When towing a trailer, caravan or boat, brakes play an important role in helping the vehicle come to safe stop. A Trailer Brake Controller is an electrical device, usually mounted on the dashboard, that engages a trailers brakes in either a time delayed or proportional manner to the towing vehicles brakes when slowing or stopping. With many options on the market, which solution is right for you?
Australian road rules require brakes to be fitted to all trailers exceeding 750 gross trailer mass. Trailer brakes generally fall into two categories, electric and hydraulic, otherwise known as surge brakes.
Commonly found on older trailers, surge breaks use the force of the tow vehicles deceleration to apply pressure to a master cylinder in the trailer, which in turn applies pressure to brake fluid in brake lines onto the brakes inside the trailers wheels. While effective, in an emergency there is no way for the driver to apply the trailer brakes independently of the tow vehicle. Surge brakes need to be serviced like regular brakes, and any bleed of brake fluid or corrosion of the fittings can cause them to fail. Due to these downsides, surge brakes are no longer recommended.
Electric trailer brakes do not require brake fluid, hydraulic pressure or brake lines. Instead, an electromagnet is mounted inside the trailers wheel hub, which when power is applied causes the brake to operate. A Brake Controller is mounted inside the tow vehicle, usually on the dashboard, and is connected to the vehicles brake circuit. Many Brake Controllers also offer an additional manual control to the driver, allowing the trailer brakes to be activated without stepping on the brake pedal. As there is no brake fluid, brake lines or master cylinder, servicing is simplified.
Fitting and Installation
An Auto Electrician is able to install and wire a Brake Controller into your tow vehicle. Professional installation of such an important part of your vehicles braking system is vital, and we are able to provide recommendations on the best types of Brake Controllers to suit your particular vehicle and towing requirements.