Do I need a trailer brake controller?


16 replies to this topic
  • TommyB 754

Posted 28 May 2008 - 08:21 PM

#1

new 12x6 enclosed tandem axle trailer has trailer brakes, do I need a controller or will I be fine without one? I will be towing it with a 1 ton van, the trailer will have 3 bikes plus gear.

  • TobyG

Posted 28 May 2008 - 08:44 PM

#2

If the trailer has electric brakes yes, you'd need a brake controller in the truck. If by chance the trailer has surge brakes then you wouldn't.:thumbsup:

  • motoracer11

Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:15 PM

#3

if you WANT to use the brakes then obviously yes but as far as actually NEEDING the electric brakes...i'd say not really...we tow our 20X8 enclosed trailer with a 3/4 ton gmc w/o the electric brakes. the trailer has them but even with hmmmm.....maybe 8 bikes + gear + fuel....we've been fine :thumbsup: hope this helps

  • Chickenhauler

Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:26 PM

#4

new 12x6 enclosed tandem axle trailer has trailer brakes, do I need a controller or will I be fine without one? I will be towing it with a 1 ton van, the trailer will have 3 bikes plus gear.


Some will say "you can get by without it", which you could, but look at it this way-

That trailer, loaded, will increase your stopping distance by about 25% (maybe more). With working brakes, it should stop about as well as your tow vehicle does without the trailer.

Now, take that 25% number and think about this-if you had one brake that wasn't functioning properly on your vehicle (1 of 4 is 25% of the braking capacity) would you get that fixed?

A good brake controller (Tekonsha Prodigy) is about $100 or so...you got the trailer with the brakes on there, why not spend a few bucks and put them to use? You'll be glad you did the first time you have a "panic stop".

  • ducman

Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:30 PM

#5

I have to agree that if your trailer has brakes then you should get the controller and use them as the manufacturer intended. Not only will it shorten your stopping distance it will also increase you brake life on the tow vehicle.

  • motoracer11

Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:36 PM

#6

Some will say "you can get by without it", which you could, but look at it this way-

That trailer, loaded, will increase your stopping distance by about 25% (maybe more). With working brakes, it should stop about as well as your tow vehicle does without the trailer.

Now, take that 25% number and think about this-if you had one brake that wasn't functioning properly on your vehicle (1 of 4 is 25% of the braking capacity) would you get that fixed?

A good brake controller (Tekonsha Prodigy) is about $100 or so...you got the trailer with the brakes on there, why not spend a few bucks and put them to use? You'll be glad you did the first time you have a "panic stop".


i do agree with the "panic stop" portion and the 3 of 4 brakes working...it makes sense...and for $100... why not? only reason we didn't on our truck was because the brakes slowed it down pretty well and we don't actually use the enclosed trailer often enough to mount the controller in the truck...

  • toyota_mdt_tech

Posted 29 May 2008 - 11:57 AM

#7

new 12x6 enclosed tandem axle trailer has trailer brakes, do I need a controller or will I be fine without one? I will be towing it with a 1 ton van, the trailer will have 3 bikes plus gear.


Do it, it takes all the wear and tear away from your van. And if yo8u ever have to make a quick stop, you will really wish you had them.

  • TommyB 754

Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:00 PM

#8

It's kind of a one time deal towing with my van, I have a brake controller but need to wire it in and I don't do well with wiring stuff. Plus i'm moving today and tomorrowso I do not have time to wire it in by saturday morning but if I do I will. I think I will be fine without it. The van has plenty of stopping power when towing two sleds which weight in the same ballpark of the enclosed trailer. I don't drive over 55mph and only going 150miles across the desert and it's a big 1ton van that was built to haul chubs to fat camp.

  • rezrider

Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:06 PM

#9

you got the trailer with the brakes on there, why not spend a few bucks and put them to use? You'll be glad you did the first time you have a "panic stop".


And you will have them! :thumbsup:

  • BigBlueToy

Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:35 PM

#10

........do I need a controller or will I be fine without one?.......


You will only "need" the electric brakes for a panic stop, so just make sure that you never have to panic stop!!! (electric brakes are cheap insurance!!)

  • Chickenhauler

Posted 29 May 2008 - 05:10 PM

#11

Many state require by law that any tandem or trailer over a certain weight rating threshold (usually 3k lbs) have operating brakes and safety breakaway devices.

