Getting a Trailer Brake Control That's Perfect for Your Vehicle
If you need to tow a heavy trailer up and down the road, then you need to install a trailer brake control because your vehicle's braking system can only contain a limited amount of load. This device lessens the load from your brakes, and provides control between your car and the trailer. This guide will show you the things you need to know about a trailer brake control.
The two types of electric trailer brake controls
These two are the main types of an electrical brake system. The other type of brake system that relies on hydraulics is called a surge system, but that wouldn't be included here.
- Proportional brake control - This is a type of an electric trailer control that uses motion sensors to determine your car's speed. Once you apply the brakes, the proportional brake control immediately applies the similar braking force to stop the trailer. The quick reaction of the control lessens the wear on your vehicle's braking system.
- Time delayed brake control - A time delayed brake control works using a preset braking power determined by the user. The delay occurs when you apply the brakes because the control still has to reach the preset braking power, regardless of how fast you go. Although the delay can be decreased with a simple switch, it will still cause wear on the brakes that does the work on the delay period.
Although the time delayed brake control can cause wear on your brakes, it can be easily installed and it's user-friendly. The proportional brake control on the other hand, has to be mounted based on a specific range to function properly. For their prices, the time delay is cheaper, but you can look for a proportional brake control that can go around a cheap range as well.
In spite of their differences, they also have the same characteristics. Both types of electric controls basically have the same wiring configuration. They also have a manual override button that can use the trailer brake alone, and they are designed to let the user adjust the desired settings.
The federal law on breakaway and emergency braking
Transportation regulations apply to travelers and their trailers. Here are some facts that you should know:
- Trailers must have automatic brakes once they break away from the towing vehicle.
- In California, trailers that weigh 1,500 pounds or more are required to have brakes while in New York, the weight has to be 1,000 pounds or more.
Installation 101: Trailer Brake Control
The load your truck carries can be hazardous without a trailer brake control. That's why a federal regulation was mandated for brake control installation to minimize any roads accidents. This step-by-step guide will show how you can easily install a trailer brake control.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Hand drill
- Brake controller pigtail
- New trailer brake control
Note: The vehicle used in this installation is a GM Silverado.
Step 1: Look for the brake controller pigtail connector that should be included along with your truck. Check if it's in good condition, and the parts are all complete with the instructions.
Step 2: Take the trailer brake control kit, and check the condition of the control and other parts. There should be hardware and mounts included. If everything is complete, fit the wires along the truck, and measure the length of the wires before you cut them.
Step 3: Locate the electrical panel near the driver seat, and remove the panel's cover using the screwdriver. Find the socket for the trailer brake control on the schematic diagram.
Step 4: Plug the pigtail connector of your truck to the correct socket in the electrical panel.
Step 5: Find a location inside your vehicle to mount the trailer brake control. Make sure to find a spot where there are no restrictions and no other part will be affected.
Step 6: Attach the mounting brackets, and use the screws included.
Step 7: Take the fuse that comes with the pigtail connector of your vehicle. Open the fuse panel located under your car's hood, and install the fuse as indicated in the instructions.
Step 8: Check all the fuse if they are all working properly by using a multimeter.
Step 9: Switch on the module to see if the installation successful.
- When you are searching for a position to mount the control, be sure that it is still within the specified range.
- If your car doesn't come with a pigtail brake connector, you have to purchase a connector that is specific to type of your car. Do not attempt to use a connector from a different vehicle.