Best Trailer Brake Controller 2018 | Expert Reviews and Buying Guide
Today, trailers are becoming more and more popular. As a result of this popularity, more accessories are required to make the tracks safer and more comfortable to drive. One of the most essential accessories that you need is the best trailer brake controller. It is a crucial safety consideration when you are towing a trailer because it ensures that your vehicle is adequately protected.
They were initially designed for large trucks and trailer units, but they have proven useful for smaller units too. This article will explain in detail what a trailer brake is, how it can help you, how to install it and give you a comprehensive buyers guide. We also review some of the best brake controllers in the market, so you make the right choice when buying.
What is a trailer brake controller?
A brake controller is a device that is wired to the vehicle, and whenever the brakes are applied, it sends an instant message to the towed car’s brakes to make it stop in time. Without the brake controller, therefore, stopping and slowing especially if it is done suddenly will be difficult and dangerous to both cars. It is mainly because the towed vehicle will continue moving at the same velocity it was moving and thus leading to the domino effect.
The brake controller is designed with big cars in mind. It is often placed on the dashboard area of the tow vehicle, and it acts as a control device that is the manager of the power that reaches the magnet at the wheel. The control engages the braking components that make the towed car to stop successfully.
Best Electric Brake Controllers For Trailers
1. Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake Control Review
With this tekonsha electric brake control, you will experience the best your vehicle can offer. The electric brake guarantees you instant braking regardless of how tough the terrain you are driving is. This system is also designed to work perfectly with hydraulic electric over brake system. Therefore, you are sure that you will not experience failing brakes even in the most challenging situations.
Additionally, this system automatically adjusts itself to ensure it saves you the hustles of manual level adjustments. When towing heavier trailers, the system allows you to enjoy more braking power as it produces stops in proportion to deceleration rate of your vehicle.
Installing this system is also straightforward. It comes with all the hardware you need to install and enjoy its uses. Therefore, you will not completely require the help of experts to get it functional.
2. Reese Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control Review
When investing in a motor spare, the most important thing is consider bits warranty statement. Warranty statement indicates how long you will enjoy the services of the part. With this reese towpower digital brake control, you get the best warranty on the market.
It comes with a limited lifetime cover on all essential accessories. Therefore, you will have all the freedom you require while using the brake.
It also features a bright digital display system that allows you to monitor all your braking controls. Installing this system is also straightforward as it features pre-wired plug and play small compact design. The system has two push-button that allows you to conveniently adjust the controls in relation to your braking requirements.
It also features a sensing device that ensures accurate adjustments. The design also features a safety key, which prevents all circuit damages.
3. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control
With this electric brake control, you will experience the best performance of your vehicle. The system has boosting feature that allows you to apply initial trailer braking especially when towing heavy trucks.
When not in use, it has a snap-in dash mounting clip and removable connector that allows you to quickly store the unit.
This system also has a digital readout LED display that guarantees you are able to trace how the system operates and the power it requires on various terrains.
4. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control
Having trouble on how you can tow your heavy duty truck due to multiple failing brakes, then this is all you want. The tekonsha 90195 P3 electric brake control provides you with exceptional power to tow even 4 axles trucks.
Unlike other electric trailer brake controls from tekonsha, it has added features, which makes it the best on the market. It has a compact dash hugging design that allows you to connect it perfectly on, whichever braking system your truck has.
Additionally, this electric brake control has 5-storable setting for easy pulling of multiple drivers. The display screen has different language settings to ensure you are comfortable with the language you understand best.
5. Curt Manufacturing CURT 51110 Venturer Brake Control
Venturer brake control is a compact easy to set-up brake controller that enhances the braking system of your truck. You can introduce the use of this system to boost your braking power especially to towing vehicles. Installing it is easy as it can be mounted at any angle and still attains the same braking power.
With this braking controller, the size of your truck is not an issue to stress you. This is because it comfortably operates on different truck sizes from 1 axle to at least 3 axle.
6. Curt Manufacturing CURT 51140 TriFlex Brake Control
TriFlex brake control is specifically designed to introduce excellence in your braking operation. The manufacturers guarantee to give you the ultimate power for all braking adjustments to ensure it fits your specifications.
This controller comes with mounting brackets and hardware to ensure you are able to install it anywhere you are. For the sake of customer satisfaction, the manufacturer backs this product with a lifetime warranty cover.
It can also be mounted anywhere on the dash as it has a quick plug and play design. However, for exceptional performance and easy accessibility, placing it under the steering wheel is much better.
7. Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop IQ Electronic Brake Control
Instead of dividing your attention on the braking operation of your truck, why not invest in draw-tite stop IQ electronic brake control. the system allows you to concentrate 100 percent on the road as it does not require any manual level adjustments.
It has a removable and clip snap-in dash mounting electrical connector for easy storage when the unit is not in use.
Additionally, it features a digital LED display screen that allows you to diagnose the braking buildup and progress. The system also has a limited lifetime warranty cover that gives you the freedom of taking it to any test drives.
8. Reese Towpower 8508211 Brake Control
The usual braking system on your truck is not enough to bring your towing vehicle to a stop still. However, that does not indicate that all hope is lost. The reese towpower brake control is a compact small size improvement system that will give you all the power you need.
It works proportionally even in reverse to ensure you have all the braking controls over your vehicle. When in use, it can comfortable handle any size of your truck from 1-axle to 4-axle. Therefore, nothing will put you down regardless of how heavy the trailer you are towing is.
9. Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF Electronic Brake Control
Take advantage of electronic brake control and experience the best performance of your towing vehicle. You can customize it to fit to your specifications, therefore, it has an easy to see LED display that allows you to trace all the braking power as the voltage builds up.
The system is suitable for use on 3-axle vehicles, therefore, it doesn’t matter the size of your truck. It has high power supply via 7-wayconnector. On your vehicle. The system comes with all the installation hardware and mounting brackets to ensure easy and direct installation.
10. Tekonsha 9030 Voyager Electronic Brake Control
Voyager electronic brake control has a patented braking sensor, which makes it the best for the price. It has a compact design, which guarantees that you will have smooth control even when riding through tough terrains.
This system is compatible to any vehicle and has an easy installation procedure. Only hook four wires and experience the best braking power for our truck. Additionally, it does not require any level adjustments as it adjusts automatically.
Brake Controller Buying Guide
If you are looking for a new brake controller, here are a couple of features that you need to look for when buying:
This is one of the most critical factors to look for when shopping for a device. The volts are either 12 or 24 volts, so you need to make sure that it matches to the power source of the trailer. If the two are not paired appropriately, it is possible that they might not work and it may lead to accidents.
Types of trailer brakes
The braking system that you trailer uses will also determine whether the controller will work or not. It is important to remember that the brake controllers are not compatible with all hydraulic systems. If the hydraulic surge of the trailer cannot utilize the unique coupler, it will not efficiently use the controller.
If your vehicle uses both electrical and hydraulic systems, you are confident that any controller you choose will work. You also need to consider that ratio of the towing vehicle versus that of the car being towed. Always avoid low-end brake controllers when the trailer and the car have an equal mass or when the trailer is more substantial than the towing vehicle.
Time-based versus proportional based
Time-based systems are based on the different systems that sense the deceleration of your car. They use the power proportionally to the electrical braking system. Proportional controllers use a set of capabilities to the trailer’s braking system each time they are required.
Hydraulic versus electric
There are hydraulic and electrical properties, and you must know the brands that are compatible with each of the situations. It is vital to ensure that the controller device has a level capacity that you need. You must also look at the ratio of the tow vehicle and that of the trailer being towed. The rule of thumb is to avoid low brands if the trailer is more substantial than the vehicle.
Amount of axles
You must bear in mind that different controllers have many axles that they can match. Make sure that you are on the lookout for those brands and thus you offer the full range. Make sure that you know the brands that will suit your trailer needs.
You must check the display type used by the controller. LED monitors are best because they rely on the information and other diagnostics of the trailer and how they are controlled. Therefore make sure that you get the best brands that are offered with the LED feature.
Often, people are limited by prices and consider buying lower brands. However, never buy cheap products because they tend to get damaged faster and they do not work as they should. However, that does not mean that you should buy one that is too pricey. Consider comparing prices to find if other great brands have fairer prices.
Benefits of Having a Truck Brake Controller
Al trailer owners need to consider that trailer brakes are a necessity. They can save lives. After all, it makes sure that the trailer’s free and massive weight is not moved or pushed on. Here are some of the significant benefits of the brake controllers:
Types of Trailer Brake Controllers
There are several modes of trailer brake controllers that are available in the market today. However, there are two types of brake controllers, proportional and time delayed.
1. Time delayed brake controllers
These are engaged by the trailer brakes using a pre-set power output and sync or rate of application. The settings are often determined by the driver depending on the combined weight of the trailer and the cargo that is expected.
