Do I need trailer brakes - Fiberglass RV

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Old 05-19-2014, 09:24 PM   #1
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Name: Windy
Trailer: Trillium
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Do I need trailer brakes

I have recently purchased a 2004 Trillium Outback (1600lb dry, 2350lb axle capacity) and will be towing it with a 2003 Saturn Vue V6 Awd (2500lb towing capacity). It did not come with trailer brakes and I am planning to drive through BC to Alaska and then back to Victoria Island, is this do-able or do I have to get brakes installed on my trailer? Have pulled loaded utility trailers with it but it's the first time I've had a camper trailer and gone any distance. What do you guys recommend? Thanks.

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Old 05-19-2014, 10:52 PM   #2
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Name: deryk
Trailer: 2012 Parkliner 2010 V6 Nissan Frontier 4x4
New Jersey
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Windy, check your manual under towing. It will state what weight needs trailer breaks...Im going to go with the idea of yeah it would be a good idea. Your vehicle if it was more massive you could probably get away with it. I "could" tow my ParkLiner without trailer breaks but I like that the trailer is also trying to stop, not just the tow vehicle....and think about how people like to pull out in front of you and you have another 1500 to 2000lbs (2700 or so for me)
back behind you pushing you forward.

Your going to hear a lot of "ideas" but my suggestion is to follow what the manuf of your tow vehicle recommends.


All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.... J.R.R. Tolkien
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Old 05-19-2014, 11:36 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
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Trailer brakes are always a good idea required or not. For one thing they help keep the trailer behind you instead of it passing you. One real panic stop and you'll wish you had brakes on the trailer.
Here's a link to a site that has state by state and Provence by Provence towing laws. Here it is.
The weights listed are as you tow it down the road, not dry weight. Right now you're very close to the limit for Alberta.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 05-19-2014, 11:46 PM   #4
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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Brakes on the trailer are a WHOLE lot cheaper than replacing the brakes on your tug. Remember, tug brakes are designed to stop the tug and a bit more. Not the tug and another ton behind it.

To me, this is a maintenance issue. YMMV
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Old 05-19-2014, 11:55 PM   #5
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Name: Glenn
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
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i had no brakes on my tent trailer. I had just had my brakes done on the '87 Subaru GL wagon ( should never have been towing with it ). Had to brake heavily on a downhill, rapidly approaching the rear end of a semi.
And then I got to pay my garage another $300 to do another brake job. I really couldn't afford $300 a month for brake jobs.
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:19 AM   #6
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You don't need them. You can get away without them. In that case you should drive both much slower and more cautiously. Hard to do on a long trip.

The people who have brakes probably had one frightful experience. Which will make you a believer in them.

My brother towed a 6500 lb Prowler trailer all over the US with an F250...probably more than 10,000 miles without working trailer brakes. Most of it at 50 mph--a painfully slow highway speed. He got in the habit of driving shorter distances at slower speeds and making frequent stops Are you prepared to do that?

I have five trailers-- only one trailer with surge brakes. Most of these trailers are much lighter than my tow vehicle--a heavy 20' long dually diesel with a prodigy brake controller. While I don't have any trailers with electric brakes I have and do use my brake controller and towed with them many times, larger trailers , car haulers, with equalizing hitches, everything but fifth wheels and goosenecks.

If I towed any of my larger trailers long distance at freeway speeds I would add trailer brakes to them. No question about it. Instead I use my brothers method and creep around slowly with them in local driving.

In your case, with a light SUV, most would agree it would be smart to have them. You would impress anyone and in the case of an accident you could demonstrate you took extra care to be safe. You might also find some places require trailer brakes.

You are the pilot and responsible for the lives and safety of your passengers. Why take unnecessary chances?

Good luck and have a safe trip.
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Old 05-20-2014, 01:48 AM   #7
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Name: Dave
Trailer: Casita SD17 2006
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Hi Windy, I'll be one of the "ideas" that Deryk said would chime in .
After just under 50 years of towing expirence I would have to say to me it depends on what you are towing as to if brakes are needed. I'm not even going to mention any tugs specs. None of any of the utility trailers I've ever had brakes. Using those with a fairly light load the tugs braking was fine but if I had a heavy load on them my driving style reverted to when I pulled 30K + pounds. With a TT that has a fairly even gross weight all the time I wouldn't even think of not having brakes on it. The difference is night and day. I brought my SD17 home with no brakes (no controller then) but knew what to expect. Guess what I'm suggesting to you is go with brakes no matter what tug you may use. I'm sure others will chime in but this is my 2 cents worth
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:34 AM   #8
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Name: Roger
Trailer: 2009 Trillium 1300 "Homelet"/2014 Subaru Outback "Rosie"
Posts: 2,155
Talking To brake or not to brake

Read the manual for your tug.

Both my former 2000 and present 2014 Subaru Outbacks required trailer brakes above 1000 lbs.

