Are you planning to install a trailer breakaway system on your trailer and do you want to learn a bit more about the trailer break away wiring? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we are going to learn everything about it.
- Trailer Breakaway?
- How It Works
- Why Do You Need One?
- Pros & Cons
- Breakaway Kit?
- How To Install?
Doing a mod like this on your trailer is definitely a smart idea. Not only for legal purposes since in some places it is mandatory. But also for safety purposes. Since trailer breakaway can happen and can get dangerous. Mainly for the people behind you on the motorway.
This is why these systems were invented to help you out when it comes to trailer breakaway and help your trailer come to a stop in situations like these. So, if you have a trailer, then knowing how all this stuff works and how to install it should be one of your top priorities. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out.
First, we are going to learn what is the trailer break away system and why you need one. Then we will briefly cover the pros and cons of having a system like this and also we will discuss the trailer breakaway kit and learn more about it. Then we will discuss the diagram and how you can connect the trailer break away wiring, to your trailer. And lastly, we will cover a bit more about the costs involved in this type of work. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Trailer Break Away System
Now before we dive into the trailer break away wiring, let’s first take a look at what is a trailer break away system. I bet that there are a ton of people reading this article, who are curious and want to learn more about the basics of this system and its method of action.
So, if you are a beginner, follow us closely while we cover this topic. If not, you can move on to the following chapters where we dive deeper into the trailer break away wiring. Now, let’s get to it.
So, what is a trailer break away system? The first thing first that you need to know is that this is a safety system that is designed to protect your trailer as well as protect the people around you. And to understand how it works, we are going to create a situation.
Let’s imagine that you drive on the highway with a highway speed of 60 mph or more. Suddenly you lose control of the car and you swerve to the right and then the trailer simply lets go and you lose it.
You continue driving on the road but the trailer doesn’t stop and follows you and then it hits a car or something else on the road and a big mess occurs that creates a ton of headaches for a lot of people. And this is something that you don’t really want.
This is why these types of systems were invented. And now before we dive into the trailer break away wiring, let’s take a look at how this system works. Then we will move on to other complex topics and understand the method of action of this system.
How Does Trailer Break Away System Work
Now since we learned what is a trailer breakaway system. Let’s learn more about how this system works in practice. So, let’s cover this real quick before we dive into the trailer break away wiring.
So, how this system works? Well, this is a rather simple system. The main components of a break away system are the cable, pin, breakaway pull switch, and battery box.
Yes, that’s right, whenever you have a breakaway switch you need to have an auxiliary battery. And with the help of this battery, the brakes are going to activate. Without it, the system will simply not work at all. So what is the method of action?
Well, the first thing is the cable, the cable is usually attached to the tow bar in the rear. This is a simple thin steel cable that is only designed to pull out the pin from the breakaway switch that is mounted on the frame of the trailer.
So, the trailer loses control and wanders around, the pin gets pulled out from the switch and this activates the brakes on the trailer. And the trailer stops in the process.
All this hard work is done by the battery that supplies 12V of power which is enough to activate the brakes and make the trailer stop in the process.
The battery that this system includes is a rather small battery. Nothing crazy. But remember that you could face the need to replace this battery once in a couple of years if it doesn’t hold electricity. Because if you don’t do it, the system will not activate and your trailer will not stop. But what about the wiring? Well, more on that we are going to cover in a moment.
Why You Need A Trailer Break Away Wiring System
Now since we learned how this system functions in reality. Before we start discussing the trailer break away wiring, let’s take a look at why you definitely need one of these systems for your trailer.
So, in this case, it is best to see more about the regulations in your state and learn more about the laws in your area.
Also, having a system like this is really important to have if you have some precious cargo in the trailer. People carry really expensive stuff in their trailers and having this trailer cargo in perfect condition is important to have because insurance might not cover this stuff.
And you will have to purchase it again and spend a ton of money on things like these. This is why it is really important to have a breakaway system as a last resort when something bad goes on in the rear and you don’t have any control over your trailer anymore.
But are there cons to having a system like this? Well, more on that we are going to cover in the following chapters where we are going to elaborate more on the pros and cons in detail before we start discussing the trailer break away wiring. So, if you want to learn more, follow along, if not, you can jump directly to the chapter where we discuss only the wiring.
Pros And Cons Of A Trailer Break Away System
As with everything out there, similar to this system, everything has its pros and cons. And we think that now it is time to cover these pros and cons and learn more about them.
Knowing the pros and cons will help you understand better the ups and downs of each system. Not that you shouldn’t install something like this and learn about the trailer break away wiring but it is more like an educational section where you learn what you can expect at both ends of the spectrum. So, if you want to learn more about this before we dive into the trailer break away wiring, follow along.
