Brake controller?

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AZcube

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Hi, new guy here. Looking to buy my first trailer, a teardrop. Weight is approximately 1500 lbs. Advice on the need for a brake controller? I have not identified the trailer yet but I see some have electric brakes, some not. Any advice to help me get going would be amazing. Thanks in advance.
 

Bat21

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Hi, new guy here. Looking to buy my first trailer, a teardrop. Weight is approximately 1500 lbs. Advice on the need for a brake controller? I have not identified the trailer yet but I see some have electric brakes, some not. Any advice to help me get going would be amazing. Thanks in advance.
Hi AZcube

I have a teardrop on order myself. It only weighs about 1000 lbs. It comes with brakes. I just had a 7 pin with brake controller installed on my JK.

To answer your question....it depends. It won't be required by ADOT because it's not heavy enough, however, I would ask about the type of off roading you might get into. When ascending or descending steep inclines, it would be nice having another set of brakes to hold you. Especially when coming down...the trailer might start "pushing" you down the incline.

I don't have a lot of experience off roading with a trailer...but, my trailer will have operational brakes.

Hope this helps
 

AZcube

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Thank you for the info, that is helpful. It seems that a controller is inexpensive enough and would never hurt to have it. Being in Arizona, your steep decline makes me think of Bear Flat! : )
 

M Rose

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With your trailers being so light, make sure you get a brake controller that allows you to fine tune the breaking power of the trailer brakes as well as be able to turn off the trailer breaks. Typically I run the Prodigy P2 by Techonsha.

 

Road

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With your trailers being so light, make sure you get a brake controller that allows you to fine tune the breaking power of the trailer brakes as well as be able to turn off the trailer breaks. Typically I run the Prodigy P2 by Techonsha.

.
Yep, I've used the Tekonsha 90195 P3 Brake Controller for about four years and have been very happy with it.

They're highly rated, easy to install (if you're at all handy and comfortable with wiring), and have very convenient features. I like being able to set different levels of power to the braking, switch from hydraulic to electric brakes (depending on what I'm towing) and that I can reach down and apply just the trailer brakes when I want. That's really handy.
.
 

Enthusiast II

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Hartford, SD
I've run the Tekonsha P3 for about 5 years in 2 different trucks. It's proportional and very easy to adjust. I've used it on 1700 lbs popup camper, 8000 lbs tandem axle enclosed, and loads over 9500 lbs on my flatbed. Easy and quick to adjust from empty to loaded trailer and from trailer to trailer.
 

loper

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I used a prodigy in my 93 F250. Pulled a 24' camp trailer all over the place, lots of forest service roads. Did a great job.

In my van dash space is an issue, so I went with a Redarc tow pro. The box is on the firewall above the pedals, there is a knob on the dash to adjust it. This is the smoothest brake controller I've used.
 

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I used a Prodigy P2 for a lot of years and loved it. If I was to do it again I'd have to look at the Prodigy RF, wireless controller. The ability to easily move it from vehicle to vehicle without having to rewire each one would be a hands-down winner for me.
 

Sea Pickle

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What tow vehicle will you be using? If you're using any kind of full size vehicle then brakes shouldn't be necessary for something that light, expecially if it has tow/haul mode feature. If you do go for the brakes though definitely the Tekonsha Prodigy. I've had the P3 on one of my trucks for a while and it works great
 
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Roaming Bear

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Hi, new guy here. Looking to buy my first trailer, a teardrop. Weight is approximately 1500 lbs. Advice on the need for a brake controller? I have not identified the trailer yet but I see some have electric brakes, some not. Any advice to help me get going would be amazing. Thanks in advance.
I am looking at tow behind trailers that are less that 16 feet and that you can sleep in without a RTT since we are in our 70s
 

Wellspring

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Depending on your tow vehicle there are plenty to chose from. In my full size P.U., I have been using a Tekonsha model for my 18' flat bed trailer and horse trailer, but I am looking to use a Redarc set-up built into my dashboard panel for my 2020 Toyota Tacoma should we purchase a camping/boat trailer or anything that will come with electric brakes. Read the reviews on them on the internet, as that should narrow the choices of the many you will find out there.
 

