View Full Version : weak brakes

10-03-2013, 09:35 AM
So i've been noticing that my trailer doesn't quite have the stopping power it used to. the brakes are still there (i think), but i was sitting in my buddy's truck when he was pulling his x45 with a silverado 1500 and that stopped a heck of alot better than my star with the tahoe, definitely think its the trailer. I've also noticed that the trailer doesn't 'jump' when the boats not on it and i brake firmly.

where do i start on this one? brake pads? (havent heard any squeals when the pads are getting low) replace the brake fluid? bleed the brakes? service the master cylinder?

trailer are definitely not my specialty....

10-03-2013, 10:30 AM
Quick and easy way to tell if your brakes are more or less working is to pick a driveway etc that has a reasonable incline and try backing up with the trailer wires disconnected from the vehicle so the reverse lockout is out of the picture

If the brakes are working it should try to tear the hitch off the vehicle with near zero movement of the trailer

Mine turned out to be no fluid in the master cylinder when delivered from the factory. Someone forgot to bleed the brakes I guess

After bleeding the brakes the trailer was dead stopped going up our slightly inclined drive way

If the trailer moves but with significant resistance it could be air in the lines or other mechanically related problems ie master cylinder failure

10-03-2013, 12:02 PM
Fresh brake fluid and flush would be first on my list. Amazing how many people neglect this and its so easy, especially when the boat is off the trailer.

If you have a compressed air source, this kit from Harbor freight makes it too easy to not do it every 2-3 years.....
Otherwise get this one - http://www.harborfreight.com/mityvac-vacuum-pump-39522.html
down side to the second is, it does not come with a fill bottle and accessories that makes for an easy one man job. Otherwise it helps if you have a buddy to pour fresh fluid in the reservoir as it is drawn out.

Once you are motivated, if you have a GM truck, do the brakes on that too. The Hydro boost system is hard on brake fluid! I could not believe how burned and nasty my fluid was at only 3.5 years old. GM now has it on their regular maintenance schedule for 2013 but all trucks built in the last 25 years should have it done IMO.

If a flush does not tighten up the brakes enough and you have drum brakes; time for some PB blaster on the rusty brake components followed by a good bath of brake cleaner.
Look up drum brake adjustment on youtube, and follow instructions.

Another way to test brake action - There should be a slot or lever on your hitch that will depress the master cylinder. Jack up the wheels and have a buddy spin while you work the slot with a large screwdriver.

10-03-2013, 04:09 PM
From someone that just went through what you experienced the above advise is very good. Low hanging fruit is a brake fluid flush (mine had water in the master cylinder). I would also highly recommend pulling the calipers off, lightly sanding the pads with emery cloth and greasing the caliper slides. I also put a fresh layer of anti-squeal on the backs of the pads.

This assumes you're not the victim of all the faulty Reliable brake parts. If you haven't checked take a look at your calipers to see what brand they are and if the pads are wearing evenly. If your calipers are sticking/hanging you'll typically see uneven wear on one pad or the other. Reliable master cylinders are pretty much junk and as they start to fail will lose effectiveness. The back up test will tell you a lot. As stated above if they're working correctly they'll bite real hard, almost scary hard.