How to Adjust Electric Trailer Brakes

by Thomas West
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you tow a large trailer, such as a car trailer, camper or an enclosed utility trailer, you will need supplemental braking in addition to your tow vehicle’s brakes to slow down and stop safely and effectively. Your tow vehicle’s brakes are just not enough to get the job done; therefore your trailer probably has electric trailer brakes that are actuated automatically when you depress your brake pedal. The brakes are controlled by an electronic brake module installed in your vehicle. Any brake adjustments necessary to your trailer are done using the brake module.

Step 1

Hitch your trailer to the tow vehicle and connect the safety chains and the electrical connector. Load the trailer as you would for normal towing.

Step 2

Tow the trailer at least ¼ mile and make a few stops to get the brakes warmed up before any adjustments are made.

Step 3

Accelerate gradually to about 25 miles per hour. Let off of the gas and coast on a level road. Apply the trailer brakes by sliding the brake module lever to the right. Be aware that the trailer brakes should slow the entire rig down gradually without grabbing.

Step 4

Adjust the sensitivity of the brakes using the thumbwheel on the brake module if the trailer brakes are not slowing the entire rig down. Turn the thumbwheel in a clockwise direction to add more braking power.

Accelerate to 25 miles per hour and apply the brakes using the brake pedal. Adjust the thumbwheel on the brake module in a counterclockwise direction if the trailer brakes are grabbing.


  • Most brake modules will not self-adjust to allow for the amount of load you are carrying or for different road conditions. If road conditions are wet, you will need to back off the trailer brakes slightly by turning the thumbwheel on the brake module in a counterclockwise direction to avoid wheel lock up. If you are towing a heavier load than usual on dry roads, increase the trailer braking power by turning the thumbwheel in a clockwise direction.
  • If your trailer brakes do not work at all, you may have a faulty electronic brake module or a loose wire. Check the wiring connector at the rear of the tow vehicle to make sure it is seated correctly.

More Articles