Your caravan’s braking system is frequently out of sight and out of mind when it comes to pre-holiday safety inspections. Before you go on your next journey, conduct these five basic brake system inspections.
Electronic braking systems used in most new caravans are typically designed to be easy to service and operate. The difficulty with this ease is that it might lead to a sense of security among owners. My brakes should be fine for the next journey if they functioned well on the last one.
Checking your caravan or camper trailer’s brakes regularly is one of the most important safety precautions you can take. Regular checks will ensure that all components are working correctly and ensure enough braking power to stop the vehicle as required.
The challenge with this strategy is that there are several sites of system failures that, if not examined, can go undiscovered until an emergency arises in which all of the components must function to avoid a disaster.
Here are five basic checks you can make on your caravan’s braking system to ensure it’s in good working order during regular towing and an emergency.
Check The Caravan Emergency Brake
Trailers weighing more than 2,000kg GTM must be equipped with an effective emergency braking system, as per the Road Vehicle Standards (breakaway brakes). Should the trailer get separated from the tow vehicle, this mechanism must cause the brakes to be applied immediately. These are normally powered by electricity and have a spare battery as a system component.
You must examine this battery before leaving on your trip. Most systems will have a basic push-to-test button that will indicate if the battery is ready to use or needs to be recharged. If it’s dead, the way it’s connected to the caravan’s electrical system will decide how it has to be recharged.
Some will be plugged into a 240-volt outlet and recharged whenever the van is turned on. The Anderson connection to the tow truck will recharge some of them. If you have any doubts, contact the caravan’s manufacturer.
Check Caravan Brake Wiring
Stones, water, and regular wear and tear can cause damage to the wires that supply electricity to the electric brakes. It’s pretty uncommon to discover at minimum one pair of wires damaged on several of the caravan’s wheels. Because these wires are placed at the rear of the wheel hub, you’ll have to get down to the nitty-gritty to check them.
Ensure all the zip ties securing the cables in place are secure while you’re down there. These are also vulnerable to damage.
Check & Adjust Caravan Hand Brake
The handbrake on many caravans is a pretty simple device, although it needs to be adjusted regularly. If you have to raise the handbrake lever past the 3/4 position before the brakes activate, the cable probably needs adjustment.
It’s as simple as loosening the locknuts and twisting the adjuster wheel clockwise a few times until the bakes are tightly applied, and the lever has been raised to around halfway. If you’re not sure how to do it, there are many videos on YouTube to watch or visit your local mechanic, who will adjust them in a matter of minutes.
Examine The Caravan Emergency Breakaway System’s Condition
An emergency breakaway activation gear may be found on most caravans with electronic brakes. It comprises a small black box fastened to the A-frame, a pin inside the box, a cable connected to the pin, and a shackle or carabiner to connect to the tow vehicle. The caravan brakes must engage when the pin is withdrawn from the box.
Check that all of these components are in good working order, especially the cable, which tends to get pinched when the caravan is turning tight. Also, make sure the tow vehicle’s connecting point is discrete from the tow hitch. If the breakaway cable is hooked to the hitch, the entire tow hitch becomes free of the tow vehicle; it will not activate.
Inspect Caravan Brake Controller Operation
A control unit will be installed in the tow vehicle’s cabin for each braking controller. It’ll be a button/dial design, like the Redarc TowPro, or a bigger under dash unit, like the Tekonsha range. Because each brake controller works differently, you’ll need to consult the user manual for your brake controller to ensure its working properly.
When the caravan is connected, and the engine is running, there should be no flashing lights or trouble warnings on the controller’s display. You may also test the manual override by engaging it while driving away slowly from your location and feel the trailer brakes pull the vehicle up.
When Reversing, How Do Caravan Brakes Work?
When you put your tow car in reverse with the caravan on the rear, the brakes on the caravan will initially engage. As a result, you will face resistance from the caravan when reversing. But something else happens as the automobile proceeds to reverse the caravan.
When the caravan’s drum brakes detect that the caravan is moving backward, a lever within the drum brakes disengages. As a result, the caravan brakes have stopped working. This is why backing up your caravan onto levelling ramps is not a good idea since you will have less control over stopping the caravan if you go too far.
What Causes Squeaky Caravan Brakes?
In most situations, the brake pads have become too thin. Metal moving along the metal on the disc causes the squeaking you hear from worn-down brake pads. It signifies your brake pads have worn down to the acceptable wear limit, and you should take your automobile to a shop to have them replaced.
How Do Caravan Electric Brakes Work?
Electromagnets and friction are used in modern electronic trailers and caravan brakes. The magnet (5) is drawn to the drum face when an electric signal from the vehicle goes to the trailer brake through the electric brake controller.
Caravan brakes are equipped with brake drums that use drum braking technology. The breakaway system is responsible for applying the caravan’s handbrake in an emergency, while the braking controllers are installed in the tow vehicle to allow for smooth braking.
Ensure all your brake controller and breakaway system components are in working order before hitting the road.