Trailer Brake Controller Comparison: Find the Perfect Fit Today!

Trailer brake controller comparison helps you find the best option for your needs. This article provides an in-depth analysis of various trailer brake controllers available in the market, highlighting their key features and benefits.

Additionally, it discusses important factors to consider when choosing a brake controller, such as compatibility, braking power, installation, and price. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the different trailer brake controllers and be able to make an informed decision on which one to purchase for your trailer.

So, let’s dive in and explore the world of trailer brake controllers!

Trailer Brake Controller Comparison: Find the Perfect Fit Today!


Table of Contents

Why Is A Trailer Brake Controller Necessary?

Ensuring Safe Towing

Trailer Brake Controller Comparison

Towing a trailer can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to controlling the speed and braking of the entire setup. This is where a trailer brake controller becomes necessary. Whether you’re towing a small camper or a large cargo trailer, having a brake controller installed in your vehicle can provide you with the peace of mind and control you need during your towing adventures.

The Importance Of Balanced Braking

When towing a trailer, maintaining balanced braking is crucial to ensure the safety of both your vehicle and the trailer itself. Here’s why a trailer brake controller is essential in achieving balanced braking:

  • Controlled stopping power: A trailer brake controller allows you to apply the trailer brakes independently of your vehicle’s brakes. This means that during braking, the trailer brakes can be engaged at the same time as the vehicle’s brakes, ensuring a more controlled and evenly distributed stopping power.
  • Reduced wear and tear: By using a trailer brake controller, you can prevent excessive wear on your vehicle’s brakes. When the trailer brakes are able to contribute to the overall braking effort, it reduces the strain on your vehicle’s braking system, potentially extending its longevity and reducing maintenance costs.
  • Improved stability: Balanced braking helps to maintain the stability of your vehicle and trailer combination. When the trailer brakes are properly synchronized with the vehicle’s brakes, it minimizes the risk of the trailer swaying or jackknifing during sudden stops or when maneuvering sharp turns.

Preventing Accidents And Damage To Vehicles

A trailer brake controller is not just about convenience, it’s about safety too. Here are some key reasons why having one is crucial in preventing accidents and damage to vehicles:

  • Shorter stopping distances: With a trailer brake controller, you can apply the trailer brakes simultaneously with your vehicle’s brakes, resulting in shorter stopping distances. This is particularly important in emergency situations where every inch counts.
  • Protection against trailer pushing: When the trailer brakes are engaged, it helps to prevent the trailer from pushing against your vehicle. This reduces the risk of the trailer pushing the vehicle out of control, especially when going downhill or navigating steep descents.
  • Damage prevention: Uneven braking forces can lead to damage on both your vehicle and the trailer. A trailer brake controller ensures that the braking forces are distributed evenly, minimizing the risk of excessive wear and tear or damage to either component.

A trailer brake controller is a vital tool in towing safety. It allows for balanced braking, provides controlled stopping power, improves stability, prevents accidents, and protects against potential damage to both your vehicle and trailer. Whether you’re a seasoned tower or a newcomer to towing, investing in a trailer brake controller is a wise decision that will ultimately contribute to a safer and more enjoyable towing experience.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Trailer Brake Controller

Compatibility With Towing Vehicle

  • Ensure that the trailer brake controller you choose is compatible with your towing vehicle to ensure proper functionality and safety.
  • Check the brake controller’s compatibility with the electrical system of your towing vehicle, as different models may have different wiring requirements.
  • Consider the towing capacity of your vehicle and select a brake controller that can handle the weight of your trailer.
  • Verify if the brake controller is compatible with both electric and hydraulic trailer brake systems, depending on your specific trailer setup.

Types Of Trailer Brake Controllers

  • There are two main types of trailer brake controllers: Time-delayed and proportional.
  • Time-delayed brake controllers apply a preset amount of braking power with a predetermined delay after the brake pedal is pressed.
  • Proportional brake controllers provide braking power in proportion to the deceleration of the towing vehicle, ensuring a smoother and more controlled braking experience.

