Trailer Brake Controller Reviews : The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best

Trailer brake controller reviews: find the best trailer brake controller for your needs with unbiased and accurate reviews. When it comes to towing trailers, having a reliable and efficient brake controller is essential.

Whether you are a professional truck driver or a recreational vehicle enthusiast, having control over your trailer’s braking system is crucial for safety on the road. We will provide you with a comprehensive review of trailer brake controllers, highlighting their features, performance, and customer feedback.

By the end of this review, you will have all the information you need to make an informed decision and choose the best trailer brake controller that suits your needs. Keep reading to find out more.

Trailer Brake Controller Reviews  : The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best


Table of Contents

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Trailer Brake Controller

Type Of Trailer Brake Controllers

There are several different types of trailer brake controllers to choose from when outfitting your vehicle for towing. Here are the main types to consider:

  • Time-delayed brake controllers: These controllers apply a preset amount of braking power to the trailer after a certain delay. They are more affordable and simpler to install, but lack the precise braking control of other options.
  • Proportional brake controllers: Proportional controllers are designed to measure the deceleration of the vehicle and apply the trailer brakes in proportion to that deceleration. This provides a smoother and more controlled braking experience.
  • Inertia-based brake controllers: Also known as pendulum controllers, these devices use the trailer’s inertia to determine the appropriate amount of braking force to apply. They are effective for both light and heavy trailer loads.

Compatibility With Your Vehicle

When choosing a trailer brake controller, it is critical to ensure compatibility with your vehicle. Here are some key considerations:

  • Check the manufacturer’s guidelines: Each brake controller will have specific requirements and recommendations regarding which vehicles it is compatible with. Make sure to review these guidelines before making a purchase.
  • Electrical connection: Different vehicles may have different electrical connections for the brake controller. Ensure that your vehicle’s wiring system is compatible with the controller you choose.

Number Of Axles On The Trailer

The number of axles on your trailer will determine the type of brake controller you need. Here’s what you should know:

  • Single-axle trailers: A time-delayed brake controller can typically handle the braking needs of a single-axle trailer.
  • Multi-axle trailers: For trailers with multiple axles, it is recommended to use a proportional or inertia-based brake controller for more precise and controlled braking.

Brake Controller Installation Options

The method of installation can vary depending on the brake controller and your vehicle. Here are the common installation options:

  • Plug-and-play: Some brake controllers are designed to be easily plugged into the vehicle’s existing wiring harness, making installation quick and hassle-free.
  • Hardwired installation: This method involves connecting the brake controller directly to the vehicle’s electrical system. It may require more time and expertise, but results in a more permanent and secure installation.

Budget Considerations

Your budget is an important factor to consider when choosing a trailer brake controller. Keep in mind:

  • Time-delayed brake controllers are generally more affordable compared to proportional and inertia-based controllers.
  • However, investing in a proportional or inertia-based brake controller can provide better braking performance and control, especially for heavier trailers.

Remember to research and compare different brake controllers to find the best option that fits both your budget and towing needs.

By considering the type of brake controller, compatibility with your vehicle, the number of axles on the trailer, installation options, and budget considerations, you can make an informed decision when choosing a trailer brake controller for your towing requirements. Happy towing!

Time-Delayed Brake Controllers

Explanation Of Time-Delayed Brake Controllers

A time-delayed brake controller is a type of brake controller that gradually applies the brakes on the trailer after a specified delay. Here are the key points to understand about time-delayed brake controllers:

  • Time delay: Time-delayed brake controllers have a preset time delay that determines how quickly or slowly the brakes are applied. This delay allows the vehicle and trailer to synchronize their braking actions.
  • Mechanical operation: Time-delayed brake controllers operate mechanically and rely on a pendulum or inertia sensor to detect the vehicle’s deceleration. Once the sensor detects a deceleration, it triggers the brake controller to apply the trailer brakes.
  • Basic functionality: These controllers offer a basic level of braking control, suitable for most towing needs. They are usually affordable and easy to install, making them a popular choice among trailer owners.
  • Adjustability: Time-delayed brake controllers typically offer adjustable braking power levels, allowing users to fine-tune the braking force according to the trailer weight and road conditions.
  • Compatibility: They are compatible with various trailer types, including travel trailers, utility trailers, and boat trailers.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Time-Delayed Brake Controllers

Time-delayed brake controllers come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of these factors:


  • Cost-effective: Time-delayed brake controllers are generally more affordable compared to other types of brake controllers. This makes them an excellent option for budget-conscious trailer owners.
  • Simple operation: These controllers feature a straightforward design and operation, making them easy to use and understand. They don’t require advanced technical knowledge or adjustments.
  • Versatility: Time-delayed brake controllers work well for an array of towing needs. Whether you’re towing a small utility trailer or a larger travel trailer, they provide adequate braking assistance.


