Best Trailer Brake Controllers Review: 2018 Edition

Over 10 hours of intensive research led us to the conclusion that Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control is one of the best trailer brake controllers out there. We examined over 6 big names in the brake controller industry. Tekonsha brake controller fares well in terms of durability, customized features, and overall power requirements.

On a more budget-friendly front, pick the Hopkins 47235 Impulse Brake Control at just 47.58 dollars. Apart from being extremely gentle on your pocket, it is also known for its commendable performance.

But, what exactly is a trailer brake controller? Those giant trailers that are either transporting or towing the wrongly parked/acquired vehicles need to be controlled efficiently. And, that is where the trailer brake controllers come into the picture. They basically control the power being supplied to the braking agents at the wheel.

Factors To Consider Before Buying

Choosing a trailer brake controller is a serious task. You need to take into account a lot of factors and only after that, you can trust your instincts with the purchase. The following factors will make a good checklist when you are out to buy one:

1. Nature of Trailer Brakes

At present, we have three main categories of trailer brakes available in the market – electric, hydraulic and hybrid. You need to buy the trailer brake controllers accordingly. An electric brake controller will go perfectly with an electric trailer brake but not so much with a hydraulic one.

For the hybrid trailer brake, you need a controller that takes care of both these aspects. Also, always keep in mind not to use a low-end brake controller if the trailer is of equal or heavier mass than the towing vehicle. A special coupler is what you will need in case of hydraulic trailer brakes.

2. Voltage

This inaccuracy of this decision will unintentionally make you gamble with your own life. That is why it is of utmost importance that you make this choice very carefully and patiently. The two main voltage options in case of the trailer brake controllers are 12 volts and 24 volts.

We basically need to find a match between the power source of our vehicle and the that of our brakes. Otherwise, being caught in a disastrous accident is very much a possibility. The mismatch will cause the whole braking system to fall apart and you will end up getting yourself in serious trouble.

3. Tire Protection

In this whole game of applying the brake right on time, it is the tires that are the main player. That is why we need to take into consideration how the brake controllers impact them. Do they apply too much or too little pressure at the required time?

Best Trailer Brake Controller

If the brakes are not applied properly then the tires are prone to wobbling at that moment or getting damaged severely over time. Since your final choice of brake controllers are going to stick around with you for a long time, it is absolutely necessary to examine how they interact with the tires.

Best Trailer Brake Controller Reviews

Let’s familiarize ourselves with the best performing players in the market today. Following are the top 6 trailer brake controllers that have garnered a great response from the users.

1. DRAW TITE 20191 I-Stop IQ Electronic Brake Control

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Main Features

This brake controller is known to have a lot of groundbreaking features including the self-leveling one. This means that you don’t have to worry about the level adjustment requirements anymore. Also, it works equally good when backing up into some tight spots during parking. The highly affordable price of $47.58 gives the buyers one more reason to go for it right away.

Pros

  • Comes with a high recommendation for the trailers with axle ranging from 1 to 3.
  • Its plug-and-play port can be used comfortably for the 2-plug adapters.
  • Has an accompanying ‘boost’ feature that works in complete proportion even in reverse mode.
  • LED readout starts illuminating when it self-diagnoses any sort of trouble with the machinery.
  • The snap-in mounting clip can be used to install or remove it easily depending upon the requirement thus preventing all kinds of theft scenarios.

Cons

  • Its tricky placement makes it really tough to reach the screws easily.
  • Some users are complaining of inconsistent performance which can be quite deadly considering its purpose.

2. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

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Main Features

Customization options and setting storage are what makes Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control the best in its class. It has as much as five setting storage capacity. Also, select drivers can also save their preferences for trailer pulling up to 4 axles. Its current price range of $123.07 makes it suitable for all those buyers who are in search of real value for money.

Pros

  • The installation process is extremely easy in this case.
  • Comes with its very own ‘plug-and-play’ port in the integrated form.
  • Battery Output current can be displayed and diagnosed by this controller.
  • Both electrical and hydraulic brakes can utilize its ‘boost’ feature.
  • Extremely easy to read LCD screen with multiple languages and color options is present.

Cons

  • Initially, you might get confused with its operation until you get a hang of it.
  • The price is a bit steep when compared with other recent launches.

3. Reese Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control, Small Compact Design

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Main Features

The compact and easily portable body of this brake controller makes it possible to use it anyhow without the need to level it according to the usage. It is a time delayed controller and comes with the arrangement to reduce the stopping distance for the towing vehicle. For now, it is priced at just $55.42 which explains its spike in demand over recent few months.

Pros

  • The highly durable material has been used in its construction to make and keep it almost indestructible.
  • Any problem related to the brakes or the vehicle are promptly conveyed with the help of a red light.
  • Almost all kinds of anti-lock braking systems are compatible with it.
  • The absence of pendulum sensors and moving components make its installation extremely easy.
  • Extra safety is ensured with the help of 12-volt negative ground, safeguards on the internal circuit and many more features.

Cons

  • The adapter is missing from the package which makes it just a little less likable.
  • No provision has been made within it to provide protection against the short circuit accidents.

