Often, when safely towing a trailer, trailer brake adjustment is overlooked, knowingly or unknowingly, which is a sign of an inexperienced driver. Always keep in mind that properly adjusted brakes not only increase the safety of your towing experience but also contribute to the longevity of your trailer’s braking system, reducing premature failure of trailer braking system components and their replacement costs.
In this guide post, you will learn the step-by-step process of adjusting trailer brakes, so you can easily adjust your trailer brakes and reduce safety risks while on the road.
How Do Electric Trailer Brakes Work?
Electric trailer brakes connect to an electric brake controller module in the towing vehicle, which operates the trailer’s brakes. When the driver applies the brakes, the brake controller module sends an electrical signal to each brake assembly on the trailer. The active magnets generate a magnetic field and pull the brake shoes against the rotating drums, creating friction and slowing the wheels.
When the driver releases the brake pedal, the electric signal to the trailer’s brake system is cut off, causing the magnet signal to be released and the trailer wheel to rotate freely. However, regular adjustment of trailer brakes is necessary for optimal electric trailer brake function and overall towing safety.
How To Adjust Trailer Brakes?
To adjust trailer brakes 1. Gather appropriate equipment. 2. Jack up the trailer. 3. Locate the brake adjustment mechanism. 4. Remove the brake adjustment cover. 5. Rotate the brake star wheel. 6. Spin the trailer wheel. 7. Repeat this process for all wheels. 8. Test trailer brakes
Let’s take a detailed look at the trailer brake adjustment process so you can adjust your trailer brakes easily and safely.
Most trailers use electric brakes. These brakes are operated through the brake controller of the towing vehicle. The brake controller sends an electric signal to the trailer brakes, activating them to slow or stop the trailer when needed. Therefore, before adjusting trailer brakes, it is important to know about the process and the proper tools to be used so that you can adjust them easily and safely.
1. Gather The Appropriate Tools
You will need the following tools to adjust the trailer brakes:.
- Jack Stand
- Adjustable Wrench
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Brake spoon
- Socket wrench
- Wheel chocks
2. Jack Up The Trailer
Securely jack up the trailer before adjusting the trailer brakes, and make sure the trailer jack stands are securely in place and the trailer is stable and will not move during the adjustment process. Because the trailer moving during adjustment may pose a safety risk, the brake adjustment will not be correct.
3. Locate The Trailer Adjustment Mechanism
After this, you should identify what type of brake system is installed in your trailer. Most trailers feature a brake adjustment mechanism on the brake assembly itself, in which case you may find an access port on the brake backing plate that will allow you to access the adjustment mechanism.
4. Adjusting Trailer Drum Brakes
- Remove the brake adjustment cover: Remove the rubber plug or access port cover on the brake drum backing plate, so you can make the necessary adjustments by turning the star wheel.
- Turn Brake star wheel: Next, using a brake adjustment tool or screwdriver, turn the adjustment star wheel to extend or retract the brake shoes. Also, make sure that the wheel of your trailer is not stuck, so apply a slight pull on the drum.
- Spin the Trailer Wheel: Now spin the trailer wheel and adjust the brakes until you feel a slight pull. When you feel a slight pull on the wheel, back out the brake adjustment star wheel slightly.
- Repeat this process for all wheels: Repeat this process for all wheels on the trailer, ensuring consistent adjustment. Be careful to turn the trailer wheel slowly when making brake adjustments, as excessively tight brakes can completely damage your trailer’s brake system and may put additional load on the towing vehicle.
5. Adjusting Trailer Hydraulic Disc Brakes
You should always keep in mind that the adjustment process for disc brakes is different from that for drum brakes.
- Find the brake adjustment location: Locate the adjustment nut or bolt on the trailer brake caliper assembly, which will allow you to adjust the brakes.
- Use A Wrench : Use a wrench to turn the adjustment nut or bolt to tighten the brake pad to the rotor.
- Turn Adjustment Bolt/Nut : Turn the trailer wheel and adjust it until you feel a slight pull. When you feel a slight pull as you turn the trailer wheel, back out the brake adjustment bolt or nut slightly.
- Repeat Process : Repeat this process for all wheels to maintain uniform braking on all wheels.
- Check the brake fluid level: Check the brake fluid level after making hydraulic disc brake adjustments. If the brake fluid level is low, top it off. Because hydraulic disc brakes work on the basis of fluid.
6. Test The Brakes
After adjusting the trailer brakes, take the trailer off the jack stands and drive to the test. Also, ensure that the brakes are applied smoothly and evenly. If you notice any abnormal noise, adjust it to the correct point.
Why Is Trailer Brake Adjustment Necessary?
Trailer brake adjustment is essential to ensuring safe towing of any trailer, so properly adjusted brakes optimize trailer stopping power and prevent excessive wear and overheating of the brake system. A well-adjusted brake system reduces the risk of accidents and promotes overall road safety.
If you regularly adjust the brakes on your trailer, it will maintain brake efficiency, which will reduce wear and tear on the brake pads. Neglecting trailer brake adjustment may result in inadequate braking performance and compromise the stability of the towing vehicle and trailer combination, creating a potentially dangerous situation on the road.
What Should Be Kept in Mind When Adjusting Trailer Brakes?
- When adjusting trailer brakes, apply equal braking force to all wheels.
- Always lock the trailer wheels and release the trailer parking brake when adjusting the brakes.
- Spin the wheels by hand to identify any resistance or drag when adjusting the brakes.
- Adjust the brake shoes on all wheels evenly.
- Inspect brake components for wear as part of routine maintenance. trailer
- Always prioritize safety, as properly adjusted trailer brakes are essential for stable and safe towing.
- Proper brake adjustment helps prevent issues such as uneven tire wear on the trailer, low braking efficiency, and potential accidents on the road.