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Author Topic: Newbie question  (Read 469 times)


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Newbie question
« on: May 22, 2017, 11:16:30 AM »
If I'm driving 300 miles or so to pick up a Scamp type trailer (under 3000 lbs as is) that has electric brakes, using my 2015 4Runner, do I need to set up with a brake controller before the pickup?
(I said it was a newbie question.)


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Re: Newbie question
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2017, 11:52:03 AM »
Considering it's less than 3000#, brakes probably aren't required, but it would be recommended. One can't have too much braking power. If for some reason the trailer started to sway on you, manually operating the brake controller for a split second could help bring it back under control.
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Re: Newbie question
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2017, 06:00:36 PM »
^^  Good advise.

Depending on what states you will go through, brakes MIGHT be required.  Regardless, you will definitely want the brakes operating properly before going on any camping trip.  Unless you are about to get a different tow vehicle or install it yourself and have no time now, I would definitely get the controller installed first.  You can not test the brakes at the dealership without a controller.
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Re: Newbie question
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2017, 06:31:54 PM »
It isn't a big deal to install a brake controller. Etrailer, for one, has several good units to choose from. They also have pigtail adapters that make it pretty much a plug and play operation. Likely the toughest part will be deciding where to mount the unit. They also have short videos explaining most of the products they sell, as well as their installation. I agree that you may not necessarily need one to get the trailer home, but you'll be glad you have one when it's time to go camping. 
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    • The Dawghouse
Re: Newbie question
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2017, 06:54:52 AM »
I just picked my camper last week, and it has brakes on it. I got the wiring done before I picked it up, just to be done and over with it. While I was at the place installing the wiring, I overheard the owner tell a couple that if the trailer has brakes, they must, by law, be operational. I don't know if he was just trying to sell to them and make them buy a wiring package or not, but he also told them that they could sell them a converter from a 4 wire to 7 wire so they can have brake lights, turn signals, and running lights on the trailer, but no brakes.

So check the laws where you are. Easiest way is to just contact the State Police. They should know this kind of information. But I would recommend getting the wiring and controller at some time. This is the first camper I had with brakes, and once I got the controller adjusted, it made a huge difference.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Newbie question
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2017, 07:46:59 AM »
I overheard the owner tell a couple that if the trailer has brakes, they must, by law, be operational.

Some states may have a law like that, but there is no universal law to that effect.

However, if the trailer is equipped with brakes at the factory, then odds are the laws in most states require that size trailer to have brakes. But that doesn't mean all states - the laws do differ. Typically the cut-off will be at 3000 lbs GVWR, but it may be 2000 in some states. The state may also stipulate an max unladen weigh that requires brakes, e.g. 1000 lb. in NY.

Here is one of many compendiums of trailer towing laws by state:
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