What Should You Know About Maintaining Dump Trailer Brakes?

Getting a dump trailer can be a great way to expand your truck's utility. These trailers offer plenty of benefits for both personal and business users, but the upfront cost isn't the only consideration. As with any vehicle, you'll need long-term maintenance to keep your trailer operating correctly and safely.

Brakes are perhaps the most critical item that you'll need to maintain. Most heavy-duty trailers include a braking system of some kind, and most dump trailers fall squarely into the "heavy-duty" category. Maintaining the brakes on your trailer ensures that you can safely haul any load up to its maximum capacity.

Understanding the Difference Between Electric and Surge Brakes

If you have a trailer brake controller in your truck, then your dump trailer has electric brakes. Electric braking systems are a form of "remote" braking.  Your trailer will respond to your brake inputs based on the settings you select on the controller. Most brake controllers also provide a manual override for specific situations.

Surge brake systems are more straightforward and hands-off, at least from the driver's perspective. Surge brakes use a physical mechanism at the attachment point to apply braking force based on deceleration. As you use the brake pedal, the trailer will continue to move toward your tow vehicle, pushing on the mechanism and applying the brakes.

Both systems ultimately operate brakes similar to those found on any other vehicle. Depending on the model of your trailer, it may use drum brakes or disc brakes. Tandem axle trailers may have brakes on one or both axles, depending on their weight.

Successfully Maintaining Your Trailer's Brakes

Regardless of which system your trailer uses, trailer brake maintenance looks a lot like brake maintenance for your car or truck. If your trailer uses disc brakes, you'll need to inspect and replace both the pads and the discs regularly. Components such as caliper and hydraulic brake lines will also require periodic inspection.

You'll need to check and replace the shoes and drums as part of your routine maintenance program for drum brake-equipped trailers. As with drum brakes on cars, you'll also need to undertake the sometimes laborious and tedious task of adjusting your brakes. Although this job isn't necessarily fun, it will ensure you aren't rapidly wearing out your trailer's brakes.

Even if you can handle routine maintenance on your own, you'll want to consider a professional inspection at least once a year or more often for trailers that see heavy use. A technician familiar with dump trailers can help you spot severe problems, such as brake lines or master cylinder failures on hydraulic systems. Finding these problems now can avert disasters on the road later. Contact a company that provides dump trailers for more information.