How To Add Brakes To A Utility Trailer?

To add electric brakes to your Carry-On Utility trailer, you’ll need a few things. Starting with the trailer, you’ll need a hub and drum that fit your trailer spindle’s bearings and seal, as well as your wheel bolt pattern.

Is it possible to add breaks to a trailer?

Many trailerable boats, particularly powerboats and tiny keeled sailboats, are hefty and put a strain on your tow vehicle’s brakes. Your vehicle’s brake system can easily be overridden when driving down a hill with a hefty trailer dragging your car, SUV, or truck. Your stopping distance may increase, your brakes may overheat, and you may begin to swerve from side to side, endangering you, your passengers, your boat, and other drivers.

Laws varying from state to state need trailer brakes over specified weight limitations. To find out what your state requires, consult a section of the American Automobile Association’s Digest of Motor Laws or contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Adding Brakes to Your Trailer

If the axle has brake flanges welded to it, brakes can be installed to an axle that does not have them. Metal plates with four holes for 10″ brakes and five holes for 12″ brakes make up these flanges. It is not recommended to try to weld these on, according to Tie Down Engineering. Brake flanges must be straight and at a 90-degree angle to the spindle. The brakes will not center properly in the braking hub or rotor if they are not “square to the spindle,” causing wear difficulties.

Is it possible to install brakes on a single axle trailer?

Single axle trailers are often equipped with a four-pin plug with no provision for brakes. Consult a dealer (or several) to determine if a custom-built trailer with the brakes you desire is possible.

What is the price of installing electric brakes on a trailer?

The majority of brake controllers cost around $300, plus installation. We paid $550 to have a Redarc Tow Pro Elite V3 installed in our Dmax, as well as an Anderson from the cranking battery to the rear, which we use to charge our camper trailer while we travel.

For labor, you’ll get a range of pricing, but the Redarc units shouldn’t cost more than $300. These are widely regarded as the best electric brake controller in Australia, and they are by far the most often used.

In Australia, the cost of installing an electric brake controller with an Anderson plug should not exceed $800.

On a trailer, how do you connect electric brakes?

Brake Controller and Wiring Installation in 5 Easy Steps!

  • Disconnect the negative battery cable from the car.
  • Choose a location for the controller on the dashboard.
  • Drill the bracket’s attaching holes.
  • Place the brake controller in its proper location.
  • Using a unique wire harness, connect the braking controller.

Is it necessary for me to have trailer brakes?

Before each travel, conduct a safety inspection. Make certain that:

  • The pin that holds the ball mount to the receiver is in good condition.
  • The hitch coupler is locked in place.
  • With the safety clips in place, the spring bar hinges are secure (load equalizer or weight distributing hitches).
  • The safety chains are securely fastened.
  • The electrical plug has been placed correctly.

Trailer tow drivers are concerned about the same safety issues as other RV drivers. A tow vehicle plus a trailer, on the other hand, constitute an articulated (hinged) vehicle, which raises a new set of issues. Weight concerns, as explained on pages 30 and 31, are critical for safe towing. The tow vehicle must be suitable for towing the trailer. The trailer can perform safely under a variety of driving circumstances if it is properly outfitted. The tow vehicle should also be powerful enough to climb steep mountain grades without losing too much speed. There are three primary types of trailers, each of which is distinguished by the way it is hitched:

  • Folding camping trailers, as well as traditional travel trailers.
  • Fifth-wheel trailers are trailers with a fifth wheel.
  • Trailers for motorcycles, tents, and baggage

Conventional Trailers

The ball and coupler hitch is utilized on a wide range of trailer and tow vehicle combinations. A ball is fastened to the back of the tow vehicle, and a coupler (socket) is coupled to the tip of the tongue or A-frame attached to the front of the trailer. Recreational trailers frequently use this hitch.

For bigger trailers, such as utility trailers, boat trailers, and travel trailers, a load-distributing hitch is employed. (See the sections on Hitch Adjustment and Balance.) To help steady the tow vehicle, these load-distributing hitches use unique technology to spread the tongue load to all axles of the tow vehicle and trailer. When discussing hitch modification and evaluating hitch performance, you should be familiar with the following terms:

  • The tow vehicle’s receiver is a hitch platform.
  • A removable steel component that fits into the receiver is known as a ball mount. It is attached to the hitch ball and spring bars (only on load-distributing hitches).
  • When a ball-type hitch is utilized, sway control is a device that reduces the pivoting motion between the tow vehicle and trailer.
  • The ball socket at the front of the trailer A-frame that accommodates the hitch ball is known as a coupler.
  • Spring Bars: In a load-distributing ball-type hitch, load-leveling bars are used to disperse hitch weight among all axles of the tow vehicle and the trailer.

