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trailer brake test?


jclarkhall12

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Setup: '08 VLX with Extreme trailer (dual axle disk), the type most of us likely have with UFP a-60 surge brake system. Tow vehicle is a Range Rover Sport.

Is there a way to test of the brake system is functioning correctly? I feel like my tow vehicle is potentially doing more than its fair share of the work, and I am heading up to Tahoe over the long weekend (which also means down from Tahoe in traffic) and I'd rather not have an issue ;-) . Thanks for any responses.

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do your breaks warm up with use? can you back up an incline with the lights unpluged? the system has to be pushing against the tow vehicle to work, it is not designed to be enough to stop the boat on its own.

you can always bleed them to make sure you dont have any airbubbles.

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The brakes do lock up in reverse without the lockout pin in - but that is simply a digital on/off, I do realize the brakes are not designed to do it all themselves just feels like my tow vehicle is doing a disproportionate amount of work under braking. I haven't felt for warmth, good idea (duh)...

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It should be very, very difficult to back the trailer with it unplugged.

The beauty of these hydraulic trailer brake systems is that they have "perfect" feedback, independent of the tow vehicle. When the tow vehicle is braking, the force on the tongue of the trailer will keep applying more and more pressure to the brake calipers until the trailer basically doing almost all of its own braking(this all happens very quickly).

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Feel the discs for heat after stopping a few times. Try a hard stop in a controlled location to see how fast you can actually stop. When was the last time the brakes were bled and the pads checked? You can jack up a wheel and then use a lever to compress the actuator to see if it will stop a spinning wheel, but this doesn't really tell you much about the braking power available.

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Hey with all the traffic coming back from Tahoe you most likely won't be driving fast enough to smoke the brakes.

Are you driving in the tow mode?

Our last trailer had a leak in the brake line for a period of time , and I don't remember smoking the breaks on our Yukon coming down 80

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Thanks for all the inputs. Yes, in tow mode. The tow vehicle is more than sufficient although I do want a GMC DuraMax ;-) . I need to check for heat and likely bleed the brakes.

Thanks again

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Just remember, during a long decline, if you downshift the vehicle or, constantly ride the brakes, the brakes on the trailer are going to be somewhat engaged the whole time.

  • Like 2
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Thanks for all the inputs. Yes, in tow mode. The tow vehicle is more than sufficient although I do want a GMC DuraMax ;-) . I need to check for heat and likely bleed the brakes.

Thanks again

a range rover sport is a sufficient tow vehicle? For a canoe ;). There is a huge gap between soccer mom car and a dmax.

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Good god! It can tow 7700 lbs. Would a one tonne duramax pull better? Sure, but not everyone has a need or desire to run a full sized truck everywhere.

It is rated to tow 7700lbs. I had a ford ranger that was rated to tow 6000lbs, doesn't mean it was a good idea or that it was actually set up to do it properly. Towing long loads with little SUV's is a tradeoff and what he is noticing with the braking.

Edited by oldjeep
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Chuck (oldjeep), I don't want to come off as cocky but I do know a little bit about cars and towing - before I raced cars at a professional level I was an amateur driver and have been towing my whole life, up to an 18k gooseneck with an f350 dually. with no disrespect to anyone driving a ranger, explorer, or the like, the Rover is an exceptional vehicle with legit brakes. would l love a slightly longer wheelbase and a bit more power? sure. but as malibuzer points out that GMC 2500 isn't as well suited for the 95% of the time when I am not towing.

All that being said, virtually all my prior towing experience has been with platforms utilizing electronic braking controllers, and I have no experience with surge systems, hence my question above! With the electric braking systems I could dial in my desired braking assistance with the brake controller (I loved the prodigy). I simply didn't know if there is a way to dial in and out the braking gain, and I was told the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.

Thanks again for the help guys.

  • Like 3
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Do you have disk or drum brakes? Makes a big difference. Also, lift up one side of the trailer, then c-clamp or find a way to squeeze the actuator in. See if you can spin the two wheels that are lifted. then do the other side. While that isn't a good indicator of whether or not the brakes are working to stop the vehicle, it will tell you if the actuator pistons at the wheels are indeed working. My last trailer had a tendency to lock one wheel all the time and I figured they are working. Turns out, only that one tire was braking. The rest of the actuators were locked up. Fixed the pistons and it stopped a bit better.

And the whole thing about backing up with the trailer unplugged only works with disk brakes, drums will reverse just fine.

Trailer braking systems are probably the most over looked thing in boating. IMHO, the brake fluid should be flushed every other year on them. They have a horrible operating environment and you don't want moisture mixed into that fluid.

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Chuck (oldjeep), I don't want to come off as cocky but I do know a little bit about cars and towing - before I raced cars at a professional level I was an amateur driver and have been towing my whole life, up to an 18k gooseneck with an f350 dually. with no disrespect to anyone driving a ranger, explorer, or the like, the Rover is an exceptional vehicle with legit brakes. would l love a slightly longer wheelbase and a bit more power? sure. but as malibuzer points out that GMC 2500 isn't as well suited for the 95% of the time when I am not towing.

All that being said, virtually all my prior towing experience has been with platforms utilizing electronic braking controllers, and I have no experience with surge systems, hence my question above! With the electric braking systems I could dial in my desired braking assistance with the brake controller (I loved the prodigy). I simply didn't know if there is a way to dial in and out the braking gain, and I was told the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.

Thanks again for the help guys.

OK, just thought I'd point it out. I too have many miles of cross country towing experience - some of it commercial and what you were describing is what I've experienced with under sized, short wheelbase tow vehicles. Conversion to electric or electric over hydro is the only thing that is going to make that feeling go away.

One of these would do it for around $600.

http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Brakes/Titan/T4813100.html

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OK, just thought I'd point it out. I too have many miles of cross country towing experience - some of it commercial and what you were describing is what I've experienced with under sized, short wheelbase tow vehicles. Conversion to electric or electric over hydro is the only thing that is going to make that feeling go away.

One of these would do it for around $600.

http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Brakes/Titan/T4813100.html

That looks like it would work great. Any idea on how you would change the UFP actuator section out? Or can it just be made rigid somehow?

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That looks like it would work great. Any idea on how you would change the UFP actuator section out? Or can it just be made rigid somehow?

Typically you would swap on a non brake coupler. I'd assume that you could also just drill a couple holes for bolts to stop the actuator action or tack weld in the manual reverse lockout key.

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Has anyone used one of the electric over hydro systems? I don't understand why they would be better, other that given you the feeling of being in control. I've used electric and I've used hydraulic. The way the hydraulic "automatically adjusts" always seams great.

I haven't tried a panic stop yet with the hydraulic system. There might be a problem in that situation if the trailer brakes lock up. Locked up tires don't stopped as well, so the trailer would keep pushing harder on the hitch causing the trailer brakes to be applied even harder. You would have to release the vehicle brakes to get out of this situation.

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I had one on a car trailer years ago. The advantage is that they behave like electric brakes. Adjustable gain so that you can dial them in like you want and then crank them down low for when trailer is empty. Also you don't lose braking if the trailer tries to pass you, you can grab the oh s*** lever on your brake controller.

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