  • Limited control: Due to their basic design, time-delayed brake controllers lack some of the advanced features found in proportional brake controllers. This means they may not provide as precise and immediate braking response.
  • Potential wear and tear: The mechanical components in time-delayed brake controllers can experience wear and tear over time. This could result in decreased performance or the need for repairs.
  • Less adaptability: Time-delayed brake controllers may not be as adaptable to varying road conditions or changes in trailer weight compared to more advanced brake controller types.

Recommended Time-Delayed Brake Controllers For Various Towing Needs

When it comes to selecting a time-delayed brake controller, several factors should be considered, such as trailer weight, towing frequency, and personal preferences. Here are some recommended time-delayed brake controllers for different towing needs:

  • Tekonsha 90195 p3 electronic brake control: This popular brake controller offers excellent control and versatility for various towing needs. It features multiple levels of braking power adjustments and a digital display for enhanced convenience.
  • Reese towpower 8508211 brake-evn brake controller: Designed for ease of use, this compact brake controller is ideal for light-duty towing. It comes with a smooth and proportioned braking capability at an affordable price.
  • Draw-tite 5504 activator iv brake control: Known for its reliability, this brake controller offers precise braking control for medium-duty towing. It has a simple and user-friendly interface with manual override features.
  • Curt 51130 discovery electric trailer brake controller: Suitable for both single and tandem axle trailers, this brake controller provides reliable and consistent braking performance. It is adjustable to match the user’s towing preferences.

Remember to always consider the specific requirements of your trailer and towing needs before making a brake controller purchase.

Proportional Brake Controllers

Explanation Of Proportional Brake Controllers

Proportional brake controllers are a type of brake controller that provide a smooth and synchronized braking experience while towing a trailer. Unlike time delay brake controllers that apply a preset amount of braking power, proportional brake controllers sense the braking force applied to the towing vehicle and proportionally apply the same braking force to the trailer.

Some key points to understand about proportional brake controllers include:

  • Proportional brake controllers utilize an accelerometer or a pendulum sensor to detect the deceleration of the towing vehicle, allowing the braking force to be adjusted in real time.
  • These controllers provide a more progressive and responsive braking experience, resulting in smoother stops and reduced wear on the trailer brakes.
  • They are compatible with trailers of various sizes and weights, making them suitable for a wide range of towing needs.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Proportional Brake Controllers

Proportional brake controllers offer several benefits over other types of brake controllers. Here are the advantages:

  • Enhanced safety: Proportional brake controllers ensure that the trailer and towing vehicle brake in unison, reducing the risk of trailer sway and providing more control during emergency stops.
  • Smooth braking: The proportional application of braking force results in smoother stops, reducing the chances of the trailer pushing or pulling the towing vehicle during braking.
  • Minimized wear and tear: By applying braking force in proportion to the deceleration of the towing vehicle, proportional brake controllers minimize wear and tear on the trailer brakes, extending their lifespan.
  • Customizable settings: Many proportional brake controllers offer customizable settings, allowing users to adjust the sensitivity and aggressiveness of the braking force to suit their preferences and towing conditions.

However, there are a few disadvantages to consider as well:

  • Higher cost: Proportional brake controllers are generally more expensive than time delay brake controllers due to their more advanced technology and features.
  • Installation complexity: Installing a proportional brake controller may require additional wiring and calibration, which can be more challenging compared to installing simpler brake controllers.
  • Power requirements: Proportional brake controllers may require a higher amperage power supply from the towing vehicle, so it’s important to ensure compatibility and check the vehicle’s electrical system before installation.

Recommended Proportional Brake Controllers For Various Towing Needs

When it comes to selecting the right proportional brake controller for your towing needs, there are several excellent options available. Here are some recommended proportional brake controllers categorized by their towing capacity:

  • Light to medium duty towing (up to 5,000 lbs):
  • Tekonsha p3 proportional brake controller: This versatile brake controller offers advanced features such as customizable braking profiles and diagnostics, making it ideal for a range of towing setups.
  • Medium to heavy duty towing (5,000 – 15,000 lbs):
  • Reese towpower brakeman iv proportional brake controller: With its user-friendly interface and precise braking control, this brake controller is a reliable choice for medium to heavy-duty towing.
  • Heavy duty towing (15,000 lbs and above):
  • Hayes genesis 10 proportional brake controller: Designed for heavy-duty towing, this brake controller boasts a high braking capacity and advanced features like automatic leveling and self-diagnostics.

