Heavy trailer loads put additional stresses on your tow vehicles brakes. This added stress can, over time, lead to breakdown or failure. If you’re towing heavy or awkward loads, like an RV or tiny house, trailer brakes are highly recommended.
There is nothing more unnerving than trying to stop a heavy load while approaching a busy intersection full of traffic, and having your trailer pushing you forward from behind as your brakes struggle or fail to slow you down quickly enough. Trailer brakes help you avoid these stressful and extremely dangerous situations.
WE had our team test and review the best trailer brake controller models to keep you safe on the road. Here’s a quick look with our detailed reviews below.
Snapshot: The 5 Best Trailer Brake Controller Models – Short Reviews
Whenever you want to buy trailer brake controllers it’s important to check the reviews to help you in deciding which one to go for. Here are my top 5 picks of best trailer controller brakes:
|Product Name||Quality||Price||Our Rating|
|Tekonsha Model 8507120 Brakeman IV||A|
|Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic||A+|
|Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2||A+|
|Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF||A|
|Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ||A+|
|Product||Type||Display||Number of Axles||Warranty|
|Tekonsha Model 8507120 Brakeman IV||Timed||LED||1-4||Limited lifetime|
|Tekonsha 90195 P3||Proportional||LCD||1-4||Limited lifetime|
|Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2||Proportional||LED||1-4||Limited lifetime|
|Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF||Proportional||LED||1-3||15-year limited warranty|
|Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ||Proportional||LED||1-3||15-year labor warranty|
- Snapshot: The 5 Best Trailer Brake Controller Models – Short Reviews
- Two Main Types of Brake Controllers
- The Best Brake Controllers
- The Different Between Proportional And Time-Delayed Trailer Brake Controllers
- Things To Consider When Selecting a Brake Controller
- Why Do You Need The Best Trailer Brake Controller?
- How Do Trailer Brake Controllers Work?
- How To Install Trailer Brake Controllers
Two Main Types of Brake Controllers
Trailer brake controllers come in different types. They differ in several aspects such as appearance and even in their functionality. All these types of trailer brake controllers can be classified into two broad categories i.e. Proportional and time delayed brake controllers.
Time-Delayed Brake Controllers
Time delay brake controllers allow the driver to select how much braking force they want on the trailer. That force is generally arrived at by estimating how much the tow load is, and then setting the controller to compensate via the “Sync” function.
Because the force applied will be a static (the same amount of force each time the brakes are used), it’s important to set a time-delayed brake controller carefully. If set too low the tow vehicle will still take the brunt of the braking load. If set too high you put a lot of stress on the trailer wheels.
Proportional Brake Controllers
Proportional brake controllers are linked in to the pressure applied to your brake pedal, and apply a relative force to the trailer brakes. If you step lightly on the brakes, you get a light braking response from the trailer. A heavy foot gets a heavy response. This controller essentially allows the trailer brakes to operate as dynamically as car or truck brakes. There is less guesswork, it’s easy to use, and is considered the safer of the two types.
The Best Brake Controllers
Tekonsha Model 8507120 Brakeman IV
This Tekonsha brake control is designed in such a way that it portrays a digital display which shows the amount of voltage and power applied to the trailer’s brakes and helps you in accurately adjusting it when driving.
It can handle up to four braking axles and eight braking systems. It comes with separate push buttons that are meant for adjusting controls whether it may be weight or speed inclined to depend on the situation.
Pros of the product
- It has a small compact design
- Operates up to an 8-braking system
- This type of a brake control comes with a mounting hardware
- It has a lifetime limited warranty
- Finally, you can mount this module in any direction and no require leveling
- Tekonsha Model 8507120 Brakeman IV’s display is positioned at an angle that makes it a little hard for shorter people to see while on the road.
Tekonsha 90195 P3
Currently, Tekonsha 90195P3 is the most intelligent and advanced method of trailer brake control. It has the capability to self-diagnose the trailer constantly while driving.
Built with a self-adjusting device, this brake controller supports electric brakes along with electric over hydraulic.
Pros of the product
- Extremely advanced, simple to understand and offers roadside diagnostics
- The original boost characteristic permits different levels of personalized braking
- This type of brake controller a compact and dash-hugging style
- It is unique and simple to use
- The screen information display comes in three different languages i.e. English, Spanish and French which are major international languages.
- It comes with a restricted Lifetime Warranty
- It has insufficient information for installation
- Does not provide service as expected
Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF
It comes with an automatic-leveling sensor, a portable remote, a boost feature and nonstop diagnostics. It is well-suited with multiplex wiring system.
Pros of the product
- This trailer brake controller requires no drilling, brackets, or perhaps clips needed
- You can easily check the pedal voltage, power result, and diagnostics.
- Using easily with a remote control
- The Power conserving mode decreases drain on battery once stop using the vehicle
- It comes with a 15- year limited guarantee and one-year limited warranty on cord
- International shipping is not supported for all over the world.
- Wiring instruction is not very accurate.
Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ
It’s normally suitable for 1 to 3 axle trailers. With a proportional braking system, it will automatically adjust the trailer’s braking depending on how the tow vehicle slows down. It also possesses automatic leveling capability.
Pros of the product
- It has a built-in and slide-bar manual override
- The display it has is LED
- It has self-diagnostic features which come in handy when problems occur
- Shipping only available in selected countries
- The restocking fee is a great burden for the buyers
- Sometimes they don’t attach proper adjusting video
Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2
It features a digital display for up to the second diagnostics on voltage delivery, proper connection and also magnet conditions.
The Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 is fully automatic and the trailer will break at the same rate as that with which the tow vehicle slows down.
