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Towing Safety: Using a Trailer Breakaway Switch

Friday, June 11th, 2021

A hitch on the back of a vehicle.

It’s important to know about towing safety before you hook up a trailer to the back of your vehicle. In addition to ensuring that your trailer is properly secured and that you’re not exceeding the weight limit, consider getting a trailer breakaway switch to help keep your trailer under control.

Here’s what a trailer breakaway switch does and why you might want to use one next time you hitch up your trailer.

What Is a Trailer Break Away Switch?

A trailer breakaway switch is your fail-safe if your trailer manages to become disconnected from your vehicle while you’re driving. Whether the hitch wasn’t secure and slips loose, the ball mount snaps, or the safety chains break, the trailer breakaway switch will automatically activate the electric brakes on your trailer so that it comes to a safe stop.

Installation

You must have electric brakes on your trailer to use a breakaway switch. If you do, start by connecting the switch to the battery in the battery case located at the front of your trailer. The 12-volt battery in this case will have two wires if it charges via an external charger or three wires if it charges directly through your vehicle. The switch will end up mounted between the battery and the trailer.

What About the Pin and Cable?

There will also be a pin attached to a breakaway cable that’s roughly 4-feet long. The pin needs to be inserted into the switch, while the wire cable needs to be attached to your vehicle — there should be a hole or ring by your trailer hitch assembly that you can clip into. If your trailer disconnects while you’re driving, the car will pull the pin out, and the switch will know that the trailer has become disconnected. Once this happens, the electric brakes on your trailer will be activated.

What Happens When It Engages?

When the breakaway switch is triggered, the electric brakes on your trailer will immediately engage and bring the trailer to a stop. Once this happens, you’ll need to maneuver the trailer to a safe place off the road, chock the tires to keep the trailer from rolling away and ensure that whatever cargo you’re carrying is safe.

Whether you’re hauling live animals or just typical cargo, a trailer breakaway switch makes sure your trailer doesn’t roll away into traffic or flip over onto its side. It’s a simple fix for what can be a dangerous towing safety issue.

Check out all the trailering products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about how to safely tow a trailer, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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What Is an AGM Battery?

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

The absorbed glass mat battery (AGM) is a recent battery technology that is increasingly common in today’s cars. It’s an alternative to the well-known wet cell, or flooded, battery that has been in use for years. Read on to learn the difference between these battery types and why you might want to consider an AGM battery for your car.

What Is a Flooded Battery?

A flooded battery is the traditional type found in most vehicles. Inside these batteries there are thin lead plates and a solution of sulfuric acid and water. Car owners used to have to top off this water regularly, but many of today’s flooded batteries are sealed and don’t need this type of maintenance.

What Is an AGM Battery?

An AGM battery still has the lead plates and the solution of sulfuric acid and water. The difference is an added spongy glass mat separating each plate. The glass mats press up against the plates, holding them firmly in place and allowing for more of them to be packed into one case.

Since the liquid solution is held in the sponges, there’s never a need to fill these batteries. This design also reduces the risk of spillage in the event that the case is broken or tipped on its side.

Which Battery Is Best?

NAPA The Legend Premium AGM Battery

The AGM battery is a newer technology, but that doesn’t make it better in every situation. Each type of battery has pros and cons to consider.

A flooded battery has the advantage of being able to discharge to 80% without causing any harm to the battery. An AGM battery can only be discharged to 50% without risking a shortened lifespan. Overcharging an AGM battery can also shorten its lifespan.

An AGM battery is safer to handle since it won’t leak caustic fluids like a flooded battery, and it can have a longer lifespan. On the cons side, AGM batteries can be more expensive than traditional flooded batteries, which may put an AGM battery out of reach for people on a budget.

While both batteries can power your car sufficiently, be sure to find a battery that’s rated for your vehicle and fits securely in the engine compartment. Not every battery fits in every car, so do your research before you decide whether an AGM battery is the right choice for you.

Check out all the batteries and battery accessories available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about automotive batteries, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

The post What Is an AGM Battery? appeared first on NAPA Know How Blog.