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Single Axle Trailer Brakes

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I just picked up a used 6x10 single axle utility trailer and I was wondering thoughts on adding electric brakes to it. It has the GVWR of 2,990. The tow vehicle will be a 2014 Silverado which has both the 4 pin and 7 pin trailer connectors with a brake controller.

 

From what I priced out on etrailer.com it would come out to about $200 or so to put electric brakes on it. I have towed larger trailers (dual axle) and I enjoyed having the brakes on there. My question is have any of you put brakes a single axle trailer? I am sure come springtime I will be near max capacity with loads of dirt/mulch/stone etc. (and I no I won't overload it) I know I don't legally need brakes here in NY for that weight but was just looking for some opinions if it is worth it to do or not and maybe extend the life of the truck brakes. I do know the one downside, is I would be going away from the more adaptable 4 pin connector to more vehicles. Would this also prevent me from dragging it around with my horse if I add brakes?

 

Thoughts?

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If you add brakes it won't effect dragging it around at all. $200 is a great price but I wouldn't bother unless you plan on really loading it a lot or live in a real nutty place for hills like Watkins Glen or Ithaca:) I have the same size trailer, pulled with a Tundra and I have no trouble stopping. If you had a small SUV  I would  consider  brakes. Another issue is law enforcement. At least where I live, The Sheriff Dept had 1 interpretation of break away switches,batteries and charging methods while the State Police had another. People were getting pulled over and their trailers red tagged while they were legal to the other agency. This occurred 15 years ago when I worked at a Napa store. They wern't happy when we sold them a brake kit and in 2 days they would get tagged.

Edited by squonk
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I would say go for it if you think it would serve you better especially with the heavier loads, your trailer is worth it and the existing axle/tires can handle them. I would think the cost would be more than you think if you add a break away devices, wiring and such which might be mandatory.   There is a reason your trailer is rated at just under 3k, most states & manufactures use that weight rating as the cut off with having to have mandatory brakes. With some off the sophistications some of the brake controllers have now it's amazing how effective they are!.

 

You still should be able to pull it around with your horses, and the wealth of adapters out there these days that shouldn't be an issue.

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Like Mike and Jim said, it won't affect a thing regarding pulling it with your tractor. I like your way of thinking but personally I wouldn't bother. You've got more than enough truck to handle it fine. My trailer has the same GVWR and I don't have any issues with it behind my little Ranger even fully loaded. :)

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That's more than enough truck for a small trailer like that. IMO I wouldn't bother and invest the time and money into something of more use. I also believe anything with a gvw of greater than 7k requires brakes

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IMO, you would just be adding unnecessary weight and maintenance.     I pull a 3K lb boat on a single axle w/o brakes and feel very confident with the braking capabilities of the 2010 F-150.

My Ford does have the "TOW/HAUL"  gear that activates engine braking when brake sensors feel a push from the towed vehicle.   I am not sure, but the Silverado may also have this towing gear.

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When I bought my 6x12 Sure Trac trailer last year, I made sure that it was equipped with hubs that would accept brakes. Not that I have added brakes to it but wanted to keep costs down if I ever decide to add them. I passed on getting a PJ trailer because the local PJ dealer's whole stock of single axle trailers had the bare hub.

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My '14 Silverado doesn't have a brake controller and I just got back from a 5hr round trip with a 6x12 single axle toting my new to me 520xi with 60" deck back home in tow/haul mode it has engine braking and really never noticed the trailer behind me here in the hills of western Virginia just my :twocents-02cents:,Jeff.

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I got the brake controller in the truck and the tow/haul mode on the truck. It also has the tow package up to 9600lbs. That's the main reason why I was considering it because the truck was already equipped.

 

When I have towed it I haven't really noticed it at all except when I am pulling in the Adirondack mountains but I haven't towed anywhere near max weight of the trailer with it. This truck pulls like a dream compared to my old Ram. 

 

 

 

 

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I have a similar trailer and added brakes to it.  I pull it with a 3/4-ton 4x4 pickup and a Ford Edge SUV.  Now that I have them, I'd never go back to trailer that doesn't.  Loaded to even half capacity I definitely feel the trailer wanting to push the truck in quick stops, especially on gravel and on rain slicked roads.

 

You can always turn the gain down to avoid too much wear on the trailer drums if that's a concern.  I turn the brakes off completely when the trailer is empty so it doesn't skid a tire if the road is bumpy while stopping.

 

I don't think I'm hypersensitive about what I can feel, so how others don't notice the trailer pushing the truck is beyond me.  They're added peace of mind.

