Anyone who enjoys camping knows that to tow a camper behind your truck, you need a trailer brake control. Regardless of what you are towing, you will be adding extra weight to your vehicle, which means that it will put more pressure on the brakes.
Having separate brakes to help you stop is ideal, but you will also need a way to control these brakes, which is where a trailer brake controller comes into play. Which is the best trailer brake controller?
This guide will take a look at five of the best options, but let’s begin by looking at some important considerations you will need to make.
Time Delayed Or Proportional
No matter which brake controller that you select, you will find that they can be placed into one of two categories.
Time delayed and proportional brake controllers can both be great for towing, but deciding which one is best for your needs will depend on the weight of what you are towing.
Time Delayed Brake Controllers
- Time delayed brake controllers are best for trailers and small campers that do not weigh a lot. The idea behind this type of controller is to slow the camper that you are towing down at the exact same rate of speed every time that you need to stop.
- You will have basic control over the device, but no matter how fast you are traveling, you will stop exactly the same. That means you need to make sure that you are able to stop before you need to because this brake style will take a while to bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
- You can make adjustments to this type of brake, but since you have a specific stopping force, it can cause the trailer to jerk as you are stopping, which will cause the brakes to wear more quickly.
Proportional Brake Controllers
- Proportional brake controllers allow you to have a bit more control over the way that you come to a stop, which means that each time you press the brake, a different amount of stopping power will be applied.
- This style of brake controller is perfect for towing larger objects, and no matter how fast you are traveling, you will not experience jerking while the brakes are applied.
- Proportional brakes will be a bigger investment for you to make, but it will be less expensive in the long run because your vehicle will experience less abuse.
If you are still unsure of which braking type is best for your needs, then check out these tips to help you decide.
Not every trailer brake control is designed to be compatible with every vehicle. Make sure that the vehicle that you are towing with is compatible with the device that you select and that it can stop the load that you are towing without an issue.
If you are planning to utilize the brake controller in more than one vehicle, make sure that it can be used in both so that you do not need to purchase two different trailer brake controllers.
You need to be able to stop when the conditions on the road require it, and nothing is more important than keeping your family safe while you are on the road.
Some trailer brake controllers create more of a jerking motion when they stop, which can be dangerous for passengers who are traveling in the vehicle with you. If you are towing a larger item, you want the braking process to be a smooth one.
The other safety concern that many have is that the trailer will become unhinged from the truck while you are traveling down the road. Many states actually require you to install a breakaway kit as a safety precaution.
This device is designed to automatically apply the brakes any time that the hitch comes unhinged while you are driving. This is not a common scenario, but having safety in place in case it does occur can save your life as well as others who may be in the path of your trailer.
Another feature that you want to consider is the actual display on the brake controller. It will tell you important information that you will need while you are driving, so you should make sure that the display can be seen if the sun is glaring on it and also that it is large enough to see from the driver’s seat.
When you install your new trailer and brake control, make sure that you know all of the details of how to install it properly. If you are uncertain of the proper installation technique, then check out this video for a demonstration.
If you selected a time-delayed brake controller, then you will have an easy installation process because the device can be installed at pretty much any angle. The proportional brake controller; however, must be installed at a specific angle, which will be specified in the installation instructions for the device.
5 Best Trailer Brake Controllers Reviews
The first brake controller on our list is a proportional brake controller. It has an internal sensor that detects deceleration and helps level the amount of brake pressure that is distributed at once. It can be mounted anywhere on the vertical plane, but it needs to be perfectly horizontal.
You can adjust the braking power that you need; the LCD screen has a large display that is easy to read. In addition, it can be adjusted to the screen color and language that best accommodates your needs.
It also has a continuous diagnostic check that will inform you if something is wrong while you are driving. If an emergency does occur, and you need to stop, there is a manual lever on the underside of the device.
- This device is a plug and play system that is easy to install.
- The single button boost change is very convenient.
- The brake application is extremely smooth.
- The bracket construction is a little weak, so make sure to secure it.
