Hit the road jack! The Best Trailer Brake Controller

 

There are plenty of accessories that go into being able to safely pull a heavy trailer or SUV. The first thing you need is a hitch ball mount and a hit receiver. Another key tool is the trailer brake controller.

But what exactly is a trailer brake controller and why do you need it?

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What is a Trailer Brake Controller?

trailer brake controllerThe trailer brake controller is a small device installed on the cab of a vehicle. These handy gadgets automatically activate the trailer brakes whenever you apply the brakes in your car. It uses an electronic signal to tell the brake on the trailer to activate.

What makes these trailer brake controllers so important is that you don’t want to have either the trailer or the vehicle be responsible for the entire braking process. There are many situations where this would end badly. Imagine driving down the highway at 60mph while towing a load. You hit the brakes on the car, but the trailer doesn’t stop. The trailer pushes the car forward, increasing the overall stopping speed and potentially causing an accident. It’s technically possible to connect the brake signal from your vehicle to your trailer, but this still presents problems. Connecting your brakes like this means that your car will always use 100% of its braking power, which is going to wear down the brakes on the car and trailer and leave you with some rough stops.

Brake controllers for trailers manage the stopping distance of your vehicle and prevent the trailer from swaying by ensuring the brakes on both the trailer and vehicle activate when needed. You can adjust the braking intensity and speed the brakes are applied based on the size, load weight, road type, and other factors for more precise controls. Road conditions can affect how well your vehicle brakes, so it’s worth assessing the controls.

What to Look For in a Brake Controller?

Most trailer brake controls have similar features between them. The devices are simple and complex, in a way. They are simple in the sense that they perform just one function and relatively easy to install. What makes them complex is that they are complex pieces of machinery able to calculate and apply braking pressure as needed.

A good controller is one that offers special features, such as a brake boost. A brake boost means that the controller can apply extra pressure in the event of a sudden stop, such as emergency braking. The extra power is only about 5-10% of the total power on top, but even a small boost can make a big difference.

A good controller also controls the right number of axles. Count the number of wheels on the trailer, divide that by two, and you’ll have how many acles the controller has to control. Most units are more than capable of handling two or three, but there are units able to handle more if you need them.

How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller

One great thing about these products is that they are super simple to install, so long as you have a relatively modern vehicle. There should be a small panel to the bottom/side of the steering column. Open the panel up and you should find a plug you can plug the controller into. Use a drill or some command tape to mount the bracket and everything is ready to go.

Do You Need a Brake Controller?

If you have an electric trailer and regularly tow trailers, then you should consider getting a trailer brake control. These gadgets are one of the best towing accessories around. In general, you will need a controller if you have an electronic trailer as some states make them a legal requirement. The laws vary by state, but if your trailer is over 3,000lbs you almost definitely need a proportional controller or time delayed controller.

The Best Trailer Brake Controller – Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

The Tekonsha 90195 P3* is not just one of the best proportional controller options on the market, but it could among the overall best trailer bike controllers in general. There are lots of things to love about this electric brake controller.

For a start, it comes with a bright and easy-to-read display screen. The screen is handy given how much information the proportional brake wants to relay back to you. It gives you information about the battery condition, voltage output, output currency, and more. This sounds like a lot, but it means that it’s easy to find and fix any problems with the two vehicle or trailer brakes.

The controller is compatible with hydraulic and electric braking modes, is available in three languages, works on up to four axles, has brake boost, and lets you change and save settings for up to five individual trailers. Just about the only thing this baby can’t do is cook a steak. The price isn’t the cheapest, but you get more than your money’s worth with the P3.

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Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

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Last update was on: November 24, 2020 10:26 pm

Features

  • Proportional Braking

There are two main products of this type – proportional brake and time delay brake. The P3 is a proportional brake controller, meaning that you get any kind of braking you need in an instant. How quickly and how harshly you apply the brakes on your car affect how the brakes are applied by the vehicle. Time-delayed controller send the same amount of braking power to the trailer each time. A proportional brake controller adapts to different braking scenarios. If you hit the brakes in the tow vehicle then you can expect the same amount of force to hit the trailer brakes. If you apply gentle pressure as you approach a stop sign or red light, then your trailer will also brake gently to match. Choose an initial power level and boost setting and the electric brakes take care of the rest.

The P3 can detect the intensity at which you brake using internal inertia sensors. So long as the controller is set in the direction of travel on a horizontal plane, it can work as intended. The inertia-based sensor detects decelleration in the two vehicle and sends a signal to trailer brakes so they stop with the same intensity. The befit of using a proportional controller over a time delayed one is that you get uniform braking across the whole system.