Time-Delayed Brake Controllers

  • Time-delayed brake controllers are suitable for trailers with consistent weight and braking requirements.
  • They are typically more affordable compared to proportional brake controllers.
  • Adjustable timing options allow you to customize the delay before the brakes are applied, according to your preferences and trailer characteristics.
  • Time-delayed brake controllers are generally easier to set up and require less maintenance.

Proportional Brake Controllers

  • Proportional brake controllers provide a proportional amount of braking power based on the force applied to the towing vehicle’s brakes.
  • This type of brake controller offers smoother and more responsive braking compared to time-delayed controllers.
  • Proportional brake controllers are well-suited for various towing scenarios, especially when towing trailers with varying weights or when driving in different terrains.
  • They often require more initial setup and adjustment, but offer enhanced control and safety while towing.

Budget Considerations

  • Consider your budget when choosing a trailer brake controller.
  • Time-delayed brake controllers are generally more cost-effective, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious buyers.
  • Proportional brake controllers tend to be more expensive, but they offer superior braking control and can be worth the investment if you frequently tow heavy loads or require precise braking.

Additional Features To Look For

  • Some trailer brake controllers offer additional features that can enhance your towing experience. Here are a few to consider:
  • Brake boosters: These allow you to increase the brake force in emergency situations or when towing exceptionally heavy loads.
  • Digital displays: Provide real-time information such as braking power, voltage, and diagnostics, making it easier to monitor the brake performance.
  • Plug-and-play installation: Look for brake controllers that offer easy installation without complex wiring requirements.
  • Adjustable braking sensitivity: This feature allows you to fine-tune the braking response based on your preferences and the specific towing conditions.
  • Short circuit protection: Ensures the brake controller remains protected from electrical faults and prevents damage to the towing vehicle or trailer.

Time-Delayed Brake Controllers In Detail

How Time-Delayed Brake Controllers Work

Time-delayed brake controllers are a popular choice among trailer owners due to their simplicity and effectiveness. These brake controllers operate by applying the trailer brakes with a preset delay after the vehicle brakes are engaged. Here’s how they work:

  • The time-delayed brake controllers have a built-in timer mechanism that determines the delay between when the vehicle brakes are activated and when the trailer brakes are applied.
  • Once you press the brake pedal in your vehicle, the brake controller senses the change in voltage and sends a signal to the trailer’s braking system.
  • The controller then delays the application of the trailer brakes by a predetermined amount of time, usually adjustable to suit your specific towing needs.
  • This delay ensures that the vehicle’s brakes have a chance to engage fully before the trailer brakes are applied, preventing any sudden or jerky stops.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Time-delayed brake controllers come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at them:


  • Simple setup and operation: Time-delayed brake controllers are easy to install and require minimal adjustments for most towing situations, making them user-friendly for both beginners and experienced trailer owners.
  • Cost-effective: These brake controllers are generally more affordable compared to other types of brake controllers, making them a budget-friendly option for trailer owners.
  • Compatibility: Time-delayed brake controllers are compatible with all types of trailers, making them a versatile choice for various towing needs.


  • Lack of sensitivity to changes in braking conditions: Unlike proportional brake controllers, time-delayed brake controllers do not adjust their braking power in response to changes in braking conditions. This means that if the road conditions suddenly change, the braking power may not be optimized for maximum safety.
  • Potential for trailer skidding: The preset delay in applying the trailer brakes can sometimes lead to skidding of the trailer if not adjusted correctly. This can result in reduced control and stability during braking.

Recommended Time-Delayed Brake Controllers

When it comes to time-delayed brake controllers, there are several reliable options on the market. Here are a few recommended ones:

  • Tekonsha 90160 primus iq brake control: This brake controller features a self-adjusting electric trailer brake output and a boost feature for customized braking. It also has an easy-to-read led display and a compact design for convenient installation.
  • Reese towpower 8507111 brake control: The reese towpower brake controller offers smooth and proportional braking, allowing for a more controlled and responsive towing experience. It also has a large easy-to-read display and adjustable power settings.
  • Hopkins 47297 insight brake control: With its digital display and multiple mounting options, the hopkins insight brake controller offers precise and customizable braking control. It also features an integrated plug-and-play port for quick and hassle-free installation.