Boort

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I am in a 4runner... looking at a few options. Thanks to all for the great tips!
@AZcube

I run the Tekonsha Prodigy P2 in my 4runner (and Tacoma and Dad's Ford van and Sequoia). The 4Runner and Sequoia were the easiest to wire up. there was a pig tail in the glove box and we just wired it to the pigtail that came with the P2. The Ford and 97 Tacoma were a bit harder as we had to wire the power and relay since they predated factory tow wiring. I bought the needed stuff all from etrailer.com and worked with Patrick a few times in their technical dept to get everything wired up correctly on these 2 rigs. (I recommend them as their support was excellent both before and after the sale.) I bought a few of the little pockets to hold the controller and have them mounted in each rig. Pull the wire, pop the little box out of the pocket and pass the controller between rigs depending on who is towing the trailer.

From what I recall of my discussions regarding the P2 vs the P3 controllers: Both have the same software and effect the same results. Since we are only towing 1 trailer we don't need the extra buttons and multi-trailer memory features offered by the P3. IIRC my brother went with the P3 (or a similar spec. controller from another maker) as he tows a large number if different trailers for his work and found it nice to be able to store a few in the memory so he was not having to re-tune the controller a few times a week. That said the tuning on the P2 only takes a minute or 2 after hookup and I have not found it to be a big inconvenience.

Today I would probably get the Redarc Tow-Pro Elite Trailer Brake Controller because as @loper mentioned you can mount it up under the dash and only use up a single button spot on the dash. I'd like not having the little box near my knee. I've bumped the pocket in the Tacoma and while driving the van a few times. The 4Runner is a bit better as I have it mounted to the fuse box cover and can just remove it when not towing. (I'll probably pick up another fuse box cover next time I find a 4th Gen in the Junk yard so I can just swap out the cover with the pocket for the one w/o. If I get really ambitious maybe I'll 3d scan the pocket and cover and 3d print an integrated replacement unit :D )

As others have stated the rules vary from state to state regarding if you need a brake controller. I don't need it here in CO but find it very useful when towing in the mountains.

Boort
 

Billiebob

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First thing is the legal question, in CA you need brakes at 1500# so you are there. In Alaska you don't require brakes till 5500#. Every state has its own threshold.

I tow 2K# behind my TJ all year without brakes. I have over 100K miles in the mountains and have never felt a need for trailer brakes, in BC the threshold is 2950#.
Check your state requirements. Honestly I prefer to not have trailer brakes when travelling thru bad weather, rain, snow etc, I know you can adjust the trailer brakes response but I find it more predictable to just adjust my driving style based on "I have no trailer brakes".
 

Bat21

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Just because it's not state law doesn't mean it's not nice to have them. In my mind, I would prefer more braking power, especially since you have extra weight pushing on your vehicle. If not for safety, then to take some of the load off of the brakes of the tow vehicle.

Compensating your driving because you don't have trailer brakes is like driving more carefully because your tires have poor tread.

Can you get by without them....yes. Are they nice to have...yes. If you are off roading, I would consider them a requirement.
 

Billiebob

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Are they nice to have...yes. If you are off roading, I would consider them a requirement.
There is where we disagree, the only place I want them is on the highway at 60mph. In town at 30mph the advantage is much less, on the highway the difference is exponential. But off road, in low traction of gravel, traversing cross slope is the place I want the trailer tires free wheeling with zero braking input. At 15mph my Jeep stops a 2K# trailer easily even on a steep down grade. There are so many places trailer brakes will lock up and the trailer jack knife trying to pass you.

Heck off road I only touch the brakes to stop. The Rubicon 4L proves all the speed control I ever need.

Off road is where trailer brakes are a hazzard.

Before ABS semis often came without front axle brakes and when I drove a fire truck they all came with a front brake disconnect for inclement weather because you never wanted to have the front tires lock up..... same reason I prefer a trailer which can legally be driven without trailer brakes.
 

M Rose

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First thing is the legal question, in CA you need brakes at 1500# so you are there. In Alaska you don't require brakes till 5500#. Every state has its own threshold.

I tow 2K# behind my TJ all year without brakes. I have over 100K miles in the mountains and have never felt a need for trailer brakes, in BC the threshold is 2950#.
Check your state requirements. Honestly I prefer to not have trailer brakes when travelling thru bad weather, rain, snow etc, I know you can adjust the trailer brakes response but I find it more predictable to just adjust my driving style based on "I have no trailer brakes".
Not only can you adjust most of them… most should have a way to turn it off completely.