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  1. #1
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    Default how do you check if surge brakes are working

    how do you check if surge brakes are working? I'm getting a boat with a trailer and I want to know how to check the brakes without driving it

  2. #2
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    If it has disc brakes, the easiest way would be to hook it up to your truck, but don't connect the wiring (in case it has a reverse solenoid). Then, try backing up in reverse. The pressure from backing up should actuate the brakes and the trailer should be very difficult (or near impossible) to back up.
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  3. #3
    Commander bifflefan's Avatar
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Above it correct, but it makes no difference if its disc or drum.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Quote Originally Posted by bifflefan View Post
    Above it correct, but it makes no difference if its disc or drum.
    MANY drums won't engage in reverse or with very little holding power. Part of the design, which is why many don't even need a reverse lockout.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    tow it and stop, then get out and put your fingers on the drum or rotor. If it's boiling hot, then they are working.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Quote Originally Posted by OldNBold51 View Post
    tow it and stop, then get out and put your fingers on the drum or rotor. If it's boiling hot, then they are working.
    OK but you first ,I'm a cadet not an idiot lol

  7. #7
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Thanks everyone

  8. #8
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Quote Originally Posted by youmansjason View Post
    If it has disc brakes, the easiest way would be to hook it up to your truck, but don't connect the wiring (in case it has a reverse solenoid). Then, try backing up in reverse. The pressure from backing up should actuate the brakes and the trailer should be very difficult (or near impossible) to back up.
    So they dont need power to actuate the solenoid?

  9. #9

    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Check for fluid in the master cylinder. No fluid = no brakes.

    If the trailer has disk brakes, take the ball mount out of the reciever and put the ball in the trailer toungue as if you were going to tow. Push down on the hitch (the tounge is like a lever which actuates the brakes) and have a helper see if the brake caliper closes.

    If the trailer has drums, jack up one side of the trailer, remove the wheel and drum and do the same as above.

    If the trailer has been sitting a while it's always a good idea to check the fluid and maybe even bleed the brakes.

  10. #10
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Jack up each wheel and spin it while having someone operate the breakaway lever. Depending on the coupler, it usually helps to remove some of the clips around the breakaway lever that holds it in the engaged position.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    I prefer the drive it and slow down quickly approach. Only I use an IR temp gun and not my finger.

    Without vehicle I hook up the cable from the winch on to the actuator and crank it in. Then I check to see if the trailer rolls.

  12. #12
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Quote Originally Posted by poni302 View Post
    So they dont need power to actuate the solenoid?
    The reverse solenoid is there to eliminate braking when in reverse. It is energized by the back-up light circuit. So the only way to confirm the brakes work in reverse is to unplug the harness for test. Driving in reverse is kind of like stopping while going forward, the master cylinder is "surged" upon . . .

    Unplugging allows actuation of the brakes by not actuating the solenoid. What a mess. See if somebody else can explain it better . . .

  13. #13
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Surge brakes have no solenoid, they do not use 12v power from plug harness, they operate by forward momentum actuating the master cylinder via pushrod linked through coupler.
    Check the fluid in the resovior, if it's dry and full of rust they don't work.
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  14. #14
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    ^^^^^ Dude . . . Five wire systems have a solenoid to block braking in reverse

  15. #15
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    My surge brakes have no wires what so ever, at least I thought they were refered to as surge brakes, all it is a master cylinder, two wheel cylinders a drum an shoes, I guess it's that mine has a manual lockout lever instead of a solenoid.
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  16. #16
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    I have four wheel disc surge brakes with a fifth wire that activates a solenoid when the vehicle is placed in reverse. The fifth wire is driven by the back-up lights and energizes the solenoid that shoves a pin into the brake mechanism impeding it's ability to "surge" . . . Very common. I had a brand new '95 trailer that did not have this setup and a '01 that does. Same coupler manufacturer.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: how do you check if surge brakes are working

    Oh I see now, thanks for educating me.
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