Sprinter RV with towed vehichle brake system

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renotse

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Feb 18, 2013
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I have a 2013 25ft Sprinter based Leisure Travel Unity RV . I have it set up to tow a 2012 Honda CRV 4 down. The tow bar and tow bracket are Roadmaster Blackhawk 2, which I received as a long term loan from a family member? Because the CRV is about 3400 lbs and  1/3 of the coach weight , a supplemental brake is highly advised by the shop who installed my tow bar and bracket although not required in my home state. I recently towed the CRV in very heavy rush hour traffic of a major city without brakes and it was a white knuckled drive but the coach did an admirable job of accelerating and stopping on the 50 mile stop and go trip without supplemental brakes.

I also received a Roadmaster Even-Brake supplemental brake system, which I have not installed . This is a remote operated box type brake that is set up to proportionally actuate the brake pedal in the towed vehicle as the brakes are applied in the coach. This Even-Brake system is a little bit of a hassle to deploy because it is a box that has to be placed in the driver floor board, attached to the brake pedal, hooked to electrical source, and adjusted an calibrated each time you tow the vehicle. On top of that unsightly remote boxes are affixed to both the coach and toad that communicate by RF. This is a bunch of effort every time you tow. This system is only 2 years old an cost over $1300 but is no cost to me.

Alternatively I am strongly considering purchasing the M & G brake system. It is a totally proportional air actuated system that is permanently attached to both coach and toad. The only interconnect between the coach and toad is a 1/4" coiled airline that is inserted to both via quick connect air fittings. It was originally designed for diesel pusher coaches that have on board compressor for their air brakes. Since the Sprinter and other class c coaches have hydraulic brakes a special power pack consisting of a 12v compressor, air accumulator tank, a portioning valve with necessary controls is mounted to the undercarriage of the Spinter chassis. The beauty of this system is that once it is installed it is so easy to use there will never be an excuse not to use it when towing the CRV. On top of that when the vehicles are disconnected, because it is totally integrated, it is invisible to the operation of both vehicles. Of course if you look hard enough you can see the added equipment necessary to make this marvelous system work. It is a little pricey and for me a tough decision because I already have the use of a pretty good system in the Even-Brake.

Now to the point of my post. This is a general question to anyone who can help......Given my situation and based on your experience with towing fairly heavy vehicles with Sprinter based coaches, with and without supplemental brakes, what do you advise? Please include details of your towing experience and weight of the vehicles you have towed. If you are unfamiliar with either system I mentioned a quick Google search might help you appreciate the pros and cons of each system.

Thanks Renotse
 
I don't own a Sprinter chassis, but I tow an 8,000 lbs Suburban, and have the M&G system. Others here are equally happy with M&G, while a number of folks use one of the alternatives. You can't beat the hassle-free M&G, but some folks don't mind messing around with a box.

We have (an) article in our forum library on various types of Auxiliary braking systems.

Just remember that, whichever system you choose to use, the auxiliary (toad) braking system is meant to apply braking to the toad, and shouldn't be thought of as helping to stop the Sprinter chassis.
 
Size of motor home and size of towed does not matter, I recommend  using a supplemental braking system, also called Aux brakes or towed brakes.

These come in three "Generic" types 

One is the box in the driver's seat systems (Even brake is an example) These are good if you tow several different vehicles (Well more than one or two) or trade often or do not actually own the towed.. BUT I do not recommend them since you have to install them EVERY TIME you tow, you have to remember to bleed off the vacuum assist vacuum EVERY TIME YOU tow and they draw power off the towed's battery.

The next is installed systems, SUCH as the M&G and the US Gear Unified Brake Decelerator....  Both very good system sand high on my "Like" list.  The M&G requires compressed air from the motor home.  Either it's air brakes system or an aux compressor. BUT it is 100% transparant to a driver of the towed, In fact from inside the cockpit on the car there is absolutly no way to tell it's there!! It bypasses the vacuum assist so no need to fuss with bleading off vacuum either.

The US gear does have a visible bracket (if you look for it (It runs on electricity, supplied from the motor home) but it also provides vacuum so again no need to bleed.  It gives the motor home operator the greatest amount of control over the towed brakes (If you know how to use it.. Frankly.. I need lessons there, but I avoid conditions where I'd need 'em so ...)

The final system, Which for assorted reasons I'm considering for my next towed, is the Ready Brake, This is a Surge Brake system.  It is fully automated.  IF the towed tries to PUSH the motor home.. It applies the towed brakes.
 
I have a 2011 Via and tow a 2010 CRV.  I use the Roadmaster Sterling All Terrain tow bar.  I use the Roadmaster Evenbrake as the supplemental braking system and would not tow without a supplemental braking system. 

As John noted the Evenbrake has the drawbacks of having to be installed each time you tow.  Not fun when you are hooking up in the rain.  That along with the issues of bleeding the vacuum from the CRV's brakes each time you use the system (it does not provide a vacuum source for when you are towing and the system applies hard effort to the brake petal as you have no power brake vacuum), but if you use the test cycle it does that for you each time, and it is not a big deal UNLESS you forget to do the test after starting the car.  You then get a real all wheels locked stop when you hit the brakes for the first time. A charge line takes care of any battery issues and I would recommend installing one.  I think the biggest drawback to the Evenbrake or box system is the it uses sensing to determine brake effort applied to the towed vehicle.  This does result in you having not a truly proportional system, and you have brakes sometimes when you want them and sometimes when you don't. 

Systems that tie into your RV brake system provide better true proportional braking, but come with the added cost of the unit and installation effort of tapping into the RV's brake system.  Plus with the added components of air to hydraulic system required for the Sprinter you add failure and maintenance points.

The new Roadmaster Invisibrake or similar system installs under the seat so you don't have to install the box each time, and provides a vacuum source to allow the power brake to be used.  It also is connected electrically to the RV brake system (brake light) to activate the brakes in the towed vehicle, but uses sensing to determine brake effort.  A charge line is best installed to keep the towed vehicle battery charged to power the unit.  These new units I think are much better than the older box units and I wish it was available when I purchased and installed the box unit. 

As far as towing with the Sprinter I have had no problems in over 15,000 miles of towing the CRV.  The CRV tows well and the Sprinter hardly notices that it is there. 

 
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