NHTSA reports show there are more than 50,000 towing-related accidents every year. Most of the accidents are a result of improper brake controller adjustments. When set incorrectly, the brake system wears out rapidly and poses danger when towing your trailer. According to the brake controller reviews, each type of brake controller requires a different setup, especially if using the tow vehicle to tow various trailers. Some people use the vehicle to tow a travel trailer and on other occasions to haul a utility trailer. Since the trailers have varying weights, you need to tweak the controller to the needs of the respective trailer. The next section explains how to adjust electric brake controllers depending on the mounting options.
What is an Electric Brake Controller?
It is a small electronic device that activates a trailer’s brakes using an electric signal whenever the driver applies to the tow vehicle brakes. It means when you hit the brakes of your car, the controller transmits the message to the trailer causing it to stop too.
It also helps control trailer sway and manages your stopping distance by syncing the vehicle’s and the trailer’s brakes setup. This is because a brake controller comes equipped with a manual override that allows you to apply a trailer’s brakes without applying those of the tow vehicle. The feature is also particularly useful when opening a manual slider for the fifth wheel hitch in short-bed trucks.
Adjusting the Controllers
Modern electric brakes for trailers provide up to four mounting options:
- Wireless controllers
- Dashboard knob controllers
- Trailer-mounted controllers
- Traditional under-dash controllers
This type is relatively new but has become a popular option as it has a simple set up. It doesn’t need the complex wiring on traditional controllers. You only need to connect the unit to the trailer, download a mobile application, and pair the device via Bluetooth. This means the setup doesn’t need any splicing, crimping, or tweaking. Some units are even controlled using remote controls on the car’s cab. According to many brake controller reviews, wireless controllers are a pretty convenient option as they are easy to install, operate, and move between vehicles.
Dashboard knob controllers
This kind has a similar setup as the traditional controller but it needs the dash-mounted knob installed and wired. The knob can be mounted anywhere on the towing vehicle, at any orientation, and is your means of adjusting the controller. It is equipped with LED lights that indicate the trailer’s braking power and other diagnostics.
If mounting it on a vehicle with a 7-way installation kit, you don’t need to do all the hardwiring; simply plug it in and play. However, if the vehicle doesn’t have any pre-wiring done, it would help if you added a 4-way installation kit. Brake controller reviews that prefer the dash-mounted controller like its discrete nature because it doesn’t need too much setup space like the traditional controller.
This kind is mounted to the main module instead of the vehicle cab. Based on various brake controller reviews, the most apparent benefit is that it keeps your towing vehicle free of clutter while allowing you to adjust the braking system. Therefore, it makes an excellent controller for owners who don’t switch tow vehicles frequently.
Traditional Under-dash Brake Controllers
They are the oldest kind and need lots of hardwiring. However, if your vehicle has a 7-way installation kit, you may avoid all the hardwiring required as it comes with a vehicle-specific wiring adapter.
General Adjustment Tips
- Ensure the trailer wiring harness is connected to the towing car. This is because the controller needs power from the car and a connection to the trailer’s brakes
- Allow the controller to calibrate. Some trailer brake controllers are self-calibrating while others need manual calibration
- Fine-tune it to your settings. Some controllers allow users to adjust the devices to their preferences. This means you can adjust the angle of the interface, the location of the controller, or the brightness of the screen. Adjust all such settings before setting off for a drive
- Set the maximum output. It is the highest amount of power the controller can apply to the trailer brakes. Be sure to adjust this level based on the load size
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