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Correct Attachment of Breakaway Cables

Braked Trailers (up to 3500kg GVW)
Where a designated attachment point is provided on the towbar:
Fig 1a) Pass the cable through the attachment point and clip it back on itself
(Fig. 1)

Fig 2Or:
b) Attach the clip directly to the designated point (Fig. 2).
This alternative must be specifically permitted by the trailer manufacturer since the clip may not be sufficiently strong for use in this way.

Where no designated attachment point has been provided on the towbar:

Fixed ball.

Loop the cable around the neck of the towball.
If you fit the cable like this, use a single loop only. See Figs. 3a and 3b below.

Fig 3

Detachable ball.
You must seek guidance on procedure from the towbar manufacturer or supplier.

Other means of attachment:
In some instances it may be possible to attach the cable assembly:
a) to a permanent part of the towbar structure, as long as this meets the approval of the towbar manufacturer/supplier,
b) to an accessory sold for the specific purpose of breakaway cable attachment.

Correct procedure for use:

  • Regularly check the cable and clip for damage. If in doubt, contact your dealer or your service agent.

  • Make sure the cable runs as straight as possible and goes through a cable guide underneath the trailer coupling.

  • Determine whether or not the towbar has a designated attachment point (i.e. a part specifically designated by its manufacturer for a breakaway cable).

When the breakaway cable is attached, check to ensure:

a) that the cable cannot snag in use on the trailer coupling head, jockey wheel, or any accessory e.g. a stabiliser, bumper shield, cycle carrier, etc.
b) that there is sufficient slack in the cable to allow the towing vehicle and trailer to articulate fully without the cable ever becoming taut and applying the brakes.
Note: For peace of mind you might wish to check the state of the cable by positioning the trailer and towing vehicle at extreme angles before setting off.
c) that it is not so slack that it can drag on the ground. If left loose, the cable may scrape along the ground and be weakened so that it subsequently fails to do its job. The cable may also be caught on an obstacle when in motion thus engaging the trailer brakes prematurely. Having followed this advice, should you feel that a satisfactory coupling arrangement cannot be achieved, consult your trailer or towbar supplier or service agent.

This is the Law
UK Law requires that all trailers with brakes built on or after 1st October 1982 (e.g. caravans, horse boxes, flat bed car trailers etc.) are fitted with a safety device to provide protection in the unlikely event of the separation of the main coupling while in motion. A device referred to as a "breakaway cable" fulfils this requirement and when fitted to a trailer its use is mandatory. Trailer and/or towbar manufacturers should supply advice on the correct use of these cables. In the absence of such information, the following guidance should be noted.

Purpose of a Breakaway Cable
To apply a trailerís brakes if it becomes separated from its towing vehicle. Having done this, the cable assembly is designed to part, allowing the trailer to come to a halt away from the towing vehicle.

Usually a thin steel cable, possibly plastic coated, and fitted with a means of attachment for connection to the towing vehicle.

In the event of the main coupling of the trailer separating from the towing vehicle, the cable should be able to pull tight, without any hindrance, engaging the trailerís brakes.

Note: The breakaway cable should never become taut during normal use.

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