I love the ease of installation of this brake controller. All you need to do is plug it in and use it. There is the amount included with the unit, but I decided to go with the mount that was already in our truck. We like to go camping in the mountains, and the brakes have never jerked from the additional weight coming down the steep side of a mountain.
This device is a proportional braking control that has a digital readout that is convenient when you want to make sure that everything is connected properly; if something is connected wrong, an error code will appear.
The brake boost offers three braking levels that you can adjust with the press of a button, and if your brakes do malfunction, there is a manual override in place for your safety.
- The boost function is great for when you find yourself picking up too much speed on a big hill.
- The display is extremely easy to read, even if you are looking at it from an angle.
- The instructions for installing the wiring could be a little bit clearer.
I love how convenient it is to mount this brake trailer to my truck. The Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ does not need to be level, so I have mounted it directly on my dashboard so that I can always see it easily. I also love the fact that this unit will activate while you are driving in reverse. I know that this will not be high-speed movement, but it is still a great tool to have when you cannot book a drive-through campsite.
The next device on our list is the Reese Towpower Brakeman Timed Compact Braking Control. It is a device that is designed for towing single axis trailers, which means it would have been the perfect tool for when I used to tow my boat to the lake.
The boost button is easy to navigate with the tip of your finger. There is no LED display on this device, but there is a red light indicator that will inform you when there is an issue with the device.
- Making adjustments to the braking system is easy to do on the go.
- This braking system can be mounted anywhere; there is no need to level it, even if the horizontal axis is off-base.
- The installation process is quick and easy; it even comes with an included bracket.
- There is no digital display, so you will not be able to get information while you are driving other than an indication that there is an issue.
I love the compact design that this device features. As I already stated, I think this would be perfect for towing a boat, but since I no longer have a boat, it is great for hauling my lawn equipment when I need to mow the grass at my mother’s. Leveling is not required, so I can easily remove it from my truck and place it in another vehicle.
The I-Stop IQ Brake control is a proportional braking system that is designed for towing a trailer that has anywhere from one to three axles. It is designed as a plug and play device, so that means that the installation is simple and will not require a lot of time. The controls on this unit are rather simple.
There is a boost control that allows you to adjust the braking power when it is required, and a LED display that lets you know if any issues arise. The best part is that the boost feature can also be used in reverse, which would have once again been a great tool to have for backing my boat into the ocean.
- Easy to install and mount in your vehicle.
- This device creates a smooth stopping experience, which is exceptional for the price point.
- Once the braking options are set, they will rarely need to be adjusted again with the same trailer.
- The boost feature is optimal for coming down a steep hill.
- The display is not as big as some of its competitors, which is fine, but it may be difficult to see for some because of its size.
I had this device attached to my son’s vehicle, and my neighbor called and asked if we were available. He was attempting to take his daughter to her first horse show when his brake controller went kaput. It was extremely easy to remove the device from my truck and place it in his to use for the show.
The final pick on our list is another compact brake control. It has a few buttons that are on the top of the device to adjust the display and the braking output.
The unit can operate up to an eight braking system, so you will always be prepared when you need to be; no matter what the weight of the trailer that you are towing. If the brakes happen to overload or short circuit, the LED display will indicate that something is wrong so that you know to stop and resolve the issue.
- The device can be mounted in any direction, which means that you can attach it to the ceiling if you are so inclined.
- Easy to install and setup; it can easily be done in less than 30 minutes.
- The display is positioned at a slight angle, which can make it difficult for shorter individuals to see while driving.
I really liked the simplistic look of this trailer brake controller. It has a compact design, but it still has a lot of the same features as many of its competitors. The fact that you can program up to eight different braking systems is also great, especially if you need to tow different things, like a camper, a boat, and a trailer for your lawn equipment.
A trailer brake controller is a great tool to have on your vehicle when you are towing anything. It will help ensure that your car can stop when you need to and that the weight of the trailer will not push you through a dangerous intersection.
If we had to select a winner of this trailer brake control round-up, then the first place prize would go to the Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop IQ Electronic Brake Control. It is capable of towing trailers with one to three axles. It is easy to install, and it has an easily accessible boost functionality that can be used in reverse. On top of all of that, it is sold at a great price point.