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Old 02-21-2021, 08:11 AM   #1
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Brake Accessory needed on Vehicle being Towed?

I just purchased a 2000 Coachman Santara. It is 36ft long and has a V10.
I will be towing a Geo Tracker. I know the RV will not be a speed demon.
But the best I can do!
Opinions? Will I need to put a brake assist on the Geo?


Thanks
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:23 AM   #2
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I know 99% of the folks on here will say "yes" you need auxillary brakes.


I have been told by Freightliner and Spartan that if the combined weight of your loaded RV and your towed car do not exceed the GVWR for the motorhome alone, you do not need auxilary brakes. The brakes are designed to handle the weight rating for the motorhome alone. I suspect the same thing is true for the Ford chassis.


Having said that, I strongly suspect that your Tracker and your loaded motorhome will exceed the GVWR for the motorhome alone, so in your case, I believe you will need auxilary brakes.
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:42 AM   #3
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Also depending on the weight of your tracker most states have a requirement that the toad have breaks.

If your trying to keep cost down I recommend the NSA ready break thatís what I have on my jeep: simple, somewhat easy to install.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:08 AM   #4
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Tricky part is, figuring out what state regs require. Most states other than CA, NV and NC require brakes on anything more than 3000lbs, you squeeze in right under the limit, just gotta hope the trooper doesn't make you actually weigh it with all your stuff in it.

The other question is, who requires a breakaway system, that's harder to figure out.

Finally a question of what kind of liability you're willing to assume if the thing breaks away.

People will say a vehicle this light, you can't even feel it. That is INCORRECT you will definitely notice increased stopping distance. Mitigated to a great extent by engine braking, you just have to use it properly (in your case, be in the right gear) and you gotta think ahead.

I towed a fiat (2400lbs) back and forth between FL and SC several times and didn't have any problems although never had to panic stop during those trips. Finally installed a Brake Buddy, as I was going thru CA and NV and needed to be legal. I have it set to the lightest setting and not sure it's doing much back there, doesn't drain down the battery anyway, but I will grudgingly admit, I like having a breakaway switch on it.

Used Brake Buddy can be found on ebay or craigslist if you look, the older ones that plug into the cigarette lighter are a piece of cake to install (still gotta run one wire thru the firewall for the breakaway switch but that's it). Even the new ones are super easy to install, you run a cable instead of a wire. The other option to consider is readybrute, just gotta see how much of a hassle it is to install in that vehicle but if you're buying a tow bar anyway you can have your cake and eat it too.

Closer you get to 3000 lbs, I dunno man, more I'd want a braking system. Towing downhill in the mountains in slick conditions will get your attention eventually
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:55 AM   #5
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Here's the real issue, regarding state requirements, not whether or not the RV is capable of stopping with a toad connected.

The state weight requirements for brakes apply to trailers, not a towed motor vehicle. This is true in many states including, California and Washington, but you need to check out your own state laws to be certain. It takes a bit of digging into the vehicle codes to understand this (something I have done for Ca.), but it is clear that a towed motor vehicle is not considered a trailer, and is exempt from having operating brakes, specifically, when being towed. However, this exemption requires the combination of vehicles to be able to stop safely within specified distances. So, unless you actually test to see if you are able to stop within the distances at given speeds, you need supplementary brakes.

Having said that, it becomes a safety issue for you based on the ability of your coach to stop safely, either by chassis manufacturers data or stopping tests. Don't forget to add the break-away safety factor of toad brakes into the mix.

Again, each state is different, but my point was the blanket weight requirements often mentioned are for trailers. Whether or not your toad is classified as a "trailer" will be up to your state's regulations.