Remember to always refer to the specific towing capacity and compatibility recommendations of your towing vehicle and trailer before choosing a proportional brake controller.

Proportional brake controllers offer a safer and more controlled braking experience while towing. Their ability to adjust braking force in proportion to the towing vehicle’s deceleration provides smoother stops and reduces wear on the trailer brakes. Consider the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the recommended options, to make an informed decision when selecting a proportional brake controller for your towing needs.

Inertia-Based Brake Controllers

Explanation Of Inertia-Based Brake Controllers

Inertia-based brake controllers are a type of trailer brake controller that use a built-in accelerometer to sense the deceleration of the tow vehicle. This information is then used to apply the appropriate amount of braking force to the trailer. Here are some key points about inertia-based brake controllers:

  • They work by detecting the force applied to the tow vehicle when the brake pedal is pressed.
  • The built-in accelerometer measures the rate of deceleration and sends a signal to the trailer brakes to apply the corresponding braking force.
  • Inertia-based brake controllers are known for their smooth and proportional braking, which helps prevent trailer skidding and excessive wear on the brakes.
  • They typically have a manual adjustment feature that allows the user to fine-tune the braking force to suit their towing needs.
  • Inertia-based brake controllers are compatible with electric and electric-over-hydraulic brake systems.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Inertia-Based Brake Controllers

Like any towing equipment, inertia-based brake controllers come with their share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at each:


  • Proportional braking: Inertia-based brake controllers offer proportional braking, meaning the braking force is automatically adjusted based on the deceleration of the tow vehicle. This results in smoother and more effective braking.
  • Easy installation: These brake controllers are relatively easy to install, often requiring just a few simple connections to the tow vehicle’s existing wiring system.
  • User adjustability: Most inertia-based brake controllers allow users to adjust the braking force manually, giving them greater control and the ability to fine-tune the performance according to their specific towing needs.
  • Low maintenance: Once installed, inertia-based brake controllers require minimal maintenance and offer long-lasting performance without the need for frequent adjustments or replacements.


  • Non-linear braking: In some situations, such as sudden stops or changes in road conditions, inertia-based brake controllers may not provide the precise braking response required. This can result in a slight delay or overcompensation in braking force.
  • Limited compatibility: While inertia-based brake controllers are compatible with electric and electric-over-hydraulic braking systems, they may not be suitable for trailers with surge brakes or other braking setups.
  • Cost: Compared to other types of brake controllers, inertia-based models can be slightly more expensive. However, the added benefits they offer may outweigh the upfront cost for many users.

Recommended Inertia-Based Brake Controllers For Various Towing Needs

When it comes to choosing the right inertia-based brake controller for your towing needs, several options stand out. Here are some recommended models along with their key features:

  • Tekonsha primus iq:
  • Proportional braking for smooth and controlled stops.
  • User-friendly interface with a digital display for easy setup and adjustment.
  • Boost feature for additional initial braking power when needed.
  • Reese towpower pilot:
  • Simple and straightforward design for easy installation and operation.
  • Digital output indicator for real-time brake performance monitoring.
  • Adjustable power level and boost feature for customized braking response.
  • Curt triflex:
  • Triple-axis accelerometer ensures accurate and responsive braking.
  • Bright, easy-to-read led display for clear visibility in different lighting conditions.
  • Multiple mounting options for flexible installation.

Remember to choose a brake controller that is compatible with your trailer’s braking system and consider factors such as towing capacity, ease of use, and your specific towing requirements. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult with professionals if you are unsure about the installation process or compatibility.

Brake Controller Installation Process

When it comes to installing a trailer brake controller, it’s important to follow the right steps for a successful installation. Whether you’re a seasoned diyer or new to this process, we’ve got you covered. In this section, we’ll walk you through the brake controller installation process, from getting the right wiring harness to providing helpful tips for a smooth installation.

Getting The Right Wiring Harness

Before you start the installation, make sure you have the correct wiring harness for your specific vehicle and trailer combination. Here are a few key points to consider:

  • Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual or consult with a professional to determine the compatible wiring harness.
  • Ensure that the wiring harness is designed for the brake controller model you have chosen.
  • Verify that the wiring harness has all the necessary connectors and wires to properly connect your trailer’s brakes.

