Brakes not working - is it truck or trailer - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 12-09-2015, 01:45 PM   #1
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Brakes not working - is it truck or trailer

My 2011 Voltage 3950 and Silverado 3500HD brakes have worked fine for 4 years. Now I'm on a trip to Texas and I have no trailer brakes. I'm trying to figure out if the truck's brake controller has croaked or if I have a problem in the trailer.

I've done all the usual stuff checking connections, cable continuity, etc.

The only reading I get that may be wrong is the total resistance between brake leads at the 5er junction box. I read 3.3 ohms. That seems to be quite high for a tri-axle.

What does your 5er read?
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:24 PM   #2
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Forget continuity checks. Check voltage on the brake power lead with the truck engine on, and someone stepping on the brake. It should be a positive voltage, more than zero, but less than 13. It should go back to zero when the foot is off of the pedal. If so, the controller and truck wiring are working. If not, it's one of them.
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:34 PM   #3
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How long has it been since you have adjusted the brakes? Electric trailer brakes are notorious for going out of adjustment fairly fast. I was adjusting mine every 3-5K, closer to the 3K mark when we went to Alaska.

This is the reason I converted to disk brakes, no more adjusting while we are travelling.

Can you lock up the wheels if you hold the manual slide on your controller to the max. If you can't your brakes probably need adjusting.
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:45 PM   #4
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Brakews adjusted 2K ago. It's not mechanical.

Problem is, 'smart' brake controller needs to detect the trailer before it puts a voltage on the brake line. It isn't seeing the trailer. No way to tell from the test Marty suggested if that is the truck or the trailer causing the problem.
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartyG View Post
Forget continuity checks. Check voltage on the brake power lead with the truck engine on, and someone stepping on the brake. It should be a positive voltage, more than zero, but less than 13. It should go back to zero when the foot is off of the pedal. If so, the controller and truck wiring are working. If not, it's one of them.
Forgot the voltage is first the first thing to check.

I should have remembered that from trouble shooting my disk brake install.
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Old 12-09-2015, 03:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joebedford View Post
Brakews adjusted 2K ago. It's not mechanical.

Problem is, 'smart' brake controller needs to detect the trailer before it puts a voltage on the brake line. It isn't seeing the trailer. No way to tell from the test Marty suggested if that is the truck or the trailer causing the problem.
Which controller are you using? Does cranking the booster to the max do anything?

Voltage test is still the place to start, it will tell you if the controller is sending a signal. If you have voltage at the trailer, you definately know the problem is between the connector and the brakes.

A very quick way to tell if your brakes are activating is to pull the pin on the breakaway switch. If the Brakes a working, they should lock up.
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:55 AM   #7
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While placing wheel chocks recently, my daughter heard a hum/buzz from our brakes. (Because I had my foot on the pedal) Maybe if you pulled the breakaway pin as suggested, you might hear such a noise.
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Old 12-10-2015, 01:58 PM   #8
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Problem solved. I got a guy with a truck like mine to plug into our rig and there was no connection. I plugged his rig into my truck and the truck registered the connection immediately.


So under the trailer I went and found 3 brake wires severed. I must have hit some debris on the road that cut these wires - they were cut on the driver's side in the area where they don't have to flex.


I have brakes again. YAY!


For the record, I get 1.2 ohms on the brake lead now.
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Old 12-10-2015, 02:20 PM   #9
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Glad it was that simple! Good news!
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:33 PM   #10
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That's great!
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