Trailer Brake Wiring System: 3 Things Every Towing Enthusiast Should Know

To ensure maximum towing safety when on the road, your trailer brake system must be working perfectly. This means that your trailer brake wiring system must be expertly connected to function optimally. Today, most vehicles designated for towing come with a ready-to-use wiring system for trailer brakes. This makes it easy for you because all you have to do is insert your trailer plug into your vehicle’s system, hitch the trailer, and start towing.

However, when your towing vehicle is not pre-wired, you’ll have to use a wiring harness to connect your trailer to your tow vehicle or find a professional installer to do it for you. As a towing enthusiast, you’ll be better off knowing your way around trailer brake wiring. These three tips will come in handy.

1. Your Trailer Brake System Controls Your Trailer Lights

Typically, most trailers have three basic sets of lights — the taillights, left brake light, and the right brake light. Every time you’re out on the road towing your trailer, you want all your trailer lights to function properly to enhance your towing safety. The taillights flash every time you apply brakes, signifying the motorists behind you to slow down. When you’re making a right or left turn, the right and the left brake lights will flash to show every motorist which way you’re going. Properly functioning trailer lights increase your road safety when towing, especially on busy North American roads.

In light of this, you must connect your wiring system for trailer brakes skillfully for your trailer lights to function effectively. To their credit, most trailer wiring plugs are easy to connect. The standard trailer connector has four pins and an extra ground wire. The ground wire prevents the trailer brake wiring system from shorting in case of an electrical surge. The four pins connect to the two taillights and the right and left brake lights. Once you plug in your trailer brake controller to your vehicle, you only need to test if the lights are working well, and you’re good to go.

2. When to Buy Trailer Wiring Adapters

In the best-case scenario, your towing vehicle is pre-rigged, so all you have to do is plug in your brake controller, test it, and proceed to tow. However, it’s not always as easy. There are some instances where you’ll need to be ingenious. For instance, your towing vehicle may be pre-wired with a seven-pin wiring system connector, while your trailer has a four-pin connector. In such a scenario, a wiring adapter will save the day.

You’ll find different wiring adapters from the best trailer brake controller dealer. In this case, you’ll need a seven-pin to four-pin adapter. In other cases, your trailer may have five-pin or six-pin connectors. Likewise, you’ll need a five-pin to four-pin adapter or a six-pin to four-pin adapter.

3. When to Buy a Trailer Wiring Harness

When your truck isn’t pre-wired for towing, you should make use of a trailer wiring harness. The modern wiring kits are easy to install since you don’t need to solder, splice, or tape any wires. Once you install the wiring harness or have a professional install it, your wiring system for trailer brakes will function perfectly. You only need to get the right trailer wiring kit specifically made for your vehicle’s model. Fortunately, the top dealers will have the right wiring harness for any car model. These include Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hummer, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercury, Nissan, or Toyota.

Having a good wiring system for trailer brakes will boost your towing safety by a large margin. If you’re among the 30 million RV enthusiasts and RV renters as estimated by RVIA, it’s important to know your way around trailer brake wiring systems. This will make you a better RVer besides boosting your towing safety on U.S. roads.

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Tips to Enhance Your Towing Safety

The NHTSA says that there are more than 50,000 accidents every year on North American roads related to towing. As an RV enthusiast, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’re safe when towing on the road. One of the most effective ways to enhance your towing safety is by installing electronic brake controllers.

Let’s look at how electronic brake controllers enhance your towing safety.

Electric Brake Controllers Provide Smooth Braking

Braking is a major concern when towing a trailer, particularly on the highway or rough terrain. When you apply your truck’s brakes, you want the towing truck and the trailer to stop in tandem. Without electronic brake controllers, this may not be possible. You may not achieve a smooth stop, as every time you apply the brakes, your truck will not stop without jerking forward. However, this stops when you install proportional brake controllers.

When you install proportional controllers, the brakes will send the same amount of braking force to the towing vehicle and the trailer every time you apply the brakes. This means that your truck and trailer will brake smoothly without jerking. Smooth braking is important because it helps you avoid crashing into the car ahead by reducing the stopping distance. Proportional brake controllers have in-built accelerometers that monitor your truck’s speed and braking force.

As a result, your trailer and vehicle brakes will have less wear and tear because they’ll receive proportional braking force. Also, when you’re stuck in traffic, the accelerometers will cut out power to the trailer brakes, so they don’t get too hot. When trailer brakes are idle and remain too hot, there is a higher rate of wear and tear.

Electronic Brake Controllers Help in Controlling Trailer Sway

Trailer sway can be triggered by speeding, poor braking, overloading your tow vehicle, or exceeding the maximum gross weight of your trailer. However, being a careful RVer, you’ll be cautious to avoid some of these violations, like overloading your trailer and speeding on the highway. But even after taking all these precautions, you may still experience trailer sway when braking. Correcting trailer sway caused by poor braking is made easier by installing electronic brake controllers.

The best trailer brake controllers sync the vehicle’s and the trailer’s brakes, so they are activated simultaneously. This leads to proportional braking and prevents trailer sway. Excessive trailer sway during braking can have severe consequences on the highway. For instance, if you’re traveling at a speed of more than 55 miles per hour and experience trailer sway when making an emergency stop, your trailer may jackknife and cause a terrible accident.

Besides installing electronic brake controllers, there are other ways of enhancing your towing safety. They include:

Not Speeding on the Highway

When towing a large RV, you don’t want to over speed even if you have installed the best brake controllers. The rate of brake failure is higher when speeding. When towing a trailer, it’s advisable not to exceed 55 miles per hour.

Hitching Your Trailer Properly

You should ensure that you correctly hitch your trailer to the tow vehicle. As a rule of thumb, you should ensure that about 12% to 15% of the trailer’s weight rests on the tow vehicle’s hitch. This keeps the trailer firmly hitched to the tow vehicle even when towing on rough terrain.

Don’t Overload Your Trailer

The maximum gross weight of your trailer is indicated on the VIN label. You can find the VIN label on the left side of the front half of your trailer. From the label, you’ll read your trailer’s GWAR and GVWR. This will guide you when calculating the cargo weight to load in your trailer.

Installing electronic brake controllers is a good place to start if you want to enhance your towing safety. You should trust a reputable dealer to sell and install the best electronic brake controllers for your RV.

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