Top 10 Best Proportional Trailer Brake Controller: Reviews, Buying Guide

Is there anyone who does not want a safe trip? Nobody, right. This is why buying and using the best proportional trailer brake controller is essential, as, in addition to giving you a smooth ride, it ensures your safety.

A brake controller is a vital component of a trailer’s brake system. In fact, without much knowledge and insight, it plays a crucial role in our lives by relieving us of stress throughout our entire car journey.

Today, various trailer brake controllers with different designs and features to offer are available on the market. Therefore, it is normal to get confused between a varied collection of products to choose from.

Without worries; We’ll help you choose by giving you detailed information on the top 10 best proportional trailer brake controllers.

Are You In Hurry? Then Check Out Below!

If you are in a hurry and don’t have much time to read the complete article. Then Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Plug-in Simple Brake Control is a great choice. The product makes it easy to stop when you’re towing something.

There are 7 sensitivity settings so that you can control the process of stopping. It is good because it helps keep your vehicle and cargo safe. You can put the device somewhere easily reachable and access it when needed.

If you don’t like this as much then I am going to give a buyer guide that will help you select the Best Proportional Trailer Brake Controller. So read the section carefully. Because this majorly includes all the things that should be checked.

Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Plug-in Simple Brake Control

Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Plug-in Simple Brake Control
  • Advanced brake technology that mirrors the braking of the tow vehicle for safe, smooth stops
  • Works on trailers with electric or hydraulic brakes
  • Digital power and 7 sensitivity settings with intuitive vertical manual slide
  • Short proof protection for up to 8 trailer brakes

Buying Guide Before Purchasing Best Proportional Trailer Brake Controller

Life is unpredictable, but at the same time, you have to be careful to avoid all kinds of dangers. Because in the end, we all want a safe trip, since nothing is more important than the safety of our lives.

This is where a trailer brake controller can come in handy, as it helps one not fall into a risky situation by ensuring complete safety while driving. That is why it is a requirement that you buy the best one for yourself, as nothing can be more important than your precious life.

But before buying one, you need to know essential information about the product. Otherwise, you could end up buying the one that isn’t right for you, which you definitely won’t want.

Here are some vital details to look at before going directly to the buying guide:

What is a brake controller?

A brake controller is a crucial component of a trailer’s electrical braking system. These controllers identify when the brake lever of the traction car moves slowly and how much pressure is applied to the brake.

Therefore, the brake controller uses this vital information to control the brakes on the trailer, so driving is safe together with the people in the vehicle.

How does the electric brake controller work?

The electric brake controller closely monitors the two essential things of the vehicle: One is when the car’s braking system is in drive mode. Another is when the vehicle slows down while driving.

Based on these 2 things, the controller decides what steps to take next. For example, when the brakes are applied, the controller monitors the demand for braking from the brake lever.

Then it interacts with the trailer brake via a cable link to find out how much power is applied to the brake. The brake controller does all of these things by sending an electrical current back to the electrical magnet located in the trailer’s braking system.

Types of trailer brakes

There are 2 types of trailer brake controllers available; are written below:

  1. Surge brakes
    The surge brake is a reserved hydraulic brake system found on the trailer. They are also known as hydraulic surge brakes. The driver does not control these types of brakes. Instead, they have activated automatically every time the driver slows down.
  2. Electric brakes
    An electric brake is a type of brake that is regulated and maintained by an electric current. It is also known as an electric trailer brake or an electric friction brake.

It basically uses a brake controller and electromagnets and applies the braking force corresponding to the braking demand of the vehicle. Electric brakes are mainly used on medium and heavy-weight trailers such as vans, recreational vehicles (RVs), customer-level car trailers, etc.

Advantages of trailer brake controllers

Trailer brake controllers play a vital role in our life by offering us the advantages listed below:

Protection

The number 1 benefit a trailer brake controller offers is ensuring safety, which is the most important thing because nothing can be more important than the safety of our lives.

We know that the weight of the trailer is much higher than that of normal vehicles. So it is a bit critical to handle than others. However, with the use of the correct trailer brake controller, this job is simplified.

Ensures total safety by not allowing a trailer to move or move forward when stopped. In addition, the braking system helps us avoid falling into a dangerous and risky situation by preventing the trailer from skidding or losing control.

System monitoring

A top-notch trailer brake controller will allow you to control and monitor the towing vehicle’s system when in drive mode. In addition, it will contain advanced features that allow you to monitor and understand what is really happening, such as updates on the brakes and trailer loading.

Increases the longevity of brake pads

The brake controller plays an important role in increasing the life of the brake pads. Because if you don’t have a brake controller in your vehicle, then dragging one of the vehicle’s brake pads across the bracket to stop.

