brakes on a <3000# utility trailer?

mar13

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2018
325
California redwood coast
I've decided to treat myself by getting a 5x8 single axle utility trailer to make up for no longer having a pick-up. Mostly for yard work, which will be fairly light loads, but I'd like to keep the option open for some wood collecting in our local mountains. (Of course, keeping the weight limit in mind.) The roads can be steep around here and the local passes can have dips of a few thousand feet. For now, until I eventually get a 1/2 ton truck, I'm towing with an older 3rd generation 4Runner which is getting a brake controller installed this week for my wife's new tiny travel trailer.

Question: For not very much money, I can order brakes with the utility trailer. I'd like the peace of mind of having brakes "just in case" and to save my vehicle's brakes, but are they a hassle and regular expense to maintain? Opinions?
 

Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,669
Indiana
Get the brakes for that terrain! They are not a hassle to maintain ...I would not want a load of wood pushing me in that terrain in wintry conditions..
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Get the brakes for any terrain. People don't know, care that you're tugging a trailer and will pull out in front of you/cut you off. I'd recommend getting a double axle too. You're buying it for wood. You're going to hate your purchase for the life of the trailer once you realize the trailer itself weighs about 1K lbs and you can only tow a half cord of wood with the single axle.
 

Gearhead660

Minister of Fire
Dec 20, 2018
561
Southern WI
Only maint I have had is sealing up wiring connections. Not done right the first time, they corrode and brakes wont work. Make sure all connections are sealed.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Get the trailer brakes. According to this it is required in California by law. We have a similar law, we must run trailer brakes if the trailer exceeds 2000lbs or 50% of the tow vehicle weight.

In California, brakes are required on any trailer coach or camp trailer having a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more.

 

mar13

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2018
325
California redwood coast
Get the trailer brakes. According to this it is required in California by law. We have a similar law, we must run trailer brakes if the trailer exceeds 2000lbs or 50% of the tow vehicle weight.

In California, brakes are required on any trailer coach or camp trailer having a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more.

I was wondering why lighter camper trailers have brakes in California, and what you stated is why. Thanks for the education. Utility trailers, however, have a 3,000# limit before needing brakes in California. I suspect that's why most the single axle utility trailers are posted with a 2,990# limit even though the axle is limited to 3,500#. A few states, like your province, have the "or percent of vehicle" limit which makes sense to me and is another reason why I'm leaning towards brakes.
 

mar13

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2018
325
California redwood coast
Get the brakes for any terrain. People don't know, care that you're tugging a trailer and will pull out in front of you/cut you off. I'd recommend getting a double axle too. You're buying it for wood. You're going to hate your purchase for the life of the trailer once you realize the trailer itself weighs about 1K lbs and you can only tow a half cord of wood with the single axle.
I hear that a lot about the double axle and your reply plants an expensive temptation in my mind. Around here, double axles are king among construction (gravel, etc) and pot growers (soil), so good resell. A typical scene in our hills is a "grow dozer" (what we call a 1-ton diesel around here) pulling a load of soil into the back country. 95% of my use will be for yard debris, so light loads. For me, going into the mountains for wood, would be like deer hunting or fishing -as much for the fun of it as for the practical aspect. When shopping, I tried lifting the tongue of empty trailers and figured the empty 5x8 single I could readily move but going bigger was physically tough for me. My driveway situation at my property is a bit awkward too, and I read that tandems aren't as maneuverable.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I was wondering why lighter camper trailers have brakes in California, and what you stated is why. Thanks for the education. Utility trailers, however, have a 3,000# limit before needing brakes in California. I suspect that's why most the single axle utility trailers are posted with a 2,990# limit even though the axle is limited to 3,500#. A few states, like your province, have the "or percent of vehicle" limit which makes sense to me and is another reason why I'm leaning towards brakes.
Honestly I'd just get the trailer brakes. I'd be more comfortable towing a 3000lb trailer behind my one ton knowing it had trailer brakes, IMO towing that same weight behind an SUV necessitates it.
 
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mar13

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2018
325
California redwood coast
I did some more shopping and it was proposed to me that with brakes I could also upgrade the axle to 5,000# at not much additional weight. That should leave the option open for a cord of wood, if needed. True, a double axle would be better in that case, but then the price and weight really begin to shoot up.
 
