What Is a Trailer Brake Controller and Find out how to Use One


Earlier than the Nineteen Fifties, slowing down a trailer or towed automobile was the only accountability of the towing automobile. The Kelsey Hayes Firm is credited with inventing the primary trailer brake controller, however early designs have been principally hydraulic versus the electrical designs we see on most trendy towable RVs.

Towing security has improved dramatically since then, and this part is a crucial motive for these enhancements. Right here’s every little thing you might want to learn about trailer brake controllers.

What’s a Trailer Brake Controller?

what-is-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photograph by Tenting World

A trailer brake controller is an digital gadget that controls the braking system in your towable RV. The controller sends a sign to activate the trailer brakes whenever you apply the brake in your tow automobile.

Most designs embrace an interface within the cockpit of the tow automobile. This interface permits you to management the acquire setting – outlined as the quantity of energy utilized to the trailer brakes.

How Does a Trailer Brake Controller Work?

There are two primary kinds of digital brake controllers for trailer towing: proportional and time-delayed.

Proportional trailer brake controllers apply drive to your trailer’s brakes proportional to the quantity of drive being utilized to your tow automobile’s brakes. The more durable you brake, the extra drive the controller applies to your trailer’s brakes. Newer controllers make the most of an accelerometer to detect deceleration and apply the suitable quantity of brake drive.

Time-delayed trailer brake controllers let you choose a acquire setting that tells the controller the quantity of braking drive to use. As soon as set, this drive will probably be utilized whether or not you’re coming to a gradual cease or braking abruptly. This may trigger jerky stops and push-pull between your trailer and tow automobile, however you possibly can modify the acquire setting in transit.

Do I Want a Trailer Brake Controller?

Federal legislation requires trailers with a loaded weight exceeding 3,000 kilos to have a braking system. This technique requires a trailer brake controller to function the trailer’s brakes successfully.

Past loaded weight, any trailer with electrical or electro-hydraulic brakes requires a trailer brake controller. With out one, there’s no method in your tow automobile to inform your trailer’s brakes when to function.

Find out how to Use a Trailer Brake Management

use-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photograph by Tenting World

Each manufactured mannequin operates barely in a different way, making your proprietor’s guide one of the best useful resource to discover ways to function a trailer brake management. Nonetheless, most fashions require the next steps to set them up and start utilizing them:

Arrange the controller and select your private settings.

Regulate the brake acquire setting.

Regulate braking sensitivity. 

Manually activate the trailer brakes as wanted.

When you’ve put in your trailer brake controller and chosen your settings, utilizing it’s merely a matter of driving your RV safely. You probably have a time-delayed mannequin, chances are you’ll want to regulate settings sometimes, however utilizing a brake management requires minimal extra effort after the preliminary set up.

Find out how to Regulate a Trailer Brake Controller

adjust-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photograph by Tenting World

To regulate a trailer brake controller, your tow automobile have to be hooked as much as your towable, and the wiring harness have to be plugged in. Park on a degree floor and guarantee you’ve gotten a protected space with loads of stopping distance forward. Then, comply with these steps:

Step 1: Calibration

Fortunately, most trailer brake controllers calibrate robotically, and a few don’t even require calibration. With self-calibrating brake controllers, look forward to the interface’s flashing mild or sign stating calibration is full. Seek the advice of the proprietor’s guide for the suitable mild or sign to search for.

Step 2: Choose Settings

Some interfaces provide a wide range of private settings. These embrace, however will not be restricted to, the brightness and viewing angle of the interface. Select your private settings earlier than transferring on.

Step 3: Regulate Most Braking Output

Most output is the higher threshold for the drive the controller will apply to your trailer’s brakes. Regulate this setting in accordance with the dimensions of the load you’re towing. To begin, depress the brake pedal and modify the output setting in accordance with the producer’s setup directions.

Then, take a look at the output by accelerating in a protected, open space to about 25 miles per hour (mph) and making use of the brakes. In the event you’re stopping too slowly, improve the utmost output setting. In the event you’re stopping too all of a sudden, lower it. That is additionally known as the acquire adjustment.

Step 4: Regulate Braking Sensitivity

Your brake controller’s sensitivity setting controls how aggressively the interface applies your trailer brakes. Most fashions let you modify this setting utilizing the identical methodology used to regulate braking output.

