Problems with electric trailer brakes

Submitted: Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:45
ThreadID: 68037 Views:5328 Replies:8 FollowUps:1
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I have a new trailer trailer that I bought a few months back. It is a 7x5, off road and weighs empty about 400kg.

It has electic brakes fitted but in my opinion they don't seem to work very well. When driving at about 40km with trailer empty and applying full power through the brake controller (it displays about 14V) I can feel the trailer drag back on the car a bit but not significantly and I can't lock the trailer wheels like the instructions with the controller suggest I should.

I think I should get much better braking than that as I have the controller set at full power when the trailer is empty, which means I cannot increase braking force as trialer load increases.

I have a Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller in the car wired with heavy cable and earth cable all the way back to the battery. When operating the override on the controller I get 12v at the connector (engine off) so I belive the car wiring is correct.

I get 10v at the trailer wheel if I put 12v across the pins in the plug.

The trailer also has a manual override coupling which when engaged is very effective so I deduce that the actual brakes work and it must be the electric activation that is the problem.

The manufacturer hass been of little help.

Can anyone tell what level of braking to expect with electric brakes and any ideas where else the problem may be?

Many thanks,

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Reply By: Travelling Pixie - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 13:24

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 13:24
i have posted here previously about the same experience of not being able to lock the brakes up as per the prodigy instructions

i tried adjusting the pads a few times just to get those brakes to lock up when the trailer is empty. i tried different voltages and whatever else i could think of. Just could not achieve it!!!

i found that it does take some mileage before the shows and pads create a nice surface against each other and give full braking ability

then, when I needed them most, i found that the brakes worked just fine and in a couple of very hard braking episodes, they locked up as did the rest of the vehicle.

give them some mileage before worrying too much.

AnswerID: 360520

Follow Up By: Travelling Pixie - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 13:26

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 13:26
3rd para: "shoes and pads"

FollowupID: 628313

Reply By: al - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:02

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:02
hi cruzer
i have the same controller with the same action you are getting.
but find if i brake with a slight jab on brake application the brakes on my caravan will lock up every time if set up as per instructions.
been told more than once something to do with pendulum action if that is correct term the slight jab brings on the harder braking action.
hope this helps
AnswerID: 360542

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:52

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:52
When my Off Road trailer was new, it was easy to lock the wheels on the electric brakes, even fully loaded. I had aTekonsha controller ( i had 3 Tekonsha failures so i changed to Hayman Reese).. Hayman Reese controller also had no problems locking up the wheels.. All was going well untill one day i hooked up the trailer and the brakes hardly worked, even with the power up full. I adjusted them but not confident that was the problem as they were working fine the last i used it.. No it was not the problem. I pulled the drums off, The inside of the drum where the magnets rub are quite worn so eventually i will change the drums and the magnets and the shoes, But when cold, the brakes are totally useless, ride the brakes for a few minutes with the manual slide switch on the controller and they start to work.. Once warm and the trailer loaded up and the controller set to full braking, the brakes work to a level that i would normally set to achieve good braking.. It seems to be a wider problem with electric brakes.. I have to say that when working well, you really cant go past them.. Michael
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AnswerID: 360554

Reply By: Ozboc - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 18:55

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 18:55
My brakes on my Jayco will lock if i set the controller to full -- the van weighs 1500 KG +

I Have a 10 year old Tandom trailer - weighs in at about 400 KG ( 2000 GVM) when its empty and brake controller set to about 1/2 - wheels will lock up ....

you should be getting VERY obvious brake feel especially when empty

On the Jayco - i sometimes have to back the brakes off as the Van wants to do ALL the braking ( Jayco + Nissan Patrol = 4.2 tonnes when fully loaded)

Have you tried to put this trailer onto a friends 4x4 that has a brake controller ? see if they get the same effect -- if they do - then you know its in the trailer and not the controller
AnswerID: 360573

Reply By: burnsy - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 19:28

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 19:28
Chris I had the exact opposite problem using an old fashion constant voltage controller & some told me to adjust the brake shoes up more, this solved the issue.
Maybe you have the brake shoes adjusted up too much which doesn't give the magnet pendulum any momentum to put the brakes on.
All this may be rubbish but if you think about it it makes sense.
Gee I love spell checkers.

Regards Mike.
AnswerID: 360580

Reply By: Member - Bucky, the "Mexican"- Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 03:36

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 03:36
I too have a Prodigy

Please do not fall for the same trap I did, some time back.
Trying to stop the vehicle with the trailer, rather than complementing your vehicle brakes. .. ie the vehicle brakes do the vehicle, and the trailer brakes do the trailer. The idea of a controller is to co-ordinate the two.

Is the angle, and the direction of the controller, spot on, as this can effect the result ?

Do the magnets humm when connected, and the vehicle brakes are applied ?

What brand if electric brakes is on the trailer, ?.

One test you can do is to jack up one trailer wheel, have someone apply vehicle brakes, and try and rotate the tyre on the trailer. Then do the same sort of thing with the manual over-ride.

As part of my regular maintenance, I have redone all components in my braking system, and at first thought I had a faulty Prodigy.
What I did not allow for is a "bedding in" period.
What I did was to go for a drive with the manual brake lock on, just far enuf not to cook anything.
Only a km at a time, hook back up, try electrics.
Let cool down, and do it all again..
Dosent take long....and your trailer may need to be loaded to get the best out of your Prodigy. (I am not too sure on that one)

I hava somewhere an electronic copy of AL-KO's manual if you need it .

AnswerID: 360640

Reply By: Member - Bucky, the "Mexican"- Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 03:51

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 03:51
Try these threads

Check out these posts

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AnswerID: 360641

Reply By: Cruiser695 - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:27

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:27
Thanks everyone for all your input. I'll keep trying a few things out and see how I go. I got hold of the brake manufacturer and he thought they weren't working properly either and suggested a few things. The trailer manufacturer, Built Tough Trailers, are of no use at all, terrible customer service always trying to pass off the problem to someone else.

I have tried witha friends car and it has the same problem. Trailer has now covered about 2000K so I hope would be bedded in. I fixed some of the wiring, discovered the wires were dirty and just twisted together instead of being soldered, I have soldered them all on but that hasn't improved matters.

I'll post back if I find a solution.

Thanks again.
AnswerID: 362238

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