There is a sync switch that determines the braking force of the system. If the sync is too low, the towing vehicle will perform most of the braking. However, if it is set too high, it will carry the most of the braking burdens. With this controller, there is a delay between the time the driver steps on the brakes and when the controller starts working on the trailers brakes.
2. Proportional brake controllers
What is a proportional trailer brake controller? Of the two types of controllers available, these are the most expensive. They unleash the pressure of the brakes at a ratio that is similar to that of the towing vehicle. It is better in the way it senses when and how the towing vehicle is slowing and stopping and how it engages the brakes of the trailer with similar intensities.
Therefore, if a driver slams the brakes hard, the controller will slam on the trailers brakes such as hard making the stop uniform and thus avoiding accidents.
It is great because you will adjust the controller's features based on the weight and braking preferences of a vehicle being towed. While the wiring and installation of the systems are similar, they are different in how they function they can also be overridden manually depending on the braking force and the load carried.
How To Install A Trailer Brake Controller
Installing the trailer brake control is not as easy as it seems. However, these instructions will ensure that you do it right and safely.
Check if the vehicle is pre-wired for the device
First, you must make sure that the vehicle is ready for the device. Check under the dash and see if there is a plug labeled electric brake controller. The plug may be right under the steering wheel, but sometimes, you will have to search for it a bit harder. You may need to root around to find it slightly.
Select the right harness
The brake controller needs to have a wiring harness that you splice into. If you have never done wiring, you may need to get some professional help. However, if your car is wired for a controller, it will come with a harness, and so your work will be more accessible.
The next step is to make sure that you assemble the controller correctly. Assemble the entire controller as it should be as this will make sure that the installation is done correctly and quickly.
Before you start up the vehicle, make sure that you mount all the components. Make sure that it is fastened securely and that it uses up all the mounting screws. It is crucial that you do everything perfectly and you double check everything after you are done, do not dodge any cables. If the component is not fixed properly, it will result in failures of braking when it is required. The system should calibrate itself to make sure that it is a safe location.
The next thing you must do is install the dash mount controls. Make sure that it is in a place that is visible. Make sure that there is enough space for the mounts to sit securely. While the dash control is small, it comes with a bulky electrical plug. Also, make sure that the dash material is not too thick so it will not affect the operation of the brake activation button.
Output and input wires
These are the two wires that should be connected before you power up the system. The first wire is the one that comes from your brake lights and who can get brake light switches that are connected on top of the actual brake pedal. This is the one that tells the central unit when to activate the trailer brakes. The other cable that needs to be connected is the output cable that is between the central control and the trailer’s brakes.
Connect the dots
Run the positive and negative electrical cables from the main unit to the battery through the circuit breaker. These should be mounted as close to the battery as possible. Of course, twin core wiring is the easiest to work with. Pass the electrical cables through the firewall of the vehicle so that the existing holes will ensure structural integrity is maintained. You may want to leave it disconnected at the battery until you have completed all other processes.
Make sure it is working before you hook the trailer at the back
Test the controller and make sure it is working before you hook a trailer. There is a test light to probe the auxiliary brake pin on the electrical tow plug and use it to activate the brake controller. If the test light illuminates, the controller is working as it should. The more you increase the voltage, the more intense the light should be.
How Do Trailer Brake Controllers Work / What Does a Brake Controller Do?
Once you hitch a trailer up on your vehicle and start moving, you will realize that slowing down is a huge problem because of the extra weight you are towing. Brake controllers, therefore, come in handy to help you stop on time by engaging the trailers brakes when you press on your vehicle’s brakes. This way both the vehicle and the trailer will stop simultaneously.
How to use a trailer brake controller
Each time you slam on the brakes of your vehicle, the trailer brakes will automatically work and stop the trailer. However, you must make sure that you service the trailer frequently. Make sure that you adjust and inspect the brakes so that they are always working correctly. The heavier the load being towed and the more frequent the towing, the more times you will need to adjust the device.
How to adjust electric trailer brake controller
Before you adjust the brake controller, you will have to pre-warm the brakes. Always use the manual to adjust because different types of brake controllers come with different procedures. Once the brakes are warm, all you have to do is make sure that you dial in the right settings.
Choosing the best trailer brake controller will depend on the load you carry and how often you will use your vehicle to tow a trailer. Of course, the more you tow, the better the quality of the brake controller should be. With that said, if you do not have much experience with DIY projects on your vehicle, it is best to have a professional install the device for you so that you can have the best functionality and durability.