How to Check RV Trailer Brakes

How to Check RV Trailer Brakes
If a trailer exceeds the allowable towing weight of a recreational vehicle, that trailer needs trailer brakes to help manage the vehicle on the road, particularly when coming to a stop. There are usually two different types of trailer brakes--surge and electric--used with RV trailers, and both operate in response to the RV. Just like the brakes on the RV or any other motor vehicle, these brakes need to be checked regularly to make sure they are working properly.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Remove the hubcaps on the trailer wheels. This usually requires a screwdriver or crowbar to pry off the hubcap. Put the trailer on a jack stand and loosen the nuts with a socket wrench. Pull off the tire to find the exposed brakes.
Step 2
Look at the rotors--the circular metal wheels--and the brakes that press against them. Old rotors will appear warped and worn, while old brake pads will have thin pads that are in danger of wearing away to the metal. Pads need to be changed before the pad gives way to exposed metal, otherwise you can severely damage both the brakes and the rotor.
Step 3
Make sure the connections on an electric brake system are not corroded and are still working properly. Press on the brakes and the left and right turn signals to make sure all the connections are working properly. Have the brakes pressed while watching the rotor and make sure the brake is applied evenly.
Step 4
Check the sensor used by surge brakes to detect a speed change and make sure the sensor is not rusting or corroded. You may have to replace a corroding sensor to ensure that the sensor works properly; otherwise the sensor might fail on the road and prevent the brakes from working. Similar to electric brakes, have someone apply pressure to the brakes in the RV and observe the brake to make sure it applies pressure evenly.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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