Newbie question about needing trailer brakes

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by Campgrandma, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. Campgrandma

    Campgrandma Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Cibolo, TX
    Our 2004 Eagle Select has a GVWR of 3500 lbs. it does have electric brakes, but it towed just fine with our Toyota 4 Runner on its first voyage. Is it necessary to have the brakes hooked up to the TV, or can we pull it without the trailer brakes hooked up? We don’t plan to pull the trailer greater 100 miles from home on fairly level highways.
     
  2. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,499
    Likes Received:
    2,531
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Check with your local DMV regarding the laws around trailer brakes. But if it pulls and stops OK, you're probably going to be OK. Our pup was similar GVW and didn't have brakes. We had no issues pulling it with an '04 Ford Explorer or the '09 F-150.
     
  3. Kyle R Thorson

    Kyle R Thorson Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    80
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2019
    Location:
    Arizona
    I have a heavy Coleman/Fleetwood pup that we tow with our 4.0L V6 4runner. When I towed it home about 25 miles via flat roads when I bought it I didn't have a brake controller installed. The tow vehicle was empty as well as the pup. It towed great and stopping was not an issue. Fast forward to our first camping trip with loaded TV and pup. Huge difference. I would not tow it without my brake controller. We do have a fair amount of hills and mountains here in AZ that does make a difference as well.
     
  4. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,432
    Likes Received:
    893
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    I would use the brakes. That's a pretty heavy popup and a short tow vehicle. Brakes can help if you develop sway on the road.
     
  5. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,007
    Likes Received:
    2,395
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Use the brakes. It may cost a little to get them working, but it could cost a lot more if you are in a wreck and they were not working.
     
  6. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    2,580
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Location:
    Maplewood, MN
    If you are asking the question, then you probably already know the answer.

    From the etrailer.com website: Any trailer over 3000-lbs must have brakes on all wheels in most states, but laws do vary. Some states require braked axles on trailers with a GVW as low as 2000-lbs; other states have a higher limit. It is best to check with authorities in your local area.

    On a personal note, I have never understood why going for the cheaper alternative of ignoring trailer brake requirements is acceptable. It is obvious that many people have the ability to talk themselves into this slightly cheaper but far less responsible alternative. However, anyone that purchases ANY trailer has has a responsibility to protect others around them even if they are not willing to protect themselves. Lawyers get rich off of people that think they are "special".

    Safety equipment is there for a reason and most of safety considerations are common sense. But for some reason this common sense disappears when people buy a trailer. If you use power tools, you use eye protection. If you are welding, you use a welders mask and gloves. If you are a rock climber, you use a rope.

    So what is so difficult to understand that if you are hauling a trailer that requires the use of brakes, you use trailer brakes.

    End of story.
     
    PointyCamper and kcsa75 like this.
  7. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,196
    Likes Received:
    1,700
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2016
    Location:
    Jackson Hole
    If you have a accident and are not using the brakes you’ll have a problem.
     
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

    Messages:
    12,656
    Likes Received:
    1,660
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Use the brakes. It's probably required by your state laws, it reduces stress on the tow vehicle brakes, and it's just plain safer. Something crazy can happen less than a mile from your house, much less in a 100 - blowing obstacles, wild animals, bad drivers, accidents, bad weather (wind, rain) etc.

    We towed a sub-800# popup with both our '96 Outback and our '05 4Runner. It did OK, but once we up-sized a bit, to a 2500# popup with electric brakes, I would not willingly tow without them again. We now tow a 3500# TT, with a Silverado 1500, but did tow it with the same 4Runner for a while.
    We towed the second popup once without brakes, when the magnets failed. It worked, would not do it willingly. We've towed the TT a couple of times without brakes. Once, with the (lemon) Chevy Colorado, the connection to the trailer unplugged just enough that I did not have brakes the last few miles home on a trip. Uphill, in stop and go traffic, it did fine, again would not do it willingly. the electric wires snapped on the travel trailer when we hit a bad pothole after our new axle and added lift were done. We had a hundred miles or so to get to the campground, so mu husband chose to keep driving (we were towing with the Silverado). I was nervous, but it did fine - but I don't want to depend on the vehicle brakes. (We're under 40% of tow capacity of the truck, but still....)
     
