Reset The Emergency Breakaway Trailer Brake Activation System

After testing or engaging the trailer’s breakaway system, be sure to reset it before going any further.

Emergency breakaway brakes are wired into a trailer’s electric braking system. A plastic plunger, inserted into the breakaway switch on the trailer hitch, is attached to the tow vehicle with a steel cord. In the event that the trailer is separated from the vehicle, a plunger will pull out of the switch, which then activates the trailer’s brakes via battery power. After the plunger has been pulled out, the switch will need to be reset.


1. Determine what caused the emergency breakaway brakes to be activated if the trailer and tow vehicle were in motion at the time. If the hitch failed, have it repaired prior to resetting the breakaway system or towing the trailer again.

2. Detach the plunger and steel cord from the tow vehicle if it is still attached. If the cord or the plunger sustained any damage when the plug was pulled, replace it before resetting the switch. Plug the plastic plunger back into the breakaway switch located on the trailer. If the trailer brakes were engaged in an emergency situation with the breakaway switch or for more than a couple of minutes during a test, recharge the breakaway battery completely.

3. Check the tow vehicle’s brake controller instruction manual for special precautions with regard to the trailer’s breakaway system. Some brake controllers will malfunction and require replacement if the breakaway system was tested or engaged while the trailer was plugged into the tow vehicle’s electrical system.

READ  Jump Start A Car With Jumper Cables