Do I need a brake controller?
Yes, for your safety and the safety of others, if you are towing a travel trailer with electronic or hydraulic brakes, you will need a brake controller. Brake controllers are not expensive as compared to the cost of a trailer. If you got in an accident or had to pay an insurance deductible your value lost is right there.
What does a brake controller do?
Installing your brake controller to your vehicle will apply the necessary voltage by use of sensors to your trailer brakes to provide a safe and controlled stop. If you do not have a brake controller, imagine trying to stop a 7,000 pound trailer with your stock brakes, chances are it will take over twice the stopping distance, but you will eat through brake pads.
What to look for in a brake controller
Brake controllers do one job, sense when you are applying vehicle brakes, then apply those brakes to the trailer. You want a proportional brake controller, meaning it can apply a varying amount of pressure to your brakes based on how much brake input you are giving your vehicle. You do not want your trailer locking up its brakes on the freeway on a quick tap of the brakes.
What is the best trailer brake controller?
We have found the best brake controller to be the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control, it provides the best features out of any of its competitors. The P3 has a full digital easy to read LCD display with multiple color options, displays in English, French, or Spanish. It includes a diagnostics center to display output current, battery level, brake level, and output voltage. It is capable of system alerts to identify if there will be a situation with no trailer brakes available. Also included is a boost feature to apply more power at the beginning of a stop depending on the weight of a trailer, and has settings for electric over hydraulic or electric trailer brakes. The Tekonsha P3 includes a plug and play port as well as removable snap in mounting clip to store the controller when not in use. With the digital display, all features are easily navigated and it is very easy to understand. The Tekonsha P3 is capable of controlling brakes for up to 4 braking axles. There are plug and play harnesses available for ease of installation for a variety of vehicles. This controller can be mounted at a full 180 degree range of motion.
What is the best value trailer brake controller?
Our best value brake controller is the Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electrotonic Brake Control. It also utilizes a plug and play port for different adapters, includes a boost feature, and includes a snap in removable dash mounting clip. The Primus controller has a led readout of voltage, but is not a full LCD display like its bigger brother the P3. This controller can also be mounted vertically at a 180 degree range of motion.
How do I set a brake controller for my vehicle?
First, install your brake controller, next connect your trailer to your tow vehicle. Set the power level to about half power, and drive the vehicle on a level dry paved road at 25 mph and apply the manual power fully. If the brakes lock up, turn down the power and repeat until the brakes do not lock up. If they do not lock up, increase power on the unit. Repeat turning the power up until right before the trailer brakes lock up and you are good. You will need to adjust your power based upon drastic weight changes on your trailer vehicle. The boost setting can be set after this based upon your manual on your brake controller.
This is a general how to set your brake controller which I used for my vehicle. This process will vary based upon the controller you have. Check your user manual for your instructions.
How to I install a brake controller?
Installing a brake controller is an easy task if you have built in wiring. First purchase the correct wiring harness for your vehicle and controller, second connect the harness to your vehicles built in harness for the 7 way connector under the dash. (if equipped) Lastly, mount and plug in your controller. Watch my installation video on how to install the Tekonsha P3 Brake Controller on my 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 below.
Do your research and make sure to buy the best brake controller for your situation. We love our Tekonsha P3 as it provides all of the data on the LCD display as well as provides diagnostics for the user.
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