Then there is the legal and insurance issue. If your TV manual requires brakes and you don't have them, will you be able to convince a jury and your insurance company that you are a better automotive engineer than the ones working for your TV manufacturer? And if someone is injured or killed...

In my salad days, I towed a (what I learned later) was a 2800 lb sailboat/trailer combination without brakes with a 1970 Toyota Crown with a 1500 lb rated hitch. Luckily I never had an accident, but did have at least one close call where the Crown left four black marks.
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:47 AM   #9
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Name: Wayne
Trailer: Nest fan, Airstream owner
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Trailer brakes decrease your stopping distances which is what you want.

Sure you might get away with out them but is the risk really worth it?

My theory about towing in general is to do everything possible to avoid and accident.

Your call.
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Old 05-20-2014, 04:58 AM   #10
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA
W. Mass
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From the AAA/CAA site.

Private trailers weighing more than 909 kg (2,000 lbs.) and more than half of the actual weight of the towing vehicle, need to be equipped with a braking device that can stop and control the trailer.

Breakaway device required that will brake at the time that the trailer breaks away from the towing vehicle and be automatically applied for at least 15 minutes.

Trailer Brakes | AAA/CAA Digest of Motor Laws
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:03 AM   #11
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Name: deryk
Trailer: 2012 Parkliner 2010 V6 Nissan Frontier 4x4
New Jersey
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For New Years Eve I was going to a friends house 64 or so miles away and I wanted my ParkLiner to stay in. I just got my frontier and was wired with a 7 pin connector, just needed a brake controller and the cable to plug into the dashboard side. Didn't arrive in time.

I checked my manual and it stated my Nissan Frontier can tow a trailer up to 3000 lbs without trailer brakes. Well I drove down there a bit slower, without 29 gallons of water in my tanks. I gave extra stopping distance and stuck to back roads as opposed to the NJ turnpike that is a quicker shorter run to my friends house.

It was fine, and it is good to know in the event of a problem my Frontier can stop itself and the ParkLiner.... but I wouldn't want to drive that way regularly. My 2nd tiny travel trailer that I built weighed in around 1500-1700lbs(been a while don't remember exactly) and I towed it for a year without trailer brakes with my Rav4 v6. I went through a set of rear brakes that year...the dealer was surprised that the front brakes were fine and the rears were pretty low....then I told him about towing without trailer brakes.

It might be doable if you can keep the speeds down and watch your stopping distance....but the first time you get cut off and are standing on the brake pedal and not slowing down fast enough might really make ya wish you had them.

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.... J.R.R. Tolkien
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:44 AM   #12
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IMHO; No one on this site knows you, your trailer or your TV, well enough to say "You don't need them. You can get away without them."

What "Sam" did, (and illegally at that) and got away with, for 10,000 miles, has little, if any, bearing on what decisions you need to make to be safe on your trip.

Putting the letter of the law (which is 1500 lbs in a lot of areas) aside for now. By your own hand you admit that this is a new experience for you (and your family?) and that you are going on a very long trip, which further suggests that your trailer will get heavier and heavier as you go...

These points alone point to a mandatory decision to have those brake installed.

On top of just being able to stop, one good tail wag going down a hill may be the last chance you ever get to wish you had them. Short of accelerating, trailer brakes are about the only way to stop a trailer that has made the decision that it wants to emulate the tail of a very happy puppy, not the nicest thing to happen headed down hill, and on a curve to boot.

BTW: As suggested elsewhere, be sure to start out with new tires on your trailer as well as your tow rig and spares, it can get very lonely and expensive if you have a tire fail on the way to Alaska. And don't forget extra fuel for the "Fuel Gap" on the Alaska Highway.
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:35 AM   #13
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Name: Steven
Trailer: Currently Shopping
NW Wisconsin
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My 1/2 ton pickup has a towing capacity of 8550 Lbs and has larger brakes than most cars . When I checked the trucks owners manual it stated that when towing over 1000 lbs , the trailer should have brakes . I towed a trailer last weekend with no trailer brakes ,hauling a cord of oak firewood (Approx 3400 Lbs.). I could definitely tell the difference between towing my Casita with brakes and the wood trailer without brakes. I agree with Donna that it's much cheaper to replace the trailer brakes than to replace the truck brakes and the safety factor alone , to me is worth the cost
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:42 AM   #14
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Trailer: 2007 Casita
Posts: 3,440
Congratulations on your new trailer! Enjoy! As well as Welcome!!!!!

I'm with Bob's statement!
(QUOTE) IMHO; No one on this site knows you, your trailer or your TV, well enough to say "You don't need them. You can get away without them." (QUOTE)

As well as, as I agree with everyone else who recommended you get brakes for the varied reasons stated!

Windy, your towing within a very small margin (when loaded) of your vehicles towing capacity! Brakes are a smart thing! Even if you were towing with a vehicle that has far exceeds the towing capacity, BRAKES would be a smart thing to have!

I would also recommend you have your trailer weighted! Know exactly what it weighs, so you know exactly how much weight your towing!!!! You might just be surprised!

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