When choosing a time-delayed brake controller, consider your towing needs, budget, and the compatibility with your specific vehicle and trailer setup. These recommended options provide reliable performance and user-friendly features to enhance your towing experience. Remember to always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation and adjustment.

Proportional Brake Controllers In Detail

How Proportional Brake Controllers Work

Proportional brake controllers are designed to provide a smoother and more controlled braking experience when towing a trailer. Unlike time-delayed brake controllers, which apply a pre-set amount of braking power to the trailer brakes, proportional brake controllers adjust the braking force based on the deceleration of the towing vehicle.

Here’s how they work:

  • Proportional brake controllers use accelerometers to measure the deceleration of the towing vehicle.
  • They calculate the amount of braking force required based on the rate of deceleration.
  • The brake controller then sends signals to the trailer brakes to apply the appropriate amount of braking force.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Proportional brake controllers offer several advantages over time-delayed brake controllers, but they also have a few drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons:


  • Responsive and accurate braking: Proportional brake controllers provide a more natural and intuitive braking experience, as they adjust the braking force in real-time based on the towing vehicle’s deceleration.
  • Improved safety: The responsive braking of proportional brake controllers helps to minimize trailer sway and reduce stopping distances, enhancing overall safety while towing.
  • User-friendly operation: Once properly set up, proportional brake controllers require minimal user intervention, making them easy to use for both experienced and novice tower.


  • Higher price range: Proportional brake controllers generally come with a higher price tag compared to time-delayed controllers. However, the added performance and safety benefits may justify the additional cost for many trailer owners.
  • Installation complexity: Installing a proportional brake controller may require professional assistance or technical know-how, especially in vehicles without pre-wired brake controller connections. This can add to the initial installation cost and time.

Responsive And Accurate Braking

One of the primary advantages of proportional brake controllers is their ability to provide responsive and accurate braking. Here are some key points to know:

  • Proportional brake controllers adjust the braking force on the trailer in real-time, ensuring that the braking effort matches the deceleration of the towing vehicle.
  • This responsive braking helps prevent abrupt stopping or jerky movements, promoting smoother and more controlled towing.
  • By proportionally applying the brakes based on the tow vehicle’s deceleration, proportional brake controllers also help minimize trailer sway, providing a safer towing experience.

Higher Price Range

It’s important to note that proportional brake controllers generally come with a higher price range compared to their time-delayed counterparts. Here are some considerations regarding the cost:

  • The increased performance and safety benefits of proportional brake controllers often justify the higher price for many trailer owners.
  • The price range can vary depending on the specific brand, model, and additional features of the brake controller.
  • Expensive does not always mean better. It’s essential to consider the specific needs and towing requirements when selecting a proportional brake controller.

Recommended Proportional Brake Controllers

While there are several quality proportional brake controllers available on the market, here are some popular recommendations to consider:

  • Tekonsha prodigy p3: Known for its advanced proportional braking technology and user-friendly interface, the tekonsha prodigy p3 offers precise brake control and various customization options.
  • Reese towpower 74378: Equipped with a digital display and easy-to-use controls, the reese towpower 74378 provides proportional braking performance at an affordable price point.
  • Curt 51170 spectrum: With its sleek design and versatile compatibility, the curt 51170 spectrum offers responsive and reliable braking performance, backed by advanced features like automatic leveling and calibration.

Remember to carefully consider your towing needs, budget, and vehicle compatibility when choosing a proportional brake controller that suits your requirements.

Trailer Brake Controller Installation Process

Steps For Installing A Trailer Brake Controller

Installing a trailer brake controller is an essential step for ensuring the safety and control of your towing experience. With the right tools and a straightforward process, you can easily set up a trailer brake controller on your vehicle. Here are the steps to guide you through the installation process:

Gathering Necessary Tools

Before you begin the installation, make sure you have the following tools and materials ready:

  • Trailer brake controller
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire connectors
  • Electrical tape
  • Mounting brackets
  • Mounting screws

Locating The Brake Controller Connection

  • Find the brake controller plug: Look for the brake controller plug located underneath the driver’s side dashboard. It is usually near the center console or in the footwell area.
  • Remove the kick panel: Unscrew or unclip the kick panel covering the brake controller plug to access the wiring connections.

