Can I Tow A Trailer Without A Brake Controller?

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The brake controllers work by using the weight of the trailer, as well as its momentum, in order to actuate its brakes. They are basically necessary if the brake system is expected to work properly. But, Can I tow a trailer without a brake controller?

Well, the short answer to this is: no, you can’t for whatever reason. In fact, electronic brakes do not work without them. Should your trailer be equipped with electronic brakes, you will need a brake controller to tow.

So, if are towing a trailer, it is important to be certain that your brakes are working just fine, particularly if the brakes are the electronic type.

What happens if you tow a trailer without the brake controller?

This obviously means that you will have no brakes to assist from the trailer itself, which implies that only the brakes of the towing vehicle will be working.

A situation like this can be very dangerous if the trailer is heavily loaded, for instance, as it can push the towing vehicle and even cause what is commonly called a ‘jackknife.’ To put it simply, you should expect the trailer to push you whenever you are trying to stop.

What is the function of the brake controller when towing?

It is important that you have a brake controller in a trailer whenever you are towing especially one that has electronic or hydraulic brakes. In many parts of the United States, an adjustable trailer brake controller is necessary when your trailer weighs more than about 30 000 pounds when it is fully loaded.

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Do you need a brake controller to pull a trailer?

Yes, you do basically. This is more so when your vehicle is equipped with either electronic or hydraulic brakes, as well as when the trailer weighs 30 000 pounds or more when it is fully loaded.

How much can you tow without a brake controller?

If you happen to be towing a trailer weighing from about 750 kg to 2000 kg GTM, you must always make sure that your trailer has brakes by the demands of the law. This means that, when you do not have a brake controller, you must not tow any weight more than 750 kg, but you can manage anything below that.

Though, doing this itself is not recommended for reasons of safety to both yourself and the vehicles both, as well as other people on the road too.

Every trailer or a semi-trailer with a gross weight of about 3000 lbs or more than that is equipped with brakes that are adequate to control its movements and also to stop it or hold such vehicle when required too. The brakes should automatically apply in the event of any accidental break-away as well.

How do you check a brake controller without a trailer?

In order to check a brake controller without a trailer, you need to have a circuit tester. With this tester, you can check the red wire that exits the rear of the brake controller.  This wire should only be hot when the brake pedal is pressed. If this works out fine, however, you can rest assured that your brake controller has issues, and must therefore be replaced without any delay too.

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If there is no brake controller, will the trailer brake lock when towing?

What happens when a trailer does not have a brake controller depends on several factors actually, such as whether it has the electronic brake type and also on its weight after loading.

The brakes may lock if the overall weight of the trailer and cargo does not exceed 750 kg if the trailer is equipped with either electric or hydraulic brakes.

However, if it is fully loaded and is also equipped with any of either electronic or hydraulic brakes, and it is weighing over 750 kg, then it is certain that the brakes won’t lock. All in all, your brakes wouldn’t lock during regular use. However, if you set them at maximum level, then they could lock up.

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FAQ

Do I need a brake controller if I have to tow a package?

It depends on the weight of the package you are towing really. If your trailer is provided with either electronic or hydraulic brakes, and you are towing a package that weighs at least 3000 pounds, then you obviously need a brake controller as well.

How much does it cost to install a brake controller?

After putting everything into consideration, you will be expected to pay at least between 60 and 340 dollars just for the brake controller itself. While for the labour involved, you may have to spend up to 300 dollars, though everything actually depends on how complicated your brake system is.

In essence, the cost for installing a brake controller depends on the kind of controller you have and the type of wiring it has, as well as the extent or severity of the damage the brake controller has suffered too. However, what is stated here should give you a good enough idea of what to expect from the job.

How do you tell if you need an electronic brake controller?

You will only need an electric brake controller if your vehicle is fitted with electric brakes with the use of a tester, which will evaluate the red wire that comes out of the rear of the brake controller.

This red wire is known to become hot whenever you press the brake pedal, and if it checks out fine, then you actually need a brake controller replacement, because that which you have is faulty.

How do I know if my brake controller is working?

To do that, you need a circuit tester like part #PTW 2993 with only one pin grounded while the other stays on the output pin. Then you will be required to hit the brake pedal of the vehicle, after which you should see the brake controller operate normally.

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How do you check a brake controller?

