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So you’ve got a trailer and a hitch. What other trailer accessories do you need before you’re ready to tow? Well, you don’t want to tow anything without a brake controller. Trust us on this one.
Simply put, a brake controller supplies power from the tow vehicle directly to the trailer’s brakes. No matter whether you’re towing a heavy piece of equipment or a small trailer to help your kids move to college, brake controllers are available with a wide variety of options and functions to fit any of your towing needs.
Compatible to your vehicle. These brake controller kits takes the guess work out of installation. Our experts have paired the brake controller with the matching wiring that will directly plug into your vehicle. No splicing required!
|From: $77.97 - $476.51|
Proportional brake controllers apply braking pressure to the trailer brakes equal to the time and amount of pressure being applied by the brake pedal.
|From: $35.19 - $236.42|
Timed trailer brake controllers apply and preset amount of trailer brake pressure when the pedal is pressed in the tow vehicle
|From: $8.16 - $283.91|
Brake controller wiring to wire a brake controller into a trailer brake compatible vehicle.
Brake controllers are one of the most important trailer accessories that you can purchase. They help keep you, your vehicle and your trailer safe. In fact, a good brake controller isn’t just a luxury or extra, it’s the law.
All 50 state require brakes on trailers with gross vehicle weight ratings* (GVWR) greater than 3,000 lbs. and some even have requirements for around 1,000 lbs.Make sure that you check your state’s regulations if you plan to tow anything.
Without proper brake controllers on a trailer, there is significantly less handling capability when towing. Both the towing vehicle and the trailer can become difficult to keep under control. Dangerous weather conditions, slippery roads, or situations that require fast stops can all be made even more hazardous without a proper brake controller on your trailer.
Aside from these obvious safety factors, it’s also important to note that no matter what vehicle you’re using to tow, its brakes were not designed for the heavier loads that towing entails. Without a proper brake controller, your truck or towing vehicle can end up with overheated and damaged brakes. When that happens, your vehicle’s safety is compromised whether you’re towing something or not.
So now that you understand why a good brake controller is a requirement for safe towing, let’s examine the different types of controllers that are available.
Time delayed controllers are programmed by the user with a predetermined amount of braking power. When the towing vehicle’s brakes are engaged, that pre-programmed level of power is then sent to the trailer’s brakes.
Proportional brake controllers use sensors and inertia to determine how quickly the tow vehicle is stopping and apply an equivalent amount of power to the trailer brakes. When the brakes are engaged in the towing vehicle, a pendulum sensor swings forward and measures both speed and braking power. It then matches the trailer’s brakes to that of the towing vehicle, making the trailer and the vehicle work together more easily.
Use of a time delayed brake controller gives you complete control over the amount of braking power in your trailer. This allows you to take into account the weight of your load, the length of your trip, your speed, and even the condition of the roads you’ll be taking. When you’re planning your trip, you can always change the amount of power applied to your trailer brakes based on terrain or speed.
Time delayed brake controllers are preferred by two very interesting and very different groups of people. Those who tow lighter loads once or twice a year and commercial drivers. Why such a big difference? Well, towing lighter loads on well-maintained roads or only towing a couple of times a year is the ideal situation for a time delay brake controller. They are easy to install and maintain with little calibration. You can just set it and go. The reason commercial drivers have been known to prefer time delay brake controllers is because they usually have preset speeds on their trips. This allows them to program their controller to match their speed and they can regulate it according to the kind of conditions in which they’ll be driving. It gives them more control over exactly how the brakes are applied on their trailers.
It is important to note that the time delayed brake controller is designed to stay within the presets that you program. This means that if you need to stop quickly or apply the brakes outside of those parameters, the trailer’s brakes will not respond to this urgency. If you think that you would prefer a more organic, sensor based system, consider a Proportional Brake Controller.
As we mentioned earlier, these types of brake controllers use sensors and inertia to determine how quickly the tow vehicle is stopping. They then apply an equivalent amount of braking power to the trailer. Simply put, when the brakes are engaged in the towing vehicle, a pendulum sensor swings forward indicating the pressure and speed at which the brakes are being applied. The controller then engages the trailer brakes based on these measurements. As you slow down, the pendulum begins to level and your trailer brakes will slow to match your speed.
If you have slippery road conditions or end up in a fast braking situation, a proportional brake controller will control the brakes on the trailer to match that of the towing vehicle. For many, this is a comfortable option because it makes the trailer more of an extension of the towing vehicle. A slow stop in the truck will mean a slow stop on the trailer brakes as well. Likewise, an emergency stop can be conducted faster for both the trailer and the towing vehicle.
Using a proportional brake controller usually provides a smoother ride and has been shown to create less wear and tear on the brake systems of both the trailers and the towing vehicle.
It is important to note that no matter which brake control system that you go with, it’s possible that you may need to upgrade select fuses in your vehicle. Adding this electronic device can sometimes create a drain on the electrical system of the vehicle. A simple upgrade of a few fuses can eliminate bigger problems later when you are in the process of towing a load.
Once you’ve decided whether you prefer a time delay or proportional brake controller, the next step will be installation. Our website has all of the information on everything you need to install your new brake controller. For the most part, installation is a relatively straightforward process.
We do recommend that if you’re uncomfortable working with wiring or plugs on your vehicle, you may want to consult a professional for installation.
For reference, once you have chosen the type, brand and style of brake controller that you’d like, simply pull up the product page on our website. You’ll find the appropriate installation manual for your brake controller in the product details section.
These manuals come straight from the manufacturer and they contain simple step by step instructions on everything that you need to do in order to install your new brake controller.
When you have followed the manufacturer’s instructions for installing your new brake controller, we recommend that you find an open, unpopulated area (a large parking lot works well) and test drive the trailer and brake controller using the manual control setting.
Usually, simple adjustments to the Output Control or Sync can correct either weak brakes or problems with lock up and jerky stops.
Driving forward and pressing the brake pedal should result in the tow vehicle and the trailer making smooth stops. Continue making adjustments to the Output Control until firm braking is felt without weakness or lockup.
So as far as you can tell, everything is hooked up properly, but the brake controller still isn’t working. Now what should you do? Here’s a quick list of troubleshooting tips.
Once you have done all of these things, if the brake controller is still not working properly, contact our customer service department for assistance.
*Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) Understanding your GVWR is a vitally important aspect of any towing situation. It gives you all of the information you need on how much weight in passengers and cargo that you can safely tow in your truck or SUV.
GVWR is defined as the maximum operations weight or mass of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer. It includes the vehicle’s chassis, body, engine, fluids, fuel, passengers and cargo. The GVWR is engineered when the vehicle is manufactured and therefore does not change no matter what you’re towing.
Being knowledgeable about your vehicle’s tow rating is necessary to successful towing. If you haven’t yet purchased a tow vehicle, assess what you will be towing with the vehicle and make your choice accordingly. It’s generally recommended that you purchase a vehicle with a little more capacity than what your towing needs are so that you know you are covered, but at the very least, be sure that what you’re looking to tow will be within the capacity of the towing vehicle.