Tools Needed For Installation

To make the brake controller installation process easier, gather the following tools beforehand:

  • Wire cutters and strippers: These tools will help you prepare the wires for connection.
  • Electrical tape: This will serve as an insulation for the connected wires.
  • Screwdriver set: You may need different types of screwdrivers depending on your vehicle’s setup.
  • Socket set: A socket set will be useful for removing any necessary panels or components during the installation.

Step-By-Step Installation Guide

Follow these steps to install your new trailer brake controller:

  • Locate the brake controller mounting position: Choose a suitable location on your vehicle’s dash or in close proximity for easy access.
  • Mount the brake controller bracket: Use screws and a screwdriver to securely attach the bracket to the chosen location.
  • Connect the wiring harness: Match the wire colors from the brake controller to the corresponding wires in the wiring harness using the provided connectors. Use wire cutters and strippers to prepare the wires if needed.
  • Secure the wiring harness: Use zip ties or adhesive clips to secure the wiring harness along existing wiring or vehicle chassis, ensuring that it is away from moving parts.
  • Test the brake controller: Connect your trailer to the vehicle and perform a test to ensure proper brake functionality. Adjust the brake controller settings as needed.

Helpful Tips For A Successful Installation

To ensure a smooth installation process, consider the following tips:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Always refer to the specific instructions provided with your brake controller for detailed installation steps and safety precautions.
  • Double-check the wiring connections: Before finalizing the installation, verify that all the wiring connections are secure and properly aligned.
  • Test the trailer brakes: Take the time to properly adjust the brake controller settings to ensure optimal braking performance for your specific trailer.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the installation, don’t hesitate to consult a professional for assistance. Safety should always be a top priority.

Now that you have a better understanding of the brake controller installation process, you’ll be ready to tackle the task with confidence. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and efficient installation.

Trailer Brake Controller Maintenance

Regular testing and calibration:

  • It is crucial to regularly test and calibrate your trailer brake controller to ensure its optimal performance.
  • Test the braking response of your trailer by following these steps:
  • Find a safe and open space to perform the test.
  • Start by driving at a moderate speed and gradually apply the brakes.
  • Observe how well the trailer responds to the braking action.
  • Make necessary adjustments if the response is not satisfactory.
  • Periodically calibrate your brake controller based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • This helps maintain the correct braking power and sensitivity.

Cleaning and inspection:

  • Keep your brake controller clean to prevent any dirt or debris from interfering with its performance.
  • Regularly inspect the controller for any signs of wear or damage and take appropriate action if needed.
  • Clean the controller using a soft cloth or brush, and avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the device.
  • Check the wiring connections to ensure they are secure and free from corrosion.
  • If you notice any frayed wires or loose connections, promptly repair or replace them to avoid malfunctions.

Troubleshooting common issues:

  • Even with regular maintenance, brake controllers may encounter some common issues. Here are a few troubleshooting tips:
  • If the brakes on your trailer are not responding or are too sensitive, check the controller settings and adjust accordingly.
  • Ensure that the brake controller is receiving proper voltage by inspecting the battery connections.
  • If you experience intermittent braking or fluctuations in braking power, check for loose or damaged wires.
  • In case of erratic readings on the controller display, consider resetting the device and recalibrating it.

Tips for prolonging the lifespan of your brake controller:

  • Take proper care of your brake controller to extend its lifespan and ensure reliable performance:
  • Avoid excessive moisture exposure, especially during storage or when cleaning the trailer.
  • Safeguard the controller from extreme temperatures, as extreme heat or cold can affect its functionality.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for compatible trailer weights and braking systems.
  • Regularly inspect the brake pads and rotors on your trailer to ensure they are in good condition.
  • Whenever possible, park your trailer on a level surface to reduce strain on the braking system.

Remember, proper maintenance and care will not only ensure the longevity of your brake controller but also contribute to safe towing experiences. Regularly test, clean, inspect, troubleshoot, and follow these tips to keep your trailer brake controller in optimal condition.

Faqs About Trailer Brake Controllers

What Is The Purpose Of A Trailer Brake Controller?

A trailer brake controller is an essential device for anyone towing a trailer. Its purpose is to activate the brakes on the trailer, allowing for better control and safer stopping. By applying the trailer brakes simultaneously with the vehicle brakes, it helps prevent trailer sway and reduces the risk of accidents.

Here are the key points to understand about the purpose of a trailer brake controller:

  • The controller detects the deceleration of the towing vehicle and sends an electronic signal to the trailer brakes, ensuring synchronized braking.
  • It helps distribute braking force evenly between the vehicle and trailer, preventing the trailer from pushing the vehicle and promoting smoother, more controlled braking.
  • Different types of trailer brake controllers are available, including proportional and time-delayed controllers. Proportional controllers provide braking force according to the deceleration of the towing vehicle, while time-delayed controllers allow for manual adjustment of braking force.

