What Is The Best Trailer Brake Controller And How To Choose The Right One

The popularity of trailers means that more accessories and after sales devices have been created for them. One of the most crucial ones is the brake controller. The device means to secure your car and trailer and safeguard your life. There are different types of brake controllers to choose from. Read on to discover everything you need to know about this device so you can choose the best trailer brake controller for you.

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What Is A Trailer Brake Controller?

An electric trailer brake controller is an aftermarket or OEM device that was originally designed with large trucks and trailers in mind. But they are also wonderful for towing vehicles that are smaller. The device is typically placed on the dashboard area of the tow vehicle. It acts as the control device that manages the amount of power that reaches the magnet at the wheel. The control engages the braking components which make the vehicle and trailer stop successfully

Here's a more detailed explanation:​

Benefits Of Using A Trailer Brake Controller

Trailer owners should think of the trailer brake controller as a necessity, something that can save their lives. After all, the controller makes sure that the trailer's massive and uncontrolled weight doesn't move or push on. This drastically reduces the risk of accidents happening. Here are other benefits of using the best trailer brake controller.​

  • The controller makes it easier to control and monitor the towing vehicle system while on the road.
  • The gadget has advanced diagnostics and a customizable LCD, features that allows the driver to monitor the trailer, including the state of the brake component and the cargo on board.
  • The controller's sturdy and simple design means it's easy to maintain and affordable.
  • The device has an automatic leveling system that ensures all the vehicle and trailer's components are stable and the brakes are fully functional.

Trailer brakes are also easy to install, as seen in this video:

Types Of Trailer Brake Controller

There are several different models of electric trailer brake controllers out in the market today. Each one differs in design and the number of brakes they can control. Brake controllers are divided into two types - time delayed or proportional.​

Time Delayed Controller: The unit engages the trailer's brakes with a pre-set power output and sync or rate of application. The settings determined by the driver based on the combined weight of the trailer and the expected cargo. The amount of braking force can be changed via a “sync” switch. If the sync settings is too low, the towing vehicle will carry the majority of the braking. If the setting is too high, the trailer will carry the majority of the braking burden.​

Using this kind of controller means there's a delay between the driver steps on the brakes of the towing vehicle and the time when the controller hits the optimum power output to the trailer's brakes.​

Proportional Brake Controller: This is the more expensive of the two types of controllers. It unleashes the pressure of the trailer brakes at the same ratio from the towing vehicle. The device senses how and when the towing vehicle is slowing down or stopping and engages the trailer's brakes using the same intensity. For instance, if the driver suddenly slams down hard on the brakes, the brake controller will also activate the trailer's brakes just as hard.​

This type of controller can adjust the primary braking force based on the driver's braking preferences and the trailer's weight. It gives the least amount of wear and tear on both brakes. It's also a very fast, responsive and safe system.

There are similarities between the two types of controllers. For one, they're wiring installation which is the same. Their brake signals can also be overridden manually and the user can adjust the trailer's maximum braking force based on how heavy the load is.

What To Look For In A Good Trailer Brake Controller​

Every drivers wants to have the best trailer brake controller for their rig. However, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right controller.​

Voltage

The controller's voltage is one of the main factors to look at when shopping for the device. Trailer brake controllers come in either 12 or 24 volts. You have to match your vehicle's power source with the trailer's brakes. If the two don't match, the whole braking control might not work and you'll end up in an accident.


Type Of Trailer Brakes

The type of trailer brake the trailer has is another important factor to consider. An electric trailer brake is managed by a brake controller while a hydraulic surge utilizes a special coupler. The towing vehicle has no control over this component.

However, some trailers have both electrical and hydraulic properties so the trailer brake controller should be able to manage each situation. Another factor to consider is the ratio between the towing vehicle and the trailer. As a rule, avoid low-end brake controllers if both the vehicle and trailer are of equal mass or if the trailer is heavier.​


Type Of Trailer Brake Controllers

Weigh the pros and cons of getting a time-based controller over a proportional based one. Consider features like how much power will be required to manage the electric braking system or whether you want a system that senses when the towing vehicle decelerates or starts to stop.​


Axle Number

The number of axles a brake controller can handle depends on its type and model. Look for brands that can give you a full range of capacities.​


Type Of Display Monitor

LED monitors are the best type when it comes to showing diagnostics and relaying information regarding the trailer.​


Tire Protection

It's critical that the brake controller installed in your vehicle will not cause tires to jerk or wobble as it can cause accidents. Double check features and how the controller will be mounted to ensure that tires are also protected.​

Related: 5 Of The Best Trailer Tire Deals in the Market.​


Controller Price

Don't make the mistake of judging a brake controller based on its price. The expensive one doesn't automatically mean it's the best trailer brake controller around. There are a lot of affordable top-rated controllers out in the market today. But remember that a cheap price is sometimes just used to entice someone into buying it. It's best to look at the features and weigh it against the price.​

Best Trailer Brake Controller On The 2018 Market

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

The Tekonsha 90195 P3 is acknowledged as one of the most well-designed electric brake control systems. It has five storable setting options, along with the preferences of various drivers for pulling trailers with up to four axles.

