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Hayman Reese
1800 812 017
49 Pacific Drive, Keysborough, VIC, 3173

Connect with Trailer Braking Systems

November 07, 2014

For those that do not regularly fit and install trailer braking systems, knowing which solutions are suited for a particular towing application can be confusing. With different legal requirements depending on which state your caravan or trailer is registered in, suggesting and installing the right products can be guess work.

Here, we provide some clarity around the different types of trailer braking systems, available products and the legal requirements that need to be taken into consideration.


When do you need trailer brakes?

Australian road rules state that all trailers with a Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) exceeding 750kg must have a braking system installed on the wheels of at least one axle. There are two main types of braking system and the one used will depend on the GTM:


1. Hydraulic manual over-ride brakes

Hydraulic manual over-ride braking systems are totally independent to the towing vehicle and are self-contained on the trailer. They work by applying pressure developed between the tow vehicle and trailer during the braking process. Pressure is applied to a push-rod located within the trailer coupling that in-turn applies the trailer’s brakes proportional to the pressure applied to the push-rod. These systems require no electrical connection for the activation of the trailers brakes.

Hydraulic manual over-ride braking systems are suited to lighter towing loads typical under 1,500kg. While they are legal for trailers with GTM’s up to 2,000kg, they are not recommended for heavier applications.


2. Electric brakes and electronic disk brakes

Any trailer with a GTM over 2,000kg must have either an electric brake systems or electronic disk brake system installed, operating on all wheels. Electric brake systems use electromagnets in the brake cluster to activate brake shoes that apply pressure to a brake drum. The more power applied to the magnets the greater the braking force applied to the drums. 

Electronic disk brakes use hydraulic disk brakes that instead of being activated by a push-rod (as in the case of manual over-ride brakes), is connected to and activated through the vehicle’s electric brake controller. 

Both electric and electronic disk braking systems legally require brake control units mounted near the driver in order to control how the trailer’s brakes operate.


Which brake controller to choose?

There are two main types of Brake Control systems – Time-activated and Proportional. Time-activated systems apply maximum trailer braking over a pre-set time - usually one to three seconds. Proportional systems determine the tow vehicle’s rate of deceleration and apply the trailer brakes to match. 

Typically speaking, time-activated systems are suitable for towing lighter loads and for straighter, flatter roads. Proportional systems are more suited to towing loads over two tonnes and when driving in hilly and/or windy conditions. 

Hayman Reese provides time activated and proportional brake control units, as well as a remote head option. 


Compact: Time-activated with remote mount head. Suitable for up to 3 axles

Sentinel™: Time-activated. Suitable for up to 4 axles 

Guardian® IQ: Proportional with 180 degree mounting option. Suitable for up to 3 axles

Vinotour: Proportional with 360 degree mounting option. Suitable for up to 4 axles


Break Away Systems

While all trailers with a Gross Trailer Mass of 2,000kg or over require a braking system operating on all wheels, they also legally require a break away system that is capable of automatically activating the trailer’s brakes should the trailer become detached from the tow vehicle. Under these circumstances the brakes must remain applied for at least 15 minutes. These ‘break-away’ systems are compulsory on all trailers over 2,000kgs GTM. 


Battery Monitors

To complete the trailer brake system set-up, in addition to brake controllers and brake away systems, some states in Australia also require a battery monitor unit to be installed. Battery monitors need to be mounted near the driver and provide visual and audible indications that the battery powering the Brake Away system is sufficiently charged.

SmartCheckTM by Hayman Reese has been designed for this precise purpose. Using a discrete control unit mounted near the driver, it wirelessly connects to a battery monitor unit connected to the battery powering the Brake Away system. SmartCheckTM can also monitor the charge of up to 3 additional batteries, such as those powering fridges or freezers, mounted in the vehicle or trailer.



Hayman Reese
1800 812 017
49 Pacific Drive, Keysborough, VIC, 3173