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Old 01-04-2011, 10:06 AM   #1
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Towed Vehicle Brake

OK, I'm a total Rookie. Now that's out of the way, I need some advice on a tow behind braking system for my '08 Chevy Cobalt. I have a dealer about 5 miles away who has suggested an Even Brake system. He states it's cost effective (dealer speak for inexpensive), easy to set up, reliable, and can be moved from vehicle to vehicle. I am somewhat mechanically inclined, but not a rocket scientist. Any suggestions would be very helpful.
Thanks in advance,
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:21 AM   #2
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I use the ReadyBrake. Simple, purely mechanical, and the least costly. It has worked well on my HHR, and your Cobalt is pretty much the same vehicle underneath. They also make a super tow bar with integrated brake actuator if you need a tow bar.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:23 AM   #3
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I started with an Even Brake system because of the portability. When the Even Brake is not in use is has to be stored and you have to go thru the setup procedure each time you install it. It has to be removed before you can drive your tow car.

When it failed I replaced it with the SMI Stay-in-Play. Now all I do is plug in the tow lites and flip one toggle switch. Nothing to hook up or unhook in the tow vehicle.

If you plan on keeping the Cobalt as your tow, I would suggest something like the Stay-in-Play.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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I have used Brake Buddy for 6 years and it works well. Easy to set up and yes, you have to store it somewhere when not in use.
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:34 PM   #5
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I have the Uni-Brake system. It's a plug and go. All you have to do is hook up the power cable. It uses the power brake system on the tow vehicles instead of others that just push on a dead brake pedal. It cuts the hook-up time down to about 2 or 3 minutes
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:40 PM   #6
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I won't talk about all brands but I will describe a few systems.
The Even brake, Brake buddy and a few others are what I call "Brake system in a box" systems.. The hand out yammers about no installation however the fact is YOU, the user, have to install them EVERY TIME YOU TOW.. I can just see a quick trip to the dealer 5 mies away and you thinking "Oh for such a short trip,, I'll just forget it, it's too much work" and 2 miles later wishing you'd not thought that.

There is another system much favored by folks with air brakes on their motor home.. it is a very good system.. The M&G air/hydraulic system.. This puts an air cylinder between the booster and the master cylinder, WILL NOT FIT ON ALL CARS and the motor home operates this remotely.. A very good system.

Next is the US-Gear Electric/hydraulic system.. No need for air brakes or compressed air on the towing vehicle.. Again it works well.. It is progressive (the harder your brake the harder it breakes) Porportional (you can adjust the gain) and can be operated both manually and automatically..

One of my concerns about the "Box" systems is this.. If you are going down a steep hill will it engage (Since it uses an accelerometer which is "Falsed" by going down hill) I don't know.. The US gear system is triggered by the brake light switch on the motor home. So if you do not push the pedal. it will not engage. (Save in a break-a-way situation) I very much like systems like this.

I also like that if needed I can "SET" the towed car brakes independent of the motor home system.. This can be useful in some fairly rare conditions.... but I've hooked up under exactly those conditions (IE: hooked up facing down hill)

Here is what I did that time: I pulled the car up and set the parking brakes.. Extended the blue-ox tow bars so as to connect to the base plate and pinned it.. hooked up the lights, brake control and safety cables (including the one for the brakes) Applying the vehicle service brakes I released the parking brake and let it ease up on the tow bar (Fully collasped on one bar) At some point I "released" the axle lock (Put it in trailer mode)

Back in the motor home I manually overroad the US-Gear brake and set the towed's brakes.. Then let the motor home coast gently forward till the tow arms both locked in position.. Then we returned to normal operation and drove home.
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:45 PM   #7
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I pull and Acadia and use the ReadyBrake (4700 lbs+) as stated above it is effective, simple and easy to hook up for each trip regardless of length.
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:46 PM   #8
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We have the Ready Brute integrated Tow Bar & Brake system along with a Blue Ox baseplate on our 09 Vue.

Cheap & works great.

The base plate was a lot more work to install than the brake cable.
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:56 PM   #9
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Another vote for the Brake Buddy! I have used it on two different jeeps, one just over 3k lbs. and one over 4k. I have been completely happy with it. It will not come on when descending hills or using engine braking by down shifting. You do need a 12V power outlet that is energized all of the time to run the unit's on board compressor. I have left mine plugged in for a couple of days without ill effect.

