Custom Fit Brake Controller
An electric trailer brake controller is a device that supplies power from the tow vehicle to the trailer's electric brakes. Many styles are available that differ from how they look, to the number of brakes they can power, but all of them can be divided up into two main groups, Proportional or Time Delayed.
A proportional brake controller senses how quickly the tow vehicle is stopping and applies the same amount of braking power to the trailer. With a Time Delayed (or solid state) brake controller when you step on the vehicle brakes a predetermined amount of braking power is sent to the trailer and then there is a delay as the unit ramps up to full braking power.
With proportional brake controllers, once the brake pedal is stepped on, a motion sensing device knows how fast the tow vehicle is stopping. It then applies power to the trailer brakes equally as fast (or slow) as the towing vehicle. This allows the trailer to stop at the same rate as the tow vehicle. Therefore, in an extreme stopping situation where the vehicle brakes are slammed on, a proportional controller will immediately send the maximum preset power to the trailer brakes.
This type of brake controller provides the smoothest and quickest braking while also providing the least amount of wear on both the vehicle's and trailer's brakes. Proportional controllers are "enabled" by the brake pedal switch and "activated" by a pendulum circuit that senses the vehicle's stopping motion and applies a proportional voltage to the trailer's brakes. When properly adjusted the trailer will decelerate at the same rate as the tow vehicle, increasing braking efficiency and reducing brake wear.
With Time Delayed trailer brake controllers, once the brake pedal is stepped on, the pre-determined amount of power (which is set by the user, based on trailer weight) is sent back to the trailer brakes. On time delayed controllers, a delay always exists from when the brake pedal is pushed to when the unit reaches the user set, maximum power output. The delay can be shortened or lengthened with the 'sync' switch, available on most time delayed controllers, but it behaves the same way for every stop (slow or fast). If the sync switch is set too low, the vehicle will do most of the initial braking, putting extra strain on the vehicle's brakes. If the sync switch is set too high, the trailer will be braking harder. So in most cases, either the truck or the trailer will be doing the majority of the braking, resulting in uneven brake wear.
The time delayed brake controller system is easily installed and is very user friendly. It can be mounted at any angle. It also has a low profile. The amount of power that is sent back to the brakes is adjustable using a control on the brake controller. With most time delayed brake controllers, when towing with the hazard flashers on, the digital display will flash with the hazard flashers. If the brake controller is set too aggressively, pulsing may occur which will be felt in the trailer brakes. However, a pulse preventer can isolate the brake controller from the flashers and will eliminate the pulsing and flashing on the controller. A pulse preventer is not necessary for vehicles that have a different bulb for the stop and turn signals, which is typical of vehicles with amber turn signals.
Hitch supplied brake controllers require 4 wire connections:
If your vehicle did not come equipped with a brake control wiring harness, a brake controller wiring adapter may be available for your vehicle which will provide a simple plug-in installation.
If your vehicle came with a factory provided brake contoller wiring harness, the chart below can be used to help match wire colors
Information courtesy of Tekonsha, vehicle manufacturers change wiring configurations regularly, use a circuit tester to verify all connections.
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