Here in MN, the State Patrol will randomly stop people pulling trailers and inspect the brake system-if they are inop, they are placed out of service until they are repaired.

"Out of Service" means the trailer stays exactly where it is.:thumbsup:

  • PopBeavers

Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:58 PM

#12

If the van has the tow package then all you have to do is plug in the Prodigy. You will not have to solder or crimp any wires.

With an electric brake controller you will be able to engage the trailer brakes only, which can be helpful in certain situations where you want to straighten out.

I tow my 4,000 pound camping trailer with a Chevy 1500HD truck with electric brakes. I can stop about as fast with or without the trailer.

I tow an 18 foot ATV trailer with 1400 pounds of ATV behind a Dodge Dakota stick v6. If that traielr had brakes I would add the controller. I have thought about adding brakes, but I have not looked into the cost of adding electric brakes. I am not required to have brakes in CA.

Worst case scenario is you are going down hill, hit an off camber turn, and find it covered with loose dirt and/or black ice. The trailer will try to push you where it wants to go.

Other bad scenarios I have witnessed:

- hay bale falls off of truck on highway.

- motorcycle falls off of trailer on freeway.

  • rezrider

Posted 30 May 2008 - 04:38 PM

#13

just make sure that you never have to panic stop!!!


Let me know how that works for ya!

  • kjr247

Posted 30 May 2008 - 06:59 PM

#14

Prodigy is the way to go.

  • PopBeavers

Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:13 AM

#15

Prodigy is the way to go.


If you want to read about different brake controllers, go visit www.rv.net. Over there, discussing what the best brake controller is always turns into a religious war.

I use the Valley Industries Odyssey. Very similar to the Prodigy, with a couple of improvements. Prodigy now has the P3, but I do not know what they changed.

Brakesmart and Jordan are also very well regarded. One of them taps into the truck hydraulic line to convert hydraulic pressure into an electrical signal. It seems to me that this is a good idea for very heavy trailers, like fifth wheel toy haulers. Seems to me to be overkill for small atv/motorcycle trailers. The other one is a cable attached to the brake pedal of the truck. I do not like that idea at all.

  • hometheaterman

Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:38 PM

#16

I have a Brake Force I think it's made by Hoppy or something brake controller. The reason I have this brand is it cost me $20 from my uncle and the same one is almost $60 at Wal-Mart. He used it once I know of maybe 2 times but hardly ever and when he bought his new trailer they gave him another one so he sold me his old one. I just had to cut the Chevy harness off and solder my Dodge one on. For $60 I'd go to Walmart and pick one up. It's cheap insurance. I hardly ever tow anything with brakes so thats why I didn't want to spend a ton on one but for $20 I couldn't pass it up. I don't hook it up most of the time but have it so I can just plug it in under the dash if I decide to use it.

  • PopBeavers

Posted 03 June 2008 - 07:59 AM

#17

I have a Brake Force I think it's made by Hoppy or something brake controller. The reason I have this brand is it cost me $20 from my uncle and the same one is almost $60 at Wal-Mart. He used it once I know of maybe 2 times but hardly ever and when he bought his new trailer they gave him another one so he sold me his old one. I just had to cut the Chevy harness off and solder my Dodge one on. For $60 I'd go to Walmart and pick one up. It's cheap insurance. I hardly ever tow anything with brakes so thats why I didn't want to spend a ton on one but for $20 I couldn't pass it up. I don't hook it up most of the time but have it so I can just plug it in under the dash if I decide to use it.


At this price this is probably a time delay controller. The longer your foot is on the brakes, the more the trailer brakes are applied.

So, when gently slowing down for a stop sign the trailer brakes will eventually lock while the truck brakes are barely applied. In a panic stop, when you slam the brakes to the floor, the trailer brakes will lock up several seconds after impact.

A proportional controller measures the rate of deceleration. The faster the trucks slows down then the more the trailer brakes are applied.

You get what you pay for. A decent proportional brake controller is just under 100 bucks.

For light trailers it probably doesn't matter very much. I have a proportional brake controller for my 4200 pound camping trailer and no trailer brakes on my 2000 pound (loaded) atv trailer. I have no doubt that I can stop the 4200 pound trailer much faster than the atv trailer. So I just allow a substantially larger gap in front of me when towing the atv trailer. I just got the atv trailer and have only had one trip with it. I might add trailer brakes.




 
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