Brakes: Do you need them on your trailer?

Sep 21, 2022 | Trailer Axles

The following guide answers the popular question – Do I need brakes on my trailer?

It all depends on the size and weight of your trailer, the towing load weight, and the type of trailer you have. Read this article to learn if you may be required to have trailer brakes.

Brakes on trailers are beneficial for many reasons. Of course, they are needed to assist in stopping your trailer. They are also important to effectively control the speed of the trailer when going down hills.

There are 4 important factors to consider when deciding if your trailer needs brakes: the size of the trailer, the weight of the tow vehicle, the weight of the tow load, and the local laws in your state or country. In this article, we will help you decide if trailer brakes are a smart option for your trailer while towing.

Size of Trailer

In the United States, a trailer with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 7500 pounds or more should have brakes installed. Any trailer over 3000 pounds must have brakes on all wheels in most states. Laws do vary state by state so refer to the requirements if you are unsure. Some states require braked axles on trailers with a GVWR as low as 2000 pounds while other states have a much higher limit.

Weight of Tow Vehicle 

The weight of the tow vehicle is also a factor to consider when deciding if your trailer needs brakes. It is recommended that the gross weight of any such trailer without brakes is not to exceed 40 percent of the gross weight of the towing vehicle.

Weight of Trailer Load

The heavier your tow load, the slower your vehicle will be able to stop. If you do not have trailer brakes, you may notice that hauling heavy loads puts a lot of strain on your tow vehicle. 

Brake time is one of the main factors to understand when towing a trailer. Having brakes on your trailer can alleviate some of the stress of having to always know your trailer’s weight, or having to adjust your brake time to accommodate your tow load.

Always remember to use the 40% rule when loading your trailer if you do NOT have brakes. 

Legal Limits for Trailer Brakes

Each state has its own laws when it comes to towing with or without brakes. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not only where you live, but also which states you are driving through. Before you start towing, map out your route. To ensure you are abiding by the laws, view the United States and Canada requirements

Trailer Brake or No Trailer Brake? 

Nearly every axle you can buy comes with an option to add brakes. If you are interested in adding brakes to your trailer, contact BlueSwift Axles today and we would be happy to discuss which trailer brake option is right for you.