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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I don't think I ever have seen a 5k axle on a single axle trailer. I may be imagining it, but I think i read somewhere about being limited to 3k lbs with a single axle. Maybe I'm wrong, don't hold me to it! Lol.

Trailer sizing is tough because they just beg to be abused.

Have you looked into renting them from Uhaul when you need one? If its not often, rent it, beat it, sweep it out and return it. A 6x12 double axle was $40 aa couple years ago.
 

Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,669
Indiana
I did some more shopping and it was proposed to me that with brakes I could also upgrade the axle to 5,000# at not much additional weight. That should leave the option open for a cord of wood, if needed. True, a double axle would be better in that case, but then the price and weight really begin to shoot up.
I think you are on the right track with the axle upgrade considering your tow vehicle..
 

mar13

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2018
325
California redwood coast
I don't think I ever have seen a 5k axle on a single axle trailer. I may be imagining it, but I think i read somewhere about being limited to 3k lbs with a single axle. Maybe I'm wrong, don't hold me to it! Lol.

Trailer sizing is tough because they just beg to be abused.

Have you looked into renting them from Uhaul when you need one? If its not often, rent it, beat it, sweep it out and return it. A 6x12 double axle was $40 aa couple years ago.
Two different Oregon companies, Fabform and Iron Eagle, allow you to upgrade their single axle to 5200 axles with brakes. Such trailers, I suppose, are rare birds.

I did rent a U-haul a few weeks ago for a few days. A good price: $16/day and if insured an extra $8/day. Economically, that makes sense, though it was a heavy trailer for its size (built for abuse?) and that clock ticking made me rush. Buying a trailer for myself is a bit of a luxury and treat, I admit. On the other hand, trailers do resell well and U-haul costs are only going up.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,221
Lackawaxen PA
When you rent a Uhaul trailers you find out how heavy and well built they are. I've gotten away with a 4x8 inside 1200 LBS rated trailler. mostly light hauling and small wood loads. No brakes but mostlly flat roads.

Have anyone seen that extendable / swivel hitch? Fix for that trailer you can't move.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
They make their own trailers. I guess they figured how to make them survive, lol.
 

mustash29

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2012
694
SE CT
Get electric brakes. You won't regret it.

I'm not sure of other areas, but here in CT I pay about $9 / year for a camp trailer tag and personal property tax of about the same, so 20 bucks / yr and I can use it whenever I need, don't have to be rushed to return it, don't have to mess around with time consuming rental agreements, don't have to take it for emissions checks, etc.

Many young bucks who have decently capable small SUV's or trucks often want to go buy bigger than they really need vehicles. I always remind them that a trailer is CHEAP to own and register, easy to take care of and is fully covered by the vehicle insurance it's hooked up to (if your insurance company is worth a crap). No-brainer in my eyes.

I spent many a year towing a 2200 lb 8.5 x 10 "clamshell" sled trailer around with an S-10, S-10 ZR2 and an S-10 Blazer ZR2. Upgrading to a 7 x 16 enclosed that pushed 3 K loaded was a big change. Pulling an 18' boat and trailer that weighed close to 3 K a few miles around town was do-able, but also a bit scary.

Pulling that bigger sled trailer or boat with an '06 Duramax now. Don't even know the're back there. I also have a 7 x 16 flatbed with dual 7 K axels, electric brakes on both. It weighs 2550 empty and can gross 14 K. Having 8 brakes on 8 tires can bring it to a stop pretty darn quick when necessary.
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
618
Northwest Lower Michigan
I put brakes on my 3000# 5x8 because at the time I was towing it with a mid size station wagon. I went all out and got a used electro hydraulic actuator and built my own assemblies. But it could be done with electric just as well. This was 20 years ago and I’m still on the original parts. One plus is if you blow a line on your tow rig, you can stop it all with just the trailer brakes. As opposed to having no hope of stopping with all that weight behind you. Has happened a couple times over all these years. You can also use the brakes to stabilize the trailer if it starts to sway, which has happened if the load shifts or wasn’t loaded well.