Breakaway brakes are as simple as they sound and are massively important for your towing safety.
By now, you probably know that the biggest challenge to towing a trailer is making sure the adventure goes as safely and securely as possible. We talk about this a lot here at Trailer Valet because as much as we want to give you an easy way to move your trailer, we want you to always have awesome adventures.
Breakaway brakes are the mostly silent hero of that safe adventure. They wait back until they are the hero your trip needs right now. (Batman reference fully intended)
Truly though! A trailer can become disconnected from the towing vehicle for many reasons, and when that happens, the breakaway brakes are there to ensure the trailer doesn’t go rogue. Whether it’s an error or an accident, if the safety chains or ball mount break free of the receiver, then your trailer could collide with other vehicles on the road or roll into a ditch and cause destruction to the area and your cargo.
No thank you, right?
That’s where the breakaway brakes come in. If your trailer is fully equipped with a charged and functioning breakaway system, it can help you avoid disaster and move your trailer if it becomes disconnected.
The breakaway system is designed to bring the trailer to a safe stop in the event that the trailer breaks free from the safety chains or the ball mount. They are the ultimate emergency brake.
It does this by activating the electric brakes on the trailer. The only catch is, for this to happen you must have fully operational electric brakes. The 12-volt battery must be charged and the switch cable attached to the vehicle for the system to operate properly.
Breakaway brakes are the second line of defense because, ideally, the safety chains will keep the trailer from detaching in the event that the coupler comes off the ball. If the safety chains can’t hold, the breakaway system is the last line of defense against a runaway trailer and potential injury or damage.
How to use a Breakaway Kit
Fortunately for everyone, most breakaway kits for consumer use are pretty similar. It includes a plastic bin for a sealed battery, the switch, and wiring. It depends on the trailer, but typically, you can mount the breakaway system on the frame or the inside of the trailer. You can purchase a breakaway kit from anywhere between $10 and $70. The price range is based on the type of trailer you own. Not all breakaway kits work with all towing setups. The more universal a breakaway kit is, the more expensive it will be, so check if the one you’re eyeing fits single, tandem, or tri-axle trailers. We recommend a breakaway kit with a rechargeable breakaway battery because that will be a better deal in the end.
Once you’ve chosen your breakaway kit, it’s time to install it. There are two main steps: mounting the kit and connecting the electrical system. Most breakaway brake kits come with a mounting bracket or there are mounting holes on the plastic battery box. All you have to do is bolt the breakaway battery box to the trailer. You can mount it almost anywhere on the trailer, even on the inside, but for convenience most people mount it on the frame.
Mounting the breakaway switch isn’t much harder. You can also choose the placement, but it’s best to choose somewhere where the switch is safe from dragging or debris. The key is to make sure the wiring will reach the trailer hitch, because disconnection of the hitch is what triggers the switch and the entire breakaway brake system.
The most difficult part is properly wiring the breakaway system. This is best handled by a professional if you don’t have electrical wiring experience. If you do, there is a detailed diagram here (https://www.etrailer.com/faq-trailer-breakaway-kit-installation.aspx).
You should always check that your battery is charged and everything is functioning before you tow your trailer, and never tow if the breakaway brake system isn’t functioning. This has been a PSA for why breakaway brakes are crucial to a safe tow, and keeping your precious cargo safe during every adventure into the great unknown!
See what we meant about the silent hero of your next adventure?