Educate me about towing a heavy load - TundraTalk.net - Toyota Tundra Discussion Forum

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Educate me about towing a heavy load

(Base facts: 2015 DC SR5 w/tow package, need to tow a 7-8k lb tractor 150 miles 2x/year)
The above facts reference the most I've ever towed, so am looking for schooling- bear with me as I ask what may be dumb questions-
With the above scenario, does a pintle vs 2-5/16" make a difference?
What's the difference between a trailer having surge vs electric brakes? What actually activates them?
If the SR5 has the 7-pin plug, does that control electric brakes? If so,
Why would I need a brake controller? (What's the function of a brake controller anyway?)
If a brake controller is an absolute must, then does it have a separate hook-up to the trailer?
Would a transmission cooler be a good thing?
Do either brake controller/tran coolers void a Toyota lifetime drivetrain warranty?

I want this to be safe and knowledge is the best place to start, right?
Thanks for the primer!

Last edited by Bergie; 04-17-2019 at 08:58 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 09:17 AM
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Your 2015 has a trans cooler, but not a brake controller.
The truck is prewired for a controller but you need to add it.
After you add the controller, it will work through the 7 pin, no additional hook up.
You will need a weight distribution hitch.
Surge brakes are built into the tongue of the trailer and use the force of deceleration to activate the brakes. Electric uses a signal from your new controller to activate the trailer brakes.


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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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So then my next question would be..... If I already have the cooler and a trailer has surge brakes, then I wouldn't need the brake controller (?)
(Brake controllers are only meant for use with electric brakes?)
Is there an efficiency or reliability difference between surge and electric brakes?
One better than the other? Why would a person choose electric over surge? Or vice versa?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bergie View Post
So then my next question would be..... If I already have the cooler and a trailer has surge brakes, then I wouldn't need the brake controller (?)
(Brake controllers are only meant for use with electric brakes?)
Is there an efficiency or reliability difference between surge and electric brakes?
One better than the other? Why would a person choose electric over surge? Or vice versa?
If the trailer does not have electric brakes you do not need a brake controller. You're correct that brake controllers only operate electric brakes.

Surge brakes do not work well with a weight distributing hitch due to weight being transferred off the hitch and transferred through the frame to the front axle. This messes with the forces surge brakes rely upon to work properly.

I believe while surge brakes can brake just as well as electric, they do not offer as much control over the amount of braking applied and are generally less reliable over time.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 02:59 PM
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You are already getting good advice here. The only other thing I would add is that if you need to back the trailer up hill/grade the surge brakes will activate and drag a bit. Most people I know have a block of wood cut to wedge in the tongue to stop the brakes from activating. A 2 5/16 will be quieter and smoother than a pintle hitch, and work better with a WDH. Either will be capable of the weight's you describe.


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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 09:05 PM
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You are already getting good advice here. The only other thing I would add is that if you need to back the trailer up hill/grade the surge brakes will activate and drag a bit. Most people I know have a block of wood cut to wedge in the tongue to stop the brakes from activating. A 2 5/16 will be quieter and smoother than a pintle hitch, and work better with a WDH. Either will be capable of the weight's you describe.


Most modern surge brake systems have a solenoid that is powered via a fifth wire that is energized when the backup lights come on. That’s why many boats come equipped with a “Flat-5” pigtail.

Older iterations commonly had a bar that you manually flip to block the tongue compression.

Even older ones have a block of wood shoved in them, as mentioned above.


Surge brakes, when operating correctly, are great. The tongue “squishes” in when you tru to stop the tow vehicle, because the trailer wants to keep moving forward. Just like a brake pedal, this tongue compression forces fluid to the calipers and applies the brakes. Quick stop? Lots of trailer brake. Nice, easy stop? Gentle trailer brake. It’s all relative to how fast you’re attempting to decelerate.

If you go with an electric controller, I’d recommend the Tekonsha P3. It is programmable and works like a dream after the initial setup. That part takes about 5 minutes, max... The nice part about the P3 is that it utilities a decelerometer, which means it senses how abruptly you’re trying to stop. This equates to a very smooth and fluid application of the trailer brakes. Just like a well set up surge system, hard braking on your end will get you a lot of trailer braking.

If you had a newer Tundra, the brake control output is dependent on how far you’ve pushed the brake pedal. It’s supposed to work like an extension of the pedal, but is inferior (IMHO) to the P3 in every way except the best little display on the dash...


Which ever way you go, get help learning the ropes. 8K pounds, plus trailer, is nothing to joke around with. Go to a reputable tow/hitch dealer to make sure you are getting the right equipment, and that it is all operating correctly. Our trucks have no problem getting that mass going, but stopping it is a different animal altogether...

Good luck!


