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When Do Brakes Need to be Added to Both Axles of Tandem Axle Trailer  


At what GVWR do I need to get a tandem trailer with brakes on both axles? I was thinking 5000 pounds would be in the ballpark. Thanks,


Helpful Expert Reply:

There really isn't a particular maximum trailer weight that is used to determine when brakes need to be added to both axles of a tandem axle setup. While I do still recommend checking your local laws, I am also not aware of any general laws that indicate when brakes need to be put on all axles of a multi axle trailer (only laws that state when a trailer needs to be equipped with them).

With all of this in mind, we always recommend adding brakes to both axles of a tandem axle trailer. This is simply because it's going to provide you with much better stopping power and will also keep the one set from wearing down quicker.

When viewed just in terms of capacity, if for example you have two 3,500 pound axles on your trailer that can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds loaded, you can't expect just one pair of brakes (which would be rated at 3,500 pounds to match the axle) to fully stop the fully loaded trailer. Brake assemblies would need to be added to the second axle just to give you the needed combined capacity.

When just one axle of a tandem axle trailer is equipped with brakes your tow vehicle is going to be doing a lot of the work when applying the brakes. This is going to have a negative affect on your truck as well.

I have included a link that will take you directly to our complete selection of electric trailer brakes that you can look through if needed.

expert reply by:
Chris R

Gerry R.


In a panic stop with any trailer, if the braking system can lock up all the wheels on the trailer you've then completely lost directional control of your trailer and it will come out from behind your tow vehicle into the adjoining lanes of traffic. There must always be a least one trailer wheel that freewheels in order to maintain directional control. This is why you see so many jackknife trailer accidents in states that mandate trailer brakes on all axles. Lawmakers who write these laws do not understand the physics involved. The only safe way that you can have trailer brakes on all axles is with the use of an ABS system and for the average guy those are hugely expensive costing thousands of dollars. You'll get about 80-90% braking effectiveness with brakes only on your front trailer axle due to the forward load shift under heavy braking. I do not put brakes on my rearmost trailer axle in order to provide good trailer directional control stability. I've been towing for over 40 years and have never had an accident or a problem doing it this way.



@GerryR Amazing and logical. Thanks sir!

Charles S.


Well reasoned Gary

Linda B.


@GerryR Thank you so much! I was concerned with my old tandem axle only having the brakes on the front axle. I'm mostly concerned with some 6% descending grades on the route I'm taking west that I can't really avoid. My '07 E450 has a tow mode so will gear down as well. Yes there are idiot drivers and I'd hate to have my load in the next lane from a panic stop. You're answer makes sense and I'm so grateful, makes me feel a lot easier!
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