Trailer brakes as a part of overall truck equipment are very important when it comes to safety and over the last decades as the technology improved the trailer brakes become much easier to use and handle.
Of course there are some differences between some trailer manufacturers and different systems are installed on different trailers.
I don’t want to focus in this article what are all systems that can be found on today’s market but rather that I’d like to share the experience how to use and how not to use the trailer brakes to get the most of them and to keep them working for hundreds of thousands miles.
All of you truck drivers or company owners managed to get a lot of experience over the years of driving trucks and you get a lot of experience on your own so please share it with us – maybe we missed something and there is a lot of new drivers stepping into this trucking world that can use all the possible experience there is to get.
1. Use Trailer Brakes Slowly
This part of truck and trailer equipment is not intended to use by applying a pressure like a MMA fighter. Use it slowly and wisely to make sure you are optimizing pressure.
If you are a rookie truck driver you will need some time to get the feeling how to do it and I know a lot of great drivers that burned trailer brakes because they applied to much pressure.
You will get used to it and get the feeling but please guys be sensitive and try to learn how to use trailer brakes slowly and not burning them.
Remember too much and too long pressure without control ultimately leads to burned brakes and some even worse scenarios. Avoid this in advance by being smart.
2. Secure Parked Truck With Trailer Brake
After finishing your truck driving day and after you reach the trucks stop or delivery locations to park and secure the truck it would be a good idea to use the trailer brakes.
Parking your truck and securing it is a wise thing to do but if you are facing some wet or slippery environment due to heavy winter conditions which can be found in a lot of U.S. states it is mandatory by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA.
But there is a smart way how to park and secure your truck as well so pay attention to the #9 and #10 recommendations on this list and make sure you do all those details that can save a lot of time and money in those rough conditions.
I’ve literally saw trucks and trailers unable to move just because driver forgets to do small tasks which caused them to be stuck for hours on trucks stops and causing unwanted expenses.
3. Trailer Brakes Are Huge Help When Driving Downhill
That is one of the main purposes they have to help you when driving downhill. Of course trailer brakes are used on all driving occasions but their biggest help is showed when you drive downhill and you have a trailer heavy 50.000 pounds behind pushing you downhill and making truck even harder to handle.
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For that reason trailer brake exists and constant improvements over the years have been made not just in trailer industry but in trucking industry.
Besides trailer breaks today you are able to upgrade your truck with special parts and equipment that can help you drive downhill very easily and without any previous experience.
That kind of additional equipment is not cheap but it is worth investing few thousand dollars to increase safety.
When buying a new truck consult with your dealership to see maybe they have a package that has this equipment and maybe there is a chance to lower the price or even get it for free.
4. Don’t Use Trailer Brakes Uphill
This is completely opposite scenario compared to the previous one. It depends which part of the country you live and work but using trailer brake uphill makes no sense so forget about it and just use truck brakes.
Driving uphill and especially if you pull the heavy trailer being you will give you a braking effect immediately you remove the foot from the gas pedal the truck starts to slow down immediately.
Of course there is completely different story if you are parking your truck uphill – then it is mandatory to use the trailer brake and not just that you need to additionally fix the parked truck.
Secure the parked truck and trailer even if there is a small uphill or downhill to prevent any unwanted scenarios. It is not just that they are unwanted, they are also expensive and lead to all king of negative things.
5. Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure – You Will Burn Trailer Brakes
You need to be sensitive when using trailer brakes because there is a good chance to burn them if you are not.
When driving truck and situation demands you to use the trailer brakes please be sure to know when is enough and avoid using trailer brakes too long and too hard.
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When you see a smoke cloud in your mirrors than is too late and you already burned them and at that point the question is how hard and are you able to drive more or you manage to make bigger problem.
There are some drivers that have a fear of burning trailer brakes so they don’t want to use them or use their entire potential.
Don’t go to that side which is not good too. Use them but be smart and you will never have any problems.
6. Visually Inspect Trailer Brakes Every Day
Inspecting trailer brakes visually every day will take one minute of your time but it can save you a lot of money and time if you detect any problems in advance.