Set the sensitivity to the producer’s preliminary setup suggestion. Then, speed up as much as 25 mph and apply your tow automobile’s brakes. In the event you cease too shortly, cut back the sensitivity setting. If the interface feels too gradual to reply, improve the setting.

Technician Tip: Braking will really feel mushy or delayed when set too low and jerky when set too excessive.

As you turn into extra snug together with your trailer brake controller, conduct this take a look at at various speeds to dial in your most popular settings and make sure the smoothest potential stopping in all driving situations.

Find out how to Set up a Trailer Brake Controller

Brake controllers are a essential hitch and tow accent. They guarantee your stopping energy when towing, and the security of your RV highway journeys rely closely on this gadget. For these causes, we extremely advocate trusting the set up of this braking security gadget to a educated RV technician.

Contact a Tenting World Efficiency Middle to have your trailer brake controller put in.

That mentioned, listed below are the fundamental steps to put in most trailer brake controllers. Bear in mind, the method varies based mostly on the gadget’s producer.

Disconnect your tow automobile’s unfavorable battery cable.

Select the place to mount the controller’s interface.

Fastidiously drill holes into the sprint for the mounting bracket.

Mount the interface bracket and safe the interface. 

Join the interface utilizing a vehicle-specific wiring harness.

Listed here are just a few security tricks to keep in mind for this set up:

Disconnecting your battery helps to forestall private damage and/or harm to your automobile’s electronics, together with the brand new brake controller you’re putting in. 

Keep away from putting in a brake controller subsequent to delicate electronics like a CB radio or RF transmitter. 

Mark the mounting location earlier than you drill. Be extraordinarily cautious when deciding on the drilling location. Take away the panel and drill holes for the mounting bracket outdoors your automobile to keep away from expensive harm. 

Take care to not overtighten the screws when putting in the mounting bracket. 

The placement of the manufacturing facility wiring harness varies. Seek the advice of your automobile’s proprietor’s guide to seek out the situation of yours. 

Examine the house behind the sprint to make sure that no wiring or parts will probably be within the path of the drill bit.

The Finest Trailer Brake Controllers from Tenting World

Whether or not you’re putting in a trailer brake management for the primary time or upgrading an current controller, listed below are a few of our favourite fashions:

Primus IQ Trailer Brake Management

primus-iq-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photograph by Tenting World

The Primus IQ is a proportional trailer brake controller that helps trailers with as much as three axles. Set up is straightforward with a snap-in sprint mounting clip and the included {hardware}.

The digital LED readout tells you the quantity of voltage being delivered to the trailer brakes. It additionally alerts a safe electrical connection and features a self-diagnostics characteristic that illuminates the LED readout if points happen.

Study extra about this brake controller.

CURT Echo Cell Trailer Brake Controller

curt-mobile-1-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photo by Camping World

curt-mobile-2-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photo by Camping World

The CURT cell brake controller is designed for the fashionable RVer. It makes use of Bluetooth know-how to attach together with your smartphone so you possibly can management the brake settings without having a further interface put in in your tow automobile.

It’s a plug-and-play adapter that installs between your trailer-to-vehicle 7-pin electrical connector. As soon as put in, this high-tech brake controller makes use of a triple-axis, motion-sensing accelerometer to ship clean, responsive braking.

Examine the value of this brake management at Tenting World.

REDARC Tow-Professional Elite V3 Electrical Brake Controller

redarc-trailer-brake-controller-06-2023 Photograph by Tenting World

REDARC’s Tow-Professional Elite gives glorious versatility for the skilled RVer. The dial permits you to select between two modes of braking: a proportional mode for freeway driving and a user-controlled mode for boondocking and off-grid adventures.

This braking system comes with a free swap insert panel that’s suitable with most tow autos, and it really works with 12-volt or 24-volt electrical techniques. Whereas towing, the controller’s three-axis accelerometer detects acceleration in any route, and self-leveling know-how senses your automobile’s charge of deceleration with out or with out a trailer in tow.

See if that is the appropriate trailer brake controller in your RV.

Security is essential when pulling a towable RV or towing a automobile behind a motorhome. Listed here are just a few extra assets that can assist you tow safely:

Do you’ve gotten any questions on trailer brake controllers? Tell us within the feedback under.


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