Wiring The Brake Controller

  • Prepare the wires: Strip the insulation from the wires that come with the brake controller, ensuring enough length to reach the vehicle’s wiring harness.
  • Connect the wires: Match the corresponding color-coded wires from the brake controller to the vehicle’s wiring harness. Use wire connectors to secure the connections.
  • Ground the brake controller: Find a suitable grounding point near the installation location and use a screw or self-tapping bolt to secure the ground wire of the brake controller.
  • Attach the brake controller: Mount the brake controller onto the dash using the provided mounting brackets and screws. Make sure it is in a convenient and easily accessible location.

Testing The Connection

  • Reinstall the kick panel: Once the wiring is complete, reattach the kick panel to cover the connections.
  • Turn on the vehicle: Start the vehicle’s engine and ensure the brake controller is receiving power.
  • Verify brake signal activation: Push the brake pedal and check if the brake controller’s led display or digital screen shows the brake signal activation.
  • Adjust the brake controller settings: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fine-tune the brake controller settings according to your trailer’s weight and braking requirements.

Tips And Precautions For A Successful Installation

  • Read the brake controller manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly before starting the installation process.
  • Ensure all connections are secure and free from any loose or exposed wiring.
  • Double-check the compatibility of the brake controller with your vehicle’s make and model.
  • Consider using additional wire loom or tubing to protect the wires from damage and ensure a clean installation.
  • Test the brake controller functionality in a safe location before embarking on a full towing trip.

Remember, if you are uncertain about any step of the installation process, it is recommended to seek professional assistance to ensure a proper and reliable setup. With the proper installation of a trailer brake controller, you can have peace of mind knowing that your towing experience will be safer and more controlled.

Trailer Brake Controller Maintenance

Regular inspection and cleaning:

  • Inspect the brake controller regularly to ensure it is in good working condition.
  • Clean any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the controller.
  • Check the wiring connections to make sure they are secure and free from corrosion.
  • Look for any signs of wear or damage and replace any worn-out parts.

Ensuring proper brake controller functionality:

  • Test the brake controller before each towing trip to ensure it is functioning correctly.
  • Adjust the brake gain settings as needed to provide the right amount of braking power.
  • Make sure the controller is properly calibrated for the trailer’s weight and braking needs.
  • Regularly monitor the brake controller’s display for any error codes or warnings that may indicate a problem.

Troubleshooting common issues:

  • If the trailer brakes are not activating properly, check the brake controller’s power source and wiring connections.
  • Ensure that the trailer’s brake system is properly adjusted and functioning correctly.
  • If the brake controller is not responding or showing any signs of malfunction, try resetting it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Consult the brake controller’s user manual or contact the manufacturer for further troubleshooting steps if necessary.

Taking care of your trailer brake controller through regular inspection, cleaning, and maintenance is essential for safe and reliable towing. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your brake controller is functioning properly and providing the necessary braking power for your trailer.

Remember to test the brake controller before each trip and address any issues promptly to avoid potential braking problems on the road.

Reviews And Comparisons Of Top Trailer Brake Controllers

Brake Controller 1: Features, Pros, And Cons

The first brake controller we’ll be reviewing is equipped with a range of impressive features. Take a look at the key points below:

  • Customizable settings for brake intensity and response time
  • Smooth and precise braking control for enhanced safety
  • Easy installation process with clear instructions provided

Now let’s delve into the pros and cons of this brake controller:

  • Pros:
  • Provides smooth and consistent braking performance
  • Responsive braking system ensuring safety on the road
  • User-friendly interface for hassle-free operation
  • Cons:
  • Limited compatibility with certain vehicle models
  • Some users may require additional assistance during installation

Brake Controller 2: Features, Pros, And Cons

Moving on to the second brake controller in our comparison, let’s explore its noteworthy features:

  • Intuitive interface for quick and effortless adjustments
  • Advanced technology for optimal braking efficiency
  • Compact design for space-saving installation

Here are the pros and cons of this brake controller:

