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Open Roads Forum  >  Tow Vehicles

 > Unbraked trailer, towing limitations

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tealboy

orlando, fl

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Posted: 08/24/22 05:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey folks, I’m looking for a new tow vehicle for a rig coming in at 2700 lbs, loaded, per the scale. I decided to trade down to a more modest unibody suv like the highlander, telluride or similar with tow ratings of 5000 lbs.vs my customary Tahoe or sequoia since I tow infrequently (3-4x/year).

However, I discovered something I was unaware of, these vehicles often come with a 1000lb limit when trailers are “Unbraked”. My trailer does not have brakes, seems many in this lower weight class don’t, though some do. My state law requires brakes at 3000lbs.

This discovery caused me to to rethink the mid size suv and go back to the sequoia or a Tahoe. I was shocked to realize the big sequoia with 7500 lbs tow rating is also limited to 1000 lbs Unbraked. The Tahoe is 2000 lbs. The gm line of 1500 series pickups also 2k.

Wow. It seems the manufacturers are providing very conservative figures for Unbraked trailers due to liability so no matter what I pick outside of a 2500 series, I am out of compliance with manufactures recommendations/requirements and potentially subject to liability in an accident even though I’m within state law.

I know this group is far more informed than average people relative to towing but I see tons of smaller to mid size trailers like mine, including many boats, without brakes and suspect most are totally unknowing of these low thresholds bc the manufactures brag about high tow ratings but you need to look much deeper for the Unbraked limits .

I’m not sure what to do now. Thoughts on the subject and your awareness of these vehicle limitations?

* This post was edited 08/24/22 06:26am by tealboy *

wanderingbob

monticeeo, fla

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Posted: 08/24/22 06:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I wonder if putting an axle with brakes , or adding brakes to existing axles would be cheaper/better than buying a new tow truck !

Roger10378

Goodrich, MI.

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Posted: 08/24/22 06:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Actually it makes good sense. If you add a 2000 lb trailer to a 8000 lb tow vehicle that is 25% more for the vehicle to stop. Are you willing to follow 25% farther from traffic to ensure you can stop in time?


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Fisherman

Angus, Ontario, Canada

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Posted: 08/24/22 06:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As long as the trailer axle has the square mounting plate, adding brakes is easy. Depending where you buy, the whole backing plates, brake shoes, magnets and hubs would probably be around $400. Add a few dollars more for the wiring. A whole new axle with brakes included may be around $650.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 08/24/22 06:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wanderingbob wrote:

I wonder if putting an axle with brakes , or adding brakes to existing axles would be cheaper/better than buying a new tow truck !

This gets my vote ! Surge brakes at a minimum, electric are better.

About 30 years ago, I had a pop up that I towed with a Taurus station wagon. The camper was 2500#+ loaded. While it did have electric brakes, I did NOT add the controller to the car. Cross winds caught the trailer a couple of time and I had a white knuckle ride until I could slow my rig down ! A quick application of the trailer brakes would have snapped that back inline immediately.

(Of course, towing with a FWD vehicle was not the best idea either !)

blt2ski

Kirkland, Wa

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Posted: 08/24/22 07:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My recommendation from past experience, if the trailer wieght puts you over the basic GVWR of the TV, adding brakes is a smart move.
I used to tow a 3000 lb max trailer with a 1 ton dually in landscape biz. Truck was loaded with yard debris, trailer mowers, 2-3 body's, total around 14000 lbs. Put brakes on trailer, we were stopping 10-20' sooner, brakes lasted longer etc.

As noted, if the axel has the square plate with four holes on it, you can add brakes from any auto parts, some Marine supply places, RV parts houses have or can get you brakes. While you can use your house battery as the power for run away brakes....you may want to get a smaller U1 battery for trailer brakes. Especially if you dry camp alot. If you take off with a drained battery that is below 11.5V, get an inspection from an LEO, you can get a failed brake ticket for to low of voltage. aNY of us can have this issue....chances are few with an RV vs someone pulling in a commercial usage.

Marty


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JRscooby

Indepmo

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Posted: 08/24/22 07:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My half ton truck calls for brakes over 1000lbs. And no matter how toxic science is to lawmakers, the laws of motion can not be repealed. I know I'm comparing grapes to grapefruit, but if a CMV is stopped with no brakes on a axle that axle does not count as far as weight limits.
Each vehicle has a GVWR. The brakes are designed to stop that weight plus a reserve for safety. If you hook up a trailer, and your GCVW is larger than the GVWR, you are running in that safety margin

MFL

Midwest

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Posted: 08/24/22 07:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Having towed trailers weighing 1-2K, without trailer brakes, I can tell you, the lighter the TV (meaning smaller brake system), the more push you will feel. Just the difference between an earlier model Ranger, compared to a 150, was very noticeable.

I'd stay with a larger SUV until your done towing. I don't see the liability being a big issue, as long as you're within state law requirements. You can be sued for many reasons, without worrying about some manufacturers hidden fine print.

Jerry





mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 08/24/22 07:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Roger10378 wrote:

Actually it makes good sense. If you add a 2000 lb trailer to a 8000 lb tow vehicle that is 25% more for the vehicle to stop. Are you willing to follow 25% farther from traffic to ensure you can stop in time?


The scenario you describe is perfectly acceptable. 8000lbs is about what a diesel SRW 8-lug pickup weighs. Nobody here will argue that a truck like that is perfectly capable of stopping a 2000lb no-brakes trailer safely. The manufacturer thinks it's just fine. Even most states think it's so okay and safe they made it a law.

Please don't try to make your point with made up numbers. 95% of the time it makes you look silly.


Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 08/24/22 07:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Seems like the solution to the OP's dilemma is simple: Put brakes on the trailer and pick whatever tow vehicle you want.

Like others have said it is not expensive or difficult. Usually you can just bolt them right on, run the wires to the front, put a 7-pin plug on, and hit the road.

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