Trailer Brake Troubleshooting
I have been reading quite a few posts (here and on WW) lately about people having issues with their trailer brakes. As far as I knew, mine were working fine, but I did notice that my fluid was disappearing. I looked for leaks a few times, but was never able to find one. I read one post about air getting into the lines and the calipers not retracting properly, so they would drag and make a lot of heat. I have been noticing something kind of weird lately, that I didn't quite understand. It appeared that my boat was harder to tow going to the lake than coming back. Meaning, it felt like the truck was working harder and downshifting more on my trip to the lake. I am not sure if this is actually happening, but it felt like it.
Anyway, I figured that if there was air in the system, and my calipers were hanging, that would cause more drag, and thus I would be towing the trailer with the brakes slightly engaged? So I pull the calipers off tonight, and the system seemed to be very low on fluid, at least it wasn't leaking out everywhere like on a car when you take the brakes apart. I topped off the reservoir and flushed the lines until all new fluid was running out at the wheels. Then I reinstalled the calipers and hooked the brake lines back up, and then opened the bleeder screws and pumped some more. I pumped until fluid came out of the bleeder screw, so I knew the caliper had fluid in it. I tighten the bleeder screws back and pumped some more, but the calipers didn't seem to be clamping on the rotor. I then noticed that the actuator on the tongue was leaking. I had spilled brake fluid all over topping off the reservior, so I wasn't sure at first, but the puddle kept getting bigger. I got someone to push on the actuator while I looked at it from below, and confirmed that it was leaking up inside it somewhere. So I finally located the problem.
Getting the actuator out wasn't too bad. I just had to remove the retainer clips on the two pins that go through the tounge and actuator and then drive the pins out. Mine were stuck in there pretty bad and I had to use an air hammer (and lots of PB Blaster) to work them back and forth, and finally out. Then I had to remove the one brake line that comes out of the back of the reverse solenoid, and clip the solenoid wire, and the whole unit slid right out.
I am not exactly sure where the unit is leaking, and I didn't feel line tearing it apart to find out. Since the entire assembly is less than $200, I am just going to call UFP tomorrow and order a whole new unit. I figure my trailer has close to 10k miles on it and is 11 years old, it deserves some new parts. I will post again when I get the new unit installed and let you know how it goes, and see if it takes care of the mysterious towing behavior.