  • Power Boost

The Tekonsha P3 offers more than just a smooth braking experience. It also includes a power boost feature that gives you extra power for towing a heavy load with your vehicle. You can choose from different boost levels to automatically apply a pressure boost of 13% or 25% of the power setting on the electric brake.

If you set it so that the trailer brakes activate with 25% intensity from the start, then the brakes should reach their maximum pressure faster. Being able to brake faster is great when you’re towing heavy loads because the braking intensity necessary to stop the load could be greater than the one needed to stop the vehicle. Braking with some extra power in the trailer brakes – so that they reach max power faster, means that you get better control over the trailer.

You won’t need to worry about using a boost if the trailer weighs less than the tow vehicle. You could still change the settings if you want though, depending on your needs.

  • Store Settings

One cool little feature of this trailer brake controller is that you can store and load settings as needed. This is a great advantage if you tow different trailers with the same vehicle, or you tow different loads using a single trailer. Automatically set the boost and power level you need for each trailer or load ahead of time so you don’t need to fiddle with the controls whenever you change the load. This feature of the brake controller also means that other people can set their own brightness, language, and loads according to their preferred settings.

  • Customizable LCD Display/Advanced Diagnostic Readings

This proportional controller comes with an LCD display. The display has a unique look with a range of different color and contrast options for users. There’s also plenty of diagnostics on display, presented in an easy-to-read style. The diagnostics tell you about all kinds of potential problems and make for a great starting point when troubleshooting issues with your vehicle.

  • Great Safety Features

The P3 trailer brake controller is packed full of essential safety features. These features prevent the various parts of the towing setup from getting damaged. One of those safety features is the integrated reverse battery protection that prevents the brake controller and the breakaway system on the tow vehicle from getting damaged. The Prodigy P3 switches to power-saving mode when not in use. The power used drops to just 3.6 milliamps in this mode, practically negating any impact on vehicle battery.

The P3 also has a “hold” feature that activates when the truck and trailer are stopped for over five seconds with the brakes applied. This reduces the power output on the brakes to 25% of the preset power setting, preventing the brakes on the trailer and vehicle from overheating.

If you need to brake the trailer without braking the vehicle – such as when going down a steep incline – then you can use the manual override lever. The lever applies full power to the brakes on the trailer without affecting the brakes in the vehicle. Activating the override also triggers the brake lights on the trailer, letting people behind you know that you’ve hit the brakes so they can respond appropriately.

Easy Installation and Automatic Leveling

This trailer brakes controller couldn’t be easier to install. Just mount the P3 in the cab with the bracket and hardwire one end of the harness directly to the vehicle. Take the other end of the harness and plug it into the brake controller and you’re good to go. If you need to remove the P3 for storage or to transfer it to another vehicle, just unplug it and take it from the bracket, and repeat the installation process on the other two vehicle.

The P3 comes with a self-leveling feature that means the brake controller is able to function properly no matter what incline you take it on. Stay safe on the hills and mountains by mounting the controller at a vertical angle. The controller automatically levels itself and works as intended.

Pros

  • Plenty of features and settings
  • Large LCD screen
  • Customizable
  • Excellent functionality
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • High price
  • Too much information for most people

Images

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FAQs

  • Does the unit come with a pigtail or plug to wire into the vehicle’s system?

The unit comes with a pigtail that plugs into the back of the unit. The other side of the plug has stranded wires to hook up to teh car. If you have a newer vehicle that has been prewired for electric brakes you may need to purchase a separate pigtail.

  • The diagram says that the controller is powered directly by the battery. Does this mean that the trailer brake controller is always active?

The manufacturers say that, while the unit is always drawing power it draws an insignificant amount. The 3.6milliamps it draws when not in use would mean the trailer brake controller would take 4 months to drain a car battery. You can remove the controller when not in use too.

  • Do the brakes engage as you back up?

Electric brakes generally don’t engage as you drive in reverse. The magnets will still grab but the camming action is reverse and shouldn’t cause any issues.

  • Does the controller come with a mount bracket?

The controller does come with a small mount bracket you can hang it from or hold it in place.

  • Does the controller have a manual override?

The P3 comes with a manual override. This manual override is similar to the ones found in other such devices. The override is a slider switch and the further you push the switch the more pressure the brakes are applied at.

Final Thoughts

The Tekonsha 90195 P3* is easily one of the best options around for an electric trailer brake controller. It’s super easy to install and use and has all the features and information you could possibly want. The price is a little high, but if you’re looking for the best controller that money can buy, you’ve found it in the P3. It’s the ideal choice for anyone who tows things regularly. Make your towing safer and more efficient with a great trailer brake controller.

  • Product
  • Features
  • Photos

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

& Free shipping
Last update was on: November 24, 2020 10:26 pm