If you are towing a heavier load, there is also a feature which you can brake harder manually
Pros of the product
- It automatically adjusts to the position of the tow vehicle on any terrain as you drive
- Manual leveling is not necessary
- Does not apply sufficient power to fully activate the trailer brakes
The Different Between Proportional And Time-Delayed Trailer Brake Controllers
The time delayed brake controllers are normally more pocket-friendly compared to the proportional brake controllers.
The Time-delayed controllers usually work by sending the same braking power to the trailer brakes whereas proportional brake controllers vary the braking power based on how quickly the tow vehicle is stopping and this produces a smoother braking action.
Time delayed brake controllers cause more wear and tear on either the trailer or the towing vehicle’s brakes because one or the other will be doing the majority of the braking while Proportional controllers reduce wear and tear by spreading the braking power evenly.
Time-delayed brake controls are can be mounted in any position and at any angle whereas Proportional controllers should be mounted within a specified range to work efficiently.
With time, we really need a delayed brake controllers no calibration whereas some models of proportional brake controllers require calibration to work efficiently.
Always smaller and slimmer compared to proportional brake controls.
Time-delayed controllers are more suitable for casual use. Proportional controllers are best put to work when the trailer is towed on a regular basis because they work well in diverse towing conditions and produce less wear and tear on the braking systems of the tow vehicle and the trailer.
It’s quite safer with proportional brake controls than with time delayed brake controls. This is because Proportional brake controls have the ability to automatically supply up to full power if the tow vehicle makes an emergency stop.
Related: What is the Best Weight Distribution Hitch? – 2018 Review
Things To Consider When Selecting a Brake Controller
When selecting the best trailer brake controls, you should do it diligently because when you get it wrong a lot of damage can be done both to your finances and to your vehicle. There are several factors to consider when choosing the best brake controller for your travel trailer. Some of them include:
Why Do You Need The Best Trailer Brake Controller?
Trailer brake controllers come in handy when handling the uncontrolled weight or even when moving downhill. Without them, the weight can push ahead posing a danger of damage and accidents. It is not only important to your truck but also other vehicles especially in the event that you can’t slow down or even stop in time.
An electric trailer brake control supplies electrical power from the towing car to the electric brake on a trailer. If your trailer possesses electrical brakes, you may need a real brake controller. Some of the other reasons why you need a trailer brake controller include:
- To enhance safety Measures
- Trailer brake controllers helps you control the vehicle easily
- With trailer brake controllers you get customizable LCD plus Advanced Diagnostics
- Trailer brake controllers require much less maintenance and can be gotten at an affordable price
- Trailer brake controllers have Automatic Leveling and they are easy to install.
From the purposes of trailer brake controllers listed above, one can see how important they are and why all trucks should have them.
How Do Trailer Brake Controllers Work?
When press the brake pedal on the trailer, the brake controller lets the trailer’s brake system detect how much braking power the trailer need to stop. It activates the magnet when the power comes from the brake controller. It gets attracted to the inside smooth part of the revolving brake hub. The rotating center then causes the magnet to revolve. When it turns, it causes both brake shoes to pass on and then apply the brakes.
When you install the trailer brake controller into your trailer, it controls the power that the magnet at the wheel will get.
The controllers normally include a direct connection to the battery for the actual power source. It has a link with the stop light, typically from the switch at the brake pedal. This helps the machine to determine what capacity to supply to the magnet.
You can find out more about how trailer brake controller works from this video: How Electric trailer brakes work
How To Install Trailer Brake Controllers
Installation of trailer brake controllers should be done properly for them to function well. Trailer brakes operate in a similar manner as an emergency brake only that they are not cable operated instead they are made with a magnetic piston which pulls when energized, hence operating the brakes.
First when installing a trailer brake controller is to mount the brake controller in an area that easy to accessed. You can choose to place it under the dashboard and directly above your right leg; this keeps the brake controller in view, therefore, helping you to monitor any potential problem.
When you purchase a trailer brake controller, it comes with a user’s guide which contains instructions on how to install it. If you follow the instructions provided by the device’s manufacturer and you also know what you are doing, installing a brake controller will be a walk over. In case you are having a problem installing the controller brakes you should contact a professional to handle the installation for you.
To get a step by step guide on how to install trailer brake controllers please refer to this link How to install trailer brake controllers.
How many amps do trailer brakes need?
The number of amps your trailer brakes need will vary depending on the size and type of trailer. Generally, electric brakes require 12-18 amps while surge brakes require approximately 8-12 amps. It is important to use the proper amperage to ensure optimal braking performance and safety.
A best trailer brake controller is absolutely necessary for your trailer. Not only is it important for your vehicle but also ensures your safety as the drive. Trailer brake controller ensures that your trailer can relatively slow down or even completely stop when you need to. This helps in cases of emergency when you have to make sudden stops.
As per the trailer brake controller reviews I’ve given above, I personally prefer Tekonsha 90195 P3. It beats its competitors to be the best electric brake controller. It’s advanced yet easy-to-use. Easy to install and remove easily inside your car, making is a very useful road companion. The boost features it has accepts both hydraulic and electronic brakes. It gives more power to your braking system, which is very much needed when driving with trailers.
Even though Tekonsha 90195 P3 is a bit more expensive compared to other trailer brake controllers, you’ll get value for the money.
As you plan to buy your next trailer brake controller I wish you all the best. Remember to critically analyze the considerations you need to look into before purchasing one. I hope you found this article resourceful and that you’ve learned a thing or two from it.
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Pieronek, D., & Hoogenakker, A. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 9,026,311. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Smith, B. E., Austin, M. W., Hilsbos, R. L., & Kulkarni, C. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 9,150,201. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.