Installing a Trailer Brake Controller

This post will give information on how to install a trailer brake controller. There will be steps, tips, and other crucial information that people need to know.

Pulling a trailer might be your job, hobby, or you use it to transport materials. No matter what your reason is, safety should always come first. One of the aspects that is sometimes neglected is the brakes. Where majority of people put more attention on the speed of the vehicle in pulling the trailer, the main concern is actually when the load slows down. Using the brakes of the tow vehicle alone can be for a couple of situations, but trailer brakes are better.


The two types of trailer brakes are electric and hydraulic. Hydraulic brakes are similar to the ones found in cars. There is a hydraulic master cylinder that pushes fluid towards the pistons on the wheel hubs in every axle that runs the brake pads so the trailer slows down. Electric brake controllers are made for applying the brakes of the towed trailer. An indicator is sent to the brake magnet of the trailer or actuator when the brake pedal is used. The greater the voltage applied, the stronger the braking force.



  • Make up your mind on the location for mounting the unit because it should be on a solid surface, which is normally on top or under the dash, and reachable. There are models that are small enough to be mounted using push-out panels found inside the dash, while others need to have holes drilled so brackets can be attached. If drilling, ensure the area at the back of where it will be mounted is clear to avoid any damage.
  • Hold on to the mounting bracket in the chosen position and mark the spots through the bracket holes.
  • Drill holes in the locations that’s been marked.
  • Lock the bracket in position using the provided screws in the kit.
  • The brake controller needs to be mounted using the screws that came with the kit.
  • In order to connect the wiring, read carefully and follow the instructions for the unit. If you do not have any familiarity in setting this up, talk to an expert.


Set-up And Operate

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  • Since there are different models, each of them will operate in a different way, but majority of them have lights that indicate when the caravan has been connected and when to apply the brakes. They also have a knob or lever so brake level can be shifted.
  • In order to check if the brake controller has been set-up correctly and is functioning as it should, the manual that came with it will tell you how.
  • Remember that the level of braking required depends hugely on the weight of one’s caravan and the speed as well. Wait for another hour before running a test on the road to see if the brakes have been correctly adjusted.

Types of Brake Controls in The Market Today

The timed, inertia, and proportional style.


Time-delay controllers always use brakes the same way, which has an adjustable delay between when brake pedal is being pressed and when trailer brakes are operated. This can be adjusted using the gain settings for road conditions, preference of the driver, and the load. These are cheaper ones and easier to install and use.

The inertia type of controller use an electric connection to the brake switch and a gauge for built-in inertia that measure the braking power. These give a smooth braking response as how the controller is reacting similar to the vehicle; if you step on the brakes, they are applied right away. If you are slowly coming to a stop, the trailer brakes are not used a lot. The main result has more braking efficiency.

It is harder to install proportional controllers because they need to be mounted within certain angles and be turned towards the vehicle. The proportional controllers are priced higher.

The time-delayed and proportional controllers each have a slider to immediately apply the brakes to the trailer. This indicates that you have the option to slow the entire vehicle down by just using the trailer brakes. This is effective for emergency situations like whipping.

The more recent types of vehicles already have a jumper harness for the brake control that make installation easy because you only have to plug it and play. When you buy a new brake controller and mount it on a vehicle that does not have a tow package yet, the circuit breaker has to be used but it does not always come with the kit. The 20 amp/30 amp circuit breakers are appropriate for 2 and 4 braking systems, and 40 amp for 6 and 8. Always see the instructions on how to install the trailer brake control that you will be using. Wrong wiring connections can cause damage.


Always read the owner’s manual to find out if the wire colors are the same. Before you begin towing, the operations manual is also crucial so you would know if it has been set properly because majority of them can be adjusted.

When you are about to reconnect the (+) battery terminal, check the connections again. Be cautious about handling this while working with the electric power because it could be painful. The connections have to be secured to keep wires from touching each other because this can cause a short circuit. Ensure that there are no dangling wires close to the moving parts or where they can interfere with driving.

I think that everyone who owns a trailer need to know how to install a brake controller because there are times when there is no professional around and you have no choice but to do it yourself. There are numerous posts about this, but this is by far the most informative one that you will come across.

Even if you are only a beginner, if you carefully follow the information given here, it is close to impossible that you will not finish it correctly and successfully install it to your trailer. You can read trailer brake controller reviews to learn more.

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