How To Inspect and Troubleshoot Electronic Brake Controllers

If your trailer brake system isn’t working properly, it can wreak all kinds of havoc when you are on the road. A simple 35 mph crosswind can exert around 3,440 pounds of force on your trailer, causing it to sway uncontrollably. If you can’t brake properly, you could cause both you and your trailer extensive damage or create a massive pileup on the highway. Here’s how to inspect and troubleshoot electronic brake controllers to keep yourself safe on the road.

Electronic Brake Controller Inspection Steps

To inspect your trailer brake controls, you will need to gather your trailer brake controller, your vehicle’s owner manual, and a 12 volt test light. Connect your trailer to your towing vehicle to engage and activate the brake controller. Make sure the controller is accessible and easy to see while you are inside your vehicle and keep your owner’s manual handy. Examine the in-cab control to determine if it’s installed correctly or needs an adjustment. Check the digital screen on the front of the controller for any troubleshooting codes and reference them to your owner’s manual.

The last thing you will want to check is your trailer brake wiring system. Check to see the black power wire is firmly connected to the positive terminal and the white power wire is securely connected to the negative terminal. Use the 12 volt test light to the trailer connector wire port to check voltage continuity. If you see less power being sent to the trailer connector than to the controller, then you will want to check for wiring issues between the two units.

Common Trailer Brake System Problems

There are three main problems that can occur with electronic brake controllers. If the display on the device shows that the trailer is not properly connected, then you could have a brake signal wire short or a vehicle plug corrosion issue. Errors can also occur if ground wires are not solidly connected to negative battery terminals or the adapter wiring doesn’t properly match with the OEM connector on your vehicle. You can also have problems if adjustments with brake assemblies are off or the controller’s boost/gain setting is too high for your trailer’s size.

It’s important to regularly inspect electronic brake controllers on a regular basis to make sure they are functioning properly. Keeping them in good condition will help keep you safe on the road by fixing trailer sway and proper brake coordination between the vehicle and trailer. If you need help with troubleshooting or repairs, consult a professional knowledgeable in trailer brake controller solutions to help you.

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How To Choose The Best Trailer Brake Controller

Imagine that you’re traveling at high speeds down the highway and you need to suddenly brake. If you don’t have a trailer brake controller installed, you run the risk of the trailer crashing into you from behind. According to the NHTSA, there are more than 50,000 towing-related accidents each year. How do you keep yourself safe and choose the best trailer brake controller for you? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is A Trailer Brake Controller?

A brake controller for a trailer is a small electronic device you can install in the cab of your tow vehicle. Whenever you apply your brakes, an electrical signal activates your trailer brakes. They help to manage both stopping distance and controlling trailer sway by syncing both sets of brakes to activate together. You can adjust the braking intensity and speed to the size of your trailer, road conditions, and load weight. The electric trailer brakes also feature manual override, which gives you the ability to use your trailer brakes without using the brakes in the tow vehicle itself.

Types of Electronic Brake Controllers

When it comes to selecting the best trailer brake controller, there are two main categories to choose from. Proportional brake controllers apply the same force to the brakes on your trailer as you do with your vehicle. If you brake hard, your trailer will break just as hard. If you come to a rolling stop at a red light, your trailer will gently stop as well. Internal accelerometers monitor the braking force and speed of your vehicle and cut power to the trailer brakes to keep them from overheating if you get stuck in traffic.

Time-delayed electric trailer brakes allow you to determine how much power is sent to your brakes and how much delay occurs between trailer and vehicle brake activation. This trailer brake wiring system doesn’t function using internal sensors. However, they are more affordable than proportional models and can be mounted at whatever angle you want. If you have limited cab space, you may find these models ideal for you.

Trailer Brake System Costs

The costs for a trailer brake system will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Prices for a proportional system range anywhere from $90 to $750. You can find time-delayed brakes for under $100. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation, which is typically around $500.

When choosing the best trailer brake controller for you, take your time to research what option would be best for you. Shop around for prices and read online brake controller reviews. You’ll be able to rest assured that you stay safe every time you need to hit the brakes.

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