Best Electric Trailer Brake Controller in 2019 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons

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A trailer is an incredibly useful tool. It is estimated that there are more than 3 million utility and cargo trailers on the road today. There's no doubt that trailers are favorites among travelers, business owners and enthusiasts, but along with their usefulness comes significant responsibility. Having a functioning electronic brake controller and breakaway system is required by law when towing a trailer with electronic brakes. When selecting a brake controller for your vehicle and trailer setup, it's important to understand the differences to ensure that you select one that suits your needs best. 

We've compiled and reviewed a list of electronic brake controllers to help you determine what you need to help make driving with a trailer much easier and safer. Hopefully, this article will help you find the right one for you!

Comparison Chart

Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control

Ford BL3Z-19H332-AA Trailer Brake Control

Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control

Curt Manufacturing 51140 Brake Control

Primus 90160 Trailer Brake Controller

Best Electric Trailer Brake Controller Reviews

1. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control

This is a well priced and high-functioning electric trailer brake controller to go with. It’s easy to install, easy to read, and has a good proportional inertial braking system

Review

The Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control is fairly easy to install. It can be installed at any angle from 0 to 70 degrees, plus it comes with a snap-dash mounting clip for easy mounting. Most late model trucks and SUVs can vehicle specific plug-and-play harnesses which make installation a snap. Simply choose the correct harness from the list of Tekonsha harnesses and follow the instructions on where to plug them in. For those hauling heavier trailers, it's good to know that the Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control is designed for trailers with up to 3 axles.

The Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control is an inertia-based braking system, so when the speed of your vehicle slows down due to braking, the inertial sensor inside the brake controller determines how rapidly you are decelerating and therefore how much braking power is required to stop the trailer. It combines that with the preset that you have selected, based on the size of your load, and applies a proportionate amount of braking power to the trailer brakes via the brake wire.  What is nice is that it proportionally applies the brakes when you are reversing as well.

We also like the additional boost (3 settings) feature because it allows you to apply more brakes initially to the trailer when you are hauling a heavy load. The digital display is easy to read, and is adjustable from from .1 to 9.9 by using the thumbwheel. This brake controller also has a manual brake lever for testing and emergency braking.

PROS

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    Easy to mount and install
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    Reputation for being durable
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    Reliable inertia based braking
  • Ideal for 2-3 axle trailers

CONS

  • No diagnostics
  • Can't save multiple trailer profiles

2. Ford BL3Z-19H332-AA Trailer Brake Control

If you have a big and heavy trailer, and a Ford pickup truck, the Ford BL3Z-19H332-AA Trailer Brake Control could be a good option for you. It looks nice, is super simple to use, and in terms of overall function, it is undoubtedly one of the best after-market electric trailer brake controllers out there at this time. It is higher priced, but in our opinion, the cost is well worth it.

Review

What you need to keep in mind is that the Ford BL3Z-19H332-AA Trailer Brake Control is quite expensive, more than 3 times the price of the first one we looked at. However, with that being said, this particular model is very responsive and reliable. When you press the brakes on the towing vehicle, the brakes for your trailer will activate; it really is that simple. Using your dashboard on your truck, you can then adjust the gain to control exactly how much braking power is applied.

Something else to note is that the Ford BL3Z-19H332-AA Trailer Brake Control needs to be installed into the dashboard, which is nice because it is there permanently, does not take up much room, and looks quite nice. On the other hand, keep in mind that your truck has to have specific trailer wiring installed in it, and the Ford BL3Z-19H332-AA Trailer Brake Control needs to be professionally installed; installation of this item is not something that you can do on your own.

PROS

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    Super reliable
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    Easy to adjust
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    Very durable
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    Looks good

CONS

  • Requires a Ford truck
  • Requires professional installation

3. Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control

If you need a good timed electric trailer brake controller, one that is very inexpensive and easy to mount, plus quite simple to get the hang of, the Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control is an option that you might want to look into. It might not be super expensive, but it is quite reliable and long lasting.

Review

The Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control is a good option if you want a timed electric brake controller. It’s not the best for city use, but it works well outside of the city and on the highway. The amount of time it takes for the trailer’s brakes to engage after you engage the towing vehicle’s brakes can be easily adjusted. The Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control comes with a pretty decent display with bright characters to make it easy to read, plus easy to use controls as well.

The Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control is also very easy to mount. It comes with the needed wiring and mounting hardware included, and is easy to install under the dashboard of your vehicle. The rugged chassis is not only durable, but also super simple to mount as well.

What you might also like about the Reese Towpower 7437711 Pod Brake Control is that it comes with state-of-the-art controls and it even has a manual override feature for those times when you need to take control in your own hands.

PROS

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    Effective time-based braking
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    Easy to install
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    Good display with manual override

CONS

  • Not the best for city use
  • Does not produce enough voltage at times

4. Curt Manufacturing 51140 Brake Control

Yet another good option to go with, this particular model is an inertia-based electric trailer brake controller. It comes with a couple of adjustable features, it works for a few axles at once, and has other neat aspects too, all for a pretty moderate price.

Review

While the Curt Manufacturing 51140 Brake Control is not the cheapest option around, it is state of the art, high quality, and quite reliable. This is a model that can be used for up to 6 trailer brakes – up to 3 axles at once. This is an accelerometer model, which means that it works through inertia; as the unit notices you braking the towing vehicle, it automatically applies the brakes for the trailer.

You can select from 9 different sensitivity levels so you can adjust it according to how heavy and large the trailer being towed is. What is really cool about the Curt Manufacturing 51140 Brake Control is that it has a third axle power control system to control the power when going up or down hills.

The user selectable output and trailer brake light activation is pretty neat too. In terms of installation, the Curt Manufacturing 51140 Brake Control comes with automatic calibration, plus it can be easily mounted to more or less any dash; it can be mounted at various angles, another feature which is convenient.

PROS

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    Good inertia-based braking system
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    Highly adjustable
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    Easy to install

CONS

  • Has a tendency to short out with heavy loads

5. Primus 90160 Trailer Brake Controller

If you have a Toyota Tundra Sequoia and need a good trailer electric brake controller, the Primus 90160 Trailer Brake Controller might just be the best option for you. It will not work for any other trucks, which is an obvious downfall, but on the other hand, it installs quickly into Toyota Tundra trucks. If you have the Toyota Tundra, this particular model just needs to be plugged in and it is good to go.

Review

The Primus 90160 Trailer Brake Controller is probably the best model to go with if you have a Toyota Tundra. The benefit here is that it is very easy to install in this kind of truck. It comes with the mounting hardware already included, plus the wiring is designed specifically for this type of truck.

Furthermore, the Primus 90160 Trailer Brake Controller is a time-based model, but it does come with a boost feature so you can apply more initial brake power when towing a heavy trailer. It comes complete with diagnostic features and a pretty decent LCD display. Keep in mind that the Primus 90160 Trailer Brake Controller works proportionally in reverse.

PROS

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    Perfect for Toyota Tundra
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    Very easy to install
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    Reliable

CONS

  • Does not work for other trucks

FINAL VERDICT

When it comes down to it, due to overall function, reliability, and ease of installation, we would recommend the Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control over all others.

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