What Are Breakaway Brakes? Why Do I Need Them?

Towing a trailer safely is more than knowing how to properly load, haul, and maintain your trailer. It also involves knowing about all the parts of your trailer that are essential for safe operations, like the breakaway brakes system.

A trailer can become disconnected from its tow vehicle in a number of ways. From accidents to errors in hitching the trailer, if the ball mount or safety chains break or come free from the receiver, your trailer could wind up hitting other vehicles or roll into a ditch or an embankment, leading to potentially disastrous results. However, a breakaway brakes system that is properly installed can be a game changer and lessen the impact.

Any trailer that is equipped with brakes will also have a breakaway brakes system. Your trailer’s breakaway brakes are designed to activate the trailer’s electric brakes in the event that your trailer becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle in order to help bring your trailer to a safe stop. In order to better understand how breakaway brakes work, it helps to know what is included in the system.

Breakaway brakes systems or kits typically include a battery and battery box, switch, cables, a pin, battery charger, and mounting hardware. When properly mounted to your trailer and connected to your tow vehicle, if your trailer becomes disconnected the pin will be pulled out of the switch, which will engage your trailer’s electric brakes and bring the trailer to a stop. It’s important to note that anytime the pin is removed from the switch the battery life will begin to deplete, so be sure your battery is fully charged before each tow.

In addition to making sure the breakaway battery is charged, you should inspect your breakaway brakes system often to check for parts of the system that need to be repaired or replaced in order to maintain functionality. Never tow if your breakaway brakes system is not working.

It is important to note that while not every state in the U.S. or province in Canada requires the use of a breakaway brakes system, it’s still a good idea to use one. Without it, if your trailer were to disconnect from your tow vehicle, the safety of anyone near you on the road would be compromised, plus the risk of damage to your cargo would also increase. If you have questions regarding legal requirements, we advise consulting with your local, state, and federal departments of transportation. Remember to also check on legal requirements before you travel, as requirements could be different in the location of your destination than they are where you live.

Breakaway brakes are important for towing safely. If you have questions regarding breakaway brakes for your trailer, consult with your local dealer or owner’s manual, or contact Carry-On Trailer for assistance in finding a dealer near you.