These brake pads are normal for the ones that cannot take a lot of pressure, like the brake controller. This is why they tend to show various problems with every passage of time and use and thus weaken the brake pads, which obviously no one will want. Therefore, using a trailer brake controller is imperative to protect and increase the longevity of the brake pads.

Less expensive

Even being such a valuable and crucial product, the trailer brake controller is significantly less expensive than the other vehicle parts. You can find the best one with many features to offer at a very affordable price, saving you a lot of money.

Is a brake controller needed?

Although a brake controller is vital for all vehicles, it is essential for the following 2 cases:

  • If you are hauling over 1500 pounds, then you need to have a brake controller for that trailer. Unless you will be in a risky position while driving to long-distance places.

Typically, a vehicle can comfortably handle up to 1000 pounds without facing any kind of problem. However, to transport more than 1500 pounds or more, a brake controller is required to avoid any dangerous situation. That is why to ensure safety, and the law states that a brake controller must be used in case you need to carry a weight equal to or greater than 1500 pounds.

  • If a trailer’s braking system uses electric brakes instead of surge brakes, a brake controller is also needed. Otherwise, your trailer won’t even start as electric brakes cannot work without a brake controller.

Top 10 Best Proportional Trailer Brake Controller – Review

1. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control

The Tekonsha 90160 is our best overall trailer brake controller and well built for long life, and it has some great features like a brake booster.

This device allows you to apply more initial trailer stopping power with the brake boost feature, making it easier to control when towing heavy trailers. And you can activate this handy feature with the push of a button.

The proportional backing function is useful when backing up in tight spots. In addition, this model has a self-diagnosis function that will automatically check for a problem with the brakes and will alert you on the LED.

Since this controller comes in a small and compact form factor, you can install it in your vehicle’s dash without taking up a lot of space. Better yet, it’s a plug-and-play device with a snap-in dash mounting clip and all the hardware to make installation a breeze.

The LED display seems relatively smaller compared to others on our list, and the quality of the mounting bracket is also poor. However, they both work well enough and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Pros
  • Very useful when backing into tight spots
  • Small and compact form factor
  • Easy to install even by beginners
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Brake boost is handy when pulling heavy trailers
Cons
  • Smaller LED display
  • Mounting brackets could have been better

2. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

The Tekonsha P3 has a large LED reading screen with configurable colours. The display will show the system current along with the battery, brake, and output voltages. The P3, which is a proportional brake controller, easily connects to your vehicle using an adapter and mounts to the bottom of your dash with a clip. No calibration required. Just plug it in, hook up your trailer, and you’re on your way.

This device provides stopping power for up to four axles and, like the related P2, has a “boost” feature that will send full power to the trailer brakes in emergency braking situations.

This trailer brake controller may have too many different settings and functions for your average consumer who is towing a camping trailer, for example. If you tow frequently or tow as part of your profession, this high-end trailer brake controller is ideal for you. Hobbyists won’t have to pay as much money to get a suitable trailer brake controller.

Pros
  • Complete kit offers great value for money
  • Provides detailed information on brake system
  • Easy to read LED display
  • Allows for different levels of braking customization
Cons
  • Expensive
  • overkill for most consumers

3. CURT 51110 Venturer Electric Trailer Brake Controller

This proportional electronic brake control is for trailers with one to three axles. It has a boost function and self-diagnostic functions that will illuminate an LED reading when problems occur. It works proportionally in reverse and uses a plug-and-play port for two-plug adapters. A snap-in mounting bracket allows you to remove and store the device when not in use.

It creates a very smooth braking experience, and the boost function works very well. Installation, including mounting and wiring, is straightforward. Programming and configuration are simple, and the controller is reliable and effective. It also includes features not found in similarly priced units, such as automatic levelling. The device is the sister unit of the Tekonsha Primus IQ, but it is less expensive.

One problem is that it can be difficult to avoid locking the tires on gravel surfaces. Also, if you don’t switch back to street intensity after a steep downhill grade, your wheels can unexpectedly lock up at slower speed and on hot pavement. Also, you should unplug it when it’s not in use or stays on.

Pros
  • Easy to install and use
  • Smooth and high performing trailer brake controller
  • Does not require any leveling
  • Alerts you automatically in case of an issue
Cons
  • No off switch
  • no adjustable settings

4. Reese Towpower 8508211 Brake Control

The Reese brake controller is an excellent option for those who are looking for an affordable yet reliable device. This feature ensures smoother braking by allowing you to apply brake pressure that matches the vehicle’s rate of deceleration.

