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SUBJECT: # 9257: How can I tell if my trailer brakes are working ?

Submitted by Eagle 518 from NEW JERSEY on 7/8/03 7:14:00 AM

I have a Ranger 518 with a single axle trailer with disc brakes. I have had problems with my truck brakes for the last 2 years, so I am wondering if my trailer brakes are working properly. How can I tell if my traler brakes are working properly. Thanks in advance, Eagle 518

  1. 7/8/03 7:20:00 AM Submitted by Thom ( from WEST VIRGINIA says If Ya Don't Hit Anything
    That's the first hint, if you can get it to stop without hitting anything or ending up in the middle of intersections unexpectedly. Don't laugh, having a boat push your truck out into an intesection agaist a red light will get your attention in a heartbeat.

    Jack up the wheels and get someone to spin them. While they are spinning take a large screwdrive (very large) and use it to pry to acculate the master cylinder at the hitch. If the wheels stop they work, if they don't you get to work ......


  2. 7/8/03 8:38:00 AM Submitted by Reel Work from TEXAS says My tried and true test is this...
    Actually there are two ways..

    First one is the panic stop method. The trailer brakes should lock up or at least chirp a little.

    Second method is to disconnect the reverse lockout and try backing up. The trailer should, at the very least, provide some resistance as you go back. Mine would actually prevent you from going anything more than a couple feet before it completely stopped you...

    Good luck, Chris

  3. 7/8/03 9:36:00 AM Submitted by mike snow ( from TEXAS says If you hear "thunk"
    If every time you stop, you hear "thunk" where the actuator hits bottom and when you start back up, another "thunk", you've got issues. Not to say that you won't have some sort of "thunk" when you floor it from a stop, because the actuator does move forward when the truck does, but if you're bottoming out hard when you stop, you've got an issue.

  4. 7/8/03 9:43:00 AM Submitted by Tommy Z ( from TEXAS says the "thunk"
    Yep, the thunk is a dead giveaway.

    I just replaced the master cylinder and shock in my coupler to fix my drum brakes. I also replaced the drum shoe adjusters, tensioned the shoes, and flushed clean fluid through the whole system.

    Having trailer brakes is a night and day difference when you have to stop.

  5. 7/8/03 3:32:00 PM Submitted by shelby ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says thunk 101
    I need this course. my tandum ranger trail has a little bit of a thunk when I take off and stop. Its not a loud and hard thunk but none the less its definately the thunk. My brakes work just fine thiough for trust me I woulda been through many intersections if they didn't. I have several diffrent trailers so I use the 4 holer light kit but this trailer is a 5. All I do is switch the plug around to back up. Now if I forget to move the plug the brakes will not let the truck move at all backwards. So in my opinion my brakes are fine.

    I am definately not an expert with trailer brakes and I am wondering, am I about to go for a ride through a intersection or is my brakes about to fail.

  6. 7/8/03 3:51:00 PM Submitted by mike snow ( from TEXAS says how old is it?
    Do you have disc or drum brakes? If drum, can you adjust them? You might just have a small amount of air in the line.

    If the trailer is FAIRLY non-recent, it could be that the little shock absorber in the actuator assembly is worn.

    However, the inability to back up tells me the brakes are working pretty well.

  7. 7/8/03 5:56:00 PM Submitted by DogFishHunter from MICHIGAN says There is a difference............
    Especially with drum vs disc brakes. Drum brakes in most cases can be backed up without locking up provided you are not backing up hill or in soft terrain. Also depending on how your brakes are adjusted (drum) you may or may not have a slight "thunk" stopping and taking off. I tend to have my brakes adjusted with little or no drag to avoid heat issues in stop and go traffic therefore I have a slight "thunk" occasionally when stopping or taking off. If I adjust my brakes where most people tend to adjust them, my "thunk" goes away due to less travel needed by the actuator. If I stomp on the brakes the rear of truck "squats down", thats when you know they are working. If you notice your tongue lifting the rear bumper when you stop,and your tongue is level with the truck then ...YOU GOTS NO BRAKES!

    I would have to say this... If you are not sure whether your brakes are working and you have disc brakes and dont feel a thing, I would do a brake inspection.

  8. 7/8/03 10:33:00 PM Submitted by Steve P. ( from FLORIDA says Maybe not the best way but..........
    Get off at the rest area and carefully feel the rotors/drums. If they're cold, they aren't working. Also, rust on the actual braking surface of the drum/rotor indicates inoperative brakes.

  9. 7/9/03 2:46:00 PM Submitted by shelby ( from SOUTH CAROLINA says pretty good info
    I see that my brakes are fine, they are drums and they do get warm not hot but pretty warm. backin up I can about half way floor it and no movement so all is well. now with all the talk of the thunk I was about to start thinking that something was about to go astray.

    I would about be willing to bet that mike has hit my small problem on the head, I will check it out and thanks to all for posting the good info.

  10. 7/11/03 10:57:00 AM Submitted by John in Tennessee from TENNESSEE says My step son hears mine when he's walking standing there
    and I back under the shed.

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