How to adjust RV trailer brakes.
You can do-it-yourself!
Give me a brake!
Adjusting Trailer Brakes
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 so.
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 instructions.
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 wheel adjuster.
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 correct position.
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