  • Pros:
  • Simple and straightforward setup process
  • Smooth and reliable braking performance
  • Compact size allows for flexibility in mounting location
  • Cons:
  • Compatibility issues with certain vehicle models
  • Limited compatibility with trailer brake types

Brake Controller 3: Features, Pros, And Cons

Our third brake controller option offers a range of features designed to enhance your towing experience. Here are the key points:

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface for easy operation
  • Built-in diagnostics for monitoring brake system performance
  • Versatile compatibility with various trailer brake types

Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons of this brake controller:

  • Pros:
  • Precise and responsive braking control
  • Flexible compatibility with a wide range of vehicles
  • Enhanced safety features for peace of mind
  • Cons:
  • Some users may find the installation process slightly challenging
  • Requires additional wiring and setup for optimal performance

Brake Controller 4: Features, Pros, And Cons

Lastly, let’s explore the features of our fourth brake controller option:

  • Adjustable settings for personalized brake response
  • Compact design for easy installation in tight spaces
  • Compatibility with a variety of trailer brake systems

Here are the pros and cons of this brake controller:

  • Pros:
  • Smooth and effective braking performance
  • Intuitive interface for effortless adjustments
  • Durable construction for long-lasting use
  • Cons:
  • May require professional installation for optimal functionality
  • Limited instructions provided for setup and calibration

With four different brake controllers each offering unique features, pros, and cons, you can now make an informed decision based on your towing requirements and preferences. Happy towing!

Frequently Asked Questions For Trailer Brake Controller Comparison

What Is A Trailer Brake Controller?

A trailer brake controller is a device that allows you to control and activate the brakes on your trailer while towing it.

How Does A Trailer Brake Controller Work?

A trailer brake controller works by sending an electrical signal to the trailer’s brakes, which activates them and helps in slowing down the trailer when the tow vehicle’s brakes are applied.

Why Do I Need A Trailer Brake Controller?

A trailer brake controller is essential for safe towing as it helps in maintaining control over the trailer by activating its brakes, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring smooth braking.

Are Trailer Brake Controllers Universal?

No, trailer brake controllers are not universal. They vary based on the type of braking system in the trailer and the compatibility with the tow vehicle’s electrical system. It is important to choose the right controller for your specific setup.

What Types Of Trailer Brake Controllers Are Available?

There are mainly two types of trailer brake controllers: time-delayed controllers and proportional controllers. Time-delayed controllers provide a preset braking force, while proportional controllers sense the inertia of the tow vehicle and apply the trailer brakes accordingly.

How Do I Install A Trailer Brake Controller?

Installation procedures may vary depending on the specific brake controller and tow vehicle. Generally, it involves mounting the controller in a convenient location within reach, connecting it to the tow vehicle’s electrical system, and calibrating the controller for optimal braking performance.

Can I Install A Trailer Brake Controller Myself?

Yes, if you have the necessary knowledge and skills, you can install a trailer brake controller yourself. However, it is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and, if unsure, seek assistance from a professional to ensure proper installation and functionality.

How Do I Adjust The Trailer Brake Controller?

To adjust the trailer brake controller, start with a moderate setting and test the braking response while towing the trailer. Gradually increase or decrease the braking force until you achieve optimal braking performance without the trailer’s wheels locking up or skidding.

Are Trailer Brake Controllers Waterproof?

Not all trailer brake controllers are waterproof. It is important to check the specifications provided by the manufacturer to ensure that the controller is designed to withstand water exposure, especially if you anticipate driving in wet or humid conditions.


Overall, when it comes to choosing a trailer brake controller, it’s important to consider your specific towing needs and preferences. The options available in the market vary in terms of features, installation requirements, and price points. By understanding the differences between brake controllers, you can make an informed decision that best suits your trailer and vehicle setup.

Whether you opt for a time-based controller or a proportional one, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Time-based controllers are typically more affordable and easier to install, but may not provide as smooth and consistent braking. On the other hand, proportional controllers offer more precise braking, but might be more expensive and require professional installation.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the safety and efficiency of your towing experience. So take the time to analyze your towing needs and choose the trailer brake controller that fits your requirements the best.

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