Trailer Brake Replacement Cost: How Often and The Fair Price

When you own an RV or trailer, be prepared to be quoted higher than usual brake and other repair prices. It seems that the people doing the work go very high on their services because they feel you can afford it. It happens all the time.

The cost will depend on what type of brakes you are installing/repairing, who is doing the work, and how much they will charge for labor. You may find prices as low as $500 if you are doing a simple repair like shoes, bearings, and seals.

To learn more about this cost just continue to read our article. It is important to have trailer brakes because it is hard to slow a 10,000-pound trailer without them. Brakes are always essential and make stopping much smoother when you are going downhill.

Do Trailer Brakes Need To Be Replaced?


Maybe yes and maybe no, the answer will depend on one crucial factor. This factor is before you assume you need to replace your brakes, check to see if they can be adjusted.

If the brakes can be adjusted, this is the first step to take. As the shoes wear down, they have further to travel before they contact the wheel, etc. But adjusting the brakes will cut that travel distance, and time down and you can stop easier than you did before.

If they have been or can’t be adjusted, then replacing them will be your only option. After a while, the answer to the question will be yes, they will need to be replaced. Trailer brakes wear down just like any other set of brakes and you will need to get new ones eventually.

There are other parts to look at first, before replacing those brake shoes. Look at the magnets, the seals, and other brake-related components to make sure they are not the source of your braking issues.

If they are, it may be cheaper to replace those minor but essential brake components first.

How Often do Trailer Brakes Need To Be Replaced?

Here is another annoying depends on answer. The answer to this question depends on 2 main factors. The first factor will be how you drive. Trailer brakes suffer like vehicle brakes when the driver is hard on the vehicle and trailer.

Under those extreme conditions, those trailer brakes may not last a long time. Then if you are driving those steep mountain roads all the time, then do not expect those brakes to last very long either.

Under normal driving conditions, your trailer brakes should last about 3 years. But that time limit is not set in stone and they could last a lot longer. For example, if you avoid steep mountain roads or hills, and drive mainly on flat ground, then they should last a little longer than 3 years.

There is a third factor you have to be wary about. The weight of the trailer, both empty and full of cargo, etc., will negatively impact the lifespan of those brakes. The rule of thumb is to check your trailer brakes at least once a year to see if they need replacing or not.

How Many Miles do Travel Trailer Brakes Last?


The main trailer brake issues have already been mentioned. Distance is not as much of a factor as how often you use those brakes. However, with that said, the minimum amount of miles you can expect trailer brakes to last is 12,000.

Some owners have had their brakes last to 40,000 miles and that longevity will depend on those same factors as well as who made those brakes. The better the quality and brand, the longer those brakes should last. The factors that affect longevity include:

- driving habits- are you a tailgater or not; do you like to go fast and so on?

- types of brakes- you can either have electric or hydraulic and they both come in drums and disc formats. Each format has different lifespans and other factors.

- the weight of the trailer- lighter trailers should have their brakes last longer

- how often do you take your trailer on the road

- the type of roads- paved, smooth roads are the ideal

What is a Fair Price For Replacing Brakes?

The cost of replacing your brakes will depend on which type you have on your trailer. If you have hydraulic, then you can expect to pay between $500 and $800 on average.

Going to disk brakes from hydraulic can cost you between $2000 and $3000 but all of these costs depend on many factors. The biggest factor will be who is doing the repair work.

It is not just the labor cost but their location, availability of parts and so on that contribute to the overall price. If you can do the work yourself or get a friend to do it for cheap, then parts and labor costs will drop significantly.

Then it depends on which parts are worn. If it is just the brake pads or shoes, then your costs will be a lot less than if the magnets, batteries, calipers, etc., are also worn out and need replacing.

Those figures will get you started on finding the cost and looking for an honest brake repairman, as you will find out in the next section.

Cost To Replace Trailer Brakes


The cost of replacing trailer brakes is also influenced by the type of person who is quoting you the prices for the different parts. There are several scams that take place in this part of the auto and RV industry that force people to pay more than they should. Here are some of those scams some people try to pull:

1. Being told you need to buy calipers- this will significantly add to your costs especially when you do not need them. Sometimes all you need are caliper pins.

2. Paying more for generic parts- this happens a lot and you need to know some of the brands to avoid paying more for parts. A lot of brake repair shops boost the prices when they see an RV or trailer.

3. Being upsold ceramic brake pads- you will be told that these are better than the regular brake pads. This is not true. The only advantage ceramic has over the other kinds is that they do not make a lot of noise and produce less brake dust.

Semi-metallic pads last longer than ceramic ones.

4. Buying inferior rotors for premium prices- you have to be careful when you go to a repair shop. They will find ways to boost their sales at your expense

Your total trailer brake repair costs go up significantly if you fall for one of these or other brake scams. If you do not know what are the best brands for brakes, here is a short list-- Bendex, Raybestos, Akebono, Hawk, Wagner, NAPA/United, Carquest, Centric, Motorcraft, ACDelco, Monroe, Brembo, and EBC.

To help you avoid going to a shop that has those scams, call first. Then ask for a quote over the phone. The reputable shops have no problem telling you the price over the phone. The less reputable ones do. They do not need to see your trailer to give you a quote.

Trailer Brakes- Replace The Shoes Or The Entire Assembly?

This is a judgment call on your part. The reason we say that is because if you just replaced the brake assembly the last time you had the brakes repaired, you may not need new components just yet.

Some shops may say that the price to replace the entire assembly is almost the same as replacing just the brake pads, and it may be true. But if you do not need the whole assembly then you can save a few dollar difference between the two repairs.

For those who are not mechanics, there is nothing wrong with replacing the whole assembly. You can drive knowing you have new parts working for you.

Backing Plate Replacement Cost


Just checking the parts costs and you will be looking at anywhere between $33 and $460 just for the backing plate. It will depend on the make and model of your trailer and how much you will pay.

Then add the labor charge on top of those prices and you are looking at a lot of money PER wheel. O’Reilly Auto Parts store did not even list a price for its backing plates. Their sales price will depend on the specific trailer model, etc.

Some Final Words

Always do some investigating before you pull into a brake repair shop. Some are very legitimate and some are not. It is hard to tell the difference. The total cost you pay will depend on which shop you use if you do it yourself and if you fall for a scam or not.

The reputable brake repairmen will be able to give you a solid quote over the phone. After all, this is not rocket science or brain surgery. It is a simple brake job with no surprises involved.

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