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Old 10-24-2021, 12:59 AM   #1
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Do I really need electric trailer brakes?

Today I was shopping for a single axle trailer to haul a Chevy Spark. The vehicle is only 11' 11" and weighs only 2312 pounds. I feel like my E450 could probably stop it nicely with no trailer brakes, but that isn't going to fly in most states.

The trailer place owner, who seemed to have a ton of experience, advised me to never put a car on a single axle trailer because it would be a disaster to control in event of a blowout. Is he right?

He also said that surge brakes are unreliable when not used every day and I would not find an aluminum trailer equipped with them. So far, he appears to be correct. I've found a few steel trailers with surge brakes but, so far, every aluminum trailer has had electric brakes.

Does everybody here agree with that guy?

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Old 10-24-2021, 01:28 AM   #2
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I wouldnít pull anything of value more than a few miles without tandem axles. Also wouldnít pull without brakes. Just me.
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Old 10-24-2021, 01:33 AM   #3
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I can think of no reason to want to negate an axle and brakes if they're available.
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Old 10-24-2021, 01:54 AM   #4
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Get the brakes...
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Old 10-24-2021, 02:21 AM   #5
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I would go with brakes and if you can find a tandem that fits your needs, I would also go with it over a single axle.

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Old 10-24-2021, 02:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiley1 View Post
Today I was shopping for a single axle trailer to haul a Chevy Spark. The vehicle is only 11' 11" and weighs only 2312 pounds. I feel like my E450 could probably stop it nicely with no trailer brakes, but that isn't going to fly in most states.

The trailer place owner, who seemed to have a ton of experience, advised me to never put a car on a single axle trailer because it would be a disaster to control in event of a blowout. Is he right?

He also said that surge brakes are unreliable when not used every day and I would not find an aluminum trailer equipped with them. So far, he appears to be correct. I've found a few steel trailers with surge brakes but, so far, every aluminum trailer has had electric brakes.

Does everybody here agree with that guy?
My dolly came with surge brakes standard. Last month, I had to make a panic stop when a farm tractor decided to turn left into oncoming traffic. The anti-skid on the coach worked as did the surge brakes. My Rampside was saved. The brakes work perfectly after 6 years of service but it is time to change the brake shoes.
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Old 10-24-2021, 02:35 AM   #7
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Brakes? Yeah - no brainer, electric or surge, doesn't matter. Electric brakes can stop working if not used regularly just like surge brakes.

Single axle blowout control? Uncontrollable is not a given and depends on many factors - you just eliminate one factor my making it a tandem axle trailer. There are a lot of single axle boat trailers that have suffered sudden tire depressurizations without the trailer becoming uncontrollable; so take that with a grain of salt.
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Old 10-24-2021, 03:41 AM   #8
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Brakes? Absolutely. In that weight range you will likely not have a choice anyway. Tiny trailers may not have brakes, but not one large enough for a car. I like surge brakes because trailer is easier to use with different vehicles, but driver has less control as to when brakes can be applied. Also backing uphill may be less convenient.

Regarding single versus dual axles, I agree that dual axles have built-in redundancy, but for a smaller size/weight trailer, dual axles often have significantly smaller wheels and tires. I personally donít have an issue towing trailers with single axles rated up to 3,500 pounds which are fairly common.

In addition to boat trailers, there are also a lot of utility and camping trailers with single axles. Below is an Airstream article stating they use single up to 22 feet, and switch to dual axles at 23 feet and larger.

https://www.airstream.com/blog/singl...ravel-trailer/


Iíve pulled various rental trailers over the years, and many had single axle, including smaller camping trailers. All that had brakes used surge brakes because they donít require controllers.
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Old 10-24-2021, 06:59 AM   #9
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Go with the brakes what ever you buy.I have a aluma single axle trailer 5200 pound axle electric brakes echo wireless controler. Pulls my car & utv just fine .
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Old 10-24-2021, 12:48 PM   #10
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Yes to the brakes. Surge or electric are both fine. Why get brakes?
1. Better panic stopping performance. **** happens.
2. Very likely legally required once you add together the weight of the trailer and the weight of the load on it.
3. Breakaways are rare, but brakes (with a breakaway cable properly installed) can prevent a far more serious accident from occurring should it happen, and also save your trailer and its load.

