Are Surge Brakes Better Than Electric

Christina Perez
• Thursday, 17 December, 2020
• 10 min read

As the tow vehicle’s brakes are pressed, there is force applied to a hydraulic cylinder located on the hitch that activates the trailer brakes. The quicker you slow down your tow vehicle, the more pressure is applied to your trailer’s brakes.

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(Source: www.etrailer.com)


Electric brakes are the most common braking system on trailers. Electric brakes, though, do not apply as much force against the tow vehicle as hydraulic brakes.

There will be less wear and tear on the tow vehicle with a properly set brake controller. Brakes are incredibly important, Photo Credit: thehulltruth.com For those who have been towing for a while, you know that when it comes to towing a trailer with your car, SUV, or truck your stopping distance can become much longer.

If your brakes aren’t up to the task, your brakes can overheat, and you can start swerving from side to side putting not only yourself, but your passengers and other motorists in danger as well. When it comes to trailer brakes, there are two kinds to consider when outfitting your tow vehicle.

This ability makes this system safer for downhill driving and quicker stops. In the photo above is the Kenosha Prodigy P3 which is designed to allow the user to switch between electric and hydraulic brakes, has easy to access ‘up-front’ controls and has “Boost” features that allow for different levels of customized braking.

It’s a passive system that acts only once the car has begun to slow down. This results in a split second delay during which leads the trailer load to push the car, requiring a longer stopping distance for your rig.

towing limit
(Source: www.tacomaworld.com)

If you would like to know more or have any questions about trailer brake controllers, installation, repair and troubleshooting, feel free to contact us at Forklift Central where we have hydraulic and electric brake servicing. By browsing this site you are agreeing to the use of cookies.

If you’re shopping for such a boat, bear in mind that with a vessel of a certain size and weight you’ll need a brake system on your trailer. I’ve heard that electric -over-hydraulic brakes are making inroads into the boat trailer market.

Yes, the surge brakes stopped the trailer well enough, but when you lifted off the brake pedal to accelerate, the release could almost be described as violent. The return spring in the master cylinder slammed the piston back out, and it really jarred the truck and its passengers.

However, I think for runabouts and other boats that weigh 7,000 pounds or fewer, the simplicity of the surge -brake system is hard to beat in function or price. Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years.

In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for Boats.com, he regularly writes and shoots for BoatTrader.com. Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

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(Source: www.etrailer.com)

I have always towed with electric brakes if the trailer had brakes. Just trying to get more information of the pros or cons between the two. Yes, I do understand how both work, just more familiar with electric, although not sure if the surge has any ability to adjust how much braking is applied.

If the trailer your towing starts swaying wildly side to side ; in a cross wind for example ; you want to be able to be applied the trailer brakes before you apply the coach brakes, to line the trailer up behind the coach, then apply all the brakes to stop in a straight line. With surge brakes you don't have the option of applying the trailer brakes first, and if ; for example; you start braking the coach and the right side trailer wheels are far enough out of your lane to be in the gravel at the side of the road, the traction difference when the surge trailer brakes apply can easily add to your control problems rather than aid in regaining control.

IMHO: I'll add that given the way surge brakes apply there is a point where the trailer isn't in line behind the tow vehicle and slowing the tow vehicle will result in no action on the surge brakes. __________________ 99DSDP 3884, Freightliner, BC, CAT 3126B, 300 HP /ALLISON 3060 2000 Caravan toad, Rem co & Blue Ox.

The rental folks showed me how to adjust the brakes if the need arose. This might be bad in some situations. If the option exists, and you can afford it, go with electric brakes and use an adjustable controller.

There are situations where you would want to be in control of the trailer braking force from the tow vehicle, and one of them was mentioned above. Others would be if the trailer is very lightly or unloaded, you can turn the braking force down from inside the tow vehicle using the numbers on the dial or the digital display.

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Surge brakes might involve more guess work to get the adjustment right for different loading. I definitely have needed the separate braking action of the trailer in high winds or to maintain a strait unit as a semi passed a little too quickly.

Ford Super Duty OwnerGeorgie Boy Owners Club Originally Posted by Rebel4x4 I have always towed with electric brakes if the trailer had brakes. Just trying to get more information of the pros or cons between the two.

