Have you ever followed a car towing a small boat trailer that’s loaded with a very large boat? Picture it. A large boat is hanging over a trailer on all sides and towering over the tow vehicle; the trailer’s tires are flattened, and the vehicle’s front end is pointing upward. It’s a mess looking for a place to explode, and this is not an uncommon sight. Talk about a safety issue. Not only are the people in the tow vehicle at high risk, but so are the motorists who share the same roadway space.??
Brakes are overtaxed when a vehicle that is loaded beyond capacity has to stop. Most small trailers do not have brakes of their own, so the brake system of the towing vehicle bears the burden of the entire load. The additional stress on the brakes causes the friction material to overheat and harden or crystallize, rendering it ineffective and unable to stop the vehicle. This condition causes “brake fade.” When you press down on the brake pedal, no friction material wear occurs because the crystallized friction material is too hard to wear away when it comes in contact with the rotors or drums. The brake shoes or pads just ineffectively slide against the rotor or drum surface like locomotive brakes (steel on steel) and make lots of noise, but there’s no stopping power. Overheating the braking system also increases the temperature of the brake fluid to the point where it cooks the rubber seals and the entire system is compromised. Test your brakes before you hook up a trailer, and swap the pads with more durable replacements if you're going to be towing often.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
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