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Old 03-20-2011, 06:44 PM   #1
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Question Brake Controller with Exhaust Brake?

We usually pull our Jeep Wrangler behind our 40' Diesel Motorhome, but on this trip to Florida from Michigan, we will be pulling our brand new 7' X 14' dual axle enclosed utility trailer. It has electric brakes, and our motorhome came installed with a Reese Brakeman Compact brake controller.

We rely on the exhaust brake in the motorhome much of the time, of course, to save on our brakes. Does this also activate the brakes on the utility trailer? Or do we have to actually apply our brakes in the motorhome to activate the electric brakes on the trailer? How should we set the brake controller? We used to use controllers in our truck back in the days when we towed a travel trailer, but have never used it in the motorhome.
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:57 PM   #2
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I am not familiar with the Reese brake controller, however I use one called Prodigy made by Tekshonka. I installed it myself and the way the Prodigy works and is wired, the Exhaust brake does not activate the electric brakes on the trailer. However, with my setup, the Exhaust brake does activate the brake lights which I like. You want the brake controller to only activate when you apply the brakes, not the Exhaust brake.

Your best bet is to contact the people at Reese and ask them how it is wired in your MH.

Dr4Film ----- Richard.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:18 PM   #3
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Hi Born2RV,
I know of no setup where the exhaust brake activates electric trailer brakes. Be careful how much you use the exhaust brake and do not use the service brakes. This will cause the service brakes to glaze over time and they will not stop the coach like you think they should. The only option is to replace the pads. Service brakes need to be used so they heat up and do not glaze.

If you'd like to confirm this, call your chassis manufacturer.
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:24 PM   #4
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So should we use the service brakes more and the exhaust brake less? Is that what you mean?
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:43 PM   #5
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You should use the service brakes frequently enough so that the slack adjuster get to do their thing, and that rust does not seize up the cams and other moving parts. Drivers who make it a game to not ever use their service brakes may find themselves with expensive brake repairs after a few years. You aren't going to wear out the service brakes on a motorhome, so don't be afraid to use them. It is especially important to use them firmly in reverse gear once in awhile, to activate the slack adjusters properly.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Born2RV View Post
So should we use the service brakes more and the exhaust brake less? Is that what you mean?
No. Use the pac/exhaust brake as much as you like. You can glaze your regular brakes IF you use pac brake in town and treat the coach brakes like car brakes. As in riding the brakes at slow speed. You don't do that with air brakes.
I would rather oil the pac brake once in awhile vs. needing to replace my brakes$$$ Glazing can be removed, no need to buy new.
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Old 03-22-2011, 06:45 AM   #7
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My exhaust brake switch is left on ALL the time. That way, I don't ever have to think about whether it's turned on or not or worse yet trying to find which one it is so I can turn it on.

It doesn't mean that I never use my service brakes as I do especially in city traffic however, I prefer to let the exhaust brake do the slowing versus having to ALWAYS use the service brakes every time to slow down.

I now have the PRXB Upgraded PacBrake and love it. Gives me much more braking horsepower for those steep grades. I don't have to tromp on the service brakes as often as the coach and trailer pickup speed going downhill.

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Old 03-22-2011, 03:44 PM   #8
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Back to the topic, it is possible to wire many brake controllers so that they are triggered by the stop light circuit. It is also possible to wire an exhaust brake so that it operates the brake lights on the coach. So yes, it could be that your brake controller could operate the trailer brakes. Generally, though, brake controllers are wired to be triggered by the brake pedal switch and not the stop light circuit itself.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:18 PM   #9
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Hi Born2RV,
As you can see there are different opinions on this. To get the "official" opinion, contact your chassis manufacturer. To answer your question about using the service brakes, for me, the answer is yes. Use your service brakes just like any other vehicle you drive. Use the exhaust brake according to the instructions that came with the coach or the recommendation of the coach/chassis manufacturer. I use my exhaust brake on down hill grades. It is rarely left on, unless the terrain warrants it. It is a personal decision.

With the exhaust brake off, I think you will find decelerating a much smoother ride for your passengers and you.
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Old 03-23-2011, 06:25 PM   #10
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Thank you to all! How often should we have the brakes checked, and where would we go to do that? We're in the Detroit Metro area.
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