Can I Install A Brake Controller Myself?

Yes, installing a trailer brake controller can be a diy task, provided you have some basic knowledge of electrical wiring. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Start by purchasing a brake controller that is compatible with your towing vehicle and trailer setup.
  • Locate the brake controller’s installation instructions, which should be included with the device or available online.
  • Ensure you have the necessary tools, such as wire strippers, crimping tool, electrical tape, and multimeter.
  • Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s wiring system and locate the appropriate wires for connecting the controller.
  • Follow the step-by-step instructions provided, making the necessary connections and securing any loose wires.
  • Once the installation is complete, conduct a thorough check to ensure all connections are secure and the controller is functioning properly.

Remember, if you are unsure about any step of the installation process, it is always best to consult a professional.

Are There Any Legal Requirements For Using A Trailer Brake Controller?

Yes, there are legal requirements for using a trailer brake controller in certain situations. Here are the important points to consider:

  • In the united states, different states have varying laws regarding the use of trailer brake controllers. It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations in your state.
  • Generally, if your trailer is equipped with electric brakes, it is mandatory to have a functioning brake controller installed and operational.
  • Even if not legally required, using a trailer brake controller is highly recommended for safety reasons, especially when towing heavy loads or traveling downhill.

To ensure compliance with legal requirements, always consult local regulations and adhere to them accordingly.

How Do I Know If My Trailer Needs A Brake Controller?

Determining whether your trailer needs a brake controller depends on its weight and whether it is equipped with brakes. Consider the following points:

  • If your trailer has a gross weight rating (including the weight of the trailer itself and its maximum load) of over 1,500 pounds or the equivalent in kilograms, it likely requires a brake controller.
  • It is essential to check if your trailer is equipped with electric brakes. Hydraulic surge brakes do not require a brake controller as they are activated by the movement of the trailer against the towing vehicle.
  • If you are unsure about the brake system on your trailer or its weight, consult the trailer manufacturer or a professional for guidance.

Installing a brake controller on your trailer when necessary ensures that you have the ability to control and stop your trailer safely, enhancing overall towing safety.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Trailer Brake Controller Reviews

What Is A Trailer Brake Controller?

A trailer brake controller is a device that regulates the braking power between a tow vehicle and a trailer.

How Does A Trailer Brake Controller Work?

A trailer brake controller uses signals from the tow vehicle to engage and control the brakes on the trailer, ensuring safe and smooth braking.

Why Do I Need A Trailer Brake Controller?

A trailer brake controller is essential for safe towing, as it helps distribute the braking force between the tow vehicle and the trailer, preventing uncontrolled swaying and ensuring smoother stops.

How Do I Choose The Right Trailer Brake Controller For My Vehicle?

To choose the right trailer brake controller, consider factors such as your vehicle’s towing capacity, trailer weight, braking system compatibility, and user-friendly features like adjustable braking intensity.

Can I Install A Trailer Brake Controller Myself?

Yes, installing a trailer brake controller can be a diy project if you have basic mechanical skills. However, it’s recommended to consult the vehicle and trailer manuals or seek professional assistance for proper installation.

Are There Different Types Of Trailer Brake Controllers?

Yes, there are different types of trailer brake controllers, including time-delayed controllers, proportional controllers, and hydraulic over electric controllers. Each has its own advantages and compatibility with different towing setups.

How Do I Adjust The Braking Intensity On A Trailer Brake Controller?

Most trailer brake controllers allow you to adjust the braking intensity using a manual dial or digital interface. Experiment with different settings to find the optimal balance between braking power and smoothness.

Are Trailer Brake Controllers Legal And Required?

Trailer brake controllers are legal and required in many jurisdictions, especially when towing trailers above a certain weight. Check your local laws and regulations to ensure compliance and safe towing practices.


Overall, choosing the right trailer brake controller for your needs is crucial for ensuring safe and efficient towing. From our in-depth reviews of some of the top models on the market, it is clear that there is a wide range of options available to suit various budgets and requirements.

Whether you are an experienced trailer owner or a first-time user, the key factors to consider include compatibility, ease of installation, durability, and functionality. By investing in a high-quality brake controller, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have the necessary control over your trailer’s braking system, regardless of the road conditions or load you are towing.

So, take the time to thoroughly research and compare the options presented in our reviews, and you’ll be well on your way to making an informed decision that ensures safe and smooth towing experiences every time.

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