Trailer Brake Needed Adjustment for First Time... Why?

johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 100
edited October 15 in Camping & Travel
Just back from Portal, AZ and east side of Chiricahua Mountains. We found a perfect dispersed camping spot with relatively easy in and out. However, it was about 8 miles mostly uphill and gravel. All went well. When back on blacktop trailer brakes seemed grabby. At gas station in Animas, NM brakes clearly needed adjustment. Brake controller is Tekonsha Prodigy P2. They have worked just fine on setting recommended for smaller, single axle trailers. I had to back them off a bit to return to normal function.
Did the 8 mile downhill gravel experience with brakes being gently used contribute to the change in function?
What's likely scenario on next outing -- back to original setting or sustain changed setting?  Thanks!
2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM


  • GatorEggGatorEgg Member Posts: 277
    Yes.  Brakes setting should be reset/checked each time you hook up.  Prolonged use definitely changes braking effect.  Spending weeks on the backroads of the Smokies last year had me resetting the brakes frequently.  I don’t have my P2 instructions handy but I seem to remember it stating they should be checked each hook up.
    2018 [email protected] Boondock 320S, 2019 Toyota Tacoma Sport 4x4
    Odessa, Fl.  

  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Member Posts: 584
    edited October 16
    These are the P2 adjustment instructions we used after purchase to setup the first time in an empty parking lot.
    Periodically we repeat the process to confirm proper operation.
    Is this the setting you mean? It's not a specific number. 

    Boost is disabled since trailer weighs less than TV.
    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,508
    My Prodigy did pretty much the same thing on my first or second trip out.  Grabbing, locking up, etc.  I did the little setting procedure listed above and everything just settled out.  Hadn't had a problem since.
    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • tabiphiletabiphile Member Posts: 229
    If you were using your brakes regularly for 8 miles of downhill then they certainly heated up. Thermal expansion in brakes and especially drum brakes is not an exact science. What certainly happened is that the brake drum and shoe spacing was affected, albeit a very small amount. The affect of that on the controller setting is that you experienced gabbiness when you used the brakes. Re-adjusting the controller setting is the right way to overcome that and has been pointed out, a routine task. Next time you have a few minutes you should jack up the wheels and check the brake shoe adjustments. That should be routine maintenance for you but in this situation worth doing sooner rather than later. 

  • HoriganHorigan Member Posts: 67
    In addition, the brake shoes bed into the drum after initial wear-in and become more effective, so some reduction in brake setting after initial break-in is normal.
    2013 Toyota Highlander
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 100
    Thanks folks, that affirms suspicions.
    When leaving home with trailer we go from gravel to 65 mph rural state highway. No place for quite a few miles to do the 25 mph on blacktop controller setting protocol. Anyone have a modified protocol for setting controller on gravel? The secondary gravel road tends to be free of washboarding. The primary gravel road has knuckleheads and delivery trucks going 45+ mph after grader has been through and rendering it washboard within a week.
    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
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