Are tow brakes necessary?

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May 26, 2005
We have a 31ft. class "C".  The hitch is rated at 3500lbs.  The toad weighs in at 3420lbs.  Am I ok with that combination and do I need tow brakes with a toad that is that light.  It is not requiredby law in Ca.  Any thoughts on this?
I'd either get a bigger hitch or have a shop beef it up for you.

I suspect many of us have towed "light" toads without auxiliary brakes at one time or another. In retrospect, I think I would have been much safer with auxiliary brakes. Others may feel differently. You may be able to find a used BrakeBuddy at a good price.
GChapman said:
We have a 31ft. class "C".? The hitch is rated at 3500lbs.? The toad weighs in at 3420lbs.? Am I ok with that combination and do I need tow brakes with a toad that is that light.? It is not required by law in Ca.? Any thoughts on this?

Personally I would highly recommend NOT towing without toad brakes.? Better to be safe than sorry.? You may be legal in Ca but may not in other states.? BTW I thought any toad over 3000 lbs required toad brakes In Ca.

Ron said:
Personally I would highly recommend towing without toad brakes.

Ron, I assume you meant you would highly recommend NOT towing without toad brakes (?)
I knew you wouldn't recommend it the other way Ron.
I'll second the recommendation for tow brakes - you (and everyone else on the road) will be much safer if your toad is equipped with them.

You also need to consider the towing specs for your motorhome. Many motorhome chassis, especially gas powered ones,  will specify that the chassis brakes are designed to handle only the chassis GVWR and that towing brakes must be used whenever the total weight (toad + motorhome) exceeds the GVWR.  I'd be willing to bet your 31 footer is one of those.

I also agree that you are pushing your luck with that much weight on a 3500 lb towbar.  Your toad will rarely be empty and will almost certainly exceed 3500 lbs when actually under tow.  Drive it to a scale and check it out - it should cost more than $7-10 to be sure.
They tell me that some places require aux brakes on any trailer over so many pounds, (Usually something like 2400) so you may need towed brakes by law in some states..... I'm not an expert on this so you would need to check it out.

However Physics... That I did study, and I can tell you this,,, brakes on the towed will make is so much easier, and safer, to stop in a hurry when you have to... They will also reduce the wear and tear on your MH brakes which in and of itself can be a budget saver

I have done a lot of resrearch, much of it here in the forum, and have come up with two suggestions for towed brakes.  Both of these systems have an advantage of being totaly transparent from a towed driver viewpoint, there is NOTHING to install/uninstall/forget on the towed, it's all "hidden"

For Mothor Homes with Air Brakes, (And you can install it on vehicles w/o air brakes too if you wish)  if it will fit on your towed M&G is the best brake system... This is an air brake system and uses the tow vehicle air to power the brakes.  It would not fit on my towed

Unified Gear,  This is an electric brake system, but is also porportional and progressive (whatever that means) This unit installs inside the towed but the power unit is hidden

Both systems use the towed's own brakes, M&G adds an air cylinder next to the vacumme assist, it "pushes" the master cylinder as though you had pushed the brake pedal,  The Unified Gear uses a cable, like a parking brake cable to PULL the actuall pedal down

Other systems are Brake Buddy, Brake Pro, Apollo Brake system and Brake Master.  All of these are pedal pushers,

Brake Master is an air brake system, it mounts to an adapter plate under the driver's seat and to the brake pedal.  You have to remember to put it in place every time you tow... (Remove when you drive)

The rest are electric systems, Most use an intertial sensor so they work like surge brakes, but again you have to remove them when you dirve and remember them when you tow.  Brake Pro is very pickey about it's power supply. and all but brake master use towed power

(Note Unified Gear uses towed power too... I"m having my towed modified so the MH can keep it charged)

I went with Unified Gear, it's more expensive, but I believe it's worth it
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