Why You Need a Trailer Brake Controller

For the people who do not normally fit and install trailer braking systems, being able to know which solutions are appropriate for a certain towing application that can be unclear is important. With several legal requirements depending on where your trailer is registered, suggesting and installing the correct products can be unpredictable.

It is very important to have an electric brake controller when towing a caravan. Since late 1998, there is a national regulation that puts a limit on the mass that a vehicle can tow, which became law. If you are planning to hire a camper trailer or caravan, it is important that you provide careful consideration to the towing mass of the vehicle when picking which RV to hire

Why do I need a trailer brake controller?

Almost every caravan that is built today has electric brakes fitted already. These ones need electric current from a brake controller that’s been previously mounted on the car, so they are going to work. Any towed trailer of caravan that is more than 750 kg needs to be fitted using independent brakes.

Via Cargurus.com

For the heavier trailers

Trailers that weigh more than 2000 kg GTM needs to have brakes on every wheel and have an attached break-away system. The system needs to be capable of being automatically activated in case the trailer separates from the tow vehicle. When this happens, the brakes should stay applied for 15 minutes. These brake controllers are connected to the trailer with a power source of its own.

Hydraulic Brakes Controller

A hydraulic manual brake system is entirely separated from the towing vehicle and are included in the trailer. They function by putting pressure that happens between the tow vehicle and trailer in the middle of the braking process. The push rod is pushed within the trailer coupling that will apply the brakes of the trailer which is proportional to the pressure given to the push rod. These systems do not need electrical connection for activating the trailer brakes. This type of braking system is better suited for lighter towing loads that do not exceed 1,500 kg. Even if they are legal for trailers that are more than 2,000 kg GMT, they are not ideal for heavier tasks.

Electric Brakes Controller

Any trailer that is more than 2,000 kg GMT needs to have an electric brake system or electronic disk brake systems placed that runs on every wheel. Magnets are being used by electric brake systems in the brake cluster to make brake shoe work that put pressure on a brake drum. When there is additional power applied to the magnets, there is more braking force on the drums.

Electronic disk brakes utilize hydraulic disk brakes that instead of becoming activated by a push-rod, is linked to and activated through its brake controller.

How do they work?

Via Hitchweb.com

Most of the brake hubs in caravans have the regular built-in brake shoes. It is rare that they are equipped with disc brakes. The magnet will start working when power is received from your brake controller. It is drawn towards inside the flat face of the rotating brake hub. The hub that is rotating triggers the magnet to rotate. When it shifts, it causes the brake shoes to scatter and apply the brakes.

The brake controller that is mounted on the dashboard is the one controlling the power that goes to the magnet placed at the wheel.

The controller is linked directly to the battery for the power source. The stop lights are also connected to this, normally from the switch located at the pedal. This signals the unit to give power to the magnet, through a direct wire from the controller.

Safe brake controller

The most functional kind of brake controller comes with a sensor for motion. Some contain features like a device that can adjust itself to compensate for different terrains, automatic leveling device and digital displays and the ability to indicate electrical fault conditions like loss of power and short circuits. As soon as the brake controller has been set-up and adjusted, the driver can slow down, and trailer combination will brake smoothly.

Brake away systems

Even if trailers that have a GMT of 2,000 kg or more need a braking system that is functioning on all wheels, they also need a breakaway system that can automatically be activated if the trailer separates from the tow vehicle. It is in these situations that brakes need to be applied for approximately 15 minutes. All trailers that are 2,000 kg GMTs or more have break-away systems.

Monitors of the battery

To complete the system set-up, to add to the brake controllers and brake away systems, there are states that ask for a battery unit monitor to be mounted as well. The battery monitors have to be mounted near the driver to provide audible and visual signs that the battery is fully-charged.


Via Tacomaworld.com

They can be mounted in a cradle that has been placed on the dashboard or separately with only the controls going through the dashboard.

The fitting

This one will depend on the do-it-yourself capabilities of a person. All units already have installation instructions, and extra items needed like spare wire, connectors for the wires, and a fuse.

Being able to determine the type of brake controller that is going to work will mostly be dependent on the vehicle that is being used for towing the trailer, the size and kind of trailer.

Before installing anything or choosing which trailer brake controller to pick, there are experienced people that can answer your questions because you might still be unsure if you need a trailer brake controller or read trailer brake controller reviews and decide which one to buy.

The need for a trailer brake controller has been emphasized by this post. You have to be sure about safety and a smooth ride. It can help you with the towing job and you won’t have worry anymore about signals on when to stop.

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