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Old 10-25-2013, 01:59 PM   #1
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Apparent Brakes Lockup-Dangerous Situation

We had a scary occurrence as we started down a series of 5 and 6 % downhill grades on Hwy 58 immediately north of Tehachapi, Ca.

I applied the brakes and the TV went sharply right. This happened a couple of more times at brake power 4.5 out of 10 on the Dodge brake controller. I turned it down to 3 and then to 2 and really nursed it down the next 10 miles to the bottom. I tested it at 4 on the off ramp and got somewhat normal results for the next 180 miles.

I'm not sure what would have happened if the brakes had been applied hard in an emergency and it pulled right.. The outcome might not have been pretty.

So....I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this.

2013 International 19.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:10 PM   #2
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First you have to determine if it was the Tow Vehicle brakes or the Trailer Brakes. Try using the emergency lever on the brake controller to activate trailer brakes only and see if the trailer pushes the truck around. Then test the truck without the trailer attached.

Assuming your truck has ABS it is probably a Trailer issue.

If it is the Trailer, you are getting more braking out of one side than the other and the brakes need to be adjusted.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:20 PM   #3
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Something to consider, if you were using the brakes a lot, they might have overheated. That would have caused the brakes to fade. If braking was uneven, and they faded more on one side than the other, it might have felt like the brakes were grabbing on the opposite side.

When you dialed down the trailer brakes, you would have reduced the amount of friction, and allowed the brake drums to cool. That could explain why you were able to dial the brakes back up later.

Based on the symptoms, I would say the tow vehicle brakes were working better than the trailer brakes, hence the attempt to jack-knife, and that it was the right-side trailer brakes that were fading, since the trailer tongue pushing left would have jacked the tow vehicle's front end to the right.

But that's all speculation.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AldeanFan View Post
First you have to determine if it was the Tow Vehicle brakes or the Trailer Brakes. Try using the emergency lever on the brake controller to activate trailer brakes only and see if the trailer pushes the truck around. Then test the truck without the trailer attached.

Assuming your truck has ABS it is probably a Trailer issue.

If it is the Trailer, you are getting more braking out of one side than the other and the brakes need to be adjusted.
It's the trailer. It didn't happen when the trailer brakes were deactivated on the controller.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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Something to consider, if you were using the brakes a lot, they might have overheated. That would have caused the brakes to fade. If braking was uneven, and they faded more on one side than the other, it might have felt like the brakes were grabbing on the opposite side.

When you dialed down the trailer brakes, you would have reduced the amount of friction, and allowed the brake drums to cool. That could explain why you were able to dial the brakes back up later.

Based on the symptoms, I would say the tow vehicle brakes were working better than the trailer brakes, hence the attempt to jack-knife, and that it was the right-side trailer brakes that were fading, since the trailer tongue pushing left would have jacked the tow vehicle's front end to the right.

But that's all speculation.
We had been parked for an hour just prior to heading down the highway. We'd left a very dusty desert campground and driven 35 miles before the lunch stop. I'm wondering if a buildup of dust was released and caused the issue.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:32 PM   #6
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Sounds like the trailer brakes need adjustment.
Also, you should be shifting down the TV when descending a hill. You are going too fast if you have to apply the brakes more than once every half mile. Even then, it should not take a whole lot of braking to keep you at a safe descending speed.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:45 PM   #7
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Sounds like the trailer brakes need adjustment.
Also, you should be shifting down the TV when descending a hill. You are going too fast if you have to apply the brakes more than once every half mile. Even then, it should not take a whole lot of braking to keep you at a safe descending speed.
The RAM's tow/haul mode takes care of downshifting. I occasionally apply the brakes on sharp turns and if coming up on a truck....which was the case here.

Btw. I've put over 6K miles on the trailer including the Cascades and Rockies and never had anything close to this happen.

Still wonder if dust could have had an influence.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:12 PM   #8
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If this had not happened before and the brakes have not been readjusted since being in the Cascades and Rockies, your time in the desert might well be the source of the problem.

I believe your model has the "Nev-R-Adjust" self-adjusting drum brakes, so it is unlikely you had them adjusted. Desert sand, dust, and rocks can get into the darnedest places and cause many mechanical systems to seize up. A close inspection of the brakes on both sides of the trailer sounds like a good idea.

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Old 10-25-2013, 04:32 PM   #9
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Given my experience with "self" adjusting drum brakes I would still check the brake adjustment. Even the vaulted Nev-R-Adjust have a star wheel and adjustment slots.
Pull drums clean & service.

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Old 10-25-2013, 04:49 PM   #10
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If this had not happened before and the brakes have not been readjusted since being in the Cascades and Rockies, your time in the desert might well be the source of the problem.

I believe your model has the "Nev-R-Adjust" self-adjusting drum brakes, so it is unlikely you had them adjusted. Desert sand, dust, and rocks can get into the darnedest places and cause many mechanical systems to seize up. A close inspection of the brakes on both sides of the trailer sounds like a good idea.

Tim
AS dealer replaced the brakes under warranty at 6000 miles. We were at 6700 when this happened. I'll see them next week for an inspection/adjustment.

I guess my main concern now......does camping in very dusty places compromise drum brake safe performance?

Next question.....can this model be fitted with disc brakes?
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Old 10-25-2013, 05:23 PM   #11
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Wink Rule of thumb...first ck what was recently worked on...

...could be, whatever they did may need doing again....rite.

Compromise, shouldn't if they are working properly.

Disc up-grade, yes for 3k at Jackson Center.
snip....less for single axle?

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Old 10-25-2013, 11:54 PM   #12
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Not to be contrary, but it's also possible that your trailer brakes were not "grabbing" on the right side, but rather the left side was not providing any braking. Besides the other suggestions, I'd also check to make sure the left side brakes are working. You may have a broken electric brake wire, bad magnet, defective brake drum or any number of other possible problems that caused the left side to lack braking power, thus giving the symptom that the right side was grabbing.

Also, your Airstream is probably still under warranty. Considering that this is a serious safety issue, I'd have the dealer troubleshoot and fix this problem, rather than attempting any DIY repairs.
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Old 10-26-2013, 09:01 PM   #13
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Not to be contrary, but it's also possible that your trailer brakes were not "grabbing" on the right side, but rather the left side was not providing any braking. Besides the other suggestions, I'd also check to make sure the left side brakes are working. You may have a broken electric brake wire, bad magnet, defective brake drum or any number of other possible problems that caused the left side to lack braking power, thus giving the symptom that the right side was grabbing.

Also, your Airstream is probably still under warranty. Considering that this is a serious safety issue, I'd have the dealer troubleshoot and fix this problem, rather than attempting any DIY repairs.
Good suggestions.

This seemed to be a temporary problem....isolated occurrence(s). The brakes were back to normal for the balance of the trip....180 miles.

I'm scheduled to have the AS dealer inspect on Tuesday.
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