Whether it’s a trailer to haul your boat or some cargo, one of the most important trailer parts you have to pay special attention to are the brakes. Being able to properly stop your trailer is integral to your safety. When you’re towing a trailer, you’re usually pulling on thousands of pounds; you wouldn’t want all that weight to keep on moving forward when you step on your brakes. Depending on your towing vehicle’s brakes alone will not be enough to stop your trailer; having functional brakes on your trailer will greatly help in slowing down your vehicle.
Trailer brakes are typically classified into two: electric types and surge types. Basic electric trailer brakes are activated by either a connection to your towing vehicle’s brake pedal or an on-board switch on your trailer that’s activated by the inertia of your slowing down. Once activated, an electric current magnetizes your braking system, the strength of which is dependent on how fast you are decelerating. Surge brakes activate via the inertia of your trailer pushing into a surge coupler in the tongue of your trailer; the strength of the braking depends on how hard the trailer pushes into the trailer tongue. Surge brakes are popular for boat trailers since they get wet so often, while electric type brakes are often found in utility and camping trailers. Though both are effective, they could still suffer from daily wear-and-tear. This is why it is necessary to do regular inspections and maintenance on your brakes.
Yearly thorough inspections should be the rule for your brakes, though if you are putting your trailer to heavy use, you may wish to inspect it more often. One of the main things to keep in mind during your inspection is that the brakes must release and apply themselves properly and evenly; uneven distribution and locked brakes are often signs of other issues. The drum, shoes, and springs should also be given particular attention; if the springs are corroded, they need to be replaced. Buy replacement parts from dependable suppliers like Champion Trailers. Electric brakes will also require you to check on the wiring to ensure that it can stop your trailer properly.
While you’re inspecting the braking mechanism, you should take it as an opportunity to do some maintenance. Tidy up the assembly with a clean, damp rag to make sure nothing dirties up the brake system. Furthermore, applying some grease can help ensure that your brakes operate smoothly. Well-maintained brakes are key to ensuring your safety and that of what you’re hauling, so it’s best to put in the effort to avoid potential accidents.
(Source: Electric Trailer Brake Maintenance, The RV Doctor)