In addition to proportional braking, the controller provides a boost function to give you the ability to apply more initial stopping power, making it very useful when towing heavier loads.

No levelling is needed when using this trailer brake controller. And with the big LED display, you can be sure that you can easily see what’s on the screen. Many motorists also like that this unit provides a simple plug-in installation for easy setup.

For those looking for a trailer brake controller, they can mount it in either direction, it won’t be, but the good news is that it still has a fairly wide mounting latitude. Also, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a suitable harness for your vehicle.

Pros
  • Does not require any leveling
  • Large and easy to read display
  • Easier to install
  • Uses proportional braking for smoother stops
  • Allows for greater initial braking power
Cons
  • Cannot be mounted in just any direction
  • Does not come with harness

5. Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Plug-in Simple Brake Control

This device comes from a very popular and trustworthy brand. It is a three-piece product that includes a controller, an LED display, and a slider. The display allows easy voltage readings, and the slider gives you the option to adjust the strength of the application. All three elements are intuitive and easy to use.

The product allows you to make safe and smooth stops when towing. With seven sensitivity settings, you can fully control the process and keep your vehicle and cargo insured. The device also features short-circuit protection for up to eight trailer brakes.

Finally, it is essential to mention how simple the installation is. You can put the device within easy reach and access it when necessary. Thus, you will keep your eyes on the road and be safe during the towing process.

The main disadvantage to this product is the three-piece design actually. Three separate items take up quite a bit of space and require a lot of wiring, which can make installation more challenging. The other downside may come from vague instructions. Although the installation is quite simple, novice users may have a bit of difficulty with the included manual.

Pros
  • Simple but more convenient design
  • Able to control up to 8 trailer brakes
  • Handy pre-calibrated settings
  • Very easy to install and use
Cons
  • Limited features
  • Relatively smaller display

Read More:

6. TEKONSHA 90885 Electronic Brake Control

If you don’t want to worry about your trailer’s brake controller, the Tekonsha 90885 should serve you well. The controller adjusts itself to suit different terrain when driving, making it ideal for backing up in tight spots.

The trailer brake controller offers numerous mounting options to ensure it works for your specific situation. It has multiple bottom mounting points that allow you to quickly and easily install it to your dashboard with ease when it comes to installation.

Plus, it has a boost feature to apply more force to the brakes at the push of a button. Another noted feature is its ability to monitor trailer brakes continuously and immediately report any problems detected.

The only caveat we noticed with this brake controller is its relatively higher price than others on our list. But you can be sure it will be worth your money.

Pros
  • Easy to remove and store when not in use
  • Boost feature applies more force to the braking pads
  • Never requires any leveling
  • Constantly monitors the braking pads for faults
Cons
  • Relatively pricier

7. Reese Towpower Brakeman Compact Brake Control

This Reese Towpower brake controller is one of the most affordable choices you can find on the market. It is a simple but efficient device that allows safe and controlled towing. With robust construction and simple design, it is one of the most popular devices in the category.

The controller is designed for one to four-axis systems. It allows you to tow different trailers and has intuitive controls. Another great thing is the compact design. That makes installation so much easier, as you can mount the unit anywhere that is convenient for you. The package also includes a mounting bracket that you can adjust according to your needs. No leveling is required with this unit.

What could be a problem with this product is the fact that it does not come with a connector. You will need to purchase a suitable harness for your vehicle. There were also some complaints about the lack of mounting screws from the package. Installation is generally effortless, but these missing parts can make it more challenging.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Compatible with electric and hydraulic trailer brakes
  • Does not require leveling
  • Compact and easy to install
Cons
  • Limited adjustment settings
  • No LED/digital display

8. CURT 51180 Echo Mobile Electric Trailer Brake Controller

Sometimes you may need to use your trailer brake controller on more than one vehicle. In such cases, something wireless and portable like the Curt 51180 is an excellent buy. This driver has a non-invasive installation that makes it easily portable.

Braking is guaranteed to be secure and smooth when using this device. It makes use of a triple-axis accelerometer that is highly sensitive even when your phone’s screen is locked or when you are taking a call.

Controlling this unit is easier and smarter as it comes out of the box with Apple and Android smartphones.

The 1-2 axle support means this controller is not ideal for large trailers with many axles. However, it is still one of the best brake controllers for travel trailers, given that most hardly have more than 2 axles. Also, the price is a reflection of its features, functionality, and portability.

