RV Braking Systems

By Cliff's Welding on Jun 21 in Driving a RV, RV Accessories, RV Braking Systems.

RV Braking Systems

If you are searching for RV braking systems, then this post can help! Cliff’s Welding, Inc. sells and installs all types of RV braking systems and RV accessories.

You can’t flat-tow a vehicle safely if you can’t stop it safely. The capability to flat-tow a vehicle behind an RV is a huge convenience. A lot of RV owners select a flat-tow vehicle that is lightweight, but even the lightest can reduce the braking capacity of an RV when towing, especially when you have to stop in an emergency. To offset for the extra weight, an auxiliary braking system on any flat-tow setup is vital; understanding how an RV braking system works will make it easier to choose the right one for your application.

The Physics of Flat-tow Towing

Towing a flat-tow vehicle is like towing a heavy trailer, with some noteworthy exceptions. First, it is connected to the RV by an articulating armature instead of a typically fixed frame connection. Additionally, it is being towed with all four wheels on the ground, which means the front wheels need be able to “steer” as it’s being towed. Unless there is a way for activating the flat-towed vehicle’s brakes during a stop, the RV has to provide the stopping power for not only itself but for the weight of the flat-tow as well. Also, in the event of a tow bar or hitch failure, and the car breaking away, measures within the braking system will help bring the flat-tow vehicle to a stop.

The Laws of Towing

In a lot of states, anything being towed behind another vehicle is required to have brakes. Some states have differing weight restrictions that dictate vehicles and trailers over a certain weight are required to have brakes, or the combination must stop within a specific distance. Considering that RVers travel usually from state to state, it fundamentally becomes a legal requirement to have flat-tow brakes.

Flat-tow Vehicle Braking Systems

There are a lot of braking systems on the market, and deciding which one is best for you will take some research. Flat-tow vehicle braking systems fall into two primary categories: built-in and portable. Built-in systems generally consist of concealed components. They connect to the RV’s brake system, either directly tapped into the air brakes or through a compressor module on a gas RV. Portable units are installed on the driver’s seat floor and fasten to the flat-tow vehicle’s brake pedal. The capability to move the system easily to another flat-tow vehicle makes this type of system very useful. Most flat-tow brake systems have a breakaway cable and switch. Installation differs on the system, and the concealed or direct systems are typically the most complex to install.

Types of RV Braking Systems

There are basically 3 types of towing braking systems:

  • In a surge braking system, a slide receiver is utilized as the tow bar. When you slow down your RV, the slide receiver pushes in and mechanically drives a lever, which is then hooked up to the towed vehicle’s brakes.
  • Deceleration systems recognize the changing momentum of your RV. Mercury switches, pendulums or accelerometers establish how fast or slow your vehicle is traveling, and then passes the braking details along to the towed vehicle’s brake through wires.
  • Pressure systems use electronics to establish how hard you push on your RV’s brake pedal and send the suitable amount of power through wires to the towed vehicle’s brakes.

In addition, there are two different ways these systems can work. Braking systems are either or time delayed or proportional. Time-delayed braking systems let you set a certain amount of power to send to your tow vehicle after a prearranged amount of time. On the other hand, a braking system that is proportional gives an equal amount of brake pressure to the RV’s brakes and to the towed vehicle’s brakes. For instance, if you lightly tap on your RV’s brakes the volume of power directed to the towed vehicle’s brakes will be the same.


  1. “Towing a Dinghy | Dinghy Braking | Motorhome Magazine.” MotorHome Magazine, 14 Jan. 2019, http://www.motorhome.com/top-stories/safe-dinghy-braking/.
  2. Fuller, John. “How Towing Braking Systems Work.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 28 Oct. 2008, auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/towing/equipment/ protective-towing/towing-braking-systems1.htm.

RV Braking System Installation In Mesa

Cliff’s Welding offers RV accessories, truck accessories, welding services, hitch installation, and tow bar installation in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Cliff’s Welding, Inc.’s expert installers and our team of highly skilled welders can install anything. Call Cliff’s Welding, Inc. for all of your RV accessories and truck accessories at 480-832-0570 today.

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