Trailer Brakes (Cost, Durability, Electric, Replace Time)

When you tow a trailer on your car, you need more than your car’s brake to safely stop the trailer. You need to install a trailer brake system on your car and trailer to ensure you can stop the trailer when needed. If you want to install trailer brakes on your trailer, you might want to know how much it will cost to acquire the trailer brakes.

So, how much are trailer brakes? Trailer brakes cost between 50 and 400 USD, depending on the type and quality. You can buy either surge brakes or electric brakes. If you purchase electric brakes, you must buy a brake controller and install a trailer brake controller in your car. The costs will increase depending on the type of trailer brake controller you want to install. If you have experience installing trailer brakes, you can save up to 300 USD on installation costs.

When towing a heavy load, you need trailer brakes to ensure you can control the trailer’s speed and avoid causing accidents. Before you begin your journey, you must ensure that all parts necessary to make a trailer safe are present such as brakes.

Trailers usually add weight to the towing vehicle, and the brakes on that vehicle cannot stop the car and the trailer. To avoid causing dangerous accidents, drivers must install trailer brakes on their trailers to ensure they can easily stop or control the trailer’s speed. If you want to install trailer brakes on your trailer, here is how much it will cost you to buy the trailer brakes.

Trailer brakes cost between 50 USD and 400 USD depending on the type and quality. There are two types of trailer brakes: surge (hydraulic) brakes and electric brakes. Surge brakes are cheaper than electric ones, but you can still find electric brakes with prices closer to surge brakes.

If you install electric brakes on your trailer, you must install a trailer brake controller on your vehicle; hence the cost will increase. You should expect to pay between 20 and 150 USD for a trailer brake controller.

If you have experience and knowledge in installing trailer brakes, you can save on installation costs by doing it yourself. However, if you need professional help to install the trailer brakes, you might have to pay up to 300 USD for installation.

When looking for trailer brakes to install on your trailer, you can choose between surge brakes and electronic brakes. Surge brakes use a hydraulic braking system to function. Surge brakes work by using the momentum created by the trailer when you are driving.

When you press the brake pedal on your car, the trailer pushes against the hitch and exerts pressure on the hydraulic cylinder activating the brakes. The more pressure you exert on the brake pedal, the more pressure the trailer exerts on the hydraulic cylinder.

When you buy surge brakes for your trailer, you do not have to buy a trailer brake controller; hence, they are cheaper than electric brakes. You can find a surge brake for your trailer priced between 50 and 250 USD. Few people prefer using the surge brakes on their trailers because you cannot actuate the trailer brakes when the trailer starts to sway. 

Electric Trailer brakes

Many drivers prefer to use electric brakes on their trailers because they are easy to use and have additional braking control. Unlike surge brakes, electric brakes require a trailer brake controller to work. You need to install the controller in your vehicle and connect the trailer to the vehicle for it to work.

Electric brakes work when you press the brake pedal, the electricity used to power the brake light will be directed to the electromagnetic to actuate the brake drums. You do not have to press the brake pedal on your car whenever you want to control the trailer speed.

You can use the trailer brake controller on your car to apply braking pressure on the electric brakes on the trailer. Electric brakes tend to cost more because you have to purchase a trailer brake controller and other important parts to make the eclectic brake system work.

It can be cheaper to purchase trailer brakes, but the installation can increase the costs. Your vehicle might not have all the necessary parts to make the trailer brakes work, so you must buy them before attaching the trailer to your car.

Costs will also increase if you use professionals to install the trailer brakes. If you have experience and skills in installing trailer brakes, you can save up to 300 USD on installation costs. However, if you have zero experience working on trailer brakes, you must include installation costs in your budget. Trailer brakes are important in ensuring you, your passengers, and other road users are safe; hence, if you have never installed trailer brakes, you should not attempt to do so.

How Long Do Trailer Brakes Last?

When you install new brakes on your trailer, you expect them to work for a certain period before replacing them. Installing trailer brakes is not cheap, and many drivers would love to use their trailers for a long time before replacing the old trailer brakes. Before installing new trailer brakes, you might wonder how long they will last on your trailer.

Trailer brakes last between twelve thousand and forty-five thousand miles, depending on how you use your trailer. The trailer brake longevity depends on your driving habits and usage. If you only drive for short distances on weekends while towing your trailer, the trailer brakes can last close to forty thousand miles without having any issues.

However, if you tow the trailer daily and drive aggressively, those trailer brakes might not last more than twelve thousand miles. Other issues that could affect the longevity of the trailer brakes include the type of brakes, the weight of the load being towed, and the type of road. If you notice your trailer brakes have begun to fail, you should stop using that trailer and replace the brakes as soon as possible.

Your driving habits will determine if you replace your trailer brakes every year or after two years or more. If you drive faster and brake aggressively more often, the trailer brakes will not last long. If you want the trailer brakes to last longer, you should drive according to the speed limit and avoid braking unless necessary.

