What to Do When Your Trailer Brakes Lock Up in Reverse

Some people spend their disposable income on things like travel, gadgets, and home improvement projects. Others want every dollar to go toward experiences that make life worthwhile. The one thing we can’t get is more time, and the adventurers among us want to spend it on boats, jet skis, motorcycles, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and any other vehicle that gets them outdoors and feeling the rush of the wind in their hair.

Of course, carting these recreational vehicles from point A to point B requires a truck and a trailer. Most of the time, trailers are pretty user-friendly, which is to say they’re relatively simple to hook up to your truck and once you have all the cabling attached, the lights and brakes should work just fine.

Unfortunately, you may encounter problems here and there, such as brakes locking up when you go in reverse. Although you can try to go forward at all times to avoid this situation, it’s not really feasible. At some point you may have to put your rig in reverse. What can you do when this problem arises? Here are a few things to try.

 Check Your Harness

Harnesses to hook up the electrical components of your truck and trailer can be different in a variety of ways. Some are only for brake lights while others control electric brakes. They may have different numbers of pins or wires (4 or 5), they may require adapters, and so on. You need to make sure that you have the right harness and parts for your setup.

In addition, you should check to make sure that the voltage readings are correct for all components (generally 12V). If not, you could be dealing with issues like corroded connections or improper wiring, just for example.

Trailer Brake Lockout Key

Ideally, you have a brake system for your trailer that includes an electric reverse lockout that will automatically prevent the brakes from locking (provided everything is working correctly). Most trailers come with something known as a trailer brake lockout key, which is used to manually prevent the brakes from engaging when backing up. However, it’s easy to lose the key.

The good news is that you can get replacement keys, or there are a variety of aftermarket products that can do virtually the same job. You could, for example, use a lockout cap that replaces the standard cap on the brake fluid reservoir on your trailer. You simply have to rotate it one way to lock out the brakes and rotate it back to reengage.

Get Help

If you check your harness, replace your lockout key, and still find that you’re having problems with trailer brakes locking up in reverse, it’s time to get some professional help. It could be a simple problem that you’ve somehow overlooked, or perhaps some repairs or replacement parts are in order.

Either way, a qualified mechanic can fix you up and get you back on your way, or at least give you some insight into how to solve this problem should it occur in the future. Don’t let your trailer sit idle and your dreams of boating or 4-wheeling go unfulfilled. In most cases, this problem is easy to fix.

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