and see how you feel. If you feel like it doesn't stop in a manner that you're confident about, look into the brakes.
     
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  4. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Non issue. Is it legal? locally it is and I have no issue towing and have and will again.
     
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  5. Annunzi

    Annunzi Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  6. JR71

    JR71 New Member

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    Yes it is legal in Nova Scotia you don’t need brakes on any trailer weighing less than 3000lbs. MAybe I try it without brakes and see if it’s ok first ?
     
  7. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    My pup is 1800# fully loaded. No breaks. Currently we have a 1/2 ton pickup but we originally towed with a Tacoma. Towed all over Wyoming, Idaho & Utah mountains. No issues. Make sure your TV breaks are in good working order
     
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  8. Arlyn Aronson

    Arlyn Aronson Well-Known Member

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    The secret is to stay well below the max tow capacity whatever your tow vehicle has. The closer you are to it, the less fun you'll have....
     
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  9. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Find a back road and try a panic stop with the tow vehicle (think wildlife, bad drivers, potholes, railroad tracks, kids, etc.). Now try the same panic stop with the loaded camper attached, and see how comfortable you feel with the stopping distance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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  10. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah Gold Supporting Member

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    I’ve towed my old Jayco around 2000 pounds without breaks with my 4Runner with a 5000 tow capacity. Even though my vehicle was very capable to stop the camper it did get very scary going down steep mountain slopes. The camper was litterly pushing the suv down the hills and it took way way way longer to stop the set up on said slopes and at one time overheated my tow vehicle breaks. Also after needing to do an emergency stop with the camper without breaks It got mighty scary as I wasn’t able to stop in time. Thankfully managed to swerve into oncoming traffic. My new to me camper which has a GVWR of 3500 and has breaks. It’s a night and day difference. So even though it is doable you have to leave way extra room in front of you at all times. Expect the camper to push you.
     
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  11. unclemark

    unclemark Overland Park, KS

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    I'd plan on needing them. It's a reasonable prediction.

    My first popup had no brakes, but I added them for a trip to Colorado and Wyoming. My wife thought it was an excellent idea after I showed her a few trailer crashes on YouTube. Now we have an A-frame, and the new axle I had installed came with brakes. Neither trailer weighed more than 1,900 pounds.
     
  12. unclemark

    unclemark Overland Park, KS

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  13. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    Just because you are taking your time does not mean that some idiot isn't in a hurry and cuts you off, causing a need to stop quickly.

    I tow with a RAM 1500 which is WAY overkill for towing my pup. Even with a 10,000lb tow rating, I can tell the difference when I tow the pup with the brakes hooked up vs not hooked up. Having brakes is MUCH more comfortable when towing for both stopping ability and piece of mind.

    IMHO, if you have the opportunity, I don't know why you wouldn't want to have working brakes on any camper. Besides, if you are asking, then you probably aren't comfortable with the idea of pulling without brakes. So, just get the brakes installed and give yourself some piece of mind.
     
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  14. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ Gold Supporting Member

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    I see your Towing with a mini van. Our pup empty is 1840 lbs. (with propane and battery). Now add all the gear and stuff in the mini van. Ohh, don't forget all the people in the van. Now you got a bit more weight. We towed at that time with a 2005 Honda mini van (Odyssey).

    Our pup has brakes! After a panic stop in Colorado in 2008 when a jerk ran a red light we were able to stop (not on a dime). I happen to look to the right when I saw him coming. Now, I believe if the pup did not have brakes the stopping distance would have been greater and I'm pretty sure we would have broadsided him!! I know it might be legal, but after that situation I am a strong supporter of having trailer brakes!

    That's just my 2 cents!!!!
     
  15. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    Having towed a sub-800# popup without brakes, the 2500# pup with brakes when they weren't working (once), and the 3500# TT a couple of times when the brakes detached (once the cord to the truck unplugged, another time the wires to the brakes actually snapped because they were too short after some upgrades), I would not willingly tow without brakes again. With the TT, we were towing with 7000# and 9000# tow capacity, so did fine, but made us uncomfortable and not happy.
    there is always the issue of wear and tear on the tow vehicle brakes, unexpected traffic events - deer, elk (here in the west), crazy drivers, wind-blown items (yes, that's a thing), etc.
     
  16. RonDad

    RonDad New Member

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    1650# is well within reason. I wouldn't think of that as a high-risk decision. However, a fully loaded minivan + popup + cargo in popup for 5-6 hour drive does not sound desirable w/o trailer brakes (or a different TV).

    I had to do ~20 miles with around 7000# on a loaded utility trailer - brakes not working behind an F150. I would not do that by choice, only necessity.
     
  17. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    Even if they aren’t required by law where you are, Toyota requires them for any trailer over 1,000 lbs. And you will not regret having them for a second. I’ve towed my small pup (~2,000 lbs loaded) a few times with our Sienna without brakes when I was having issues getting them dialed in and it works OK, but is far from ideal. Now that I’ve gotten them sorted out they make a world of difference. Pair them with a good proportional controller and the towing experience is so much more relaxed and safer.

    C7D1A681-6D80-4D10-BC2E-04AC641C5831.jpeg

    Look behind the wheels to see if you have the backing plate on the axle. If it’s already there adding brakes is really simple with basic hand tools.

    If you have any questions about getting the Sienna set up just let me know. I’ve been towing the pup with ours since it was new.
     
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  18. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    1600 Lb is about what our ALiner weighs loaded. We have towed it with and without ebrakes. MUCH prefer ebrakes in use.
     
  19. bols2Dawall

    bols2Dawall S.W. Ontario

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    Towing a popup with a mini-van ? I'd think you'd really want trailer brakes for emergency situations and so you don't wear out your minivans brakes waaaay sooner than necessary .
     
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  20. jeepster04

    jeepster04 Active Member

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    Like many others have said, of course you can do it and it may work fine and you never have any issues. Ive towed a small boat that didnt have brakes (~1500 lbs) and Ive towed over 3,000lbs with brakes on the same TV, never had any sort of panic situation.

    Once you load that vehicle down you could very well get yourself in a bad situation. Either with or without brakes, always downshift when going down long grades. Dont ride the brakes, even if you have trailer brakes.
     

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