thoughts on toad brake systems

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Jul 24, 2005
We have a 33' Georgetown and a Chevy HHR. Is installing a braking system (invisabrake) something to consider. Its about $1200 installed. In Kentucky where we live, brake systems are not required. Do you all use one? Thanks!
There are many different lines of thought. Some dispute whether certain states/provinces require brakes on the toad. Some favor one type of braking system over another.

I like my M&G air brake system which uses one hose to connect the brakes whenever I hook up the toad. I like the idea that I have 4 additional tires working to slow me down in addition to the 8 on the MH. I wouldn't leave home without it.

Many of us consider towed braking to be a safety issue, not a legal one.  We would have one even if it wasn't legally required.  Our forum library has an article comparing the different types of towed brakes that you might want to read before making a choice.
We've had one ever since we started towing a car.  Consider it as an extra bit of safety and piece of mind.

Look at it this way: adding a brake for the towed car shortens your stopping distance substantially. The more the towed car weighs as a percentage of the coach weight, the greater the effect on stopping distance. And you only have to need to "short stop" one time to make that $1200 sound awful cheap! I would guess that HHR adds about 15% to the weight of the motorhome. Wouldn't it be smart to have brakes on that extra 15%?

Personally, we wouldn't leave home without it.
First... Just because a web site says "Not required" does not mean the folks who wrote the web site did their research, for many years it said "not required" for Michigan.. I have the Michigan vehicle code on my hard drive.. Took me longer to get the PDF on screen than it did to find the paragraph the web sites were overlooking (Definition of trailer).

On paper the Invisible brake looks good, I have read of a few problems with it which remind me of the old saw "Do not buy anything till revision 3" they are at least that far along now.  Most of the issues were with improper installation or bad diode kits.

Ready Brake is good.

US=Gear Unified brake decelerator gives the motor home driver FULL control over towed brakes,  I think it's the only one that does that.  I had one.. I will try something else next time (likely ready brake)

I might add installation issues plague many systems.  The installer who did my US gear needs his education improved a bit..Cost me a brake job.
We tow a Suburban weighing 8,000 lbs empty, and wouldn't think of towing without an auxiliary brake. We happen to use the M&G system, but there are several others out there that work just fine. The article in our forum library on auxiliary (toad) braking systems that was mentioned by Ned is here.
We have a Fleetwood Bounder 33U and will be towing a 2005 Jeep Wrangler X, I just purchased the SMI Braking System, which will be installed before I tow the Jeep. As others have posted, it's a safety thing, more than a legal thing. I have a substantial investment, as do you, that needs as much protection as I/we can offer.
We likewise wouldn't tow without a toad braking system. We really like our Air Force One, and I believe they make a version for gas engine vehicles as well.
A braking system avoids more than just "Stopping distance" although that is important.

When driving in mountains the brake fluid gets very hot even when not towing. When towing without brakes on the toad, the brake fluid can "Burn" just like transmission fluid burns. One may not even be aware that the brakes are becoming harder and harder to use over time but as the brake fluid breaks down, that's what happens and it could have catastrophic results.

The other issue is that any time that brake fluid boils it takes on moisture. That moisture will corrode and degrade internal brake parts and could end up in a very expensive brake job over time.

I haven't had my coach long but one of the 1st things that I did was change the brake fluid completely. I plan on doing it yearly (towing or not) as preventative maintenance.

We have a little Saturn Ion that we may tow at some point. I'm thinking of building my own trailer dolly (for the front wheels) and adding electric trailer brakes. I know that is a pretty minimal assist but it's a pretty light vehicle. I'm wondering if anyone here has built their own dolly. I've built boat trailers and dune-buggy trailers. I even built my own enclosed, dual axle "toy hauler" back in the 70's. I have the engineering and welding experience. It would be helpful to chat with someone that has actually built his own.

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