Brakes or No Brakes?

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Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby RTAMidwest » Tue May 15, 2018 9:44 pm

I'm planning my first teardrop build and am about to order the axle, so it's time to decide if I should go with brakes.

My initial thought was that it probably wouldn't need it, since I'd expect the final weight to come in somewhere around 1,000 lbs, and a lot of the plans I've seen are based on HF or similar utility trailer that wouldn't have brakes. I currently have a utility trailer that doesn't have brakes and that's never been an issue at this point.

But as I've read, it seems like quite a few people do have brakes on their teardrops or have looked to add them on later. I also plan to do plenty of camping in mountain areas, and will likely be on the upper end of the towing capacity of my vehicle (currently at Subaru Forester, and any replacement vehicle would likely be of similar size).

Any advice or experiences would be appreciated.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Sparksalot » Tue May 15, 2018 9:53 pm

What are you towing with is the first question.

Rose weighs in around 1,400 or so. Towing with my F150, I can’t tell she’s there starting or stopping. I’ve also towed with two different 8 passenger suvs. I can tell she’s trying to gently push the suv when stopping. Many might miss the feeling unless really attuned to the vehicle.

If my axle had the backing plates, I’d mount brakes. Towing on mainly flattish ground, it’s no big deal.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Cosmo » Wed May 16, 2018 6:18 am

I previously towed with a Forester. I felt brakes helped with a 1500 pound trailer. I am now driving a Subaru outback. It has two towing capacity ratings. One for no trailer brakes and a higher capacity for trailers with brakes. The brakes on the Outback are much better than the Forester. I towed with the Forester for 2 years and it was fine. No issues.

My trailer loaded weighs 1500 pounds. I have trailer brakes and I like the trailer brakes. Takes the push out of the stops. Push was a little more noticeable on the Forester even with trailer brakes.

Tow vehicle capacity has a lot to do with the ability to stop in my opinion.

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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Gladtobehere » Wed May 16, 2018 7:16 am

I towed a tear (800 lb) without brakes for a while with a Toyota Matrix. Never had a problem.

I now tow an Aliner (1800 lbs) with brakes using a Toyota Venza and feel much safer.

BRAKES are your insurance and far superior to any multi million dollar policy when you are forced into an emergency stop.

I strongly believe that brakes improve everyones safety.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby John61CT » Wed May 16, 2018 7:31 am

With brakes is always better.

Only way I'd go without, is 100-1300# fully loaded wet

AND tow vehicle very heavy and strong

AND pretty flat terrain

AND driving cautiously, not full highway speeds

Any one not true, even sometimes, brakes.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Ottsville » Wed May 16, 2018 9:43 am

You won't regret brakes. You may regret not having them.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby gudmund » Wed May 16, 2018 2:34 pm

the little limerick I have read here on the forum so 'many-a-time' and is so fitting on this subject "you can go down hill slow a thousand times, but the first time you try it fast - could be your last...." :thinking:
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Woodbutcher » Wed May 16, 2018 3:06 pm

Ottsville wrote:You won't regret brakes. You may regret not having them.


This is the best answer. You have the chance now to do it right.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby MtnDon » Wed May 16, 2018 5:05 pm

It is so much easier to build it with the brakes than to add them later. Do it. Buy self-adjusting brakes too. It has been decades since they've built vehicles without self-adjusting brakes. Why make recreation more of a hassle with manual adjusted brakes? Also get a good controller; one that can adjust the braking level from your drivers seat.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby slowcowboy » Wed May 16, 2018 6:14 pm

Wire in the 30 amp breaker in the power line to the brake contoler and the 30 amp in line fuse to the brake pedal. I skipped it on my dodge a 3 4 tin truck pulling a,1000 lb teardrop.on the way back from pinedale and walk the winds going down south pass like a 6 percent grade I fried a walmart controler in 015....the breaker saved my 2 walmart brake controler this winter with my 20 foot flat bed and 3 ton of hay on the same moutain pass...dont skip the 30 amp breaker or the 30 amp fuse to your brake pedal....
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby AzAv8r » Wed May 16, 2018 9:48 pm

MANY years ago I towed a ~2000 lb empty weight Coleman tent trailer without brakes with a 4800 lb empty weight Dodge Durango. More than once, the trailer drove the truck, and one time I avoided a rear-end collision only by driving off the road. (I think) my wife would tell you I'm a cautious, careful driver. Now we have a T@B and Grand Cherokee combo of similar weights, but the T@B has brakes. What a phenomenal difference! The GC fully controls the trailer. (And with the 3.6 V6 and 8-speed automatic, the only indication it is there is the reduction in MPG from 21 to 16.)

