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Trailer Brakes

posted Apr 28, 2017, 10:08 PM by Coleman Guy   [ updated Apr 28, 2017, 10:09 PM ]
An age old question.  Do you NEED trailer brakes on a small popup?
I was on the side of NO.  I have gone many of year without trailer brakes, but I had a 1000 mile trip each way planned and thought I might enjoy them.  I also had a trailer with brakes to steal from.  So I figured I was only in for the brake controller.

To give you the answer right away, NO, you do not NEED brakes for a small 3000# popup trailer.  But I have to admit, they are nice to have.  When I was camping without brakes, most of my trips were less than 100 miles away.  I could drive with a little caution and know my stopping distance was increased.  Not a big deal actually.  I think I might of worn a set of brake pad off of my minivan.  Yes, I pull a 3000# popup with a Toyota Sienna minivan.

I went to install my "free" brakes.  And, BTW a 1998 axle is different from a 2000 axle.  So, after salvaging the little 8" brakes from my parts trailer, I found out they will not fit my good trailer.  I also learned after talking to a few trailer dealers that the little 8" brakes are notorious for failure.  So I had a brake controller and a long trip.  I decided I was in that far and might as well go all in.  Off I went to the store.  If I had more time, I would have ordered the actual Dexter brakes to match the axle.  But I didn't have time since I was leaving in a few day.  I got an off brand of 10" brakes.  Not bad, a little over $200 for the parts.  Installed in a few hours.  Brake controller took about 4 hours (local shop estimated $650 for them to install controller).  Bought the brake controller from eBay for $40 and had all the wire and fuses on hand (I make wire harness and have a lot of parts).

I must admit, I will run with brakes from now on.  I really appreciated the stopping power they offered and I know it made it easier on the little minivan.  If you have the skills, I would suggest you install them.  If you have the money, get them installed.  If you have neither, drive carefully.