Pros Of A Trailer Break Away Wiring System
Let’s first start with the pros before we dive into the trailer break away wiring. And we can say that the pros are really abundant when it comes to having a system like this on your trailer. So, let’s list some of the most important pros of having a trailer breakaway system on your trailer.
The first reason behind this system is probably safety. When you lose control and the trailer breaks off it is basically like a ship without a captain or a plane without a pilot. It can go in any direction depending on the speed at which this trailer is traveling.
So, when you have a system like this that will activate the brakes, you can be sure that the trailer will come to a stop much quicker than expected. So, if you are traveling at 60 mph and the trailer keeps moving forward, there could be half a mile or even a mile in order to come to a stop. And this could result in the trailer ending up hitting cars along the way and hurting some innocent people. So, safety here is the number one priority.
The second thing is the safety of the cargo. Let’s imagine that you transfer cargo that is worth thousands of dollars. Like livestock, or possibly a boat. These are the damages that you will probably not be able to recuperate and that no insurance will cover. So, be really aware of these things.
And the last reason why you should have a safety system like this is because of the trailer itself. You just don’t want to purchase a new one. The trailer could easily destroy itself if it doesn’t break and come to a stop. And this can be rather expensive.
Cons Of A Trailer Break Away Wiring System
So, we learned more about the pros that the trailer breakaway system has, now let’s take a look at the cons of this system. As with everything in life, the trailer breakaway system has its cons. So, let’s cover these negative sides of this system before we dive deeper into the trailer break away wiring.
The first thing that you need to be aware of this system is that it has a battery inside. And as we all know, batteries do not last forever. This 12V battery should be good for a couple of years. But after that, you don’t know what will happen with it. So, we definitely recommend you test it and see if it holds a charge.
This will be really good because imagine that the trailer breaks away and the system doesn’t kick in. It would be a real shame to have this system not working right.
The second con that is worth mentioning is that the trailer break away wiring can be rather complex to understand for beginners. We are going to explain it later in the article. But first, we need to note that this system can be rather complex for beginners, and without proper electrical knowledge, a lot difficult when comes to installation.
And here some problems might pop up. Namely parasitic loss. You have probably heard about this issue with parasitic loss. So, what is this problem?
Well, this is a problem that is created by improper wiring and bad insulation. When you have a parasitic loss you have a short in the system. And this short basically takes away the power from the main battery and your battery is constantly empty and without juice. Overall, that’s it with the cons.
Is This Break Away System Mandatory By Law
Another topic that we would like to discuss more about the brake away system before we dive into the brake away wiring is the laws concerning this system. Are there any laws that make this system required by law? Let’s elaborate.
We did a deep digging on the web when it comes to this topic because we were also interested in learning more about how this system is regulated and unfortunately we couldn’t find a precise answer in which states this is regulated and in which is not.
What is worth is that you shouldn’t take it for granted because every state has regulated this quite differently. And if you want to learn better if your state requires this breakaway system, you should consider calling your local DMV and explain them about the problem.
There are a lot of experienced people out there that know the laws and will going to help you the best they can. So, go online and check their website and give them a call as soon as you can.
There you will get the precise answer and learn more if you could possibly get fined because you are lacking this equipment or not. But what about the trailer break away wiring? Well, more about that, we are going to cover it in a bit. Let’s first learn more about the trailer breakaway kit.
Trailer Breakaway Kit
Now before we dive into the trailer break away wiring, let’s cover the trailer breakaway kit. Still, we need to learn what this kit includes with it and understand the parts that come along with it. So, let’s cover this briefly.
The first thing that you will notice with this kit is the big battery box. Inside the battery box, there is a battery that is connected to a small circuit board.
This is not a large-capacity battery. But is enough for this application and delivers a 12V output. The battery has to be installed inside this box because the elements will corrode the circuit board as well as the connections that go to the battery.
Then there is the switch. The switch is a simple box that has a pin that goes inside. And basically, the pin when removed, will activate the break away system. In this situation, when the pin gets removed, it is basically breaking the electrical circuit and then the brakes activate immediately after the pin is removed.
What is also worth noting is that the pin is connected via a cable on the truck side. This is a small steel cable that is tightened up to the tow hitch of the truck or tow bar.
But what about the trailer break away wiring? Well, more about the wiring process, we are going to learn in the following chapter where we are going to elaborate on this topic in detail.
Trailer Break Away Wiring: How To Wire It Up
Now let’s discuss more about the trailer break away wiring and understand where each of these wires goes. What is worth noting is that this is a simple thing to do.
We are going to explain how this is done on a 7-pin trailer connector. So, if you have one of these connectors then this guide will be the right one for you. 7 pins if you didn’t know are the total connections inside of the connector that you connect the trailer to the truck. So, if there are 7 connections inside of your connector, follow us carefully.