Pros
  • Easy and convenient control
  • Simple, tool-free installation
  • Wireless and portable design
  • Provides smooth and safe braking
  • Can be easily transferred from one vehicle to another
Cons
  • Not for large trailers
  • A bit expensive

9. CURT 51140 TriFlex Electric Trailer Brake Controller

Here we have another quality product from Curt. The brake controller features a three-axis accelerometer and can handle one to four axes. It also offers nine levels of sensitivity settings so that you can have maximum control across the towing process.

What’s also beneficial about this device is the fact that it automatically levels and calibrates itself. That means you don’t have to worry about setup; it’s a simple plug-and-play option. Installation is also very easy, and the unit is so compact that you can mount it anywhere you like.

However, the unit requires an adapter. You will have to purchase one separately and depending on your vehicle. Some users also complained that the unit was draining the power of its batteries. It may be a good option to keep an eye on it or completely unplug it when not in use because there is no power switch.

Pros
  • Easy operation and installation
  • Stylish design
  • Reasonable price
  • Durable
  • 9 levels adjustments settings
  • It can be mounted anywhere
  • It has a smart braking system
  • Highly compatible
Cons
  • No adapter cable
  • No on-off button for which the battery tends to get drained quickly

10. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control

The large, clear LED display of the Draw-Tite 5504 is one of its standout features. This illuminated display allows you to read the information from almost any angle, which is very convenient when you are on the road.

This unit has a plug-and-play port on the back and can control up to 4 axes. So you will have no trouble controlling 8 trailer brakes. In addition, there are pre-calibrated settings to facilitate operation.

With this time-driven controller, you get overload and open field diagnostics. In addition, it has short circuit protection and a practical output indicator.

Furthermore, the controller is small and compact to ensure it takes up little space in your vehicle. When it comes to installation, you can be sure that the process will be smooth and easy as it comes with clear instructions and mounting hardware.

The mounting kit is not compatible with some dashboards but seems to work for most tow vehicles. Also, this model is more delicate, so you need to be alert when operating it.

Pros
  • Small and compact
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Large and clear display for any angle view
  • Overload and open ground diagnostics
Cons
  • Dashboard mounting kit is not universally compatible
  • Build construction could have been better

How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller

Step 1: make a wiring harness.

Some vehicles already provide for the brake controller wires and label the wiring harness with something like an “electric brake controller.”

If you don’t have your wiring harness already installed, you need to pre-wire by splicing the wires and connecting them. Fortunately, most manufacturers ship their drives with the cables so you can easily install them.

The trailer brake controller wires are differently coloured to show you which wire connects to what. The installation manual is also useful here.

Step 2: Install the driver.

Now that you have the wiring harness, you must install the controller in an easily accessible position. Easy access ensures that you can make adjustments to your control system.

Generally, people install the trailer brake controller on their dash for the best accessibility.

Step 3: calibrate the controller.

You will see that your trailer brake controller comes with multiple settings. This setting allows you to adjust it based on the type of vehicle you have, as well as the weight of your trailer.

Therefore, before you can use the unit, it is essential to calibrate it to suit your specific situation. The process here varies from model to model, and manufacturers provide clear instructions on what to do.

FAQ: Best Proportional Trailer Brake Controller

Q: DO I NEED A BRAKE CONTROLLER?

A: Generally, you need the best proportional trailer brake controller if you have a trailer that weighs more than 1,000 pounds. Towing a trailer without a brake controller can be very dangerous, especially if it stops abruptly. The towed vehicle will continue to move at the same speed while the tow vehicle stops. This can cause a dangerous domino effect.

Q: WHICH IS BETTER: A PROGRAMMED OR PROPORTIONAL BRAKE CONTROLLER?

A: In most cases, a proportional trailer brake controller is the best option, especially if you regularly tow or tow heavy trailers. Proportional braking is superior in emergency braking situations. A timed brake controller is fine if you are only towing smaller trailers occasionally.

Q: HOW TO INSTALL A TRAILER BRAKE CONTROLLER?

A: First, you will need a wiring harness to connect it to your vehicle, especially if you don’t have a towing package. Next, check to see if your car is pre-wired for a brake controller. Then connect or splice the wire harness. Connect the vehicle wiring to the controller and connect the controller to an accessible space under the dash. Finally, customise the settings to match your towing conditions.

Conclusion

A trailer brake controller is vital to making sure you come to a smooth and safe stop when towing a trailer. And now finding the best model should be a breeze, as we provided more than enough recommendations above.

That said, the Tekonsha 90160 is our top overall model. This proportional unit is well built and has a lot to offer, including the boost function, making it effective and highly reliable.

However, for those looking to get the best value for their money, the Tekonsha 90195 is our recommendation as it is unbeatable for the price.

Leave a Comment