Best Trailer Brake Controller To Buy 2017 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Trailer brakes are designed as an added protection for you, your gear and other drivers. However, you cannot operate them without a trailer brake controller. The brake controllers are installed in easy to access areas so you can use it conveniently and monitor the notifications and alerts as you tow.
The trailer brake controllers vary in the number of brakes they can control. Choosing the best trailer brake controller may not as simple as it may be. This buying guide will help you find the right brake controller for your towing needs. 

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How Does A Brake Controller Work?

Brake controllers work on a definite way. The magnet is activated when power comes from your own brake controller. It really is attracted to the inside smooth face of the revolving brake hub. The rotating centre causes the magnet to revolve as shown (Magnet is mounted on a good lever that rotates). When it turns it causes the both brake shoes to pass on and then apply your brakes.

The brake controller gets installed into the car (on or close to your dashboard). It also controls the power that gets delivered to the magnet at the wheel.

The controller includes a direct connection to the battery for the actual source of power. It has a link with the stop light also, typically from the switch at the brake pedal. This explains to the machine to supply capacity to the magnet, with a direct cable from the controller. An earth is required also.

Important Features to Consider

There are some important features that you need to consider when buying. Focusing on these features can make your purchasing experience fun, easy and you will surely get the right product.

1. Types of Brake Controller

One of the important features of trailer brake controller that you need to focus on when choosing is the type. The controllers are divided into two groups – the time-delayed and the proportional brake controllers.

Proportional Brake controller

Proportional-brake-controller

This type of brake controller can sense how fast a towing vehicle stops and when to step on the brakes. The trailer’s brake and the tow vehicle brake work with the same amount of power reduce wear of breaking systems and providing effective slowing down.

Time delayed brake controller

Time-delayed-brake-controller

This type applies a preset breaking power and It has a delay function once the brake pedal engages. The time-delayed brake controllers can be installed in any part since they do not have sensors that determine whether a vehicle will go downhill or uphill. Aside from that this type of brake controller is much easier to install as compared to proportional models.

Hydraulic over electrical controller

Hydraulic-over-electrical-controller

This type of brake controller makes use of the hydraulic pressure mechanism on a car. The hydraulic power provides a current to control the electric brakes of the trailer. Some vehicle manufacturers give this as an OEM option, like Ford using its Ford Tow Command.

2. Number of Axles

Basically, the trailer brake controllers have 1 or 2 axle trailers because they are the most widespread. There are some that can handle 4 axles at once and are very efficient, with advanced functionality.

But, it does not mean that the 4 axle controllers are not suitable for trailers with fewer axles – they can work with any trailer with 1 to 4 axles.

3. Added Features

There are additional features that are worth mentioning in this post. These features can make the usage simpler and more comfortable.

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    1. LED displays or signal lights – it notifies the driver
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    2. Different controls for setting the brake power for various trailers.
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    3. To prevent wiring failures, trailer brake controllers are equipped with short circuit protection system.
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    4. Plug-N-Play function for ease of connecting to a vehicle network. It lets you install a brake controller or remove it if you do not need it any more easily.
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    5. It has a control where you can choose electric or hydraulic braking system or you can use both at the same time.

Thus, check whether if the brake controller is suitable for a braking system of your vehicle.

The Importance Of Having A Brake Controller

The brake controller connects your vehicle’s brake pedal and on the axles of the trailer. Without it, uncontrolled weight can push ahead, which can cause accidents and damage. Not just to your car or truck but on other vehicles on the road in the event that you can’t slow down or stop in time.

An electric trailer brake control gives electrical power from a towing car to the electric brake on a trailer. If your trailer possesses electrical brakes, a real brake controller is required. Besides, brake controller is needed for the following purposes:

  • Safety Measures
  • To control the vehicle easily
  • Customizable LCD plus Advanced Diagnostics
  • Much less Maintenance and affordable price
  • Automatic Leveling and Easy Installation

The Function Of The Trailer Brake Controller

The trailer brake controller calculates how much braking power the trailer requires when the driver press the brake pedal on the trailer to stop. The magnet is activated by the power coming from the brake controller. It is attracted to the smooth surface of the revolving brake hub. The magnet revolves as the center rotates. Once it turns, both brake shoes pass on and brakes are then applied.