Check out the following link for this discussion and documentation, regarding Washington State and California. Posts #9, and 20, specifically.
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f85/are-...ml#post5579649
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:50 AM   #6
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If you haven't bought your towbar yet, take a look at Ready Brute. It has the brake integrated and the vehicle side is simple with nothing to have to fool with or store when not hooked up.
I have towed 25k mi with mine and wouldn't change a thing.
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Old 02-21-2021, 02:36 PM   #7
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I towed a chevy tracker, about 2800# with my old f53 gasser class A and now with my diesel class A.
Never had aux brakes on tracker.
In most states, maybe all, a toad is not considered a trailer and therefore is not subject to those requirements.
I was perfectly comfortable not having toad brakes. Some aren't. Your call there.
Obviously the laws of physics do apply and panic stopping will be longer but it is your total rv/toad weight that determines that. I 'm not a speed demon, i dont tailgate and pay attention while driving.
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Old 02-21-2021, 03:18 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone. Some things that I had not thought about. I have to purchase everything to tow the Geo, so the search begins.
Thanks again.
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Old 02-21-2021, 03:24 PM   #9
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I will chime in by saying that I wish I had purchased the Ready Brute tow bar with integrated braking. I was trying to save a few bucks and went with a used Brake Buddy. It has worked out fine, but I could really appreciate not having to spend the additional time hooking up the Brake Buddy compared to the Ready Brute, let alone there would be one less thing to store.

As to your original question, I would check the laws for your state. And, I also think it's a good idea to have an auxiliary braking system just for safety's sake. And, using the tow haul mode will save a lot of brake wear as it takes advantage of transmission down shifting.
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Old 02-21-2021, 03:34 PM   #10
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Regarding the CA law I can tell you from first hand experience that both the state troopers and the judges will deem your toad as needing breaks.

Our in house Atty fought this fight for 3 years and we lost on 4 different occasions. You can definitely interpret the law how you see fit but if your decision is to go without breaks in CA be prepared for the fines or an atty that will fight for you.

We have since then mandated supplemental breaking system at all times when pulling a toad regardless of weight.
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:44 PM   #11
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For me, the most important function is the break away switch if the toad should become detached. A few years ago on I-75 south we saw a mh that had lost its toad. The toad crossed the median and both northbound lanes before hitting a tree. Luckily, it didnít hit a northbound car head on.
Also talked with a guy in Key West that had lost his toad. Didnít know it until a driver flagged him over. When back and found his toad off the road on the right side. Brake had stopped it just short of an overpass, no damage.

Iíll always have a brake, complete with break-away switch!
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biljol View Post
Regarding the CA law I can tell you from first hand experience that both the state troopers and the judges will deem your toad as needing breaks.

Our in house Atty fought this fight for 3 years and we lost on 4 different occasions. You can definitely interpret the law how you see fit but if your decision is to go without breaks in CA be prepared for the fines or an atty that will fight for you.

We have since then mandated supplemental breaking system at all times when pulling a toad regardless of weight.
In*California,*brakes*are*required*on any*trailer*coach or camp*trailer*having a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more.

If you look under the cali definitions a trailer coach specifically exempts motorized vehicles.

Nonetheless we have driven many thousands of miles in california with our brakeless toad with no problems.
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Old 02-22-2021, 07:04 AM   #13
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I agree 100% with the comments on the Ready Brake by NSA. On previous rigs where we needed auxiliary brakes we used the Ready Braks and were very happy with it.

Regarding the breakaway switch, while we donít have auxiliary brakes as I mentioned earlier we do use the breakaway kit that goes with the Ready Brake. Unlike most breakaways this unit does not actuate a brake controller but directly applies the brakes if the car becomes disconnected from the MH. I agree with others on that I think everyone should have this.
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Old 02-22-2021, 07:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awol50 View Post

If you look under the cali definitions a trailer coach specifically exempts motorized vehicles.
This is exactly the wording we where fighting the 4 different judges all interpreted that as an actively motorized vehicle. Once the motor was off and not connected to control the wheels (when putting the manual transmission in neutral or the transfer case in neutral) the vehicles were no longer motorized and required breaks,

One judge in his opinion went so far as to say once the engine is disconnected from the wheels it is the same as having a utility trailer with a motor engine in the cargo area.

I am glad to hear you have never had an issue but have you ever been stoped and inspected by a CA trooper?
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