5 Best Electronic Trailer Brake Controller

In case you often deal with trailer hauling, a brake controller is one of significant pieces, which is able to protect your automobile, trailer and life. Initially, these items were created for large trucks; however, they are suitable for smaller automobiles as well. You may wonder what this controller is. In short, it’s an outer device, wired in and located on the dash of the hauling automobile. As soon as you employ brakes, this tool transmits an immediate message to the trailer’s brakes and leads to its immediate stop.

A brake controller will prevent the “domino effect”, which can be caused when the automobile is slowing or stopping. The trailer may continue moving even after the automobile stops and, consequently, may hit it. Thus, this tool is able to make your driving comfortable and safer. The brake control units can be time-delayed and proportional. You are free to opt for the one, which suits your demands and budget better.

Time-delayed brake controllers function by applying a specific amount of pressure to the trailer brakes. A small time delay permits regulating the pressure with a “sync” switch. Usually, the devices of this kind are more affordable, but they are suitable for experienced drivers, who know how to react fast plus efficiently to various road situations.

 

#5 Hopkins 47284 Reliance Digital Electronic Brake Controller

The Hopkins brake controller of time-delayed type can be installed easy and fast. Usually, 10 minutes are enough for such a job. Moreover, this appliance is user-friendly, allowing you to make all the brake adjustments even while you are driving a car. It’s applicable for small automobiles and trucks and is able to function up to a 4-brake system.

The tool was designed specifically for 12-volt negative ground systems. This Hopkins product is usually sold at about $50 or even less and that makes it rather a cheap option for such a life-saving job. The drivers highly estimate this item, rating it between 4.7 and 5 stars. Good news: the manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty.

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#4 Hayes 81760 Engage Digital Time Based Brake Controller

This time-delayed brake controller is an American product and is sold with a lifetime guarantee. Being inexpensive, it is reconcilable with vehicles towing single, tandem and tri-axle braking trailers.

The Hayes product is able to deal with up to three axles, which can be overridden by hand through the lever for emergency stopping. Being of time-delayed type, this controller delivers more current to the trailer brakes if the brake is pressed down for a longer period. The “power ramp time” can be regulated to reach the most efficient feedback.

Though it considerably differs from the Reese Towpower controller, it serves an astonishing alternative to it.

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#3 Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake Control

Being of proportional type, this brake controller is equipped with a digital screen, which shows data on voltage delivery, secure connection plus magnet conditions. Once this automatic tool is mounted, the trailer will brake as soon as the tow automobile does. Additionally, you have an opportunity to opt for harder braking if hauling a heavier load.

Proportional devices are more pricy than their time-based rivals. For instance, this item is sold for about $100 or even more. However, this appliance has pretty good rating. About 84% of shoppers rate it with 5 stars while the average rating remains 4.8. The manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty on components plus services.

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#2 Reese Towpower Digital Brake Control

Though this Reese trailer brake control seems to be very simple at first sight, it features some useful characteristics.

Thus, this device is easily installed and causes no problems while being mounted. Being a solid-state electronic device, it will prevent you from facing any orientation issues as its efficiency won’t decrease if you place it upside down. The kit contains a helpful installation harness. However, be ready that the wires, running to the plug attachment, are shorter than the ones of other similar products.

Adjustments are quite easy. Massive buttons will assist you in entering and regulating trailer weight plus brake activation speed. As the manufacturer is rather a well-known brand, you may pay a bit more for the name. Simultaneously, you will get a high-end construction and the best quality design.

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#1 Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller

Tekonsha 90195P3 is frequently referred as the best electronic brake controller. It’s of excellent quality and proves its efficiency. It’s equipped with a back lit LCD display, able to change colors and languages (possible options are English, French and Spanish).

Being of proportional type, this appliance grants you an opportunity to select between electric and hydraulic brake mode.Moreover, you can regulate the braking for up to 4 axles and it signifies that you are able to take control of heavy braking.

A cool function is this brake controller’s ability to provide with the diagnostics data plus informs if any problems emerge with a bright red illumination. It can find various kinds of problems, including the ones with bad trailer connection and output voltage. You can mount the Tekonsha brake control unit by employing “Plug N Play” port for immediate connection. Simultaneously, an easy release clip will assist you in removal of the appliance once it’s not necessary.