In order to check a brake controller without the trailer, you need to:

  1.  Press down on the brake pedal while watching the brake controller.
  2.  Also, check the fuse to the controller and see whether the display does not light up.
  3. Go to the trailer connector at the back of the tow truck with your multimeter.

Do trailer electric brakes self adjust?

The major types of trailer electric brake assemblies for axles 7K and below are both Forwarded self-adjusting (FSA) and manually adjustable too. However, the difference between them is that the forward self-adjusting brakes will adjust themselves as required, only to remain at optimum positions.

Should electric brakes lock up?

No, they really shouldn’t, especially during regular uses, but if you should set your controller to its maximum level, then the brakes may lock up, or be about to if the brake shoes are adjusted properly. In this case, back up your brake controller unit off until the brakes don’t lock up, but still have enough space to accord the necessary stopping power for the trailer.

Will electric trailer brakes work without a battery?

The electric trailer brakes are able to work on a trailer that doesn’t have a breakaway system. In essence, the answer is no, the breakaway battery would not affect how normal trailer brakes will function under ideal circumstances.

What causes electric trailer brakes not to work?

The first thing to do is to check the connectors of the trailer and the vehicle for signs of corrosion. Corrosion can cause a short inside both the connector and the brake feed circuit, while the ground is at the bottom of the connector so that moisture can affect these connectors first. Should there be a bad ground connection, the trailer brakes won’t work.

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How do you troubleshoot an electric trailer brake controller?

First, check the wires on the trailer brake magnets. Each of them should normally have two wires: one for power, while the other for ground. Ensure that the ground wire is attached to a clean metal area without any paint or corrosion. The power wire should remain intact and also have a solid connection to the electric brake signal wire.

How long do electric brake magnets last?

All the magnets have worn holes in them, and when you can no longer see these holes, they need to be replaced at once. It can vary between 10 000 K to about 50 000 K depending on how you use the trailer brakes, how heavy it may be, how the terrain is and so on.

At what weights do you need electric brakes?

The electronic brakes are commonly used on caravans and trailers with weights over 750 kg and are legally required on all caravans and trailers where their GTM is more than 2 000 kg. Do not forget that, if are considering using electronic brakes, you will definitely need to install a control unit in the tow vehicle as well.

Are trailer-mounted brake controllers legal?

Any trailer whose GTM is more than 2 000 kg must, as a necessity, have either an electronic brake system or an electronic disc brake braking systems, which are legally required brake control units that are mounted near the driver so that he can control how the brakes of the trailer function.

Does a tow dolly need brakes?

Yes, a tow dolly with braking capabilities is actually required in any part of the United States, for instance. However, many tow dollies have electric brakes, as is found in any standard travel trailer. What is needed for you to do is to install a brake controller unit in your rig and you are very ready to go afterwards. Other tow dollies may have what is commonly called surge brakes.

Should you grease a tow ball?

You can grease a tow ball only if you are using a standard hitch. However, you are allowed to clean the tow ball with an emery cloth,  which will also clean the shiny metal but do not grease it if you are using a stabilizer hitch. It’s as simple as that.

What does maximum tow ball mean?

In cases where the maximum rating relates to the mass of the trailer, the tow ball mass looks at the weight or force the trailer exerts onto the tow hitch itself. As a general rule of the thumb with most tow settings, the ball mass rating is about 10 per cent of the maximum tow rating.

How do you adjust the tow ball weight?

In order to work this out correctly, you should simply divide your overhang by the wheelbase length of your vehicle, and then multiply whatever result you get by the tow ball weight. The final figure you obtain is the weight shifted from the front axle of the vehicle to its rear.  Overhang is simply the distance from the centre of your rear axle to the tow ball.

Can I Tow A Trailer Without A Brake Controller – Conclusion

As long as a trailer, or any other vehicle, is equipped with either electronic or hydraulic brakes, then the use of a brake controller is mandated.

Otherwise, your vehicle brakes will simply not work at all, especially if you are carrying a heavy load. It is for this all-important reason that you are spared no information on how to install them properly, use them as is necessary, as well as how you can check them to verify whether they are in good condition or not.

The risks involved when you tow a vehicle while knowing that you don’t have a brake controller or that your brake controller is faulty, have also been explained to the fullest, such that you know what you are up against, in whatever you do or in any situation you may find yourself.

In conclusion, the article has really left nothing to chance whatsoever. It is basically all-inclusive and very self-explanatory too. Thanks for reading thus far.

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