Which Boat Trailer Brake Type Should I Use?

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Which Boat Trailer Brake Type Should I Use?

Whether you are preparing for an upcoming fishing trip with your family or just taking your boat for a spin, it is always important to have your boat trailer parts in check. One of the most important things is your trailer brakes.

Back when the manufacturing technology for trailer brakes was not as technologically advanced as they are now, there were fewer options for reliable braking systems.

We would like to help you get started by weighing in on the pros and cons of each boat trailer brake types out there.

Hydraulic Surge Brakes

Boating enthusiasts would say that hydraulic surge brakes are the simplest to use for boat trailers. The actuating cylinder attached to the fluid coupler in these hydraulic surge brakes has a softer impact which allows for a smoother deceleration and better control. These are our most popular braking solution.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are characterized by power. They have a greater pressure that works well in water. The friction created by the internal mechanisms makes the boat trailer stop faster and has greater resistance to the water. The problem with this is that they may not be suitable for salt water. Because they are made of metal, they are prone to corrosion if not washed right away with tap or freshwater. Pacific Trailers avoids this issue by using aluminum calipers, stainless steel pistons and dacromet backing plates on the brake pads. These are recommended for the boater wanting more control of the trailer’s stopping ability. Additionally, these work best for those towing through various terrain. Your brakes are only used when you depress your truck brake pedal.

Electric-Over-Hydraulic Brakes

Electric-over-hydraulic brakes are quite new in the market. Of course, many enthusiasts still prefer surge brakes, but it will not hurt to give these a shot. The way these brakes work is using an electric pump to transmit pressurized fluid to drum or disc brakes. Their controllers are easier to understand and install. They are also easily adjustable. These are said to work best for higher end boat trailers. Otherwise, their braking power may not be as smooth as expected. They are fantastic for long distance travel or steep hills or grades.

Now that you know the types of brakes, it’s important to ask yourself some questions to make sure you get exactly what you need. How long are you going to use your boat trailer in the water? Are you going to use it in freshwater or sea water? How big is your boat? How much work are you willing to do to maintain your boat trailer? How much is your budget for maintenance or service?

These questions will help you understand which brake type your boat trailer needs for it to function the best way possible. But don’t worry - we are here to help you figure out the best fit to guarantee that all of your future boating trips are fun, and above all, safe.


  • Dixon Allen

    Im having a Dusky 252 being built for me. I am towing with a 4wd ford expedition. Boat weighs 3700lbs. Are surge brakes ok for this application? Or do i even need brakes? I live in Florida so i won’t be going up and down any steep roads.
    Thank you so much for your time and knowledge.

  • Colm David Gallagher

    I need a manual for my 1999 Pacific trailer that came with a 1999 Seaswirl Striper dual axel. I need to completely overhaul the brake system as it doesn’t look like it has been taken care of very well. All new tubing breaks master cylinder etc.. Can you help me out with a manual so I can try to tackle this project?

  • Robert Litchfield

    I need an owners manual for my Pacifica trailer that I got when I purchased my Duffy 18 boat please mail it or email it to me

  • jon barber

    I would like to talk to someone about brakes for my Pacific trailer. 209 604 6132

  • Joy

    This article is very helpful to me i learned a lot from this

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