  9. Eric Webber

    Eric Webber Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    396
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2018
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Use the brakes. If you don't want to wire a brake controller, get a wireless one. Curt has a nice one
     
  10. Campgrandma

    Campgrandma Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Cibolo, TX
    Can you give m a run down on what I need to know to choose a controller and what I need to know about the electric brakes on the camper. It sat in a garage for 4 years before we bought
    it. This is my first used camper.
     
  11. Eric Webber

    Eric Webber Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    396
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2018
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    I'll take a stab at it

    The brakes themselves are powered by electricity. Most of the time, they will be powered by the 7-pin connector (round with 7 flat blades around usually) between the tow vehicle and the trailer. If they have an emergency breakaway brake (most do) that will need to be powered by a battery on the tongue (since there would be no power from a tow vehicle should that break away) - Instead, there is a cable between the breakaway box and somewhere on the tow vehicle. If the "pin" gets pulled, the brakes are applied full power. Prevents an accidental unhitching from barrelling away into something.

    As for a brake controller, it serves two purposes.

    1. It allows you to set sensitivity, so that you can have balanced braking where the trailer doesn't "pull" you back when you stop by being more aggressive than your tow vehicle's brakes. Better to be a bit less aggressive and let your car/truck feel the stopping. But ideally, aim for a balance where stopping feels as close to normal as possible.

    2. Allows you to hit the brakes on the trailer (button control usually) without hitting the brakes on the tow vehicle. Good if it somehow seems to lose contact, or if you need to stop in a hurry, but the real reason is if you find the trailer trying to ''pass you" downhill. Tapping that button helps pull the camper back which straightens everything out.

    Some(most) brake controllers are wired to the car and mounted somewhere the driver can reach the button. If you switch tow vehicles, the new one also needs a brake controller

    Some (few) brake controllers are wireless. Curt and Prodigy are great options, and I've used both. The Curt uses a smartphone as a controller for the button while the prodigy has a button on a remote control using RF, which is connected to a car charger (cigarette lighter port). The advantage of these is that they are not locked to the tow vehicle. The prodigy is mounted on the trailer, while the Curt connects directly to the 7-pin, so it can be used with any trailer that has brakes


    I think that's most everything
     
  12. Campgrandma

    Campgrandma Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Cibolo, TX
    I appreciate all the points you made. However, I asked the question to get more information about a subject I have little experience with, having never personally towed before.
     
  13. Susan Premo

    Susan Premo Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    171
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Well, your a fellow Minnesotan, so I guess we better make sure we have them, we will wait a tad longer, when were not in mid after the ground melts.
     
    BikeNFish likes this.
  14. Susan Premo

    Susan Premo Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    171
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Ous weighs 1,500, it's an aliner. But, better safe than sorry.
     
  15. Campgrandma

    Campgrandma Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Cibolo, TX
    Thank you! That was so helpful!
     
    Eric Webber likes this.
  16. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    2,580
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Location:
    Maplewood, MN
    My apologies if it appeared that I was picking on you. It certainly was not intended that way. Your question was a legitimate and common "newby" question.

    The top part of my post - the "etrailer" quote - was meant as information to you. The second "personal note" part, I was generally speaking of those that give bad advice that usually says something like, "I do it all of the time, so you should too!"

    Be aware that not all advice is good advice.
     
    Susan Premo and PointyCamper like this.
  17. Campgrandma

    Campgrandma Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Cibolo, TX
    Oh I know! That’s why it’s good to have an abundance of information to share with “helpful” family and friends! As it turns out, Texas does not require trailer brakes until the GVWR hits 4500. I have decided to get the Primus IQ controller for peace of mind. But I never would have known to look at all that without asking the question. It’s a relearning curve for my kids and me since we haven’t owned a PU in almost 20 years. Next step— inspecting the brakes!
     
    BikeNFish, Susan Premo and kitphantom like this.
  18. Susan Premo

    Susan Premo Active Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    171
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2020
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Mud, mid?? Geez!
     
  19. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    2,580
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Location:
    Maplewood, MN
    I knew what you meant. I am the king of typos!
     
    Susan Premo likes this.
  20. chrwiski

    chrwiski New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Lathrop, CA
    It's all been said, but if your state requires it... well then, ya have to have 'em.
     

Share This Page