How Trailer Brake Systems Work

No matter how fast you are going, it takes a ton of power to slow down the massive weight of a tow vehicle and its trailer. You need more than the tow vehicle’s brakes. You need a complete trailer brake system. It is estimated that only about 12 to 15 percent of a trailer’s weight should be resting on the hitch of the tow vehicle.

Types of Trailer Brakes

Surge brakes: a self-contained, hydraulic braking system. The brakes are applied by using the trailer’s own weight to slow the movement. When you step on the vehicle’s brakes to slow down, with this type of non-electrical trailer brake system, a hydraulic cylinder is compressed and pressure is transferred to the trailer brakes which slows down the trailer.
Electric trailer brakes: electrical power is used to tow the vehicle. An electric trailer brake system electrically connects to the tow, activating electromagnetic brake drums. The driver then has the control to apply the brakes willingly.
For an electric trailer brake system to work, the tow vehicle must also be equipped with a trailer brake controller.

What is the Best Type of Trailer Brake Controller?

With a trailer brake controller, the driver can not only activate the tow brakes on command but the driver can also monitor the trailer’s activity from the vehicle’s cab.

There are two trailer brake controllers to consider:

  • Inertia-Based Trailer Brake Controller: also known as a proportional brake controller that uses an accelerometer, an electrical component to sense the inertia, or idleness, of the tow vehicle. When the brake is activated, the brake controller applies pressure to the trailer brakes depending on the vehicle’s momentum.
  • Time-Based Brake Controller: the trailer brakes are activated immediately when the driver hits the tow vehicle’s brakes. Pressure is then applied to the trailer brake system slowly over time and the time is dependent upon what settings the driver initiates. It is important to note, that time-based brake controller systems are not as precise as inertia-based brake controller systems.

When shopping around for your trailer brake controller solutions, we offer a wide range of products for your towing safety, including brake controller wiring, electronic trailer brake controllers, trailer sway control hitches, and much more.

Hayes Towing Electronics Products are Proudly Made in the U.S.A. and In-Stock!


How to Determine the Safest Way to Tow Your Trailer

Whether you’re heading out on a camping trip or you’re taking the boat out fishing, practicing safe towing habits is imperative not only to your safety, but the safety of other people on the road. And good safety habits begin with a solid knowledge of controlling trailer sway and towing protocols.

If you’re ready to learn about towing safety and how to select a proper vehicle and equipment for your next towing outing, keep reading.

Choose the Right Vehicle

The vehicle you’re towing with has a huge impact on the safety of your towing method. You wouldn’t tow an RV with a mini-coup, would you? No. In order to make sure you have the right towing vehicle for your trailer, it’s important to have a few pieces of information:
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: This figure (GVWR) refers to your tow vehicle. It details the maximum amount of weight your vehicle is capable of carrying. It also includes the weight of passengers, cargo, fuel, and the actual vehicle.
Gross Trailer Weight: If you already have a trailer, you’ll be able to find this number (GTW). If you’re looking into buying a trailer, make sure you find out what this number is before you buy! It encompasses the same weight information as GVWR.

Once you have those two numbers, compare them in order to have optimal sway control and to determine what kind of trailer sway control equipment you’ll need. If the GTW exceeds the GVWR by 50% or more, it’s recommended to invest in weight distribution. Without the proper precautions, you could be risking serious trailer sway and even accidents.

Determine How You’ll Be Controlling Trailer Sway

Unfortunately, factors like wind, towing speed, and poor trailer design can all contribute to trailer sway. In order to combat these common issues, you’ll need to choose the right equipment for the job. For instance, the right weight distribution system or trailer sway control hitch can make all the difference in the world. A few key pieces of equipment to look into include:

  • Trailer sway control hitch
  • Electric trailer brake controller
  • Weight distribution system

It may seem tedious, but understanding how to keep yourself and others safe while you’re towing a trailer means having both the proper knowledge and the proper equipment.

Hayes Towing Electronics Products are Proudly Made in the U.S.A.