brakes or no brakes - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-12-2007, 07:28 PM   #1
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I read with interest several discussions on brakes. What is baffling is our 1987 Burro does not, and apparently never did, have brakes yet some others with even older Burros say they do have brakes. My husband says it's okay to not have them and we really don't want to invest a lot in this trailer as we hope some day to get a 17'. Should we have brakes for some reason? We tow with a super charged 1995 Toyota Previa and it handles fine.
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:24 PM   #2
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Generally, the need for brakes is set by state or province law; they vary from 1,000 lbs in NY to something like 13,000 in MA. Washington is either 3,000 or 4,000, I don't recall which right now

I was towing my comparable Scamp 13' with a 1/2 ton Dodge pickup and was tired of close calls at intersections because the 1,700# trailer was pushing the 4,000+ truck just a little too much for my comfort. It really made a difference.

BTW, it isn't the supercharged part that matters (except that it might get one into more trouble than one bargained for), but what kind of brakes, tires and suspension one has on the tow vehicle, plus its weight. What I would suggest is looking in the owner's manual under trailer towing; if it doesn't mention brakes, and you have a very comfortable towing capacity margin, then you should be all right.
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:30 PM   #3
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IMHO: Handling and stopping ESPECIALLY in emergency situations are two completely different needs. One can never plan for an emergency, just be prepared to deal with it. WHY risk the chance of doing some serious boddily harm OR worse yet cause the death of others not to mention yourselve because of not using/having trailer brakes???

The need/ necessity of brakes on a trailer (at least up here in Canada) is related to the overall weight of the trailer and the tow vehicle. Our Trillium has no brakes (from the factory) and I know towing it with our hot rod even with its 600+hp is pushing the envelope. The car has MANY times more than the power needed to pull the trailer as well as steer around possible obsticles, but emergency stopping is, ...well lets just say that when the torsion bar axle fails or shows signs of more wear, I do plan to get a new axle which will be equipped with brakes. These brakes MAY just be the surge type, but far better than our braking ability now....
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:31 PM   #4
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Pete, Yes, I agree!!!
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:45 PM   #5
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What I would suggest is looking in the <Previa's> owner's manual under trailer towing; if it doesn't mention brakes, and you have a very comfortable towing capacity margin, then you should be all right.
I agree!
Link to what My 2003 Honda Odyssey's manual says.
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Old 08-12-2007, 09:13 PM   #6
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Pete and Doug have covered the rules and the reasons... so I'll comment specifically on the Previa. I would be very surprised if the restrictions in the owners' manual allowed towing any more than 1000 lb without trailer brakes. The current Sienna is a larger vehicle from the same manufacturer, and has a 1000 lb no-brake limit, which is very typical of anything lighter than a full-size pickup truck.

The brakes of a vehicle are intended to stop up to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the vehicle (maybe 1000 lb more than the empty weight of a Previa), not the Gross Combined Weight of the vehicle and the trailer. In addition to any consideration of brake component sizes, the van doesn't have the traction needed to effectively stop the trailer, because its tires are not carrying the trailer's weight.

It seems that most 13' travel trailers do not have brakes, but with the exception of people towing them with large trucks, in most cases they should have brakes.
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Old 08-12-2007, 09:34 PM   #7
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You only need em when you need em.

Believe me, if you travel much, you'll need em.
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Old 08-12-2007, 10:13 PM   #8
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ESPECIALLY here on the mountainous Wet Coast, LOL!!!!
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Old 08-12-2007, 11:48 PM   #9
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I find that my 13 Boler and 1/2 ton truck combination hasnt needed trailer brakes in the 5 years that Ive been towing ......been coast to coast a couple times....in panic type situations the 4 wheel discs with ABS help, I suppose....also if Im not mistaken, brakes are reqd on all trailers, regardless of size in S. Dakota and Kansas......In Manitoba the limit for not needing brakes is 2006 lbs.....Benny
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Old 08-12-2007, 11:58 PM   #10
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On our 13 Scamp it had brakes when we bought it, but with the gut and remodel I put off getting the controller till just recently. Pulled three trips in the AZ mountains without the brakes and then got the controller and fired up the brakes for the last trip to San Diego. Don't know about the technical mumbo jumbo, but just from what little experience I've had so far, I much prefer towing the Scamp with the brakes. Quite a difference in handling. Pulling with a Jeep Liberty.
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Old 08-13-2007, 01:56 AM   #11
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I have a 2002 13' Casita. It came with brakes. When I was leaving the campground at the end of the Oregon Gathering, One of the electric brakes engaged. My tug is a 2002 Dodge Dakota with the big V8 engine. I couldn't move the trailer with the pickup with only one brake engaged. I'm glad to have the brakes. I know I'm safer when I stop or even have to slow down. Thanks to the assistance of some gentlemen in the group I was able to get moving and get to Coos Bay for brake repair.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:05 AM   #12
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Most of the important points have already been covered. Trailer Life Directory has a section on Rules of the Road and Towing Laws. The trailer weight requiring brakes in WA state is 3000#. Scary! I don't think I would pull a travel trailer without trailer brakes, except maybe with a full-sized pick-up or large SUV.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:08 AM   #13
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I've seen far too many times large pickups (i'm guilty of this too) towing med. size trailers w/no brakes going down a very long hill on the interstate and when holding on the brakes they get what's called "brake fade"..... let that happen to you one time and you will be sure to leave plenty of clearance between you and that vehicle in front of you...... stopping quick should be fine but those long downgrades could be a problem, A lower gear and fan the brakes in that situation would help alot if no trailer brakes.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
You only need em when you need em.

Believe me, if you travel much, you'll need em.

Truer words were never spoken.

If you don't have 'em, it's sort of like the trip down while falling off a tall building... "It's OK so far..." In that case, it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden event at the end. Trailering without trailer brakes is a pretty similar endeavor.

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