Service trailer brake system: How to troubleshoot?


The abbreviation in mechanical engineering is ABC, it says: “Always be careful.” In other words, security is a once and for all measure that you must consider. A trailer braking system is an extremely important safety feature when towing tractors, especially trucks.

Therefore, it is very important to understand how to strategically reset the vehicle trailer brake controller system. If you don’t know what a trailer brake is and what the service trailer brake system error message means, take a closer look at the details in this article.

What does brake system service mean?

This term means that you have a braking system for your enclosed trailers that is activated whenever you apply the brakes on your tractor. It is designed to receive electronic signals when you apply your truck’s brakes and activate the electronic braking system to help your horse trailers slow down.

However, when you receive a trailer brake warning, you are told that there is a problem with the controller or somewhere in the system. The computer is supposed to generate codes that control the system, which should be easily read by the scanner.

We say we should because some dealers have warned that codes may not be generated at all. When this happens, the dealer doesn’t know where to start repairing your car.

It is possible that this is an error message and will disappear the next time the truck is turned on, but this may not always happen either. If the light stays on after a few cycles, you need to contact your dealer and ask them to connect their scanner.

A warning lets you know that you have a problem with the trailer brake control module.

How to disable and reset the service trailer brake system?

Knowing how to disable “Trailer Brake Service” is not very difficult. The process includes just a few steps. But for this, you need the necessary tools.

You will need the following tools:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • A hammer
  • A piece of hardwood or a small stone#

Locate the adjusting nut on the trailer

The first step is to find the adjusting nut, which is located right at the back of the car’s trailer brake. Usually, it is located close to the rear axle. Once you finally find this part, you can move on to the second step.

Use a screwdriver to loosen the lock nut

The adjusting nut has a lock nut that secures it to the trailer brake. Use a flathead screwdriver to loosen this lock nut. Loosening this lock nut allows you to quickly complete the next step.

Turn the adjusting nut clockwise

When you finally loosen the locknut and the adjusting nut comes free, carefully turn the adjusting nut clockwise until it contacts the component base plate. However, when adjusting the nut, be careful not to overtighten it to avoid complications.

In the meantime, if the above recommendation does not fix the problem, you most likely have a faulty trailer brake system. You may need to obtain a new replacement component.

Trailer brake system Duramax Service

This system is designed to detect issues with various components related to your trailer’s brakes. These components can be a brake controller system, trailer wiring, or a controller power supply.

Once detected, the system should generate codes to help pinpoint the exact location of the problem and the problem itself. This does not always work, as some owners report that the system does not generate any codes.

The only way to get these codes is to use a compatible scanner. They can be expensive whether you buy them yourself or go to the dealer and ask them to use theirs. Some dealer scans can cost anywhere from $130 to $150 per scan.

If by chance the scans don’t find any codes, then you’re left with the old search and peck system. You have to track down the parts that might be the problem and check each one.

The culprit could be as simple as a bad trailer brake fuse or corroded connections. Or they can be as serious as having to replace the trailer brake control module or other trailer brake wiring harness and so on. Then you will have to keep an eye on the wiring when replacing parts. Sometimes the technician does not cope with his task and the wires get wet.

When this happens, you will receive a service trailer brake system light.

How often should the service trailer brake system be checked?

If you are using a trailer, it is recommended that you check and service your trailer brakes after every 12,000 miles of use or at least once a year. However, if you frequently use your trailer or make long trips, you may need to service it more frequently.

Keep track of how often you use your trailer. Also, watch for any signs of brake wear. Follow the maintenance schedule. This is the only way you can be sure that the trailer brakes are in good working order and function properly.

Again, what does a trailer service brake system mean? Trailer brake service means a problem with your trailer’s brake wiring or module that is preventing the power supply from flowing from the truck to the trailer. Apart from this error message, you may notice other symptoms as well.

The average cost of a trailer brake system repair

You can spend anywhere from $0 to $500 to fix your vehicle’s trailer brake system, depending on what’s wrong with it. If adjustment is all it takes, all you need to do is spend a little time and use a screwdriver. However, there are other situations that will cost you money for repairs.

For example, if you need a new fuse box, you can spend $5 to $15. Again, this is something you can probably fix yourself. It will only take you a few minutes once you find the fuse.