The trailer brake controller controls the power needed by the magnet at the wheel. The connection of the controller to the battery is the actual source of power. It has a connection with the stop light, generally from the switch at the brake pedal. This will help determine how much power is required to supply to the magnet. 

Tips On Installing Trailer Brake Controller

Best Trailer Brake Controller

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In order for your trailer brake controller to function properly, you need to install it properly. The trailer brake controllers work the same way as the emergency brake. The only difference is that it is not cable operated. It is made of a magnetic piston that attracts when the right power is supplied, thus operating the brakes.

The first thing you need to when installing a trailer brake controller is to mount it in an easy to access area. You can either position it under the dashboard and above your right leg. You can view the brake controller easily, thus it helps you monitor any potential issue.

Included in the package of the trailer brake controller is a user guide which can help you on installing it. If you can follow the instructions well and you have some knowledge about what you are doing, installing a brake controller will be as easy as ABC. If you have problems installing it, you can ask a professional to help you complete the installation process.

Top 5 Best Trailer Brake Controller

**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

Comparison Table of 5 Best Trailer Brake Controller

Brand

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF Electronic Brake Control

Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control

Tekonsha p3 Brake Control + Wiring Harness for Toyota 4runner

Tekonsha p3 Brake Control + Wiring Harness for 95-09

Editor rating

4.8

4.5

4.7

4.5

4.9

Item Weight

1 pound

6 pounds

12.2 pounds

1.4 pounds

1.5 pounds

Product Dimensions

4.5 x 3 x 10.6 inches

12.6 x 8.6 x 6.2 inches

4.5 x 2.5 x 8.5 inches

4.5 x 3 x 10.8 inches

4.5 x 3 x 10.8 inches

Display

LCD

LED

LED

LCD

LCD

Model Number

90195

90250

90160

P3

CEQ90195- 3020B

International Shipping

Selected countries outside USA

Selected countries outside USA

Selected countries outside USA

Selected countries outside USA

Selected countries outside USA

Warranty

Limited Lifetime Warranty

15-year limited warranty

15-year labor warranty

Limited Lifetime Warranty

Limited Lifetime Warranty

Tekonsha-p3-Brake-Control-+-Wiring-Harness-for-95-09

Tekonsha p3 is a super brake control with a lot of nice features. This controller supports actual electric brakes and electric over hydraulic. It is extremely soft in its service.

It is easy to set or change for different trailers and has a memory for every trailer you own also. Tekonsha p3 along with Wiring Harness for 95-09 is very simple to install. Installation is speedy, and the unit can be removed during off season easily.

The boost feature of the Tekonsha p3 Brake Control works great. The automated deceleration feature applies just the right amount of breaking always. Another grand feature is the capability to save the settings in case you have more than 1 trailer. Overall, it provides a proportionate stop based on the vehicle's deceleration rate.

Pros

  • Shiny LCD with adjustable contrast
  • Reverse battery security for both breakaway and vehicle systems
  • Boost characteristic for brake personalization
  • Works together with trailers from you to 4 axle assemblies, with both hydraulic and electric brakes
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • No installation instructions with it
  • Doesn’t work as expected
  • Doesn’t support international shipping

Tekonsha-90195-P3-Electronic-Brake-Control

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Brake Controller tends to be the most intelligent and advanced method of trailer brake controls. One of the security features on the P3 is the capability to self-diagnose the trailer constantly while driving.

Built with a self-adjusting device, this best trailer brake controller supports electric brakes along with electric over hydraulic. This technology permits simple and flexible set up from almost horizontal to vertical. P3 continuously adjusts itself to the place of the tow vehicles.

