Best Trailer Brake Controller in 2019 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons
Do you want to drive knowing that you and your trailer are safe and secure? If this is the case, you might want to look into getting a trailer brake controller. In this article, we will be reviewing 5 of the best trailer brake controllers on the market.
Best Trailer Brake Controller Reviews
1. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller
This is one of our favorite options to go with, as for the money it comes in at, it appears to be the No. 1 trailer brake controller on the market right now. It’s fairly easy to use and comes with a number of useful features that will help make life quite a bit easier when hauling a trailer.
The Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller comes with a fairly nice LCD display which has backlighting and multiple color options to make it easily visible at all times when driving. What is actually pretty cool is that it has 5 different memory settings, so it can be used by different people and for different trailers; it can remember different trailers. Keep in mind that this controller can be used to control up to 4 different braking axles.
Moreover, the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller can be used with English, French, or Spanish. Going back to the display, it comes with upfront controls to provide easy access to all P3 features. This trailer brake controller also comes with a top-notch diagnostics systems which informs you of various vectors such as output current and voltage, brake, battery, and it even comes with a no trailer brake alert system for safety.
The Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller also allows you to select between electric and hydraulic braking modes. What also comes in handy is the original boost system which allows you to customize for different levels of braking. The Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller features a fairly compact and dash-hugging design so it does not take up too much space, plus it comes with a snap-mount design.
What's to like about the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller
The good part about the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller is that it is quite easy to use and that it comes with all of the basic features you would expect from any trailer brake controller. It comes with various alerts and diagnostics, it works for up to 4 braking axles, and even allows you to customize the level of braking as well.
What's not to like about the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller
The bad part about the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller, as is the case with all controllers, is that it is somewhat hard to install. You need to get the wiring right for it to work properly.
2. REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control
This is a very cost-effective trailer brake controller, one that comes at a great price, yet still gets the job done. It’s fairly easy to install, it comes with a bright display, and is easily adjustable.
One of the cool parts about the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control is that it can mount in any direction without any leveling being required. It comes with a simple-to-use plug and play feature that can easily connect to 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8- brake systems.
Something that is very neat about the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control is the fact that it is very easy to adjust. It comes with 2 easy push button controls for output and sync. The speed of brake activation is controlled by the sync setting, whereas the output setting allows for different trailer weights to be used.
Furthermore, the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control comes with a really bright LCD display. It’s not the best in the world, but at least it is bright and fairly easy to read. The display will inform you of things such as output setting, sync setting, brake overload or short connection, and it will tell you if there is no connection.
What is also nice about the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control is that it comes with an advanced internal circuit protection system to help protect against electrical issues. This is quite the sensitive device, one that can accurately adjust the trailer brakes depending on highway or city driving.
What's to like about the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control
What we like about the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control is that it can be easily adjusted in terms of the speed of the brake activation and the weight of the trailer. It is a very easy-to-use device with simple controls and is easily installed. There is also the fact that it comes at a very good price that just can’t be beat.
What's not to like about the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control
One of the bad aspects of the REESE Towpower 8507111 Brakeman IV Digital Brake Control is that it has a tendency to jump right to the maximum allowable brake setting, which can be a bit dangerous. The software installed is also not the best or most long lasting and has a tendency to bug, glitch, and just stop functioning. Simply put, it does not appear to be the most reliable piece of equipment.
3. Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control
This is a good middle-of-the-line trailer brake controller to go with, one that comes in at a good price, yet still works as advertised. The Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control is very simple to use, it is durable, and it should get the job done as advertised. It might not come with the best display, but other than that, it is a good option to keep in mind for your trailer.
One of the things that needs mentioning about the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control is that it can be used for up to 3 axles – for up to 6 wheels at once. This is pretty good, considering that other models of the same price can usually only deal with 2 axles. Something that you might also like about the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control is that it is very easy to mount.
For one, this is a simple plug-and-play trailer brake controller. As long as your truck has the required 4-pin system, the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control can be used in any truck. What is also nice is that it can be mounted anywhere regardless of the angle and does not need to be leveled.
We also like the fact that this trailer brake controller does not have any internal moving parts. This means that it is very quiet while driving, and it also makes this item more durable. Moving parts can malfunction and break easier than stationary parts.
The Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control does not really come with any kind of display, so to speak. It does come with this LCD bar that gets longer in length as the brakes are applied to the trailer’s axles, but other than that, there is really no display to speak of.
It can be calibrated for different towing needs, such as various sizes of trailers. However, keep in mind that you can choose from time-based or inertia-based braking functions, so be sure to select the right one for you. With that being said, the automatic power adjustment feature is pretty neat.
What's to like about the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control
The good part about the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control is the fact that it is so easy to mount and install. As long as you have the required 4 pins, you can install it in any vehicle, and at any angle too. It comes with all the needed mounting hardware to make life easier. Other than that, it is very user-friendly in general and does not take much to get it working properly.
What's not to like about the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control
One thing which we don’t like about the Curt Manufacturing 51110 Brake Control is that it does not allow you to adjust too many things. It does not come with a diagnostics system, and if you want to choose between time or inertia based braking, you have to buy a different model, instead of just being able to select between the two on one device.
4. Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control
Yet another middle-of-the-line model to go with, the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control is less expensive than the first option we looked at, but also more expensive than the previous two. This control is very easy to mount and to install, it features a progressive braking system, and is quite safe, durable, and reliable as well.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control is that this is a progressive trailer braking system. This means that it progressively applies the brakes as the towing vehicle; in other words you apply the brakes and instead of using time or inertia, it simply reads how strong you are applying the brakes in the vehicle, and will provide the same level of pressure to the trailer’s brakes. We like this system, but some people prefer time- or inertia-based braking systems.
What is also nice about the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control is that it works on trailers with electric or hydraulic brakes, which not many models can boast. Moreover, what is also nice is that this particular trailer brake controller also comes with 7 sensitivity settings that you can choose from. This is important to get right, especially when it comes to the weight of your trailer. For instance, for a larger trailer, you might want to set it to be more sensitive.
Something we want to mention is that the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control is advertised as being able to be mounted in any vehicle, at any angle, without any specific mounting hardware or requirements. However, this does not appear to be true, as it comes with screws for mounting that have to be drilled into the dashboard. However, keep in mind that the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control can be used for up to 8 brakes or 4 axles.
Furthermore, it comes with short-proof protection for up to 8 trailer brakes. On a side note, the display is quite nice; it’s big, bright, and easy to read, and comes with a few handy buttons.
What's to like about the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control
One thing which we like about the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control is that it can be used for either electric or hydraulic brakes, and works for up to 4 axles. Also, we like the display, not to mention that it has several sensitivity settings for different sizes of trailers.
What's not to like about the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control
One thing which some people may not like about the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Brake Control is how it functions; some people might prefer a time- or inertia-based braking system. Other than that, besides the fact that it is not nearly as easy to install or mount as is advertised, it is a perfectly fine option to go with.
5. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control
This might be the final option on our list today, but still a good one. Keep in mind that this is a time-based trailer brake control system, one that is fairly easy to install and use, one that is fairly reliable. It does require a very specific brake control wiring to work though.
Keep in mind that the Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control is time activated; it will start braking a certain amount of time after you activate the towing vehicle’s brakes. What is nice is that it works for trailers with up to 4 axles, which is quite impressive.
Furthermore, it also comes with easy-to-use upfront buttons that can be used to control the output and the sync; you can set the brakes to activate at a certain time interval, and you can account for the specific weight of the trailer itself.
The Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control has a plug-and-play feature, and as long as your car has a Cequent 2-plug system, you will be able to install it. This trailer brake controller comes with the mounting hardware included, and is not too difficult to mount. With that being said, it cannot be mounted under the dash because the control buttons are on top of the unit. Other than that, this is a perfectly fine option to go with.
What's to like about the Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control
We like how the Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control is very easy to use, how it works for trailers with up to 4 axles, and how the sync and output settings are easy to adjust.
What's not to like about the Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control
One thing which we do not like about the Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control is how the buttons and controls are located on the top, as it makes installation a bit awkward.
You need to get the right trailer brake controller for your situation – you don’t want to go buy the first trailer brake controller that you come across. Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind before you make any kind of purchase.
The very first and most important thing that you need consider is what type of trailer brake controller you have. You see, there are 3 main types.
Inertia-activated trailer brake controller
Activates when it feels you slowing down the towing vehicle.
Activates the brakes a certain amount of time after you activate the towing vehicle’s brakes.
Progressively applies the brakes as you apply the brakes.
Another important factor is how many axles it can handle. More or less, the specific model you get will depend on the number of axles which your trailer has. For instance, some trailer brake controllers can only handle 2 axles, while others can handle 3 or 4 axles. It all depends on the size of your trailer.
When it comes to voltage, your trailer brake controller should have around 5 volts at the very least. Some trailer brake controllers can go up to 12 volts or even more. The more power the controller has, the more responsive and effective it will be at bringing any trailer to a halt.
Type of Display Monitor
All trailer brake controllers are going to come with display monitors; the one you get is really up to you. There are LED, LCD, and digital displays available. Personally, we would recommend going with either an LCD or a digital display, as they tend to be the easiest to read and use.
Some trailer brake controllers come with special tire protection systems to keep the tires of your trailer in top condition. This is a feature that you should always look for.
How do electric trailer brakes work?
These items work by sending a signal to the brakes on your trailer to apply the brakes. Some systems work through inertia, some through progression, and some with time.
How to adjust trailer brakes?
Adjusting trailer brakes is not that easily done. Take a look at the included video for clear instructions.
How to use a trailer brake controller?
This is another question which is pretty difficult to answer as it is somewhat of a long process. Take a look at the below video for more details.
How to install a trailer brake controller?
You will need to connect the wiring of the controller to the brake wiring in your vehicle, and then to the wiring of the trailer brakes. The following video will make it clearer.
How to wire a trailer brake controller?
Wiring and installing a trailer brake controller is not the easiest task as it requires knowledge of electrical functions and your vehicle. Take a look at this video for more info.
When it comes down to it, due to overall functionality, durability, and ease of use, we would recommend the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Controller. However, all the options we have reviewed today are perfectly fine; it just depends on what your specific needs are.