What Is a Trailer Brake Controller and How to Use One

What Is a Trailer Brake Controller and How to Use One

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Earlier than the 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 had been principally hydraulic versus the electrical designs we see on most fashionable towable RVs

Towing security has improved dramatically since then, and this element is a crucial purpose for these enhancements. Right here’s all the pieces you must find out about trailer brake controllers

What’s a Trailer Brake Controller?

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Picture by Tenting World

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

Most designs embody an interface within the cockpit of the tow vehicle. 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 fundamental sorts of digital brake controllers for trailer towing: proportional and time-delayed.

Proportional trailer brake controllers apply pressure to your trailer’s brakes proportional to the quantity of pressure being utilized to your tow automobile’s brakes. The tougher you brake, the extra pressure 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 pressure. 

Time-delayed trailer brake controllers permit you to choose a acquire setting that tells the controller the quantity of braking pressure to use. As soon as set, this pressure might 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 may modify the acquire setting in transit. 

Do I Want a Trailer Brake Controller?

Federal legislation requires trailers with a loaded weight exceeding 3,000 pounds to have a braking system. This method 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 approach in your tow automobile to inform your trailer’s brakes when to function. 

The best way to Use a Trailer Brake Management

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Picture by Tenting World

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

  1. Arrange the controller and select your private settings.
  2. Alter the brake acquire setting.
  3. Alter braking sensitivity. 
  4. 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. If in case you have a time-delayed mannequin, you might want to regulate settings often, however utilizing a brake management requires minimal further effort after the preliminary set up. 

The best way to Alter a Trailer Brake Controller

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Picture by Tenting World

To regulate a trailer brake controller, your tow vehicle must be hooked up to your towable, and the wiring harness have to be plugged in. Park on a stage floor and guarantee you’ve got a protected space with loads of stopping distance forward. Then, observe 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 handbook for the suitable mild or sign to search for. 

Step 2: Choose Settings

Some interfaces provide quite a lot of private settings. These embody, however usually are not restricted to, the brightness and viewing angle of the interface. Select your private settings earlier than transferring on. 

Step 3: Alter Most Braking Output

Most output is the higher threshold for the pressure the controller will apply to your trailer’s brakes. Alter this setting in accordance with the scale 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, check the output by accelerating in a protected, open space to about 25 miles per hour (mph) and making use of the brakes. In case you’re stopping too slowly, enhance the utmost output setting. In case you’re stopping too all of a sudden, lower it. That is additionally known as the acquire adjustment.

Step 4: Alter Braking Sensitivity

Your brake controller’s sensitivity setting controls how aggressively the interface applies your trailer brakes. Most fashions permit you to modify this setting utilizing the identical technique 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 case you cease too shortly, cut back the sensitivity setting. If the interface feels too gradual to reply, enhance the setting. 

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

As you develop into extra comfy along with your trailer brake controller, conduct this check at various speeds to dial in your most well-liked settings and make sure the smoothest doable stopping in all driving situations. 

The best way to Set up a Trailer Brake Controller

Brake controllers are a important hitch and tow accent. They guarantee your stopping energy when towing, and the security of your RV road trips rely closely on this system. For these causes, we extremely advocate trusting the set up of this braking security system to a trained RV technician

Contact a Camping World Performance Center to have your trailer brake controller put in. 

That stated, listed below are the essential steps to put in most trailer brake controllers. Keep in mind, the method varies primarily based on the system’s producer. 

  1. Disconnect your tow automobile’s adverse battery cable.
  2. Select the place to mount the controller’s interface.
  3. Fastidiously drill holes into the sprint for the mounting bracket.
  4. Mount the interface bracket and safe the interface. 
  5. Join the interface utilizing a vehicle-specific wiring harness. 

Listed below are a couple of security tricks to keep in mind for this set up: 

  • Disconnecting your battery helps to forestall private harm and/or injury 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 pricey injury. 
  • Take care to not overtighten the screws when putting in the mounting bracket. 
  • The situation of the manufacturing facility wiring harness varies. Seek the advice of your automobile’s proprietor’s handbook to search out the placement of yours. 
  • Examine the area behind the sprint to make sure that no wiring or elements might be within the path of the drill bit.

The Greatest 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

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Picture 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. 

Learn more about this brake controller.

CURT Echo Cellular Trailer Brake Controller

The CURT cellular brake controller is designed for the trendy RVer. It makes use of Bluetooth expertise to attach along with your smartphone so you may management the brake settings while not having an extra 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 easy, responsive braking. 

Check the price of this brake control at Camping World.

REDARC Tow-Professional Elite V3 Electrical Brake Controller

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Picture by Tenting World

REDARC’s Tow-Professional Elite gives wonderful 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 change insert panel that’s suitable with most tow automobiles, and it really works with 12-volt or 24-volt electrical programs. Whereas towing, the controller’s three-axis accelerometer detects acceleration in any path, and self-leveling expertise senses your automobile’s charge of deceleration with out or and not using a trailer in tow. 

See if this is the right trailer brake controller for your RV.


Security is important when pulling a towable RV or towing a vehicle behind a motorhome. Listed below are a couple of extra sources that will help you tow safely: 

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


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