Trailer Brakes & Axles

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Trailer Brakes & Axles

Buy the Right Boat Trailer Brakes and Axles

Safety is a top concern for boaters—and that doesn’t end when your boat is cruising across dry land on a trailer. Pulling a heavy load like a boat fully stocked for a weekend of fun at the lake, requires boat trailer axles and brakes you can count on.

For larger boats that require a two- or three-axle trailer, the safest bet is to have brakes installed on each axle. This is required in some states, but not all. Even if it is not required by law, you’ll find that having brakes on each axle improves handling and control so it can still be worth the investment. For more on safe trailering, read our West Advisor article Safe and Trouble Free Trailering.

Types of brakes

First, know what type of braking system best suits your needs. Choices include electric brakes and surge brakes. Electric brakes are not generally recommended because they cannot be submerged without the possibility of damage. For this reason, most boat trailers are equipped with surge brakes. Surge brakes are activated by the surge actuator/coupler located at the front end of the trailer tongue. When your tow vehicle stops, the trailer pushes into the tow vehicle, compressing the master cylinder that is located inside the actuator, forcing the fluid to the drum or disc brake cylinder.

West Marine sells disc brakes. Disc brakes are superior to drum brakes in that they are less prone to overheat, have fewer parts and are easier to access for maintenance. Stainless steel disc brake kits make it easy to install brakes on each axle of your trailer. The stainless steel material makes these brakes less susceptible to corrosion, so they are a good choice for use in saltwater.

For more help with selecting trailer brakes, read our West Advisor article Selecting Trailer Brakes.

Replacement parts

For trailers that need a replacement part, whether it is a replacement axle, brake line, axle tie plates or brake pad, we’ve got you covered. Always measure your old hardware first. When replacing an axle, consider if galvanized axles or torsion axles best fit your needs. Galvanized axles are reinforced and help avoid corrosion while torsion axles are made of rubber strands inside the axle casing, allowing each wheel to absorb shock independently, making for a smoother ride.

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