Just based on my experience, a 2.5:1 weight ratio demands brakes. My queasy threshold is perhaps 3:1 -> the trailer must be less than 1/2 the weight of the tow vehicle to not have brakes. So my "don't worry about it" threshold is probably around 4:1, and my "why bother?" threshold is about 5:1.

Suggestion: find a candidate trailer of similar weight (which might require a few bags of sand), and take it for a test drive w/o brakes. Do some "urgent" test stops, perhaps on a downhill or wet surface. Remove weight until you feel comfortable with the stopping performance. Stick with that weight, add brakes, or get a bigger tow vehicle.
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Go with brakes

Postby Dusty Mark » Tue May 22, 2018 2:02 pm

I built without brakes two years ago and switched axles this year to install brakes. I tow with a Forester also. Check out the Autowbrake brake controller that mounts on the trailer...pretty awesome that it works with any vehicle that tows it.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Shadow Catcher » Wed May 30, 2018 5:56 pm

Having two teardrops that were almost identical the first which did not have brakes and the second which does. I would say that it is better to have them and not need them and to need them and not have them. In wet or snowy you want them absolutely. and if you are over 1500# they are required in some states.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby noseoil » Thu May 31, 2018 7:33 am

On our most recent trip home from northern New Mexico to Tucson, the trailer brakes were finally used in a real "panic stop" situation during rush hour traffic in Albuquerque. We were following a semi with an empty flat bed trailer in the middle lane and staying back a few car lengths to keep moving & stay out of trouble. As we crested a small hill, the semi slammed on his brakes in front of us due to a couple of STOPPED highway department work vehicles in our lane. He completely locked up the trailer brakes & smoke was coming from the tires, which we drove into as we stopped. This was as close to a collision as we have ever come while towing.

We were able to stop safely, in a straight line & then continue on our trip without a problem. I'm glad I couldn't look in the rear view mirror at the traffic behind us, since the trailer blocks that view. I'm still not sure if we would have been able to stop without the trailer brakes, since stopping with just the truck brakes might not have worked in that situation. We were leaving enough room for safe driving, but a full-on panic stop was something I would never recommend to anyone, just to see how things work while towing. That one event was enough to convince me that trailer brakes really are a necessity & worth the cost in a build.

I wouldn't tow without them at this point. I would include them in a build when ordering an axle from now on, just because you can do everything right but other people around you may be doing things differently. For the relatively small cost of the brakes, it's worth it for peace of mind, safety & easy stopping & handling in any situation. We went with 10" brakes, not the small 7" type. They barely fit inside the small 13" rims on the trailer with their larger backing plates, but it's money well spent on a build that you will never regret.
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Re: Brakes or No Brakes?

Postby Ron Dickey » Thu May 31, 2018 11:01 pm

my thinking is if you can afford them get them. ;)

I was driving home from IRG 2014 at 55 mph Cal. speed limit for trailers. :vroom:

A large Van came up to our left then disappeared. I bent forward looking for it only to see it running into the side of our car scrapping along side then taking out our rear-view side mirror

and forcing us into the guardrail. :shocked:

I had slammed on the brakes and slide for some time thought this not so fun event..... and then it drove offfffffffff. :x

several people had been following it before and after the hit.... they went off an exit and then came back on and tried to run one of the followers off the road.... Then exited in Paso Robles, ca and hit a stop sign.

I often think if I had had brakes we might have missed her. may have stopped sooner. :scratchthinking:

maybe this drunken driver saw the cute teardrop and came over to take a look.... I have a salvage title on my car now and the shock was broken and some damage to the trailer from the guardrail. we made it home alive but a little shaken.
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