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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 10:15 PM
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I may get into trouble here, but here I go. In my opinion, harbor freight is not a good place to get an equalizer hitch. Yes, it is much cheaper, but the batch of steel you get is risky as to quality control. For my towing, I would stick to a name brand like Reese, Kurt, or E-Qualizer, or check out U-haul. Even if the name brand hitch in made in China, it will have more consistent quality control than an unbranded one. Because of liability laws, made in USA should be best. Steel hitch parts need to flex and vibrate without the steel cracking (from being too brittle). Your stock Tundra receiver that came from the FACTORY is a good receiver, with good margins built in. Make sure your hitch that you slide into it is decent also. Have fun, and check your hitch at each rest stop, walk around and check tires, and hub temperatures...

If you use electric trailer brakes, Tekonsha is king, I agree. 2nd and 3rd generations are pre-wired with a harness that is just plug'n play if you buy the optional toyota pigtail. The past few years may already have an electric brake controller??? My 2008 needed the wiring harness.

Last edited by peacemakerpete; 04-17-2019 at 10:22 PM. Reason: add brake controller info
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 03:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peacemakerpete View Post
If you use electric trailer brakes, Tekonsha is king, I agree. 2nd and 3rd generations are pre-wired with a harness that is just plug'n play if you buy the optional toyota pigtail. The past few years may already have an electric brake controller??? My 2008 needed the wiring harness.
FYI my 2003(1st generation) came pre-wired for the brake controller and Came with a connector with pigtails!

I prefer electric brakes,like being able to hit the trailer brakes manually if it starts to sway for any reason.

Check you state laws for trailers,some states require brakes on both axles.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by john van View Post
Check you state laws for trailers,some states require brakes on both axles.
+1

Some states also require an independent system to apply the trailer brakes in case of a break-away. Safety chains do not exempt you from this requirement


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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 02:28 PM
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Electric brakes are adjustable on the fly with a good controller (stock on some truck tow packages) but with a boat trailer I would use a trailer with surge brakes as it will be more reliable and not subject to marine corrosion. It is one thing if a turn signal does not work but quite another problem if the brakes don't work. The break-away issue is easily managed with a surge brake but with electric brakes I would expect this to require a battery.

The people at etrailer.com are very knowledgeable about all kinds of trailers and hitches and other aspects of towing and you can talk to them by phone.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Calson View Post
Electric brakes are adjustable on the fly with a good controller (stock on some truck tow packages) but with a boat trailer I would use a trailer with surge brakes as it will be more reliable and not subject to marine corrosion. It is one thing if a turn signal does not work but quite another problem if the brakes don't work. The break-away issue is easily managed with a surge brake but with electric brakes I would expect this to require a battery.

Yes, battery set-up required for electric brakes, usually included in the kit, or can buy separate. Never had a problem with my Electric over Hydraulic (EOH) brakes on the boat trailer with disc brakes. But, one important aspect of electric braking is you have brakes backing down the ramp. Also better braking in turns on the road.

The people at etrailer.com are very knowledgeable about all kinds of trailers and hitches and other aspects of towing and you can talk to them by phone.

Yes, yes they are!!! Just finished an online order from them for the travel trailer.

All lot of good info here being posted.

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 10:41 AM
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Chiming in here.. picked up a new equipment hauler, it’s a bit overkill for my truck but it was practically free. (7K lb axles, drive-over fenders, 15k warm winch, 20’ long). I have just purchased a P3 brake controller and new Anderson hitch.. but the leafs really squat even with empty weight. What air bag kit does everyone recommend? Firestone with daystar cradles or just bolted to axle?




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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 02:51 PM
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Awesome trailer! I have Firestone bags without cradles. Works great when I haul my 5th wheel. I'm considering the cradles so I hope someone will answer about them.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 04:55 PM
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The firestone ride-right kit for tundra is a no-drill installation, using existing holes in the frame. You do have to cut off the rubber bump stops. I have used 20 psi to 40 psi with good results (they are rated to 100 psi). The conventional kit attaches the airbag to the upper and lower ends of the airbag. Maybe if you do heavy off-road driving, the daystar cradle may give you more rear suspension travel??? I don't know. I have over 110,000 miles on my 2008 doublecab with no airbag failures. I don't see any reason for me to use the daystar non-attached bottom airbag cradles. Maybe you have had a different experience? I could see a problem with mud or small rocks eroding the bottom airbag purch on the daystar system, or abrading the airbag if used in sandy mud. The airbags made a huge difference in ride quality with heavy loads, and corrected rear leaf spring compression when my bumper pull trailer tongue weight approached 900 lbs.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-20-2019, 11:57 AM
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I use Timbren's and they work great. They keep the stock ride until underload.
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