 

Steve

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wh500special,

 

Did you change it to a 5 pin or a 7 pin connector? Did you add a break-away system? Anything else to know about?

 

1 hour ago, wh500special said:

I turn the brakes off completely when the trailer is empty so it doesn't skid a tire if the road is bumpy while stopping.

 

How did you do this? Did you put the key in the break-away while driving? Did you use an adapter to change use a 4 pin connector so the brake line is jumped out? Or did you just turn the gain all the way down?

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On 11/15/2016 at 7:16 PM, mmmmmdonuts said:

wh500special,

 

Did you change it to a 5 pin or a 7 pin connector? Did you add a break-away system? Anything else to know about?

 

 

How did you do this? Did you put the key in the break-away while driving? Did you use an adapter to change use a 4 pin connector so the brake line is jumped out? Or did you just turn the gain all the way down?

 

Before I put a brake controller in the Edge, I added a 4-flat connector to the trailer's wiring harness in parallel with the big round one.  That avoided the use of any kind of adapter and let me tow the trailer with any of my available vehicles.  When using the 7-round connector though, I plug a cover (just a car-end 4-flat with the leads snipped off and taped) into the 4-flat to keep any of the live pins from shorting to the frame of the trailer.  And a wrap of electrical tape over the seam if I won't be opening it up for a while.

 

Regarding turning off the brakes, your brake controller will have some adjustment dials or slides.  One of them is the "gain" or proportionality of the braking energy applied to the trailer.  When the trailer is empty, I just turn the gain down to its minimum.  If it's sending any power back there during a stop, it's extremely minimal.

 

If you are adding a controller to a vehicle, don't buy the cheapest time-based controller.  MAKE SURE you buy a PROPORTIONAL controller.  Rather than increase the braking power based on how long you are stepping on the brake pedal, a proportional unit senses the change in acceleration of the tow vehicle to (attempt to) modulate power to the trailer brakes.  When set up properly, the trailer braking matches what the vehicle is doing rather well. 

 

Setup is easy too, just follow the manual.  The general procedure is to hook up the loaded trailer and park on a level spot.  Adjust the "levelling" adjustment on the proportional controller to make sure the interior sensors are plumb/level.  Then drive about 15 mph and apply just the trailer brakes...turn up the gain until the wheels on the trailer just about skid when applied at a maximum.  That's it.  The controller does the rest.  You can tweak the aggressiveness by trimming the levelling adjustment a little bit; one way makes the brakes wake up faster, the other way slower.  It's really easy to get it to where you don't feel the trailer pushing the car at all in any stop.

 

Another benefit that probably won't come into play for a small flatbed is the ability to reach down and apply the brakes manually when you're driving.  You'll occasionally encounter situations when the trailer starts to wag a bit and a little momentary brake drag can tuck it right back behind the tow vehicle.  This is more prone to happen with bigger trailers or those that catch a lot of wind like a travel trailer or enclosed trailer.  Downhill grades can do it too.

 

I have an older Tekonsha Prodigy in one vehicle and a Tekonsha Primus in another.  Both work really well.  Our van at work has a time-based controller and it sucks in comparison...on a long gradual stop you hit a point where the trailer is providing more braking than the van.  So you have to let of the brakes momentarily to reset the timer.

 

I would assume that integrated controllers in newer trucks are proportional and probably talk to the antilock brakes on the truck so they ease up if the truck wheels are locking.  I think some even implement sway control that will drag the trailer brakes to bring it back inline if the truck senses sway.

 

Good luck!

 

Steve

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43 minutes ago, wh500special said:

MAKE SURE you buy a PROPORTIONAL controller

Amen to that Steve, when I bought my tandem I told the guy to give me a controller right away, I thought it would be about 50 bucks but he wrote it up it was well over 100. Turns out he sold me a top of the line proportional that was even self leveling & senses vehicle motion and it works great! Has boost features for different trailer loading  & road conditions also that work really slick. Worth every penny!

 

 I had an older controller that was a tear off another truck that I threw in a work truck that works like crap. No matter how you set the gain or sync the brakes  it never stops right.

 

Bottom line is get a good controller. Not sure if the newer vehicles have that built in or not. You would think they would if the vehicle has a towing package. Maybe some of the guys with newer trucks will chime in.

On ‎11‎/‎14‎/‎2016 at 7:15 PM, mmmmmdonuts said:

brake controller in the truck and the tow/haul mode on the truck.

What year/make/model is that donuts??