Single vs. dual axle is a common debate topic on trailer forums, with no real consensus. Assuming the axle setup is good for the load plus some, and so are the tires, it comes down to personal preference. There are advantages and disadvantages either way.
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Old 10-24-2021, 01:58 PM   #11
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My UTR-12 is a single axle design, and I wouldn't hesitate to tow it anywhere that I want to go.
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Old 10-24-2021, 02:41 PM   #12
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I have both a single axle steel trailer with no brakes and recently bought a dual axle aluminum with tandem and electric. I actually bought them to haul a compact tractor from my regular home to my weekend/vacation cottage about 75 miles away and back. I did have a blow out on the single axle and fortunately was in an area where I could get into a parking lot and change the tire since I carry a spare. I was able to control the load, but remember I was not on the interstate at the moment traveling at 65+ MPH. What I was noticing is that the single axle tires do wear faster under heavier loads, as do brakes on the tow vehicle. That was what made me rethink trailers and safety of myself and the vehicles. The difference between the trailers and how they behave is now night and day. I have had cars up to (5000 lb) on the aluminum and it pulls effortlessly and the slightest brake activation and you know the trailer is doing what it should by applying the electric brakes. My controller can be moved from vehicle to vehicle easily so I can pull with the MH, my Grand Cherokee or a truck. Although I have not experienced a flat or blowout on the tandem, I also thought that if I did I could still easily drive to a safe location at low speed and effect repairs rather than dance around traffic on the roadside. One suggestions though, carry a 4 way lug wrench, always! Spend the cash and do it right.
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Old 10-25-2021, 04:04 PM   #13
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I recently towed with the 30FE E450 my dual axle car trailer and racecar, totaling about 4,500 to 5,000 pounds about 4 hours up and down mountains without the electric brakes connected.

Zero issues.

However, get the brakes. Some states require it over a certain weight. In NY I believe it is 3,000 lbs.
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Old 10-30-2021, 07:51 PM   #14
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Pretty sure that it was a DOT Requirement to have brakes on any trailer that weighs more than 3,000#. I donít recall the weight cutoff for single axle, but am well aware of axles made to support 5200#.
Get the brakes.
They come in very handy on slick surfaces to get/keep the trailer under control and behind the tow vehicle.
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Old 10-30-2021, 08:14 PM   #15
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Yes, you do need brakes. It doesnít matter whether youíve been going without for years with no issues or what the law is. Youíll stop better with brakes than you would without and since RVs donít stop all that well in the first place it should be a no brainer for anyone who doesnít want to crash.
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Old 10-30-2021, 09:27 PM   #16
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You need electric brakes, IMO

Many states require electric brakes when towing a vehicle, both with a direct tow and also when the vehicle is on a trailer.

While your brakes may have sufficient stopping power, you're risking a jackknife situation.

Don't pennypinch.
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Old 10-30-2021, 10:14 PM   #17
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"surge brakes are unreliable when not used every day" sounds like one of those "alternative facts"

The breaking mechanism of surge brakes is usually your usual hydraulics and pads ... the actuation is a cylinder that compresses when weight is applied to it. There's not much here that takes rocket science to run and maintain ... the fluid needs maintenance every few years and the pads can wear out but I don't know why they would need "daily use".
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Old 10-30-2021, 10:44 PM   #18
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Electric brakes or throw an Anchor out the Window?

Look in all seriousness I have hauled/towed just about everything at one time or another in the last 45 years. If you are hauling anything that weighs as much as a tiny car you need electric brakes. You may think you can strap it down really really good but in a good accident it is going to come off the trailer and turn into a killing projectile. Sure you may be find whit the RV in front of it to block it but what if it runs across the highway and kills a family traveling the other way. You don't want to live with the worry. Strap it down by all means but strap it down to a trailer with good electric brakes tuned to match your vehicles braking pressure (a controller).
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Old 10-31-2021, 12:34 AM   #19
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I've been towing 60 + years and I absolutely would have tandem axles with electric brakes. If you have to back up any distance with surge brakes you'll know what I mean.
Better safe than sorry.
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Old 10-31-2021, 01:41 AM   #20
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I've been towing 60 + years and I absolutely would have tandem axles with electric brakes. If you have to back up any distance with surge brakes you'll know what I mean.
Better safe than sorry.
Surge brakes can be locked out both manually (with a pin) and electrically (with a solenoid using a flat 5 plug) so backing should not be an issue.
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