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Old 08-28-2019, 06:49 AM   #1
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Adjusting Brake Controller

I think I know what I am doing regarding this, but with a 12,000 trailer, I'd like to be sure. On my boat & utility trailer I usually let the truck roll at an idle & adjust the brake voltage until I get a good tug. Is this how I should be doing my 38' 5th wheel? I would think you would want them to be doing their part to assist the truck, but not too much to where they are getting really hot & warping the drums. Got a big trip this weekend & some of it is through the mountains so I want to make sure I have this thing dialed in good.
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Old 08-28-2019, 07:15 AM   #2
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Each brand controller has it's own procedure for settings adjustment, follow the instructions for your particular brand and model.
For instance, here is the the instruction sheet for a Tekonsha Primus brake controller.


Years ago I remember(yes, I'm old) the general method of adjustment was; drive to a gravel road, adjust controller to where the tires began to slide in the gravel, then back off just enough so the trailer tires continued to roll when using truck brake pedal; yet full manual trailer braking would lock up trailer brakes.
FWIW, trailer brakes are much cheaper than truck brakes to replace.
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Old 08-28-2019, 07:58 AM   #3
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I pull 4 different trailers every now and then. My son's camper trailer, my 18' utility trailer, my 18' open deck car trailer and my 26' enclosed snowmobile trailer. I pull these trailers with either my 1/2 T. pick up or my 1/2 T. Suburban. Needless to say each combination needs a different setting on the vehicle's brake controller. Among other things it matters how the trailers are loaded or if they are empty.
After hooking the trailer up I take it down the road and apply the vehicle brakes like I was making a normal stop. I will adjust the gain on the controller until the braking of my tow vehicle feels like it normally does with no trailer in tow then I will add a small amount of gain on the controller.
I don't want to feel as if the trailer brakes are yanking my tow vehicle to a stop nor do I want to feel the trailer is pushing the tow vehicle when coming to a stop.
Lynn
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:33 AM   #4
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Thanks all!
Letmgrow, I completely understand the load amount makes a difference. If I left the brake setting the same on my utility trailer empty as when it was loaded I would be locking them up at every stop. I have never pulled anything this heavy with this pickup so it is a little difficult for me to get a feel for where they need to be set.
Ray,In, I am using the factory brake controller on my Ram 2500.
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Old 08-28-2019, 09:35 AM   #5
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Thanks all!
Letmgrow, I completely understand the load amount makes a difference. If I left the brake setting the same on my utility trailer empty as when it was loaded I would be locking them up at every stop. I have never pulled anything this heavy with this pickup so it is a little difficult for me to get a feel for where they need to be set.
Ray,In, I am using the factory brake controller on my Ram 2500.
There is no definitive answer. Every different vehicle and controller will apply the brakes on the trailer at a different rate. You will just have to experiment as you travel to get that comfortable braking feel.
Lynn
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Old 08-28-2019, 12:26 PM   #6
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Here is good overall infomation about electric brakes, brake controllers and synchronizing vehicle/trailer brakes
http://trailerparts.com/pdfs/Dexter122.pdf
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Old 08-28-2019, 01:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
Here is good overall infomation about electric brakes, brake controllers and synchronizing vehicle/trailer brakes
http://trailerparts.com/pdfs/Dexter122.pdf
Very nice article! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-29-2019, 08:12 AM   #8
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When driving in the mountains - Specifically when coming down do you adjust the brake controller?... What is your technique?
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:09 AM   #9
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When driving in the mountains - Specifically when coming down do you adjust the brake controller?... What is your technique?
I wouldn't think you would want to change settings just for the mountains. I try to make the engine do a lot of speed control coming down off a mountain. When I was driving semi, I seen way too many drivers use their brakes too much! First you start to smell them, then you start seeing smoke, & a couple of times I have actually seen the tires catch on fire!
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:32 AM   #10
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When driving in the mountains - Specifically when coming down do you adjust the brake controller?... What is your technique?
I DO NOT. Once I have my controller set I don't adjust it again until I hook up to a different trailer. I want the brakes to feel equal between the truck and trailer. Adding braking power to trailer brakes will greatly reduce the overall braking as the trailer brakes are doing more work and when they do they will become overheated and become less effective.
Adjusting your travel speed and downshifting to a lower gear will be more effective keeping your rig under control and will save on brake wear.
Above all, never, never ride the brake when going downhill. Gently pump the brake pedal if you need braking power.
Lynn
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