You should also ensure you do not carry excess weight on your trailer. The more weight you carry, the more pressure will be exerted on the brake discs or drums to stop the trailer. The brake discs or drums will not last long if they are subjected to excessive pressure every time you carry excess weight on your trailer.

The type of brake is an important factor when choosing trailer brakes. There are two types of trailer brakes: surge and electric. Electric brakes last between thirty and forty-five thousand miles, which translates to around four years, while surge brakes last between twelve and thirty thousand miles.

If you want your trailer brakes to last longer, you have to install electric brakes. However, you must maintain the electric trailer brakes to last longer. Some parts of the electric brakes must be replaced twelve thousand miles, and you must adjust the brakes every three thousand miles. If you have installed surge brakes, you must maintain them to ensure they last long. You need to adjust the surge brakes after six months or whenever necessary.

When your trailer brakes are worn out, you need to replace them as soon as possible. You should avoid towing the trailer if the brakes are worn out. Some signs showing you it is time to replace the trailer brakes include noise when braking, pulling to the side, pulsing, and pedal depression.

You might also experience brake failure if you have missed all the signs and the brakes have become completely worn out. You should also replace the trailer brakes when you have reached the mileage recommended by your mechanic. You can replace the brakes if you know how or take the trailer to an auto shop to have the brake replaced by a professional.

If you opt to replace the trailer brakes, you need the proper tools to complete the task. Before you start the replacement process, check to ensure you have a tire iron, grooved pliers, flathead screwdriver, mallet, wire cutters, torque wrench, and hammer.

To replace the trailer brakes, first, inspect the brakes to see if it is necessary to replace the brakes or if they only need an adjustment. If they need a replacement, remove the wheels and the brake’s drum inner wheel bearing and seal components. Clean the brake drum and axle spindle. Replace the inner brake assembly and add new wheel bearings. Install new outer brake components and reinstall the wheels.

Can Electric Trailer Brakes Be Submerged?

If you are driving off-road with lots of puddles of water or taking your boat to the lake using a trailer, at some point, your trailer will have to come into contact with water. If you have installed electric brakes on your trailer, you might wonder if they can be submerged without sustaining any damage.

Electric trailer brakes can be submerged as long as you have disconnected the wiring of your trailer from your vehicle. Electricity and water do not mix; hence, if your trailer is still connected to your car, the electric brakes will be damaged. When you disconnect the wiring, the electric brakes will not work; therefore, you will lose control of the trailer’s speed. Disconnecting the wiring every time you use the trailer in wet areas can be tiresome; hence you should consider using surge (hydraulic) brakes on your trailer.

When you install electric brakes on your trailer, you will control them using the brake pedal in your car and the trailer brake controller installed in the car. When you hitch the trailer to your car, you also have to connect the wiring from the trailer to your car.

When you press the brake pedal, the electricity moving to your brake lights will also move to the magnets on the electric brakes that engage the brakes. If the electric brakes are submerged in water when you press the brake pedal, the electricity running through the brake parts could cause damage to the trailer brake system. Therefore, if you have to drive in wet areas where the electric trailer brakes are likely to be submerged, disconnect the wiring from the trailer to your car.

If you are using the trailer to take your boat to the lake every weekend, disconnecting and connecting the wiring from the trailer to your car can get tiresome after a while. You should use surge (hydraulic) brakes that can be submerged.

Surge brakes do not require electricity and can be submerged in water without getting damaged. Surge brakes are also not connected to the tow car; when you press the brake pedal on your car, the hydraulic cylinder on the trailer compresses due to the trailer’s momentum. However, you cannot directly control the surge brakes on your trailer, and you have to start braking early due to the surge brakes’ longer stopping distance. 

If you have been driving on the road with lots of water, you should inspect your trailer brakes to check if they are damaged. If you spot any water damage, you should replace the damaged parts as soon as possible.

You should also park the trailer in a dry area to ensure the moisture does not cause rust and corrosion. Do not park your trailer for too long without using it for a long time. Tow the trailer several times to ensure the brakes are in motion to prevent rusting and corrosion.

Wrap Up

Before you begin your journey, you must ensure that your trailer brakes are functioning properly. You should regularly inspect your trailer brakes and replace them when damaged or worn out. You can opt to install surge (hydraulic) brakes or electric brakes on your trailer.

Surge brakes have a cheaper price tag but a high maintenance cost. Electric brakes can be expensive but are cheap and easy to maintain. Trailer brakes can last more than a year if you take good care of them and exercise good driving habits. Also, if you have a trailer with electric brakes, do not submerge them in water.

Trailer brakes are crucial to your safety and that of other road users. If you do not have enough knowledge of trailer brakes, ensure you have them inspected, adjusted, repaired, or replaced by a professional. 

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