Fifth-wheel Trailers

Because fifth-wheel trailers are essentially very stable, less attention is paid to balance, hitching processes, and weight limits. A fifth-wheel trailer has the disadvantage of not having as much truck bed room as conventional trailers. The hitch pin is in front of the center line of the tow vehicle’s rear axle, and the fifth-wheel hitch fills the middle of the truck bed. Fifth-wheel trailer hitch weight is typically around 20% of the trailer weight. Hitches are rated for gross trailer weights of up to 15,000 pounds. The following are some words that are commonly used to describe common fifth-wheel hitch components:

  • Fifth-wheel Plate: A hitch plate, plate jaws, and a handle attached in the truck bed make up the plate.
  • Handle: The device that opens or closes the plate jaws.
  • “Wheel that permits the trailer to spin,” says the Hitch Plate.
  • Pin: The connecting item on a fifth-wheel trailer that is designed to slot into the truck bed’s plate jaws.
  • Pin Box: A structure attached to the trailer frame’s bottom front part (the pin is attached to the bottom).
  • Plate Jaws: The pin is held in place by the plate jaws.
  • Side Rails: Support rails for the fifth-wheel hitch that are bolted to the tow truck bed.

Motorcycle, Tent, and Cargo Trailers

Between the towing vehicle and the trailer, there are numerous types of couplings:

  • With a swivel, it’s a ball kind.
  • With a detachable pin, it’s a universal-joint type.
  • Types include pin and swivel.

You should use the following coupling:

  • Non-binding, non-slip, and non-loosening.
  • It’s simple to connect and unhook.

When hauling a trailer, motorcycle riders must remember to stay closer to the middle of the road. You must consider the width of your trailer. At intersections, be wary of the “oil strip” in the middle of the road. Also, keep an eye out for uneven road surfaces and road edges, which might throw the trailer off balance.

Transporting Passengers

The following are the rules for transporting passengers in recreational vehicles or trailers:

  • CVC 21712(d) prohibits anybody from entering a trailer coach while it is being hauled.
  • While being towed, people are allowed in a fifth-wheel trailer coach (CVC 21712 (f), I
  • A camper with occupants must have an unimpeded exit door that may be opened from the interior and outside at all times (CVC 23129).

Weighing a Trailer

A public scale can be found in the yellow pages of your local phone directory under “Public Scales.”

Trailers must be weighted carefully to ensure that loads are evenly distributed from front to back and left to right. When it comes to trailer weights, there are two more factors to consider:

  • The trailer is being towed by a tow vehicle.
  • The connection between the two is made through a hitching mechanism.

The weight capacities of both the tow vehicle and the hitching mechanism have an impact on the vehicle’s safe handling. You should be aware of this as a new RV owner or driver.

  • The GVWR of the tow vehicle must not be exceeded. This weight includes the vehicle’s curb weight, cargo, and hitch weight. The percentage of the trailer weight that is placed on the tow vehicle’s trailer coupler is known as hitch weight. (For more information on trailer vehicle hitch weight, see the following section.) The gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of tow vehicles is similarly limited. To stay under the maximum weight limitations and avoid oversteering, the payload and hitch weight must be uniformly distributed across the axles.
  • Hitch Weight of a Trailer
  • Around 10-15% of the gross weight of a trailer is designed to be loaded in front of the front axle and onto the hitching mechanism. This provides the necessary stability for road handling. You may have a problem with not enough weight on the hitch if your trailer is not steady. Here’s how to calculate the hitch weight:
  • Place your loaded trailer on a scale with the hitch coupler extending beyond the scale’s end but the tongue jack post (the front of the trailer’s post that sits on the ground when unhitched) on the scale.
  • Unhitch the tow vehicle, block the trailer vehicle wheels, and get a weight rating. This is just the trailer vehicle’s curb weight.
  • Place a jack stand or 4 x 4 blocks behind the coupler and beyond the scale to support the tongue jack post off the scale and keep the trailer level. Take note of the weight rating.
  • For the hitch weight, subtract the reading from #2 from the reading from #3. Weight distribution can affect vehicle stability and safety in any RV. If the rear axle weight is low, for example, it’s advisable to load the heaviest items at the back. To keep the RV’s center of gravity low and assure the best handling, store the heaviest items at the bottom.


