There are a lot of recreational vehicles out there, both driving on their own and being towed along the highways and byways. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association estimates that around thirty million RVs are on the road today. Neary twelve percent of men aged 35-54 use or own an RV.
Towing an RV, whether it’s along city and town roads or at higher speeds on the highway, requires a great deal of skill, some preparation, and plenty of caution. According to tests performed by Knott Laboratory, even a thirty-five mile-per-hour gust of wind is enough to destabilize a large trailer. Skill, caution, and preparation are not always enough: it’s important to be using proper, high quality equipment when towing an RV.
Electronic Brake Controllers
Most states require electronic brake controllers to be installed and in good working order on all trailers weighing three thousand pounds or greater. But it’s important to use an electronic brake controller on smaller trailers and RVs as well. An electronic brake controller is an instrument that adjusts braking speed and force on your trailer’s brake system when you activate the brakes in your tow vehicle. Installed in the passenger compartment of your tow vehicle, an electronic brake controller determines the speed of your tow vehicle’s braking and adjusts the braking rate of the trailer or RV.
User-Controlled Electronic Brake Controllers
Different types of electronic brake controllers apply your trailer’s brakes differently. With user-controlled electronic brake controllers, also called time-delay electronic brake controllers, the driver determines the settings for how the trailer brakes will adjust when the towing vehicle’s brakes are applied. User-controlled electronic brake controllers are most useful when towing off-road, when on-the-fly adjustments are necessary and the electronic brake controller’s settings can be overridden.
Proportional Electronic Brake Controllers
A proportional electronic brake controller senses the braking speed of the tow vehicle and matches automatically. In general they are preferred. They use high-quality sensors to adjust braking force and delay with the greatest accuracy. As these sensors are triggered by and measure the tow vehicle’s speed and braking force, they automatically adjust to conditions that impact a tow vehicle’s speed in ways that time-delay electronic brake controllers can’t adjust: road conditions, angles, relative speed, and braking force.
Dual Mode Electronic Brake Controllers
Some electronic brake controllers are built with both modes available. A default proportional mode can be overridden when certain conditions require greater control and finesse. Proportional mode is best for cruising, for consistent roads and highways. But when you take the tow vehicle and the trailer or RV off-road, along dirt roads, along a beach, or anywhere the roads and angles will be inconsistent, use the user-controlled mode. An override function on many electronic brake controllers can be used to adjust for trailer sway (although it may be worth it to also invest in and install an electronic trailer sway control system).
A tow vehicle and a trailer or recreational vehicle traveling together are a great deal of weight moving at relatively high speeds. Winds, unpredictable traffic, trailer sway, and sudden braking are all considerable hazards for a driver towing an RV. Installing the very highest quality electronic brake controller is the best way to insure that you and your property remain safe no matter what kind of road you’re towing on.