The P3 electronic trailer braking mechanism control offers proportional braking for one particular to 4 Axle Trailers. It offers customizable LCD, storable configurations, three or more boost levels, electric battery protection and constant diagnostics.

Pros

  • Extremely advanced, simple-to-understand and roadside diagnostics
  • The original Boost characteristic permits different levels of personalized braking
  • ​Compact and dash-hugging style
  • ​Unique, simple to use and clip mounting system
  • Restricted Lifetime Warrantee

Cons

  • Not suitable for international shipping
  • Insufficient information for installation
  • Does not provide service as expected

Tekonsha-90160-Primus-IQ-Electronic-Brake-Control

Tekonsha 90160 uses primary sensor technology predicated on Prodigy technology. This brake controller is really suitable for 1 to 3 axle trailers. It includes a proportional braking system. It automatically adjusts the trailer's braking depending on deceleration of the tow vehicles.

It also possesses automatic leveling capability. Tekonsha 90160 automatically levels whenever mounted within a 700 vertical range. It includes digital display, battery protection, 3 boost levels plus continuous diagnostics. 

You can easily transfer it among different automobiles. This brake controller activates actual trailer brakes in proportion to the vehicle's braking action. Its continuous diagnostic check notices you to any type of potential problems.

Pros

  • LED display for easy -to-read
  • Built-in and slide-bar manual override
  • Carries a “Boost” feature
  • Proportionally works in overturn Snap-in dash rising clip plus hardware included
  • Self-diagnostics features will illuminate LED readout when problems occur

Cons

  • This product can be shipped to select countries outside of the U.S only
  • The included 20% restocking fee is a great burden for the buyers
  • Sometimes they don’t attach proper adjusting video

Tekonsha-p3-Brake-Control-+-Wiring-Harness-for-Toyota-4runner

The Tekonsha P3 is one of the best proportional trailer brake controllers in the marketplace at the moment. The multi-functioning LCD, which includes the most advanced analysis which can be utilized easily.

This brake controller mechanically levels while mounted within a 3600 vertical range. It can be installed easily with the included vehicle precise wiring adapter. So no other parts are essential.

Tekonsha p3 brake controller is an excellent brake controller. It is easy to use and includes a clear screen as well. Brake remotes with a custom made match wiring harness to your Toyota 4Runner help to make trailer towing more secure and set up easier.

Pros

  • Highly advanced, simple-to-understand and roadside diagnostics
  • Unique, Small, easy-to- make use of along with clip mounting system
  • Separate, easy to understand LCD with multiple contrast and color options
  • Quick detachment for easy storage space; hassle-free storage pouch included
  • Comes with limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Doesn’t work on 2015 plus newer model Toyota Tundra SR
  • Not perfect for updated Toyota vehicles
  • Does not fit for all Tundras

Tekonsha-90250-Prodigy-RF-Electronic-Brake-Control

The effective Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF Brake Control comes with automatic-leveling sensor, portable remote, boost feature and nonstop diagnostics. It is well-suited with multiplex wiring system. Prodigy RF, the best trailer brake controller, is absolutely perfect for 1- to 3-axle trailers. It is a proportional electronic brake controller. It will automatically regulate the trailer's braking based on the cessation of the tow vehicles.

The wireless system is perfect for shared trailer or if you are traveling in fleets. The LED screen displays trailer brake voltage, and power diagnostics. The easy-to-use remote control usually plugs into a standard 12-volt actual power accessory adapter. Over all this system has automatic leveling facility right here.

Pros

  • Simply no drilling, brackets, or perhaps clips needed!
  • Easy to see LED display for trailer brake pedal voltage, power result, and diagnostics
  • Easy to use remote control hands control
  • Power conserving mode decreases drain on battery once vehicle isn't being used
  • Comes with a 15- year limited guarantee and one year limited warranty on cord

Cons

  • International shipping is not supported for all over the world.
  • Wiring instruction is not accurate.
  • Not perfect with Mercedes CDI ML320 diesel car

Things To Consider When Buying A Trailer Brake Controller

In choosing the best trailer brake controller, there are things that you need to consider. Picking the wrong brake controller could cause damage both on your vehicle and your finances.

