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Important Facts About Brakes & Breakaway Kits

Article by Rob Smith - Caravans Plus

Knowing your vans limits and legal requirements is not only important so you have an enjoyable holiday, but a safe one. While some laws may differ from state to state there are a few standardised nation wide. In this article we will be focusing on brake configuration. The minimum brake setup you require is determined by your GTM (Gross Trailer Mass).

  • 0 - 750kg loaded weight - no brakes required
  • 750 - 2000kg loaded weight - braking on both wheels on at least one axle either electric or override
  • 2001 - 4500kg loaded weight - electric braking on all wheels, and an automatic breakaway system.

    The GTM is shown on a compliance plate which is usually located on the drawbar.

    Override brakes

    Override brake systems are commonly found on trailers, camper trailers, and older caravans. They use the force applied against a slowing tow vehicle through the coupling to apply the brake, the same way pulling the handbrake would.

    Below: hydraulic override, mechanical override, offroad override

    Override brake couplings

    Electric brakes

    Most caravans these days have electric brakes fitted as they offer greater control and allow the driver to change the resistance to match the driving conditions. Electric brakes are powered by a brake controller and by law it is required to be fitted within reach of the driver of the tow vehicle.

    Below: standard electric coupling, AKS electric coupling, offroad electric coupling

    Couplings

    Breakaway system

    A breakaway system is a safety device required by law to be fitted to caravan and trailers weighing more than 2000kg and equipped with electric brakes. A unit is mounted on the trailer and connected to the tow vehicle with a metal cord and in the event of uncoupling in transit, applies the electric brakes to the trailer/caravan. It must be capable of keeping the brakes engaged for at least 15 minutes.

    Brakeaway Control System

    How they work

    The breakaway control unit, which has its own battery, is fitted to the caravan/trailer. The breakaway switch is mounted to the A frame. The switch holds a pin on the end of a cable, which is then connected to the tow vehicle. If the vehicle separates from the caravan the pin is pulled from the switch and the breakaway system will be engaged, applying the electric brakes and brake lights.

    Brakeaway Control System

    NSW has been the first state to make it mandatory for all tow vehicles being used in conjunction with a breakaway kit to have a remote battery monitor installed. The monitor is installed near the driver and gives a visual and auditory warning if the battery has low charge, ensuring the system will work if the caravan or trailer separate.

    Remote monitors can be purchased separately to suit most existing brake-away systems.

    BreakSafe Remote Monitor - RM6000Best Seller

    BreakSafe Remote Monitor - RM6000

    110 In Stock Now.
    $84.70
    $58.95
    View
    Tow Secure Wireless Remote Monitor - RX 1000

    Tow Secure Wireless Remote Monitor - RX 1000

    3 In Stock Now.
    $78.95
    View
    Camec Breakaway Battery Monitor

    Camec Breakaway Battery Monitor

    32 In Stock Now.
    $57.95
    View

    Currently there is not a remote monitor available for the Tekonsha breakaway system.

    If you have a old breakaway system that you can not get a monitor for, you may need to get an independent battery monitor like the Hayman Reese Smartcheck wireless battery monitor or upgrade your breakaway kit to pass NSW registration.

    Hayman Reese make the universal Smartcheck wireless battery monitor that can connect from one to four 12V batteries and display the status of each to the driver and provide an audible warning if the voltage drops to an unsafe level.

    Hayman Reese Universal Wireless SMARTCHECK Battery Monitor - Suit Any Breakaway Kit

    Hayman Reese Universal Wireless SMARTCHECK Battery Monitor - Suit Any Breakaway Kit

    7 In Stock Now.
    $244.95
    View

    R.V. Electronics is South Australia Company starting in 1995. It has established itself as a benchmark in design and manufacture of electronic products for the caravan and camping industry. The monitor is purchased separately.

    Breaksafe 6000 Breakaway System - Suit 2 & 4 Wheels Includes BatteryFree Shipping

    Breaksafe 6000 Breakaway System - Suit 2 & 4 Wheels Includes Battery

    18 In Stock Now. Free Shipping.
    $354.75
    $259.95
    View
    BreakSafe Remote Monitor - RM6000Best Seller

    BreakSafe Remote Monitor - RM6000

    110 In Stock Now.
    $84.70
    $58.95
    View

    Coast to Coast have released the Tow-Secure breakaway kit, inspired by the new requirement of remote battery monitors in tow vehicles. This kit contains a wireless battery monitor which not only removes the need for expensive auto-electrician installation, but also means it can be easily swapped between cars removing the need for multiple monitors and installations.

    Tow Secure TS2000 Breakaway System - Includes Wireless Remote Monitor

    Tow Secure TS2000 Breakaway System - Includes Wireless Remote Monitor

    5 In Stock Now.
    $284.95
    View

    Camec has also bought out its own breakaway kit. It is the most economical and fills the gap in the market. The monitor is purchased separately.

    Camec Breakaway System suitable for Single or Tandem Axles - Includes Battery

    Camec Breakaway System suitable for Single or Tandem Axles - Includes Battery

    6 In Stock Now.
    $139.95
    View
    Camec Breakaway Battery Monitor

    Camec Breakaway Battery Monitor

    32 In Stock Now.
    $57.95
    View

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  • 8 Comments

    • comment-avatar

      Cliff

      Where is the breakaway cable to be connected to to vehicle

    • comment-avatar

      Neville Howard

      It must be attached to the vehicle chassis. Not the tow bar.

    • comment-avatar

      robert

      Do you have to reset anything after the pin is pulled out?

    • comment-avatar

      Steve - CaravansPlus

      You can test the unit by pulling the pin out. You do not need to reset anything other than pushing the pin back in.

    • comment-avatar

      Alan

      My switch has 3 wires going to it. I can only find 2 wire ones. It needs replacing.

    • comment-avatar

      Scott

      When buying a trailer that has a breakaway system. Does the vehicle that is towing the trailer need to have the electrical 7 pin plug modified so the breakaway system will work?

    • comment-avatar

      Malcolm

      No, as the breakaway system must have it's own Battery.

    • comment-avatar

      Matt

      Where should I connect the positive wire coming off the battery (the one that keeps it charged) if my 7 way junction box uses de "Aux" pin as the reverse lights? Thanks

    Add a Comment. Share your knowledge.

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