How to Wire Trailer Brake Magnets


Suddenly, while towing your small trailer, you realize the electric brakes do not seem to be working properly even though the display on the brake controller lights up when the brake pedal is depressed. Looking under the trailer, you discover the wires to the brakes are broken and missing from the trailer axle. Don't despair; with a few simple tools, you can repair the wiring or install a new brake magnet.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire stripper
  • 14-gauge automotive wire
  • Insulated butt connectors
  • Crimping tool
  • Heat-shrinkable tubing
  • Heat source
  • Sand paper
  • Ring terminals
  • Self-tapping screws
  • Examine the brake wire running from the trailer connector and cut it back to the beginning of the damaged section. Be certain to remove all of the wire that has damaged or missing insulation.

  • Strip 1/4 inch of the insulation from the end of the remaining wire and attach an insulated butt connector using the crimping tool. Tug on the connector to ensure a secure crimp on the wire. Cut a two-inch piece of heat-shrinkable tubing and slide it over the connector and the wire.

  • Strip 1/4 inch of insulation from the end of the 14-gauge automotive wire. Insert the stripped end into the butt connector. Crimp the connector to the wire using the crimping tool. Tug on the wire to test for a strong bond.

  • Slide the heat-shrinkable tubing back over the butt connector, making sure to center the connector within the tubing. Shrink the tubing securely around the connector and wires with a suitable heat source, such as a hair dryer, small gas torch or butane lighter.

  • Connect the opposite end of this wire to one of the two wires at the back of the brake. It does not matter to which wire you connect. Run another piece of 14-gauge wire to the brake on the opposite side of the trailer and connect to one of the wires using another butt connector. Remember to cover the connections with heat-shrinkable tubing to help prevent corrosion of the connections.

  • Strip 1/4 inch of insulation from the second wire at the brakes and attach a ring terminal using the crimping tool. Attach the ring terminal to the frame with a self-tapping screw. Sand all paint and rust away from a small area on the trailer frame near the brakes and locate the screw in this area.

Tips & Warnings

  • It may be easier to use the next larger sized butt connector when attaching the two wires to the first brake magnet wire. Be certain to test the connection with a tug on the wires and to seal the connection with heat-shrinkable tubing or electrical tape when a larger connector is used.

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  • Photo Credit camping,trailer image by Greg Pickens from
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