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Best-in-Class Brake Controllers

Towing With The Best Of The Best
Let's be honest, towing is intimidating. There are so many things to consider, and so many small nuances, it's a miracle that anyone arrives anywhere safely. One of the unsung heroes of towing is the brake controller. Use this guide to make sure you have the right brake controller for your situation. Disclaimer: This isn't your traditional "top 5" list that recycles the biased opinions of companies that ask us to promote their products. This is an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of various controllers so you know which one is right for you.Brake controller technology has advanced quite a bit in recent years, and many of them function differently from one another. We're here to show you some of the controllers that we believe truly stand out from the pack (for various reasons). Or, to skip all of that and browse yourself, you can simply shop all brake controllers now.To fast-forward to the entries on our list, click the links below:
Best Brake Controllers 2019

Most Tech-Savvy (With Surprisingly Easy Setup) - Curt Echo

Read a more in-depth review of the Curt Echo here.Why It's AwesomeTrailer braking? There's an app for that—and it works with the Curt Echo.We use our phones to make all aspects of our lives more convenient (chances are good you're reading this on your phone right now). So why shouldn't your phone make your towing experience easier too? The Echo works by means of a Bluetooth connection and a downloadable mobile app (available for iOS and Android). The fast plug-and-play installation makes setup a breeze—no tools or hardwiring required. Simply plug the unit in between your 7-way trailer connection, download the app, calibrate your truck/trailer profile, and you're ready to go. This makes it easy to use, remove, and store. Who doesn't appreciate a little more simplicity in their lives?Even if your phone battery dies or you lose the Bluetooth connection, the controller will automatically utilize its last setting. You can even create up to 5 vehicle-trailer profiles in the app, so the Echo is great for switching between vehicles or for fleet use. This certainly isn't your father's brake controller, but even he could probably use one. This brake controller works for electric, and electric-over-hydraulic brake systems so this versatile controller might be the ticket for any tech-savvy tow-er.What's Not AwesomeThe best thing about the Echo can also be the worst, depending on your point of view. If you're not the tech-loving type, you may not love marrying your trailer braking to an app on your phone. Or if you, like me, rely on your phone's GPS for major trips, you won't be able to multitask with the Echo app open.There is an additional button that acts as a manual override that can be purchased separately here if you would rather not use your phone (although it is still required for initial setup). But given that it's an additional purchase, and not provided with the controller itself, it may still not be appealing for many.

Best Choice If You Want to "Do It All" - Redarc Tow-Pro Elite

Read a more in-depth review of the Tow-Pro Elite here.

Wiring adapter recommended for easy install.Why It's AwesomeWith a versatile control knob like that of Redarc's Tow-Pro Elite, drivers can enjoy the benefits of smooth proportional braking without sacrificing their leg room. The Tow-Pro Elite includes an OEM-like control knob that mounts pretty much anywhere you want, at any angle, while the main unit installs out of sight. No more tiny LCD displays to squint at—just an LED-lighted knob. No maneuvering the unit to achieve the correct angle—the main unit can be mounted at any angle and will still accurately sense the deceleration of your vehicle. Sticking to the "do it all" theme, this controller works well with electric, and electric-over-hydraulic brake systems.The Tow-Pro Elite offers two available braking modes. The first mode is proportional for everyday use. The second mode is user controlled, which puts the power of preset braking in your hands. This setting can be adjusted for different terrain situations is ideal for off-road use. Redarc also offers a more economical alternative, the Redarc Liberty.The Tow-Pro models offer a more subtle, stylish look than most brake controllers on the market, and it's incredibly easy to use—as easy as turning a radio volume knob. What's Not AwesomeYou won't want to transfer this brake controller between vehicles, since it not only involves disconnecting the brake controller module, but also removing the knob (and leaving a hole behind). And although like most brake controllers the Tow-Pro Elite offers diagnostics, there's only so much an illuminated knob can tell you. (It's a good idea to keep the reference material handy for this one.)

Best For Large Multi-Axle Trailers - Tekonsha Prodigy P2

Why It's AwesomeIf you're not looking for all the bells and whistles and you just want a reliable brake controller that has been on the market for years and has thousands of happy customers, look no further than the Tekonsha Prodigy P2. The P2 offers support for up to 4 axles (a rare trait amongst this list), and is compatible with electric or electric-over-hydraulic braking. It mounts under your dash like many older-style brake controllers, yet still retains the more modern proportional braking that has come to be the industry standard in recent years. This is also a fantastic traditional-style brake controller. It is very simple to use and takes out a lot of the shortcuts of more modern controllers. For those who like to set their brake strength manually and use the manual override to feather the brakes as needed, there are few options more fitting than the P2. Another benefit of the simplicity is the price point. While many other brake controllers see inflated pricing as features and conveniences become more commonplace, this industry-staple stays competitive price-wise by offering a simple, no-frills product that will get the job done for years to come.What's Not AwesomeMany of the controllers on this list offer modern conveniences that you won't find here. No phone or app integration, no seamless plug-and-play installation, and no streamlined mounting design (tell your knees you're sorry in advance). This product doesn't make an attempt to be a "modern take" on brake controllers, but instead is a solidly built, reliable product that will last you for years to come.The P2 is also not the easiest to set up. There are vehicle-specific wiring adapters for most newer trucks and SUVs. But if you don't want to buy additional accessories, or your vehicle isn't compatible with them, you may need to hardwire your controller.

Best For a Single Trailer And Multiple Tow Vehicles - Autowbrake

Why It's AwesomeThe Autowbrake is a trailer mounted, remote-controlled system that is sleek, and mounts in any direction or angle. The Autowbrake offers a more permanent setup—just wire it to your trailer's junction box, and enjoy a clutter-free cab. The only part of the Autowbrake that accompanies you for the ride is the included remote key fob, which allows you to adjust or override the controller with the press of a button. This simple setup makes it a breeze to transfer the system between tow vehicles. The Autowbrake features weatherproof casing and a 1-time calibration Smart Start feature, which will always remember the last towing setting even after disconnection—no need to recalibrate when you bring your trailer out of storage.What's Not AwesomeThe Autowbrake is at the very top in terms of price. It requires hardwiring into your trailer's junction box, which is a bit more complicated than many trailer-mounted brake controllers. It also cannot be used with electric-over-hydraulic brake systems, which may be a deal-breaker for some.
Amber S
About Amber SAs a content writer for etrailer, I might spend my morning loading and unloading a bike on five different bike racks to figure out which is easiest to use. I might be in the parking lot, taking pictures of an impressive RV battery setup our techs came across in the shop and discussing the benefits of the setup with the owner. I might spend an afternoon in a manufacturer training class for some hands-on experience with new products, and then sit down to assemble all this information into a coherent article.At etrailer, one of our core values is that we are always learning, and I learn something new every day. I start each morning with the goal in mind of taking all of this information and figuring out the best way to answer the questions people ask us (and the ones they don’t know to ask yet), and helping people get the solutions they need to make their lives easier, safer, and more fun. I’m a DIYer at heart, so it brings me great joy to help a fellow DIYer find what they’re looking for, whether that’s a product, an answer, or a community.
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated by: Jacob JUpdated on: 2/6/23


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