There are factors that you should consider when buying the best brake controller for your travel trailer. Some of which are as follows:

1. The Weight of Load You Need to Tow

If you plan to tow fragile items or heavy-duty loads, it is best to consider buying the proportional brake controller type. One reason is that when the trailer stops, it will be smooth thus there will be less interference on the load and on your automotive. It will keep your emergency brakes protected.

If you need to tow a lighter trailer, you may consider using a time-based brake controller. This type of brake controller is usually enough for this purpose. It cost less and is recommended for lightweight loads.

2. How Frequent You Tow

Proportional trailer brake controller is recommended if you will be towing more often or commercially. Time-based trailer brake controller is recommended for occasional towing.

3. Specialized Trailer Brakes

This type of brake controller is a combination of electric and hydraulic. It is recommended if you require specialized trailer brakes as this can provide the power that you need to work efficiently.

4. Power Supply

The voltage should match the power source in the towing vehicle. You can choose either 12 V or 24 V. Almost all controllers require 12-volt vehicles unless specified as 24 volts.

5. Number of axles

The trailer brake controller is manufactured based on the different number of axle assemblies on the towed trailer. You only need to know how much power it can provide.

If the controller is ideal for 4 axles, it can be used on a single axle, double axles or triple axles trailers.

6. Display Type

LED is the display type recommended that will match any type of brake controller. It features a digital display and makes sure power is delivered efficiently.

7. Proportional or Non-proportional

Things-to-consider-when-buying-a-Brake-Controller

The proportional brake controller makes use of various systems to determine when your trailer is dropping off and use proportional power to the electric brakes.

On the other hand, the non-proportional brake controller is time-delay activated or in a solid state. It usually applies a set amount of capacity to the braking system at a given time.

8. Mounting

You can mount it in a cradle below the dashboard or remotely with the controls protruding into the dashboard.

Some of the best Brands

Tekonsha

Tekonsa is the leader of the entire break controller brands in the marketplace. Smart trailer braking tends to be the key to the achievement of the Tekonsha product line. They launched their journey since 1964. The Tekonsha line has been trusted by professional towers plus weekend warriors really for worry-free travel.

Hopkins

Founded in 1953, Hopkins manufacturing Corporation is regarded as the automotive industry's innovator in towing electrical items. Living by the mission, the company's focus is still making the towing encounter easier and even more satisfying through innovation plus value

Hayes

Hayes trusts that safe braking includes total braking power to the trailer when needed. Most Hayes versions deliver 100% capacity to the trailer brakes. All models are designed to accommodate both electrical trailer brakes and hydraulic trailer brakes

Reese

Founded in 1952, the Reese brand has become a familiar name inside the heavy-duty towing sector. With proven deign that exceeds the industry standard, Reese has become the brand of choice whenever performance is the anticipation

Conclusion

Choosing the best trailer brake controller is definitely important for your trailer. It is vital not just for your vehicle but to make sure you are safe as you drive. The trailer brake controller makes sure that the trailer can slow down or stop if needed. It is very helpful in cases of emergency that requires you to make a sudden stop.

All the five trailer brake controller reviewed are highly recommended since they possess all the important features you have looking for in a brake controller. These brake controllers are easy to install and you can also remove it easily which makes it an ideal companion on the road. The only factor that you can decide on is which brake controller you can afford. Keep in mind that not all expensive trailer brake controller is worth buying.

If you find this buying review helpful, feel free to share this post with others. You can also make a comment below for your inquiries and suggestions.

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Stephen Foreman
 

Hello everybody! My name is Stephen Foreman and I am an automotive reviewer. I choose this job because I feel my extensive experience on automotive can help you a lot. Thank you for your time. If you have any questions or you want me to review something, please let me know.

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