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Brake Inspections for Electric Brakes

Posted by on 12/8/2021 to Service Recomendations
Brake adjustments and inspections are probably the #1 most important maintenance item on trailers. 
I have added some explanations of terms at the bottom.

All to often we experience customer are ramping up the brake controller in their vehicle trying to get some life out of their brakes. Unfortunately this usually only affects burning out (cooking) the electric magnet inside the wheels.

We all to often hear customers say "My brakes keep locking up no matter what my controller is set at" or "My brakes feel weak or not working at all" 
Let me explain why. Manual adjustment brakes need to be adjusted regularly, there is not a set interval or miles driven for this. Trailer brakes do not extent across the top outward evenly like automotive brakes and if left under adjusted can bind inside the drum causing a lockup or chatter to develop on the drum and lining surfaces. Each user tows differently. There are basically 3 types of brake users
  1. Driver prefers to have the vehicle do most of the braking. Or wants to feel the trailer weight against the vehicle when they are coming to a stop. This type of user will need more brake work on the tow vehicle as time goes on.
  2. Driver prefers to feel an even braking effect where the trailer and truck are braking evenly. this type of braking makes it hard to "Feel" the condition of either while towing usually resulting in a vehicle and trailer needing to be serviced at the same time equating to more out of pocket expense.
  3. Driver prefers to have the trailer brake be slightly more aggressive braking. This is identified by a pull from the rear as your coming to a stop. This is my preferred method of braking due to when i don't feel that slight tug then i know there is a problem with the trailer brakes but still have my vehicle to stop me in case of an emergency.
Driver 1 above will cause the drums, magnets and shoe lining surfaces to not properly burnish themselves to each other resulting in poor to no braking on the trailer end. Example. you buy a new trailer and never perform the burnish process. It wont matter if you have the trailer 5 years with only 50 miles on it, the brakes will never perform and will always feel like nothing its happening. Another result of this type of braking will be glazing of the shoe linings and drum because they are always in a constant rubbing state.

Driver 2 above typically will have the most out of pocket expense due to both tow vehicle and trailer needing  repairs at the same time.

Driver 3 above will need brake work on the trailer more often depending on how much they tow because of the aggressive setting. If you are doing your annual maintenance this is easily adjusted and kept on par by replacing items that are needed as you go instead of breaking the bank to do everything all at once.

Whichever driving style you use remember brakes will glaze eventually regardless of the style of braking, the shoe linings are glued on and it wears over time causing the lining to free float around causing damage to other components, adjustment of the brakes ensures they are always running at their optimum settings.

An alternative to manual adjustment brakes is Self-Forward-Adjusting Brakes. we offer and install these for electric brake trailers 1,2 and 3 axle applications up to 7000 LB capacity axles. 

Terms:
Glazing - when the brakes are pushed beyond the temperature limits of the friction material. Riding or “dragging” the brake, or repeated hard, rapid braking from speed can overheat the brakes enough to cause glazing.
Burnishing - Physically and thermally converts the composition of the lining and drum. Smooths the asperities (roughness, unevenness) of the mating surfaces. Heat cycles the entire lining structure.

If youd like us to upgrade or replace your electric brake system with self adjusting brakes give our service department a call - 253-922-0771