Edited by WHX9
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Thank you for rhe advice. I like that you wired the switch in parallel. That makes a lot of sense and it is nice to have both cable ends available depending on the vehicle. 

 

I had put an old brake controller in my old dodge and I really didn't care for it much at all. It was very jerky with the gain and control of the brakes perhaps because it was a cheap one. 

 

My tow vehicle now is a 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500. It has the V8 in it and has the integrated tow package including the trailer brakes and a tow/ haul mode. It can tow 9600lbs according to the manual.

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Thanks Donut, just wondering as my Chev 1500 has the tow mode and was supposed to have the tow package but no controller although the wiring was all there for it but not hooked up. It is a 2010 tho. This is the work truck I put the crap controller in.  My 1995 GMC 2500 personal truck got the good controller and had all the wiring installed from the factory. Just had to hook it all up and install 7 pin round.

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No the last few years they have definitely came a long way in what is included in towing packages across the different manufacturers. My 02 Dodge was the same way as your chevy was though. It had the towing package, but I had to add my own controller to the mix which kind of defeats the purpose because you are going to need a controller with any trailer above >3000lbs. I am happy that this truck has the controller in it.

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Typically the tow pkg on some older trucks doesn't necessarily mean it comes with a brake controller. Tow pkg is generally different gearing (410's vs 373 perhaps), trans fluid cooler, class iii hitch etc

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Tell you guys what I will be in the market for a new truck next year and when I go kick tires I'll ask the dealer if I can hook my 7x14 enclosed tandem up for a road test to test out the towing package! Will be sure to get a pic of the salesman's face reaction to that request!

Edited by WHX9
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So I was reading my manual and I thought this was interesting:

The manual also includes the 2500, and 3500 series as well.  

 

Trailer Brakes

A loaded trailer that weighs more

than 900 kg (2,000 lb) needs to have

its own brake system that is

adequate for the weight of the

trailer. Be sure to read and follow

the instructions for the trailer brakes

so they are installed, adjusted, and

maintained properly.

Do not tap into the vehicle's

hydraulic brake system.

 

The manual also includes the 2500, and 3500 series as well. Not sure if this is just for liability reasons but regardless it was definitely interesting.

 

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I added the brake kits to my 6x12 utility trailer a couple years ago , many due to towing it at times with the old FJ40 Land Cruiser . The Cruiser is a tank , but with a short wheel base and pulling around 3k it starts to become an issue stopping quickly . I always use worst case to set things up - it prevents having a surprise later when you least want it , such as an emergency stop . My '14 Dodge QC 4x4 weighs north of 6k empty and with the 4 wheel disk brakes I hardly notice the trailer , even with the heavy D on it but I do want to add the factory tow controller into the truck , just in case...

One thing I did when I upgraded to the trailer brake setup was swapping in a heavier 7 wire cable and a junction box from E-Trailer - best mod and sure made it easier later for wiring changes/upgrades . I set the utility up for full 7 wire operation , including reverse lights which is a real benefit at night ..

 

Sarge

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I have another quick question regarding the trailer and it has to do with lighting. It is a 2002, and the inside of the box measures right under 80" wide, but the outside of the trailer where the wheels are about 95" wide at the widest point. Currently there is this type of tail light at the back: http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Lights/Optronics/STL2RB.html?feed=npn&gclid=COOF7ubi8dACFcmFswods88Kvg (basically an over 80 tail light)

And a marker light in the front corners like this: http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Lights/Optronics/MC36AB.html 

 

There are no other lights on the trailer. These are my questions:

 

1) Where is the trailer width measured from? Not the box, correct? I thought it was at it's widest point, which puts me at the over 80" light requirement, correct?

2) I have no identification lights on the back, but have a big ramp that comes down. Do I need to add identification lights to it?

3) Has the DOT (NY or Federal) changed since 2002 where some of these requirements were added?

4) Are the single markers in the front corner count as the amber lights in the corner?

 

Just trying to figure out how concerned I should be and what I need to do to get it up to par, since I will be replacing at least some of the lights this spring.

 

Thanks

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A 3-light clearance bar should be pretty cheap money, why not install one to have for additional safety for night driving. I like lights, so the more the merrier....especially these days where every other person I pass has their eyes glued to their phone 

Edited by classicdmax
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I own 3 trailers,and have towed a trailer for work for about 30 years,i would NEVER buy any trailer that can haul more than 1500 lbs without brakes,i live in an area with long steep hills,so its nice to have the extra braking,and they do get over loaded too,but that's only my opinion

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