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Electric brake trouble shooting...

Discussion in 'Tow & Trailer' started by BadDog, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I've got electric trailer brakes and they stopped working on the last trip. Visual inspection of the wires and couplers expose no obvious problems. I checked the voltage coming out of my truck on the bottom left pin (trailer brakes according to my pin-out) and it is showing 13V constant with or without brakes applied. I thought voltage going up applied the trailer brakes? Am I even trouble shooting this the correct way?
     
  2. therobzilla

    therobzilla 1/2 ton status

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    Russ,

    Check the setting, on how to level, fine tune first, on my unit, it was totally diffrent than how I was use to using a controler.

    Second, make sure your drums are adjusted. Most don't back up enought on there trailer to reset the automatic adjustments. Either drive backwards and hit the brakes a bunch of times, or check the adjustment just like you do on your car/truck brakes that have drums.

    It's quite often overlooked with trailer brakes.

    If that does not work, pull the drums and check the magnets/brake actuators (sp). They sometimes need replacements.

    Most brake controlers show a green LED if they are connected and get power. If it's showing this LED as lit, you need to check the acutal brakes on the trailer.

    That's were I would start.

    Rob
     
  3. Fubeca

    Fubeca 1/2 ton status

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    You should definately not have consant power on the brake output from the truck. A quick way to test the trailer's brakes is to disconnect the trailer wiring from the truck and pull the break away pin. If the battery is charged and the brakes don't lock up, it is probably on the trailer side.

    Did the brakes go out all of the sudden? Or did something happen?
     
  4. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Ok, should have given more info.

    It's a DrawTite digital (top line, don't remember the model) and it normally shows a digital feedback of brake application magnitude when you hit the brakes. "2.5" being "stronger" and "1.0" being on the “light” end. So, for a given load, once you learn where you like it set, it's just a matter of adjusting to that number and going. Now all that shows is the decimal point when I hit the brakes. What I've found indicates that this controller does that when it senses an open circuit, so that's what I was looking for.

    As for when it went out, I don't really know for sure. My tow rig is so much over kill, I didn't notice the lack of trailer brakes till I needed to make an emergency stop (trooper turn around) on the inter state and it took much longer to drop speed that expected.

    And it's also been mounted and working for quite some time and nothing has changed other than the trip had me towing down some really rough roads to the parking lot. I don't think it's a brake adjustment issue since the control is showing "open circuit". But +13V on the brakes could mean that I've worn them completely out by now if I'm not overlooking something. If so, I guess not realizing the trailer brakes are on may be a downfall of 750 ft/lbs of torque.

    [Edit] Oh, forgot to add, I have no break away brake on this little trailer. I've thought about adding one, but these little 7k trailers rairly have them and it would take a fair expense and effort to add with battery and all...
     
  5. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Just checked further up stream. Thought maybe there was a short in the plug. Nope. But disconnect the controller and no more voltage. After eating a bite, I'm going to disconnect the blue wire at the controller and see if it's still hot right out of the box. If so, I guess it's a fried controller...
     
  6. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Ok, it's official. Unless I'm missing some other contributing factor, I have a fried controller. Maybe this week end I'll tear the trailer wheels down and see if it cooked the brakes. Must have engaged while I was on the road and I didn't even feel it from the cab...
     
  7. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    Get yourself a Tekonsha Prodigy to replace it. You don't know what you're missing. /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  8. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I've considered it, but I really can't tell anything is back there as it is. I can't imagine how the Prodigy (or comparable) would improve it. Now if I was hauling 15k I might well see a diff. Just not sure if it's worth it for a Prodigy considering I can get the DrawTite through my father for cost (seems like this one cost me about $30 and retailed for around $80-90. I know people really believe in the high end units, but is it really worth it? I honestly didn’t notice much issue even with no trailer brakes other than when I really needed to loose speed fast. Even then it wasn’t a huge deal. And I never had problems with the backing that some people report. Maybe I’ll get one and try it just to see…
     
  9. 6.2Blazer

    6.2Blazer 1/2 ton status

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    What exactly are you towing with??? Even with a truggy I would think that the total trailer weight would probably be close or equal to the tow rig. I have yet to see a pickup that could stop without a significant increase in distance when it's total weight is doubled.
     
  10. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    You are correct. 7500 for the tower, around 6.5k (estimated) for the towee.

    [Edit] Tow rig is a chipped 2500HD DMax/Alli

    When I had the DrawTite controller working, it was just "towing" and no problem at all with common sense allowances. I was just commenting that I couldn't see the Prodigy being any better since I noticed no bad behaviors backing or other wise. The other part is how little I noticed it when the controller was out. Not only did I not notice it going down the road with 13V+ on the trailer brakes (how much could they have been helping anyway eh?) but the first indicator I had of lost trailer brakes was when I needed to stop very rapidly to make a Trooper turn around (not paying attention and got back on going the wrong way after fuel up with the next exit about 12 miles away). Even then I got stopped, but I had to stand on it with the anti-lock doing it's thing.

    Looking back on it, the tire that threw a tread was on the brake axle, so I wonder if the brakes caused the tire to fail... In any case, I expect my brakes are cooked and the whole thing needs a rebuild. I also just found out (or rather was reminded) that the controler is lifetime warranty.
     
  11. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    I just realized you only have brakes on one axle. /forums/images/graemlins/yikes.gif

    I guess that's why you hardly notice the missing braking power from your trailer, there probably wasn't a whole lot to begin with.

    Is it legal in AZ to tow a trailer with brakes on only two wheels? I just reasearched it to ensure I was correct, and in Illinois, any trailer that is plated for more than 5,000 lbs must have brakes on every wheel that touches the road.

    I firmly believe the Tekonsha Prodigy is far superior to damn near any brake controller on the market. I've yet to see one that works as well as this one.

    Timed ones suck especially. Whatever you do, don't get a timed brake controller. The pendulem (sp?) type is fine as long as you have it properly adjusted/leveled. One nice thing about the prodigy is that it eliminates that possibly right from the beginning.

    I guess it's a good thing your truggy is quite a bit lighter than a full truck and that your tow rig has much better brakes than mine. It would be downright scary to tow a trailer that heavy with only brakes on two wheels behind my tow rig.

    With my current setup, loaded or unloaded I can lock all eight tires if I slam on the brakes hard enough.
     
  12. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    It's been my experience that most trailers in the 7.5k range have only 1 brake axle, but maybe that's just based on region.

    And I have no doubt the Prodigy is one of, if not THE best controler available at a reasonable price. But this Draw-Tite is fine for my purposes. I hauled a 97 Bonne from West Palm, FL to Phoenix, AZ behind a Ram 1500 with no issues. Hauled the truggy with the same truck for a while. My only concern was for the slow hills and hurting the trans on the Ram. I've also towed many times with a single brake axle in the past. <shrug> I don't think it's that big an issue, or maybe it's just what I'm used to... Don't get me wrong, I would absolutely prefer dual brake axles. But for the cost of upgrading my trailer or buing one with dual brake axles, I just didn't see the value.
     
  13. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    I agree with you. I guess it's just that I've never towed a trailer like yours. They either have good brakes or no brakes in my previous experience. No brakes sucks, and good brakes is invaluable.

    As to how it would stop with brakes on only two wheels, I guess I don't have experience in that area, but the fact that such a trailer is illegal in IL, I guess that's why?
     

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