Service Trailer Brake System Warning Light – Meaning & Error Reset

An acronym in mechanical engineering – ABC, states, “Always Be Careful.” In other words, safety is a once-and-always measure you must consider. The trailer brake system is an extremely important towing safety measure for towing vehicles, especially trucks.

Therefore, understanding how to strategically reset a vehicle’s service trailer brake controller is essential. Not sure what a trailer brake is and what the service trailer brake system error message means? Digest the details in this article.

trailer brake system warning

What Is a Trailer Brake?

A vehicle’s trailer brake controller system is an OEM or aftermarket module. This device is installed on the vehicle to help the driver regulate the speed level of the trailer, as well as the stopping. The device is mounted on the dashboard at the driver’s side of the tow vehicle.

The trailer brake controller system engages in direct proportion to the tow vehicle’s brake. Or, it may also engage at a time-delayed frequency when reducing speed to stop. Most vehicle trailer brake systems are fitted with a plus/minus adjustment gain.

A few examples of trailers that are fitted with a trailer brake system include the following; horse trailers, large boat trailers, travel trailers, enclosed trailers, etc.

Read Also: What Does Service Brake Assist Mean & How to Fix It?

trailer brake system

What Does Service Trailer Brake System Warning Light Mean?

The service trailer brake system’s error message is a warning signal. That reveals a disengagement of a trailer from the towing vehicle, such that it can no longer receive power from the vehicle to function.

So, if you’re wondering, “What does a service trailer brake system mean?” It is a sign that there’s a problem with the trailer brake wiring. Or, the problem might be with the module that hinders the power supply from the tow truck to the trailer. When this occurs, it will manifest a couple of other symptoms besides the error message.

Some of the signs include a delay in the process of stopping the trailer, a sharp noise from the brake, a sinking pedal, and a sudden unresponsive or mushy feeling when you engage the trailer brake.

You may face any challenges outlined above or at least see the service trailer brake controller error message. In this case, reset the trailer brake ASAP before it escalates into an unexpected accident or damage.

Read: Service Advancetrac Warning Light – Meaning, Causes, & Fixes

How To Reset The Service Trailer Brake System Error Message?

Understanding how to reset the service trailer brake system is not necessarily a big deal. The process requires a couple of tools. Some of these tools include a flathead screwdriver, a piece of solid wood or rock, a strong hammer, and probably an assistant to help make the work easy for you.

So, once you have these tools available, you can proceed to commence the reset process immediately. The following step-by-step procedure will guide you in resetting your vehicle’s trailer brake controller system.

Service Trailer Brake System

Step 1: Identify the adjustment nut on the trailer

The first step is to find the adjustment nut, which is right at the back of the vehicle’s trailer brake. It is usually situated close to the axle. Once you finally locate this part, you can proceed to step two.

Step 2: Loosen the locknut with a screwdriver

There’s a locknut that is used to secure the adjustment nut on the trailer brake. Now, get the flathead screwdriver and use it to loosen this nut. This will enable you to perform the next task easily.

Step 3: Turn the adjustment nut clockwise

Once you finally loosen the locknut and the adjustment nut is finally free, turn the adjustment nut clockwise carefully until it snugs against the component’s backing plate. However, while adjusting the nut, make sure you don’t overtighten it to avoid complications.

Meanwhile, if the recommendation above does not rectify the problem, you most likely have a bad trailer brake system. You may have to get a new replacement for the component.

Is It Safe to Drive With Service Trailer Brake System Error?

You can possibly drive a vehicle with the service trailer brake error message. However, you must avoid towing any load until you finally fix the problem. Failure to fix the issue can damage your brake in the long run and lead to unexpected accidents.

Therefore, while it is possible to drive with a trailer brake controller error message, it is not safe or ideal to do so. Safety must be 100% at all times. So, the fact that a vehicle moves irrespective of a fault does not mean all is well.

A slight error can cause severe damage or an accident when you least expect it. So, it is best to fix any fault you spot in your vehicle until you are sure that the problem is no more.

Why does my GMC say service trailer brake system?

If you’re getting a service trailer brake system error signal from your GMC Sierra, you most likely have a faulty ITBC–integrated trailer brake controller wiring or module.

Usually, when the GMC service trailer brake system error message displays, it reveals a malfunction that hinders the power supply from reaching the system for proper functioning.

Therefore, the warning message reveals that the ITBC system cannot perform its normal operations due to the disconnection from power. This is a safety concern; hence, it would be best to contact a professional auto technician to check out the exact problem and fix it as soon as possible.

How do you reset a trailer brake controller?

Resetting your truck’s trailer brake controller is pretty straightforward. It will help you turn off the service trailer brake system error message ASAP.

So, firstly, ensure to get a flathead screwdriver, a piece of rock or wood, a strong hammer, and a helping hand (a friend to assist). Once you have these tools, locate the trailer’s adjusting nut. It is usually found close to the axle behind the trailer brake.

After that, loosen the locknut, which secures the trailer brake’s adjusting nut by using the flathead screwdriver. Now, turn that adjusting nut in a clockwise direction until it finally snugs against the backing plate. Once you do this, you’re good to go!

What are service brakes on a trailer?

The service trailer brake system in a 2014 Silverado is fitted to the trailer. Thus, it enables the driver of the towing vehicle to easily regulate the effort of the trailer brake. It is specifically designed for a smooth driving experience while towing a load.

The trailer brake system is highly susceptible to corrosion, seizure, binding, wire deterioration, etc. These are major factors that affect the braking system, especially when you ignore them for a long period.

How do I turn the service brake assist off?

Firstly, there are no specific ways to turn off a vehicle’s service brake assist as they are factory-fitted. Manufacturers ensure to keep them active because of the safety role they play, especially in the face of an unexpected accident.

However, disconnecting the fuse that controls the brake assist system is the only solution in this case. Meanwhile, disengaging this component and turning off the brake assist system will require you to take full responsibility for your safety, so it would be best to learn about the brake assist system’s operation in order to properly maximize it.

Is there a fuse for trailer brakes?

Of course, most trailer brakes come with a 30-amp fuse. The fuse is located in the engine compartment right in the vehicle’s underhood. Fuses work perfectly when they receive a voltage level that is commensurate with their capacity.

Fuses are installed to protect the actual components that they connect to in a vehicle. It is essential to engage in regular maintenance to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the trailer brake system.

Replacing the trailer brake is an expense you don’t want to incur, especially when the component has not reached its lifespan. Hence, you must manage the component carefully.

How much does it cost to fix the service trailer brake system?

The cost of fixing a service trailer brake system is estimated at around $300. This amount covers parts, labor, as well as the complete installation. However, the service trailer brake system’s replacement cost can vary widely. Mostly, the cost variation is based on the type of trailer brake controller and the auto technician doing the job.

So, in any case, ensure to draw up a budget and factor the cost of fixing your vehicle’s trailer brake system into the budget. No matter how much, the entire fix for a service trailer brake system in a GMC Sierra will not cost a fortune.

Final Words

Just like the importance of safety cannot be overemphasized, you cannot be too safety conscious about the service trailer brake system in a 2017 Silverado. Not to undermine at all, maintaining a 100 percent safety consciousness is extremely vital for you and your vehicle.

So, you must ensure that your vehicle’s service trailer brake controller is in perfect condition at all times. However, if you’re already seeing the service trailer brake controller error in your truck, do not panic; kindly drive straight to a professional auto technician’s workshop to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, if you’re a DIYer, take a moment to follow the guidelines on how to reset your vehicle’s trailer brake above.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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