How to Adjust Electric Trailer Brakes?

Adjusting electric trailer brakes is an important task for anyone who owns a trailer. Properly adjusted brakes ensure safe and efficient towing, preventing accidents and damage to your trailer. In this article, we will guide you through the process of adjusting electric trailer brakes step-by-step, providing you with all the information you need to do it correctly. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced trailer owner, this article will help you understand the importance of brake adjustment and how to do it effectively. So let’s get started and learn how to adjust electric trailer brakes.

Why Are Electric Trailer Brakes Important?

Before we delve into the adjustment process, it’s crucial to understand the importance of electric trailer brakes. These brakes are an integral part of any trailer’s braking system. They work in conjunction with your tow vehicle’s brakes to ensure that your trailer slows down or stops safely when you apply the brakes in your vehicle. Here’s why they are essential:

  1. Safety: Electric trailer brakes enhance the safety of your towing experience by providing additional stopping power.
  2. Control: They give you better control over your trailer, reducing the risk of swaying or jackknifing.
  3. Reduced Wear and Tear: Properly adjusted trailer brakes reduce strain on your tow vehicle’s brakes, prolonging their lifespan.

Now that you understand their importance, let’s move on to adjusting them.

Tools and Materials Needed

To adjust your electric trailer brakes, you’ll need the following tools and materials:

  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench set
  • Brake controller manual
  • Safety equipment (gloves and safety glasses)

How to Adjust Electric Trailer Brakes Step-by-Step

How to Adjust Electric Trailer Brakes Step-by-Step

Steps #1 Position Your Vehicle in a Safe Working Area

Before you begin adjusting your electric trailer brakes, it is important to ensure that your vehicle is in a safe working area. Park on a level surface and engage the parking brake to prevent any movement while you work on the brakes. Additionally, make sure you have enough space to safely maneuver around the trailer.

Step #2 Disconnect the Trailer from the Tow Vehicle

To properly adjust the electric trailer brakes, it is necessary to disconnect the trailer from the tow vehicle. This will allow you to freely access the brakes without any interference.

Step #3 Locate the Brake Adjustment Mechanism

Next, locate the brake adjustment mechanism on each wheel of the trailer. This mechanism can usually be found on the backside of the brake assembly. It may vary depending on the type of trailer and brake system you have, so refer to your trailer’s manual for specific instructions.

Step #4 Inspect and Clean the Brakes

Inspect and Clean the Brakes

Before making any adjustments, visually inspect the brake components for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Look for worn brake pads, loose or damaged wires, and any other issues that may affect the performance of the brakes. If you notice any problems, it is recommended to address them before proceeding with the adjustment.

Additionally, clean the brake components using a brake cleaner or compressed air. This will help remove any dust, dirt, or debris that may have accumulated and could affect the brake’s function.

Step #5 Adjust the Brake Shoes

Using a wrench or a suitable tool, adjust the brake shoes on each wheel individually. Start by turning the adjustment mechanism in a clockwise direction to tighten the brakes. Slowly turn the mechanism until you feel slight resistance.

It is important to make small adjustments at a time and periodically test the brakes to ensure they are not over or under-adjusted. Repeat this process for each wheel until all the brakes are properly adjusted.

Step #6 Test the Brakes

Once you have adjusted all the brake shoes, reconnect the trailer to the tow vehicle. With the help of a partner or by using the manual brake switch on your brake controller, apply the brakes in the tow vehicle and observe the trailer’s response. The brakes should engage smoothly and bring the trailer to a controlled stop without any excessive pulling or swaying.

If you notice any issues during the test, such as uneven braking or a delay in response, further adjustments may be needed. Repeat the adjustment process and test the brakes again until they are functioning correctly.

Step #7 Document the Adjustment

It is crucial to document the adjustments made to the electric trailer brakes for future reference. Note the date of the adjustment and any specific details, such as the number of turns made or any issues encountered during the process. This will help you keep track of the brake maintenance and ensure consistent performance.

When to Seek Professional Help

When to Seek Professional Help

While adjusting electric trailer brakes is a manageable DIY task for many, there are instances where professional assistance is warranted. Consider seeking expert help if:

  • You’re uncomfortable or unsure about the adjustment process.
  • The brakes are not responding correctly after multiple attempts.
  • You lack the necessary tools or experience.

In such cases, it’s essential to prioritize safety and seek assistance from a qualified technician.


Properly adjusted electric trailer brakes are essential for safe and smooth towing. Regular maintenance and adjustments ensure that your brakes perform optimally, reducing the risk of accidents and prolonging the lifespan of your towing equipment. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently adjust your electric trailer brakes and enjoy a worry-free towing experience.


How do I know if my electric trailer brakes need adjusting?

Signs that your electric trailer brakes may need adjustment include reduced braking power, uneven braking, or a dragging or grabbing sensation when braking. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to check and adjust your trailer brakes.

How often should I adjust my electric trailer brakes?

It is recommended to adjust your electric trailer brakes at least once a year or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, it’s also a good idea to check the brakes before long trips or if you notice any signs of brake wear or malfunction. Regular maintenance and adjustment will help ensure the safety and performance of your trailer brakes.

Can I adjust my electric trailer brakes myself, or should I seek professional help?

Adjusting electric trailer brakes can be done by experienced DIYers, but if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s best to seek professional help. Improper adjustment can lead to brake failure or uneven braking, which can be dangerous. A professional can ensure the brakes are adjusted correctly and provide any necessary repairs or maintenance.

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