Examine the trailer’s weight distribution before towing it. For proper handling, travel trailer hitch weights should normally be at least 10% of the trailer’s gross weight. It can reach 15% or greater in some circumstances. The tow vehicle and hitch capacities limit the hitch weight for heavier trailers. The strongest load-distribution hitch is rated for 1200 pounds of hitch weight. The trailer should be towed by a pickup truck or van because most passenger vehicle suspensions cannot carry that much weight. The trailer can fishtail due to improper weight distribution (sway back-and-forth across the lane).

Hitch Adjustment

You can compensate for some of the hitch weight if the gross trailer weight is less than 10% of the hitch weight by loading heavy supplies like tools and canned goods as far forward as possible. If your trailer’s water tank sits behind the axles, travel with as little water as possible in the tank to reduce rear-end weight. Because the water adds to the hitch weight, trailers with front-mounted water tanks normally handle best when the tanks are full.

Make sure the spring bars of your load-distributing hitch are rated high enough to withstand the hitch weight of your trailer plus a 10% safety buffer. Check the tow vehicle’s rear suspension for proper operation. This implies that before hitching the trailer, the car sits relatively level.

The hitch weight is distributed fairly evenly over all axles of the tow vehicle and trailer with load-distributing hitches. At order for the hitch to function effectively, the tow vehicle and trailer must be in a level position (altitude). Here’s how to do it:

  • Measure the distance between the tow vehicle and the ground at reference sites in front and behind while the tow vehicle is loaded for a trip. Keep the figures on hand in case you need them later.
  • Hitch the trailer and adjust the spring bar tension so that the tow vehicle maintains a similar attitude (i.e., if the rear drops an inch after hitching, the front should also drop an inch).
  • Check to see if the trailer is level. The hitch ball height should be adjusted or lowered as needed if it is not level. If you can’t keep the tow vehicle from sagging in the back, you might require spring bars rated for higher weight.

Travel trailers are required to include safety chains. Fifth-wheel trailers do not require safety chains. The objective of safety chains is to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the event of a hitch failure, such as a loosened hitch ball. Below the ball mount, the chains should be crossed in a “X,” with enough slack to allow unfettered rotation but not enough to allow the coupler to contact the ground.

Any trailer with a gross weight of 1500 pounds or greater that was constructed after December 31, 1955 must additionally include breakaway switches. If the tow vehicle separates from the trailer, they are designed to trigger trailer brakes. The breakaway switch is looped around a stationary hitch component on the tow vehicle on one end and an electrical switch on the trailer frame on the other. The cable pulls a pin inside the breakaway switch and applies full power from the trailer batteries to the trailer brakes if the two vehicles become separated.

The breakaway switch and the safety chains must be in good operating order, even though hitch component failure is uncommon.

The motorcycle trailer hitch should be on the same plane as or slightly below the motorbike’s rear axle. When braking, this will assist prevent the trailer from pulling up on the back end. In addition, the hitch should be as close as possible to the rear tire to provide a more robust support without interfering with the tire. Two mounts should be on each side of the hitch. One of each side’s two mounts should resist a downward push, while the other side’s two mounts should resist the backward pull.

The tongue length on a trailer is usually double the width of the trailer wheel, but not more than six feet from the axle to the tongue’s end. Sway control will be improved with appropriate design. The trailer will swing if the tongue is too short. If the trailer is excessively lengthy, it will be sluggish and will clip corners when turning.

Because auto trailer tongue weights are too heavy for motorcycle trailers, you should use a motorcycle trailer. The handling and performance of a trailer with a good aerodynamic design will improve. Maintaining a low center of gravity will also help with handling.

