How to adjust RV trailer brakes.
You can do-it-yourself!
Give me a brake!
Adjusting Trailer Brakes
should be adjusted at least once a year, more often
depending on the miles travelled, the severity of the
downhill grades, and the amount of stop and go traffic
that is encountered.This is a chore that most people with
average mechanical skills should be able to handle. You
will need a brake adjusting tool, available at most tool
supply stores, a jack capable of safely lifting the
trailer, and a jack stand to hold the trailer in the
jacked position.The following steps are a guide to
properly adjusting your trailer brakes. What this entails
is the adjustment of the star wheel which in turn sets
the brake shoe to brake drum clearance. This adjustment
is important - as the brake shoes wear down, the
clearance increases. The actuating mechanism must travel
further to effectively apply the brakes and a point can
be reached where the mechanism is no longer able to
Adjusting RV Trailer Brakes
Park the trailer on firm and level ground.
Block the trailer tires on the opposite side
securely so that no forward or rearward movement is
Jack up the trailer following the manufacturers
Secure the trailer on jack stands of adequate
capacity front and rear.
At the back of the wheel, on the brake backing
plate, there is a small rubber plug near the bottom of the
backing plate. Pry out this plug to give access to the star
Some trailers have a drop axle suspension
system and the axle covers most of this adjusting hole making
it difficult to use the brake tool. Patience will win out in
the end if you keep at it.
Insert the brake adjuster tool and maneuver it
so that the tool engages with the teeth in the star wheel. The
star wheel looks like a gear with exposed teeth on the
perimeter. On most trailers you would pull down on the tool
handle which levers on the bottom of the hole and turns the
star wheel up (as you are looking at it from the back of the
wheel. Just to make it more difficult, the star wheel is
located well inside and some maneuvering is required - a
flashlight will help to locate the starwheel.
Turn the adjuster until the brake locks up,
i.e. you can no longer rotate the wheel by hand. This centers
the brake shoes on the brake drum so that they are in the
Now back off the star wheel 8 to 10 clicks or
as specified by the manufacturer. The wheel should spin freely
with no apparent drag to slow it down. A slight scraping noise
is normal as the wheel turns.
Repeat this procedure for all the wheels.
Congratulations, you have successfully adjusted
your own trailer brakes ... that wasn't so bad, was it?