How to Adjust Trailer Brakes

If a larger trailer is being towed, like a utility trailer that is enclosed, car trailer, or a camper, supplemental braking is needed to add to the brake of the two vehicles to go slower and come to a halt. The tow vehicle’s brakes are not sufficient enough to make it stop, therefore the trailer is mostly loaded with electric trailer brakes which can become automatically activated when the brake pedals are stepped on. They are being manipulated by the module of the electronic brake mounted to the vehicle. The important adjustments for the trailer are done through brake module access. Here is how to adjust trailer brakes:

Before adjusting anything – Make sure that the handbrake is not functioning and there is a full extension of the draw tube.

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Linkages – All of the nuts have to be slackened.

Drum – Make adjustment to the linings, so that resistance becomes evident when turning the drum forward. Loosen the adjuster so the drum moves freely forward. The drum needs to be turned forward all the time and it should never be in reverse because the mechanism needed to do an automatic reverse will become activated and the adjustment will become correct.

Repeat – Do this again to the other brake units.

If there is a fitted over the center handbrake – Remove the holding pins or pegs, and then the lever needs to be untied. Put pressure on the handbrake several times so that brake shoes become centralized. Place the pins again and tie down the lever after the last procedure before moving on to the next step.

Anchor plates – Inspect the nuts that secure the outer Bowden cable and check them for tightness.

Compensator – Get rid of all the remaining grease and dirt. Adjustments to the inner cable have to be made but refrain from putting tension. Inspect if the assembly is parallel to the axle tube and nuts and lock nuts are secured in place. Use clean grease to smear over it.

Brake rod – This should be running at least 50mm through the plate so that the right strength of support can be provided. If the length of the rod is too long, the front section needs more support. Do some adjustments so that brake link or lever moves the draw tubes placed at the shaft’s rear end. All of the lock nuts have to be tightened. This applies to every center gas strut handbrake and cylinder models with a spring. There are earlier models, specifically the ones that use rods in place of cables might need to be cleared in the draw tube and lever for the brake – refer to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

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Spring cylinder – If a ratchet handbrake was used to fit this in, make shifts the lock nuts to provide the needed clearance.

If an over center handbrake was used for fitting – Remove all of the locking pins or pegs and release the lever by untying it.

Testing the brake controller – Fully use the handbrake a couple of times to completely see how it operates. When using a wheel handbrake, you will know that correct adjustment was made if a little and the same resistance can be felt on every hub when the wheels are being turned forward with the handbrake on at least the second tooth. The over center models use the handbrake to turn wheels in reverse until you lock it. All of the brakes have to lock firmly. Otherwise, they don’t have a tight-enough adjustment and needs to be readjusted.

Take off the axle stands and also the Jack – Look at the twist settings on the wheel bolts.

Do a road test – Practice by feeling if the braking is smooth and will progress at a variety of speeds.

Tips and warning

  • The majority of the brake modules won’t make any adjustments to the weight of the load being carried and/or a couple of road conditions. If in case the roads are wet, people need to step away from the brakes of the trailer a little by rotating the thumbwheel placed on the brake module counterclockwise
  • In case the brakes refuse to work, there might be a broken or damaged electronic brake module or a loose wire. Inspect the wiring connector located at the back end of the tow vehicle to ensure that it is positioned correctly
  • It can be a bit confusing when reversing a trailer. A way to keep trouble from occurring is to make sure that you do not get into a tight situation where there is a need for you to do a reverse. Although, there are times when reversing cannot be avoided. In those circumstances, remember to move slowly while you become accustomed to how trailers move while in reverse. For steering to become less hard, place your hand at the bottom part of the steering wheel and drive it towards the right direction.


There can be a potential asbestos dust hazard

There are older brakes which might have linings that have asbestos dust, which has been blamed for attacks or fatal illnesses. Specific precautions have to be observed when fixing brakes.

  • Avoid producing or breathing dust so asbestos dust will not enter your system
  • Prevent yourself from machining, filing or grinding the linings of the brakes
  • Avoid using compressed air or dry brushing when cleaning. Dust can be removed by using a damp brush

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Follow the tips given so you can adjust trailer brakes successfully. Informative and safety tips were also given to keep you from danger, especially if it is your first time doing it. You can also buy trailer brake controllers to provide you more convenience when towing another vehicle, but do not choose anything yet. Refer to this buying guide to read about the top ones of 2017 and you will find out which one is ideal for you.

It is important to stay informed, know the proper methods, and keep yourself away from any danger at all costs by taking note of what was said in this post.

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