It also has features like an easy-to-read LCD with different screen colors and diagnostic tools that show details like brakes, battery, output current, and output voltage. It has a compact design and boasts of a quick option of electric over hydraulic brakes and electric trailer braking features, as well as an Original Boost feature that allows different customized braking levels to occur.

This brake controller is easy to install and works as soon as it's hooked up. It also immediately detects the brake action needed for deceleration as soon as the brake pedal is pushed down.


Pros

  • Boost Feature works with both electronic and hydraulic brakes
  • Comes with integrated Plug-N-Play port
  • Display backlight starts blinking immediately when contact with the brakes is lost
  • Unit can diagnose and display the battery output current
  • Easy to install.

Cons

  • Brake controller not suitable for vehicles like some Dodge Ram models
  • More expensive that other models.
Reese Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Compact Brake Control

This time delayed brake controller is very compact and has the ability to be mounted in any direction even without the aid of leveling. The Reese Towpower can manage a maximum of 8 brakes, provide internal circuit safeguards, and use a 12-volt negative ground. The device's digital gain and sync settings can be adjusted easily in order to reduce the stopping distance of the towing vehicle.

This feature also allows for the brake controller to be used in different towing vehicles. The Towpower 8507111 is one of the most innovative brake controllers and also one of the easiest to operate.


Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Constructed from durable materials that can last for several years
  • Totally compatible with different anti-lock braking systems
  • Easy to install as it has no moving components or pendulum sensors
  • Red light indicator warns drivers of problems

Cons

  • Offers no protection against short circuits
  • Does not come with an adapter
  • No proportional settings.
CURT 51140 TriFlex Brake Control

One of the most affordable proportional brake controllers in the market today, the CURT 51140 is known for how easy it is to install. Every controller comes with a plug, and all the driver has to do is plug it in and go.

TriFlex refers to the device's triple axis accelerometer motion sensor. This advanced sensor system is highly sensitive and results in a smooth braking experience. The device has nine levels of sensitivity and is easy to calibrate according to the towing requirements. A small display screen shows information about the basic settings, like brake management.


Pros

  • Device automatically adjusts brake output based on the terrain
  • Unit highly compatible with electric and hydraulic brakes
  • Device good for vehicles that tow large trailers
  • Accessories, mounting bracket, and manual included.

Cons

  • System incompatible with 7-way connectors that as LED test lights.
Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop IQ Electronic Brake Control

The Draw-Tite 20191 is in perfect proportionality with electric brake controls needed for one to three axle trailers. It also works in perfect proportionality in reverse, making it safer to back into tough and tight spots.

It has a self-leveling feature that does away with the need for level adjustments. The Draw-Tite 20191 can also provide the driver with a digital readout that shows whether the electrical connection is secure, the voltage sent to the trailer brakes, and information about the various diagnostic tools. The device also has a snap-in mounting clip and a removable electrical connector that makes it easy for the unit to be placed in storage when not in use.


Pros

  • Good for wide axle range of 1-3
  • Self-diagnostic features reported in advance via LED display
  • Plug-N-Play Port can take in 2-plug adapters
  • Snap-in clip makes installation easy
  • Very reliable and effective.

Cons

  • Hard to reach screws because of its weird placement.
Hopkins 47235 Impulse Brake Control

The Hopkins 47235 electronic brake controls can send an increasing percentage of power to the trailer brakes as long as the brakes are pressed down. The device has short proof features for enhanced safety and to prevent damage to wirings. The device also has error codes that act as an alarm. It notifies drivers of any short circuits and allows them to quickly remedy the situation.

The device's Flex-Mount feature allows for flexible and easy mounting. Brake controls are also easy to install and set-up. Users are also guaranteed a lifetime service warranty.


Pros

  • Features digital display for 5-99%
  • Supplies error code notifications to drivers to alert them of problems
  • Digitally enabled, allowing users to set the percentage of braking required
  • Easy to install and set up.

Cons

  • Oversetting the braking percent can cause damages. Best practice is to set it at 22% but number could vary depending on the trailer.

Conclusion

Being the owner of a trailer comes with certain responsibilities. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you have a good trailer brake controller attached to your vehicle. This is to ensure your safety and those around you. There are a lot of good, affordable controllers out there. Do you research and check their features carefully before picking the best trailer brake controller for you and your vehicle.

Did the article give you the information you need?

Knowing why trailer brakes are important and what to look for in this device is crucial. The right trailer brake will reduce incidents of accidents and ensure your safety, and that of your vehicle and the people around you.

Please leave your questions or comment below. We would love to hear from you. And if you like this article or think it can help someone you know, please feel free to share it.​

What Is The Best Trailer Brake Controller And How To Choose The Right One
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