4. Hayes 81760 Engage Digital Time Based Brake Controller

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Main Features

When you are looking for a lightweight and timed-relay brake controller among other features then Hayes 81760 Engage Digital Time Based Brake Controller will fit your bill. The well-lit digital display can be used easily to adjust and select various parameters including driving and voltage. At $57.70, its price makes the case for itself by being just right!

Pros

  • Can easily be used with all single and tri-axle trailers that use electric braking system.
  • Comes packed with the built-in troubleshooting function to solve all minor problems instantly.
  • Can be used with both manual and automatic braking systems.
  • You can use the manual lever action to obtain full 12-volts power output.
  • It automatically turns on the trailer lights when manual braking is being used.

Cons

  • The connector being provided is not compatible with most of the trailer braking systems.
  • The installation guide is not helpful for the beginners with even the minor issues.

5. CURT 51140 TriFlex Brake Control

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Main Features

The best part about this brake controller is that how easy it is to install it in the desired vehicle. All you need to do is plug it in and you are good to go. The rest is taken care of by the useful display that keeps you updated with all the important facts and figures. If and when you want to buy it, $71.78 is all that you need to shell out!

Pros

  • No need to call a professional for installation since calibration and leveling takes place automatically.
  • You can select the level of power output according to the requirement and your comfort.
  • Comes with a total of nine levels of sensitivity which means that you can fine-tune its operation effortlessly.
  • A smooth braking experience is achieved with the help of its advanced sensor system.
  • Especially good for trailers that tow large bulky vehicles.

Cons

  • The controls are poorly built making it difficult to use it efficiently over time.
  • As opposed to the claims, the braking experience is not smooth and often abrupt.

6. Hopkins 47235 Impulse Brake Control

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Main Features

We get various safety features and simplified usage options along with this brake controller. It is very portable and flexible that makes its installation process all the simpler. It alarms you before any probable short-circuiting and similar undesirable events so that you can fix the situation intelligently. Its current price tag is 47.58 dollars which makes it well within the reach of most of the users.

Pros

  • Digital enabling makes it easier to determine the amount of braking required.
  • Swift supply of the error codes makes the drivers well aware of the situation in advance.
  • Comes with various helpful short proof features to prevent any kind of damage to the wiring.
  • Has a lifetime service warranty that increases its reliability as a durable purchase.
  • Sends increasing power percentage to the brakes as long as they are pressed down.

Cons

  • Application of greater than 22% power on the brake wires may lead to their ultimate breaking.
  • Brake light stops working only after a few months of use.

These are all the noteworthy brake controller brands that we thought you need to be updated about, just in case. Now let’s take a look at a few more important facts.

Types of Brake Controllers

The two main types of brake controllers are as follows:

1. Proportional Brake Controller

Just as the name suggests, here the braking action in both the units happen in a proportional manner. These controllers basically sense the intensity and power with which the brake is being applied in the towing vehicle and halts the trailer with the very same intensity. Hence we need to be careful keeping in mind the following sequence of events that are about to take place.

These controllers are mainly used to adjust the brakes of the trailer in accordance with the towing vehicle without having to individually handle them. This way it helps in getting that automatic sync between the two moving units during various speeds.

2. Time-delayed Brake Controller

In this case, there is an intentional time lag between the application of brake in the towing vehicle and that of the trailer. The eventual brakes on the trailer unit are applied with a preset intensity and application rate. This option gives us the freedom to control the braking action of both towing vehicle and the trailer individually.

If required, this delay can easily be adjusted by just tweaking the sync settings a bit. We get more freedom and choices in this kind of brake controller. They are very easy to install and quite user-friendly making their operation all that easier.

Now let us move on to the process of brake control installation.

How To Install a Brake Controller

If you follow the guidelines accurately, installing a brake controller is not all that complicated. The main steps involved are as follows:

Basic Requirements

First of all, we need to gather all the tools that we may require in the process. Few of the auto hops may have a specialized brake controller kit that will contain everything you might need including the extra 6 mm double insulated cable. But just in case we are not able to find that, we need to make a list and gather all the equipment before we sit down and get started on the installation process.

Assemble And Mount

After the above step, you need to focus on securing the main control unit strongly with screws. Don’t just tie it up with few wires and think the job is done. It will only backfire in the form of delayed response when you actually want the control unit to pick on on your triggers. And it might snowball into a really undesirable situation very quickly when you are on the road.

Final Check

Finally, after everything is done, just do a test run to know that everything is installed perfectly. You can do so without even attaching the trailer to the towing vehicle.

How To Install Trailer Brake Controller

Probe the electrical tow plug with the help of a test light at the auxiliary brake pin after activating the brake controller. If the test light gets lit and its intensity keeps on increasing proportionally to the increasing voltage value then it means you have done a good job!

These are a few tips and tricks that we felt like sharing with you before you hit the road again!

Conclusion

So now you must be fluent in the latest that the trailer brake controller domain has to offer. According to us, the best trailer brake controller is undoubtedly the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control. It has all that we require in the modern-day brake controller minus the complicated layout.

This brings us to the end of this article. Did you gain the necessary insights from it? Which brake controller is your best bet and why? Share it over with your family and friends and let them know too all that there is to know about this constantly evolving automobile world!

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