In addition to these two problems, you may need to replace parts of the vehicle’s trailer brake system, or it may be time for a complete replacement. Replacement cost depends on many factors. First, you’ll spend more on OEM hardware than spare parts. Also, you should consider what make and model you drive, as some of them are significantly more expensive to run.

You also need to think about where you are doing the work, as urban mechanics cost a lot more than most rural service shops.

Is it safe to drive with a service trailer brake system error?

You may be driving a vehicle with a service trailer brake system error message. However, you should avoid towing any load until the issue is resolved. Failure to solve the problem can damage the brake pedal in the long run and lead to unexpected accidents.

So while it’s possible to report a service trailer brake controller error, it’s not safe or ideal. Security must always be 100%. Thus, the fact that the tow vehicle is moving regardless of the malfunction does not mean that everything is in order.

A minor mistake can result in serious injury or an accident when you least expect it. Thus, it is best to fix any problem you find in your car until you are sure that the problem is gone.

Loss of voltage before the trailer brake

Next, you need to check if you have 12 bolts going to the trailer connection on your Silverado. Get your meter and make sure it’s in the DC meter setting. Locate pin № 4 and pin № 1. Place black lead on №1 and red lead on № 4. Does this read between 12-12.98V DC? Does it read some kind of power? If not, then that’s a problem.

Locate the trailer controller fuse in the fuse panel. The fuse panel is located under the hood in a black box. The specific fuse is marked STUD №2. Pull it out and check for continuity between the two connections. If you have continuity, replace the fuse, if you don’t have continuity, insert a new fuse and check the power again at the pin connections.

Another way to make sure the trailer controller has 12V power is to check if the controller display is on. If yes, then you have 12v.

Also, check this fuse. It is located under the instrument panel in the fuse box.

Frequently Asked Questions: Service trailer brake system

How do I reset my brake controller?

The method for resetting the trailer service brake message depends on the type of service trailer brake system used in your vehicle. In most cases, it will go away on its own once you fix the problem that caused it to appear. You may need to use an OBD2 scanner to reset the system, depending on the vehicle model.

How do you reset electric trailer brakes?

If you have electric brakes, the only thing you will need to do to reset the breakaway system is to insert the pin back into the derailleur. This will release the brakes and allow the service trailer to roll freely.

Is there a fuse for the trailer brake system?

Of course, most trailer brakes come with a 30-amp fuse. The fuse is located in the engine compartment, directly under the hood of the car. Fuses work great when they are supplied with a voltage level commensurate with their capacity.

Fuses are installed to protect the vehicle components to which they are connected. It is important to carry out regular maintenance to avoid unnecessary wear on the service trailer brake system.

Replacing a service trailer brake system is an expense you don’t want to incur, especially if the component hasn’t expired yet. Therefore, you must manage the component carefully.

Causes of a trailer brake service message

The most common reason you might see a service trailer brake system message on your dashboard is due to a blown fuse, a faulty brake light switch, or a faulty service trailer brake system control switch. It can also happen due to faulty wiring.

How do I disable the Service Brake Assist?

Firstly, there are no specific ways to disable the car’s service brake assist, as they are installed at the factory. Manufacturers make sure they stay active because of the safety role they play, especially in the face of an unexpected accident.

However, disabling the fuse that controls the emergency brake assist is the only solution in this case. Meanwhile, disabling this component and disabling the brake assist will require you to take full responsibility for your own safety. Thus, it would be better to learn about the operation of the brake assist system in order to properly maximize it.

Is it still safe to drive with the trailer brake service warning light on?

Yes, you can still drive your car with this warning light. But don’t use it to tow a trailer unless you want to get into an accident or damage your car and trailer.

How do I reprogram the trailer brake control module?

If you want to reprogram the trailer brake control module, you will need a specific scan tool for the trailer brake system your vehicle uses. You can also adjust the trailer brakes manually using the controller for many brake control systems.

Conclusion: Service trailer brake system

If the message “Trailer Service Brake System” appears on your dashboard, it means that a module or the system’s electrical wiring is experiencing a problem that is preventing electricity from the truck from reaching the trailer.

The trailer brake must be disengaged. The easiest way to do this is to disable the trailer brake controller. When the trailer brake controller is switched off, the brakes are not energized. But if the brake controller is hardwired, you cannot disable it.

What you can do is cut the brake output wire. Cut it anywhere between the trailer brake controller and the trailer brake system. This will effectively turn off the power to the brake controller.


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