You do have to store the unit, but when I am not pulling my toad, it fits perfectly in one of my compartments. It is about the same size as a motorcycle helmet. Pick one that sounds right for you, they are all good. Just use it all the time. They say it takes doing something 30 times to make it a habit. It takes me less than 2 minutes to install it. The longest time is the compressor coming up to pressure
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Old 01-05-2011, 05:56 PM   #10
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I did a lot of research before selecting a tow brake system and elected to install the US Gear Unified Tow System. As has been stated above the Uni-Brake has several advantages including modulated brake pressure for the towed vehicle, a "plug and play" hook up (no extra effort involved), a vacuum pump that enables the towed vehicle's power brake unit to function, and the system is completely integrated (no extra boxes, cables, etc. to mess with). It is a little more expensive due to installation costs for the equipment in the towed vehicle (thought I installed my unit myself), but it's worth it.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:06 PM   #11
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when you are out hooking up in really bad weather, you'll be very happy with your decision
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Old 01-30-2011, 05:33 PM   #12
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Third vote for ReadyBreak. I've had excellent luck with mine. Nothing electrical to worry about, pure mechanics. Check this website for the ReadyBrute Elite: Readybrake RV Tow Bars and RV Surge Braking Systems for Car Towing - Night Shift Auto

Oh... as part of your research... do a search on the brands in which you're interested.. for each one you'll find stories of ruined toad tires (and more) when they failed... but, no such stories for ReadyBrake were found.
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Old 01-30-2011, 05:52 PM   #13
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Towed Vehicle Brake

I use the M&G Airbrake system on a Jeep Liberty. Plug in the airline and away you go, however it is not transferable between vehicles.
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Old 01-30-2011, 06:28 PM   #14
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I use the M&G air brake system with my Explorer, works great.
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:46 PM   #15
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Third vote for ReadyBreak. I've had excellent luck with mine. Nothing electrical to worry about, pure mechanics. Check this website for the ReadyBrute Elite: Readybrake RV Tow Bars and RV Surge Braking Systems for Car Towing - Night Shift Auto

Oh... as part of your research... do a search on the brands in which you're interested.. for each one you'll find stories of ruined toad tires (and more) when they failed... but, no such stories for ReadyBrake were found.
Can you confirm that Redybrake DOES NOT have a break-away system (ie applies brakes in towed vehicle if hitch breaks/disconnects)? From the description on the website, I don't see how it could.

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Old 01-30-2011, 09:37 PM   #16
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Can you confirm that Redybrake DOES NOT have a break-away system (ie applies brakes in towed vehicle if hitch breaks/disconnects)? From the description on the website, I don't see how it could.
No break-away for the basic unit. You buy a separate unit which is just a separate cable that attaches to your brake pedal. It runs through a metal block that is basically a one way lock. Worst case scenario--the towed comes unhitched The emergency cable is pulled which pulls the towed brake cable and locks the brakes. A link in the cable setup breaks at a set point so the cable detaches The towed stops--quickly I would guess.

I have heard of a couple incidents where towed's came loose, but it must be rare. In my setup, a lot would have to fail before the towed took off on its own. In any event, the kit available from ReadyBrake will satisfy the requirement for a break-away device. It is called "ReadyStop".
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:45 PM   #17
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We are very pleased with our SMI Stay-IN-Play DUO. Incredibly easy to get going - just flip the switch. It is not portable from one car to another. But is never in the way, and no storage concerns. It is a bit more expensive. I especially like it when the weather is miserable, and I don't have to get the darn box unit set up while I'm standing outside in the rain.
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:29 PM   #18
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We are very pleased with our SMI Stay-IN-Play DUO. Incredibly easy to get going - just flip the switch. It is not portable from one car to another. But is never in the way, and no storage concerns. It is a bit more expensive. I especially like it when the weather is miserable, and I don't have to get the darn box unit set up while I'm standing outside in the rain.
I second the SMI Stay-IN-Play DUO. I installed it myself in my Jeep wrangler. Flip the on switch and you're ready to go.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:19 PM   #19
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I second the SMI Stay-IN-Play DUO. I installed it myself in my Jeep wrangler. Flip the on switch and you're ready to go.
Another happy SMI Stay-IN-Play DUO user.
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:50 PM   #20
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Go here to view the ReadyBrake breakaway unit.
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