TECHNICAL TIPS FOR TRAILER DISC BRAKE SYSTEMS
TRAILERING WITH DISC BRAKES
Disc brakes offer several advantages over drum brakes that you will appreciate. Disc brakes have improved resistance to fade on downhill grades. They are self adjusting, so as pads wear, braking efficiency is not reduced. They recover quickly after being submerged. They require less maintenance, are easier to flush out, and are less susceptible to water induced corrosion.
Your trailer’s brakes are designed to energize automatically when the tow vehicle’s brakes are applied. These are known as “surge brakes”. When the vehicle slows down or stops, the forward momentum (surge) of the trailer against the hitch ball develops hydraulic pressure in a master cylinder inside the trailer brake actuator. Hydraulic lines are used to transfer pressure to the brakes and engage them.
Follow the tow vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines with respect to towing capability, hitch requirements, and other towing considerations
OPERATING TIPS FOR TRAILER DISC BRAKES
|Check Your Brake System Before Each Trip|
1. Follow the pre-towing instructions that came with your actuator.
2. Make sure there are no leaks in the hydraulic system.
3. A surface rust will build up on the rotor brake surface if the trailer isn’t used for a week or more. The brake pads will wipe off the rust in the first few miles of travel. If the trailer has been idle for several months, or has been frequently submerged in salt water and the brakes not flushed out, serve corrosion can occur. Review the maintenance instructions in the following section.
When Starting Out
1. The trailer should tow easily. If it seems hard to pull or wants to swing toward one side, a rotor may not be rotating freely. Investigate and solve the problem.
2. Try your brakes at slow to moderate speeds and develop the "feel" to sense they are functioning properly.
|On The Road|
Drive carefully, obey speed limits and don’t follow too closely. When towing a trailer, even with brakes, you will need extra distance to stop. Allow for it.
On long, gentle downhill grades, try to avoid downshifting. Running in a low gear (which uses the engine as a brake) can actuate the trailer's surge brakes continuously for the duration of the grade, causing them to overheat. A better procedure is to slow down before the start of the downgrade run and maintain a controlled downhill speed with repeated application and release of tow vehicle (and thus trailer) brakes. This technique permits the brakes to cool down between applications. This will help ensure reserve braking capacity in an emergency.
On moderate and steep sections of road, downshifting into lower gears may be necessary and desirable to help control speed. Again, slowdown before the grade and keep vehicle speed under control. Do not stay on the brakes continuously because they can overheat. Don’t hesitate to pull over when possible during or after severe braking situations to let everything cool down.
Running a stretch of highway where you don’t brake is the quickest way to cool down the brake system because a high volume of air flows thru the vented rotors and over the brake pads to cool them.
If you decide that stopping capability is not what it should be:
1. Have the tow vehicle and trailer brakes checked for proper operation.
2. Review tow vehicle manufacturer's recommendations and instructions for towing.
3. If the trailer has only one set of brakes, consider adding a second set.
Towing conditions, tow vehicle/trailer combinations impose many variables. Make sure your outfit is safe and that you feel comfortable with your particular circumstances before you begin your trip.
If the brakes are hot, it is a good idea to let them cool down. The sudden change in temperature when submerging very hot calipers and rotors stresses all parts and could cause damage.
|Upon Return Home|
If you have been into saltwater, flush rotors and calipers thoroughly withfresh water to minimize subsequent corrosion.