There’s nothing like setting out on the open road with your trailer for some late-summer camping. But before you do, it’s always a good idea to check on your brake controller wiring. Why? In short, you can never be too careful. Here are three reasons why the trailer brake controller may just be the most important part of your packing.
Trailer brake controls allow you to apply braking to your haul along with your towing vehicle. They decrease the amount of time it takes to come to a complete stop with all of that extra weight behind you.
Brake controllers come in two basic varieties: the first is a time delay system, which applies brake pressure to the trailer after you apply brakes inside your towing vehicle. The second is a proportional system, sometimes also called a pendulum or inertia system. These apply brake force in proportion to the motion of the trailer. There’s a little pendulum device that hangs down from under the trailer; the more tilted forward it is, for example, the more brake pressure it’ll apply when needed.
Time delay brakes are often less expensive than proportional systems — but proportional systems ultimately give you better control, better safety, and will produce less wear on your vehicle’s brake system over time.
- It’s the Law
If for no other reason, you need a brake controller for your trailer because the law says you do — at least in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces. The type and requirements vary. Many states do not specify exactly what you need, so long as it is appropriate for the weight of your haul. In other places like New Mexico, for example, all towing vehicles must have a proportional brake system. Check online with a resource like AAA to make sure you’re in compliance.
Bottom line: If your trailer has brakes, they need brake controllers to sync with your towing vehicle while you’re driving. Fifth-wheel and travel trailers almost always require brake controls, but smaller utility trailers may not. When in doubt, contact a local mechanic or RV dealer to learn what you can do to improve the safety of your towing system.