The first thing you will need to do is to secure the battery box as well as the switch on the beam of the frame. Find a proper mounting location and mount them close to each other.
Then you should connect one of the blue wires from the switch to the battery box blue wire. It doesn’t matter which one you should connect, just connect one of the two. Then, once you secured the switch to the battery box.
You will need to route two wires to the wiring of the trailer. One of them that goes from the battery box should connect to the 12V power wire, which is pin 6. And the other wire that goes from the switch to pin 5 wire which controls the brakes.
Also, do not forget that you have also a ground wire, which is usually white and is grounded either to the ground wire or directly to the chassis.
Also, do not forget to connect the steel cable from the switch to the rear tow bar in order for this system to activate. In the video you can see how trailer break away wiring is done in practice.
Trailer Breakaway Kit Costs
So, we covered the trailer break away wiring, now let’s take a look at the costs involved in this type of work. How much money can you expect to spend on a kit like this?
Well, the overall costs are not that high after all. These kits can be found mostly between $50 and $75 at most places.
If you dig a bit deeper, you can even find them for less than $50. When it comes to this kit is the installation. And frankly, this requires a bit of skill to be involved to get things done.
So, to install one of these kits, you will spend somewhere between $100 to $250 on a guy to get things done for you if you feel like you don’t have the required skill to do so.
Trailer Breakaway Kit Installation – Facts
- Breakaway kits are safety systems required for trailers weighing over 3,000 lbs in most states to stop a trailer in case of disconnection from the tow vehicle.
- The breakaway kit consists of a breakaway switch, a battery contained in a mounting box, electric trailer brakes, and connection to the auxiliary power wire from the tow vehicle (if the breakaway kit has a charger).
- The breakaway switch is mounted to the trailer frame and connected to the vehicle’s frame with a cable. If the trailer disconnects, the cable pulls a pin out of the switch, activating the trailer brakes.
- The battery box is typically mounted on the inside of the trailer frame near the trailer connector plug, and the breakaway switch is usually placed near the coupler.
- Hopkins, Tekonsha, and Tow Ready are some of the manufacturers of breakaway kits. They have different wiring configurations, and the user should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to verify the wiring configuration.
- Hopkins breakaway kits with built-in chargers require four connections: splice one of the two wires coming out of the breakaway switch into the trailer brake wire, connect the second wire coming out of the switch to the brake wire coming out of the battery box, splice the white wire coming out of the battery box into the existing ground wire, and splice or run the 12-volt hot lead coming out of the battery box into the 12-volt hot lead running from the trailer connector to the trailer.
- Tekonsha or Tow Ready breakaway kits with built-in chargers require six connections: splice one of the two wires coming out of the breakaway switch into the trailer brake wire, connect the second wire coming out of the switch to the positive red post on the battery, connect the red wire on the charger to the positive post on the battery, connect the black wire on the charger to the negative post on the battery, splice the white wire on the charger into the existing ground wire, and splice or run the 12-volt hot lead on the charger into the 12-volt hot lead running from the trailer connector to the trailer.
- The breakaway switch cable needs to be secured to the vehicle bumper or frame, avoiding any angular attachment that may cause switch failure. The pin should pass through the safety chain loops or a tow hook, and the cable should not loop over the hitch ball.
- Before towing, it is essential to test the breakaway kit by pulling the pin out of the switch to activate the brakes.
- Breakaway kits provide an additional safety measure to trailers, but they do not replace proper maintenance, safety checks, and regular inspections of the trailer, hitch, safety chains, and towing vehicle.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to trailer breakaway systems. First, we learned what this system is all about and how it works. Then we covered the pros and cons of having a system like this in your trailer.
Then we learned more about the kit itself and the trailer break away wiring. We learned how to wire up this kit as well as how much money it could cost you to wire a trailer.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
How To Unlock Trailer Brakes
The easiest way to unlock trailer brakes is to return the pin right into the switch. This will deactivate the brakes of the trailer and the trailer will start moving again.
How To Use Trailer Brakes
If you want to lock up the brakes, you can just remove the pin from the trailer brake-away system. This will lock up the wheels and the trailer will stop and not budge. If you want to unblock them, just reconnect the pin to the switch.
How To Test Trailer Brakes
You can try testing the brakes at slow speed. Try to push the trailer and then remove the activation pin from the switch. If everything works well, the trailer should stop. Just make sure that you do this at extremely slow speeds in order not to hurt yourself.
How To Charge A Trailer Battery While Driving
If the trailer is well connected, the battery for the breakaway system should charge automatically. You don’t need to do anything in order to charge it. It has a 12V line that goes to it and this should deliver enough charge.
What Does Service Trailer Brake System Mean
This means that you have a problem with the brake system on your trailer and you need to check it out. Make sure that the battery is good and also check the connections for possible problems like corrosion or loose connections.