How To Adjust Trailer Brakes In 5 Easy Steps?

Generally, know that you need to adjust your trailer brakes once or twice a year or depending on the intensity of the use and travel. It is very much essential to maintain its efficiency and effectiveness esepcially when you always tend to use your vehicle.

There are actually a lot of factors why you need to do it and a lot of basis when to do it. When you experience traveling a long trip, know that you need to adjust your trailer brakes. The same principle applies as well to when using your trailer in areas where uphills and downhills are largely present and in locations where traffic is rampant.


Although the task of adjusting is pretty much a straightforward thing to do, a lot of people still look for the right ways on how to adjust trailer brakes. If you are one of these people then this guide will likely help you succeed in doing the said task.

Also, know that adjusting trailer brakes can be done manually by you yourself or with the help of your friends and family. This specific job can be actually executed by anyone who has an average mechanical skill that handle matters relating vehicles.


What You Will Need

How To Adjust Trailer Brakes
  • Brake Adjusting Tool
  • Jack
  • Jack Stand
  • Any safe tool or material that can be used to block the tires

As an alternative, I personally use huge rocks to block my tires when I am working on my vehicle. If you are to op this then choose rocks that are safe and smooth that will not harm your tires.

  • Huge Rocks
  • Flashlight

Optional Materials

I highly suggest these things since you will be handling mechanical things inside and outsie your vehicle. Things like these can be messy and untidy. Also, the given materials below are the ones you need for your own security and safety.

  • Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Mask

Let’s We Go

Step 1

Park And Block


Initially, what you need to do is to park your car into a firm, steady, and level ground. Make sure that the ground is safe to work on with since you will be working in the interiors. Hence, you need to have a steady and level ground to depend on.

Now, once you are settled with the parking of your vehicle, make sure to block your tires on the other side to prevent any forward and rearward movement. Any safe tool that can be used as a blocker is adequate but as mentioned above, I personally suggest the usage of safe huge rocks in blocking the tires. Just make sure the rocks are smooth so it won’t harm your tires in any way possible.

Step 2

Jack And Secure


Now that your trailer vehicle is safe and sound to work on with, you may now jack up the trailer. When jacking up, be sure that you follow the proper ways according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Hence, you need to have with you the set of guidelines or make sure you already know the drill before you start to work on it.

Once you already jack up your trailer, secure it on the jack stand on a proper capacity front and rear. Since this is a safety precaution you may want to maximize.

Step 3

Pry The Rubber Plug

When you are done securing the trailer on the jack stand, you may now proceed at the back of the wheel wherein you wil find the brake backing plate.

Once you have already located this, make sure to find the small rubber plug. The rubber plug that you need to pry out to give access to the wheel adjuster can be seen at the near bottom of the backing plate.

In addition, it is important for you to note that some other trailers have a different kind of axle suspension system. Working with these kinds of trailers requires much larger amount opf patience and effort since the axle covers most of the adjusting hole which apparently causes for you to have difficulties in using the brake tool.

Step 4

Insert And Maneuver

Get your brake adjuster tool, insert and manuever it until it completely engages with the teeth that are in the star wheel of your vehicle. If you don’t know what the star wheel looks like, it appears as a gear with its teeth exposed on the margins. It is usually located in the inner most part making it more difficult for you and that is why maneuvering is highly required.

A flashlight can be helpful in this procedure for you to locate easily the star wheel.

Step 5

Positioning And Adjusting

Now, turn the brake adjuster tool until you know for sure that the brake locks up. You may check it once you try turning it again but you can no longer rotate the wheel. By doing this, the brake shoes on the brake drum are positioned in the center which definitely means that they are already in the correct position.

Once you are done, you may now back off the star wheel but make sure to still follow the guidelines according to the manufacturer’s descriptions. Try to spin the wheel freely.

When everything is already settled, you may now then turn to adjust the brakes in the remaining wheels.

Alternatively, you may also check this video for further knowledge of the job:

Off To Go!

Knowing how to adjust trailer brakes properly is a very essential factor in maintaining your vehicle. Not only that you take good care of your automotive and its functions but also you secure the safety in totality.

In actuality, you may bring your vehicle to a machine shop and let the mechanics and specialists do the job but know that this specific task is very easy and straightforward to do. Hence, you may no longer need to pay for costs and fees. You just need to equip yourself with the right tools, materials, and knowledge to finish the job efficiently and succesfully.

Now, if you highly regard that this guide may help not only you but as well as the others – you are free to share this. In addition, you may share your insights and reactions on the comment section below.

One thought on “How To Adjust Trailer Brakes In 5 Easy Steps?

  1. Brian says:

    WHY, WHY, WHY??? would you lay directly underneath the drum??? I don’t ever trust jack stands and would never position myself in a situation where equipment failure could result in a critical injury. At least I’d never photograph it and then post it online.

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