Yes, I do understand how both work, just more familiar with electric, although not sure if the surge has any ability to adjust how much braking is applied. I have never used surgebrakes, so I can't reply to their usage, but I have electric brakes on my Tandem HDL and have never had an issue.

The year before last I bought a boat with surge and didn't think I would like them, but they have been great to tow with my F150 or Motor Home. A toad that can throw an MH into a jackknife situation was too big, in the first place.

If you want to back up, they make a solenoid that gets wired into the reverse lights to lockout the surge brakes. The information that I received from UFP, who makes trailer brakes including those on my dolly, indicates that if you tow in very hilly areas and have a tow vehicle that can use engine/exhaust to slow the tow vehicle on a downhill, you are better off with electric brakes to keep surge brakes from activating all the way down the hill and overheating. My dolly has surge brakes.

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Damon Owners ClubWorkhorse Chassis OwnerLocation: Lone Star State ... Yes, I do understand how both work, just more familiar with electric, although not sure if the surge has any ability to adjust how much braking is applied.

From an unloaded dolly to loaded, from a car swap to a loaded car full of stuff, the braking pressure is set by the head of the dolly. The issue of controlling a wild sway is SO simple with surge brakes ...you just hit the RV brakes.

The issue of overheating brakes on L-O-N-G hills is addressed 2 ways: get Disc surge brakes = Better cooling and reduces problem. use the standard lock-out device (solenoid or mechanical) to disable the brakes until the risk is passed (we have disc surge brakes, so have never had to do this).

We have a proportional controller already wired in the motor home so there was no extra cost involved. My master cylinder failed and the cost of new one is $52 bucks for the model 10 actuators.

When I pulled that off I noticed that it's time for new master cylinder spring brackets. Then I notice my brake lines are getting a bit too rusty and will need replacing...

brake fluid need change
(Source: www.youtube.com)

My question is, I could easily be spending about $200 bucks for my brake system. I have herd that you can get a vacuum kit put in on every wheel and have electrical brakes.

Is it worth ditching my Surge Brake System for electrical? Re: Surgeries Vs. Electric brakes. My dealer told me electrics don't like being dunked.

Mixing electric and water in this case is no big deal. Tighten down the bearing, and run 2 wires from each brake unit to the plug on the front of the truck.

Also the coupler your currently using, because of the cylinder should either be replaced, or find an easy way to lock it out permanently, so it won't clunk when you stop. Re: Surgeries Vs. Electric brakes. I have same question, but I am considering buying a new trailer.

I understand there's just a magnet in the water but how about the wiring which will short when in submerged, will it damage my controller or the system ? I assume it should be fine since they build them this way, but I would like to read somebody's personal experience.

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Whatever you do, stay away from the nonvented Tie down stainless brakes. I bought them first and have a whole set of 4 in my garage gathering dust.

I heard surge brakes overheat the shoes on long trips? If you are on level ground, and they are adjusted properly, they will not overheat.

If your backing plates are still good, just replace the parts as needed. Be aware that electric brakes will more than likely require you to have 4 new drums so that may be an expense you haven't realized yet.

I have another question that I think is in line with what everyone has been talking about without anyone accusing me of trying to high jack the thread. From my experiences, the use of brakes on a ramp is a non-issue in that I have always (when I was towing) considered the pulling of the wiring harness out from the tow vehicle to be an item on my checklist as I was prepping the boat/trailer for launch (I've had surge and electric brake trailers).

This was due for not just the braking, but also the lighting on the trailer (not wanting it to be “on” while it was underwater). With surge brakes, you don't have any braking backing down a ramp either. With electric or electric /hydraulic you have to turn down the gain of the controller once your boat is off the trailer or your tires will be skidding.

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(Source: www.turnology.com)

I also always disconnect my braking lights when dipping my tailor in water. Re: Surgeries Vs. Electric brakes. I think with your budget and two axles to deal with, you are better off fixing what you have.

Cheap, parts available everywhere, and in fresh water use they hold up just fine. I know people running this exact setup, after several brake systems, and it has proven to be the most reliable overall.

But I have not been able to find anyone who has tried Fulton Performance electric boat trailer brakes that are actually DESIGNED to be submerged in salt water.

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