Moreover, the device features a reversing mode, manual override switch at the bottom of the item, digital G-Sensor, several boost levels etc. Though it may cost more than its competitors, this item is definitely worth the money spent on it.

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Tips on Choosing an Electric Trailer Brake Controller

Though the choice of brake controllers is pretty large, all of them have a limited set of characteristics. These tools prove to be both simple and complicated simultaneously. The simplicity is in their easy mounting and application plus these units fulfill only one function. The complexity lies in automatic calculation and application of braking pressures plus in the fact that the appliance takes responsibility for secure hauling. Here are the key things, which you need to pay attention to while seeking for a brake controller.

  • Type. As we have already mentioned, there are 2 kinds of brake controllers: proportional and time-delayed. The selection of the most suitable one depends on your requirements and budget. So, it’s the first thing you need to consider before acquiring such an appliance.
  • Brake Boost. It concerns proportional controllers more. If the tool feels that the heavy braking is occurring (like an emergency stop), it will employ a boost to the braking power. Though it’s only 5-10%, some additional power can be a great assist if you need to stop a heavy trailer safely.
  • Number of Axles. The number of axles, which it’s necessary to manage, can be counted pretty simple: count the number of the wheels on the trailer and divide that number by two. The majority of controllers cope with 2-3 axles pretty well. The choice of those, which are able to handle 4 axles, is much smaller. So, if your trailer features additional wheels, opt for the devices able to control 4 axles.
  • Screen. Though there are many versions of this product without screens for sale, only one such item is in our list, the one by Reese. This controller has a very attractive price and can be bought for even less than $30. So, we couldn’t ignore it while creating the list. Basically, brake controllers with screens make the driver’s life a bit easier. They are easily regulated plus we can see all the diagnostics data directly on the screen.

 

The Reasons to Use a Brake Controller

  • Security. Hauling a trailer is rather a risky business and every driver should follow safety rules. To make your journey safe, it’s better to mount a brake controller. When you haul a trailer, the braking specifications of your automobile can be seriously affected. After brake force is applied, a brake controller provides extra power by making the trailer brakes function properly. As this device is able to influence the wheels of both automobile and trailer, fast and easy braking is guaranteed.
  • Care of Vehicle Brakes. If you don’t use a controller, all the stopping power lies on your automobile’s brakes. It’s very dangerous as the car’s brakes aren’t designed to cope with a heavy trailer and actually any trailer at all. Thus, your brake system is always in danger. The brake controller is able to spread the braking power around both automobile and trailer. In such a way, your automobile’s brake system will suffer less.

 

A Guide to the Brake Controller Installation

Before installing a brake controller, acquire a wiring harness, which will plug into your automobile. If you don’t own a hauling kit, you will need to do some work with wires, including wires splicing. It’s advisable to have a digital multimeter for that work, which will test the electrical wires.

The entire job can be divided into following steps:

  1. Check if the automobile is pre-wired. Look under the dashboard and move away some interior panels. Inspect if there is a wire with “Electric Brake Controller” name.
  2. Connect or splice wiring harness. If you have a pre-wired automobile, connect the plug to the harness. If you car isn’t pre-wired, splice into the wiring.
  3. Screw controller under dashboard. The majority of brake control units go with brackets and screws. Just connect the wiring from the automobile to the one of a controller. After that, place the wires into an accessible location, though it’s important that they won’t get in the way.
  4. Make adjustments. After the device is mounted, some settings regulations must be made. Adjust the controller, taking into account the trailer weight and driving conditions. For instance, a fifth wheel will demand some extra regulations.

 

Conclusion

If you care about the security of your journey, you surely must acquire a brake controller. By having such an appliance, you will not only save your trailer and automobile from damage, but will also guarantee more safety for other road users. Moreover, it’s your legal responsibility. Though laws may differ in various states, the safety on road always remains the primary goal.

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller turns out to be the best device which costs any cent spent on it. However, the other devices on our list are decent rivals to it.

Written by Andrew Price

Andrew Price

Andrew is our top-rated author since 2019. He’s a big car enthusiast and customisation pro, who knows how to get more performance from your car.
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