Sway Control

If the weight and hitch settings are correct, the trailer should handle well. For the maximum towing comfort and safety, the coupling between a tow vehicle and trailer should also restrict side-to-side motion. Stop if you notice sway in your trailer to make sure the cargo hasn’t shifted. Check for faults with the suspension and ensure sure the tires and wheels are secure and properly inflated. Make that the trailer hitch is in good working order. A little decrease in tire air pressure or an increase in tongue weight may be beneficial. When the hitch is installed, a sway control device should be incorporated. This gadget gives the tow vehicle and trailer the appearance of being one vehicle. Sway control systems can be divided into two categories:

  • The action of the vehicles activates the friction bars, which slide in and out. The trailer weight compresses the bar as you brake or turn, which subsequently compresses the trailer against the tow vehicle.
  • Large trailers with hefty tongue weights benefit from dual cam sway control. The trailer’s spring is subjected to cam action, which reduces wobble and shifts the weight forward. It also changes the trailer’s weight shift, allowing it to follow the tow vehicle.

Trailer Lights

Reflectors, tail, brake, and license plate lights are all required on trailers in California. If the tow vehicle’s lights are hidden, signal lights are also necessary. Clearance lights are required on trailers with a width of more than 80 inches. Most manufacturers adhere to these guidelines; however, it is your responsibility to ensure that all lights function properly.

Trailer Brakes

Any trailer coach or camp trailer with a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more is required to have brakes in California. Tow trucks’ braking power is usually enough; but, it may not be adequate to safely stop the several hundred to several thousand pounds added by your trailer. Electric brakes are standard on most conventional and fifth-wheel trailers, and they are controlled by a controller in the tow vehicle. When the brake pedal is pressed, the controller automatically coordinates tow vehicle and trailer braking so that both systems function together.

The controller can also aid in the stabilization of a trailer that is swaying due to poor road conditions. A trailer that is prone to wobble can be stabilized by manually applying the trailer brakes with the hand lever on the controller.

Surge brake systems are commonly installed on folding camp trailers and boat trailers, which operate independently of the tow vehicle’s brakes.

A mechanism coupled to the receiver/ball connection applies surge brakes. The forward speed of the trailer compresses the mechanism, which then applies the trailer brakes when the tow vehicle slows.

Brakes are not required on motorcycle trailers unless the gross weight reaches 1500 pounds. If you add brakes on your motorbike trailer, make sure they are not stronger than the motorcycle, or the motorcycle may flip backwards over the trailer when you apply the brakes. The brakes must constantly be adjusted properly.

Trailer Backing

For inexperienced trailer owners, backing a trailer can be an unpleasant process. The most crucial thing to remember is that the trailer will follow the tow vehicle in the opposite direction. It is advantageous to have another person assist you in backing up the trailer.

For backing trucks, there are two options:

  • To have the trailer go left, turn the vehicle’s wheels to the right, and vice versa.
  • Place your hand on the steering wheel’s bottom. The trailer will follow the same path as your hand (moving your hand to the right will cause the trailer to go right, and vice versa).

Sharp steering wheel adjustments will cause the trailer to jackknife, potentially causing damage to the tow vehicle’s back end or the trailer’s front end.


This pamphlet contains vital safety advice for RVs and trailers. A thorough awareness of RV and trailer safety, as well as plenty of driving practice, will enable you to operate your vehicle with greater confidence and pleasure.

Is it better to have trailer brakes on the front or back axle?

Because trailers often carry more weight in the front, you should place the brakes on the front axle, which will most likely carry more weight during stopping. Also, as a result of the inertia of the stop, weight will transfer forward, putting greater weight on the front axle.

What is the procedure for installing electric brakes?

Elecbrakes makes it simple to install an electric brake controller.

  • Attach the trailer draw bar to the electric brake controller.
  • Connect the trailer cable and tow car socket to the electric brake controller.
  • The free Elecbrakes smartphone app can be used to connect the electric brake controller.

Are single-axle boat trailers equipped with brakes?

Brakes for Trailers The most frequent statute mandates the installation of brakes on any trailer weighing more than 3,000 pounds, however some jurisdictions have no such requirement, while others require brakes on all trailers. Some states need brakes on all axles for trailers with more than one axle, whereas others only require brakes on a single axle.

Is it possible to install electric brakes on a boat trailer?

Is it Possible to Install Electric Brakes on a Boat Trailer? On boat trailers, electric brakes can be employed. Going in and out of the water will not harm the brakes.