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Old 06-15-2009, 08:06 PM   #1
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Do I really need aux. brakes?

I know this has been debated to death, but I have a variation that I haven't seen before. I just got a new coach and took it to a public scale to weight. Here are the numbers.

GVWR - 29,410
GCWR - 39,410

When I weighed everything, the coach and toad combined, with everything loaded (including the navigator and me), full tanks, and including the weight of the toad (3,740 lbs.) weighed around 28,500 lbs.

According to the weight plate, if I don't use aux. brakes on the toad, the GCWR becomes the GVWR plus 1,000 lbs., which is 30,410.

Without the brakes, I am still 2,000 lbs. below the max. Here's the (loaded) question: Do I really need aux. brakes? I have a Roadmaster Evenbrake that is being repaired. Other than safety for a breakaway, what does it give me (ducking and running)?

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Old 06-15-2009, 08:18 PM   #2
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Laws regarding trailer brakes vary by state. Look at this site for rules for each state: http://www.towingworld.com/articles/TowingLaws.htm

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Old 06-15-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
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Mrs. Schwarz- I'm a few thou over your numbers, but at that level same situation- maybe 2k over GVWR loaded & w/toad. I haven't used an aux brake system (yet, just bought a used evenbrake for $20, supposedly working) and have never had an issue. Of course that means I've never used a break-away safety, which I consider a good idea; just one I've never availed myself.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats regular inspection of the toad setup including all safeties when you stop for whatever reason. Its amazing what kinda weird stuff happens to towing gear when you are not looking, so I try to make it a habit to always check the setup before I get back in the rig.
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Old 06-15-2009, 09:14 PM   #4
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To answer your question, yes you should use aux. brakes on your toad. Axle weights are a moot point when you are faced with a crisis emergency stop.
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Old 06-15-2009, 09:15 PM   #5
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When I towed the suburban, I used a brake and it helped tremendously in a panic stop in Knoxville, TN (regardless of what the driver of a car who pulls in front of me thinks, I cannot stop my MH on a dime). We now pull a Mini Cooper and I do not have a aux brake in it as it is so light. When ever we stop at a rest area, I do the walk around, checking tires, pins, and cables. I also use a bungee cord to keep the pins locked in position.
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Old 06-16-2009, 09:55 AM   #6
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The simple fact is this: If you have to make a panic stop, then with ALL WHEELS BRAKING your skid distance is much the same if you are driving the towed, the motor home sans the towed or the combined vehicle (Consist)

However if you do NOT have a supplemental braking system on the towed and you panic stop then the skid distance is much, much greater, as much (per the experts) as 30 percent (I have never measured) I do know the math, and it gets real complex at this point.

Also, heaven forbid towed and towing part company, hey, it happens, a good supplemental brake system includes a "Break-a-way" switch. Locks 'em up NOW

So the bottom line is which do you wish to risk,, The cost of a supplemental braking system or the legal costs when you rear end someone who knows about brakes.

Next question "What system"

Systems such as Brake Buddy or Even brake are nice, I mean there is little to install and they can be quickly moved from car to car. HOWEVER they are big, bulky and offer limited control by the motor home driver

M&G air over hydraulic gets good reviews from the DP crowd when you can use it, there is also another system that fits on cars that M&G dont' fit (IE MINE)

I use US-Gear Unified Brake Decelerator (My MH is a Gasser) and from what I can find it is the best. It is proportional (I can set how hard it applies the brakes as compared to the MH) so that the towed is stopping the towed, not the motor home

It is progressive.. The harder I stop, the harder it stops

And. I can control it from the driver's seat in the coach.. I once hooked up on a hill, now with the Aventia II tow bar I had to "hold back" the towed till the bar locked in place.. I pushed the lever, and did just that.

A first class system, it is as close to the control my brother has over his trailer brakes as any system I've seen (Brother... Is an over the road semi driver)
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:20 AM   #7
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I use an Aux braking system (M&G). God forbid a situation occurs where the authorities get involved and a braking system determines fault! I travel in the West and the aux braking system really assists on some downhill stretches plus the knowledge I'm legal in all states and Canadian Provinces.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:17 AM   #8
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This topic has been beaten to death . People will quote weights as examples or laws that really don't exist as they are for trailers. What it all comes down to is what are you comfortable with. Over the last few years we have towed a 1997 Malibu, a 2004 Suzuki XL7 and now a 2008 Ford Explorer. I was able to stop the first two vehicles in a distance I felt comfortable with also the compression brake on hills would hold me back enough I did not have to use the coach brakes. With the Explorer behind I found the extra 1000 pounds to be more than I wanted to deal with with only coach brakes. I installed the Air Force One system and am once again comfortable towning.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:22 AM   #9
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:15 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the responses. Most of you echoed my own thoughts. I originally towed a Mini without brakes and I didn't really notice the stopping distances change with or without it.

I know have a Saturn Vue and the weight is not all that different than the Mini Cooper was. I have been using an Even Brake, which broke. I have returned it to Roadmaster and they are not quite as quick with the repairs as they originally claimed. I have gone on a couple of short trips without the Even Brake. Again, I really didn't notice a lot of difference without it.

This probably has something to do with the heavier coach and air brakes. After getting weighed and comparing the weight to the coach specs, I wondered if I really needed the Even Brake. I am not going to be uncomfortable without it, but since I already have it, I'll continue to use it, provided Roadmaster returns it to me.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:52 PM   #11
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I feel that if you are in a financial position to own a motor coach and toad, you have enough cash to put in auxiliary brakes for the toad. Not doing so is saving money the wrong way, and putting you and everyone else on the road at risk.

It is better to have them, and not need them than to need them, and not have them.

Pony up for the brakes. They're not THAT expensive when you figure what you have invested in the coach and the toad.
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Old 06-17-2009, 04:29 AM   #12
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In a world with a scarcity of simple answers, I have one.

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Old 06-17-2009, 06:08 AM   #13
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You have a lot of $$$ tied up in the coach and the dinghy. I would want the max in safety for me and everyone else around me. Getting a good dinghy brake system should be an absolute requirement in my opinion.

The group that tries to justify not setting up the dinghy brakes by playing word games with it is not a trailer and it is a towed vehicle are just fooling themselves. I have yet to see a motorhome that is designed to tell if it is pulling 3500# of rocks on a trailer or 3500# of a towed vehicle. The extra weight is extra weight to stop and it is not just the weight. When moving it is now momentum and the numbers are much higher.

DO a search here and you will find lots written on the subject.

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Old 06-17-2009, 06:25 AM   #14
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No one has mentioned it however, there MIGHT be an insurance problem should an occurrence (loss) arise. Especially if it happens in a geographical location that requires aux brakes.
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