Top tips to help you select an electronic brake controller

By Unsealed 4X4 5 Min Read

Did you know that if you tow anything that weighs more than 750kg when loaded, you’ll need to have a brake controller fitted to your tow vehicle? This is nothing new in the eyes of the law. What is new (thanks to constant technological upgrades), is some of the incredibly advanced electronic brake control units available these days.  

Before you spend your money on a new electronic brake controller for your tow vehicle, here are some things to think about. And a few questions to ask yourself as well.  

What are you towing? 

There’s a big difference between a soft floor camper trailer and a 3.5-tonne caravan. That kind of goes without saying. If the load being towed ranges between 750kg and 2000kg, trailer brakes are mandatory. They must be fitted to both wheels of at least one axle. 

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If whatever you are towing has a GTM (Gross Trailer Mass) of over 2000kg, brakes must be fitted to each wheel of each axle. A breakaway system must also be fitted to vans/trailers that weigh over 2000kg. This system will slow the trailer down if for some reason it becomes dislodged from the tow vehicle. 

Ease of installation 

If you aren’t towing regularly, having an electronic brake controller permanently hardwired might not be the best solution. This is purely from a financial point of view. There are portable electronic brake control units available, that can be setup quickly and easily whenever you decide to tow. 

If you tow regularly or simply don’t want the hassle of plugging in a portable unit each time, you’re looking at a hard-mounted electronic brake controller. A reputable unit will set you back a few hundred dollars. The installation will run approximately $300-$500 depending on your vehicle. 

Some permanently mounted electronic brake controllers are easier to install than others. If you are planning on doing a DIY installation, look for a unit that offers a plug-and-play wiring system. A plug-and-play wiring kit will also save you money if using an auto-electrician to handle the installation. 

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Check out this video to see just what goes into the installation of an electronic brake controller.

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Ease of operation 

If something were to go wrong, the electronic brake controller needs to be activated quickly. It needs to be easy to get to. For both the driver and passenger of the vehicle. You want the operation to be simple as well. Be that either via a push button or set with a rotary dial. 

Speed is everything when it comes to avoiding a potentially dangerous situation. Have a look at a few different electronic brake controller units on the market, and see what feels right for you. It’s worth making the effort. 

How many axles are you towing?

If you are towing a tandem trailer, can your brake controller handle those extra wheels? Just as an example, the Guardian IQ Brake Controller from Hayman Reese has the capability to brake up to three axles. It also works proportionally in reverse and features a handy self-levelling mechanism making for a much simpler and more reliable installation. 

If we stay with the Hayman Reese range and look at their Vinotour brake controller, it can brake up to four axles. The smallest brake controller Hayman Reese offers their Compact unit, can provide braking to between one and three axles. 

It’s worth looking into this to make sure you select the right brake controller for your requirements. Future-proof yourself here too. If there is a caravan or trailer upgrade planned in the next few years, make sure your brake controller can handle your requirements. 



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