What’s A Trailer Brake Control And How To Use

Trailer Brake Control

Hi I’m Brian this is a explanation about brake controllers what they look like what

they are and how they work what they do why do you would need to know what a

brake controller is well if you’re like me and you love horses in water skiing

wakeboarding camping all that kind of stuff you may need to pull a trailer and

if that’s the case you’re going to need depending on how much fun you’re having

you’re going to need to know what a brake controller is and how to use one

so this explanation is for you your truck has its own or van or SUV or

whatever has its own stuff it’s crashed it’s even crumpled there that’s great

yeah its own braking system all four wheels brake on their newer trailers

it’s the same thing whether it’s a flatbed trailer horse trailer a boat

trailer it doesn’t matter what it is it’s probably going to have trailer

brakes if it’s big enough and fun enough to require it so on a boat you have a

hydraulic brake system you basically have what’s but it’s like a syringe your

brake master cylinder that’s in this big box looking thing under trailer you ever

wonder what that is and it says dot three and there’s a little cap on the

top there that’s a hydraulic braking system you don’t need a brake controller

for that system now why don’t we just stay with I draw why do we have to do

this extra component and screw holes in there little dash and all that kind of

stuff you don’t necessarily but a lot of people do why not just do this system

easy if you have to back a trailer up hill the first time you have to back a

boat uphill you’ll understand that it’s a pain in the neck and you know you do

this because then you don’t have your electronics underwater because that’s

hard on electronics so if you try to go uphill and your truck is backing that

trailer up the hill it is an uphill battle with brakes on it’s not fun so

because that would push in on your master cylinder say you’re slowing down

it pushes together here and act it’s a hydraulic wines it pushes the

hydraulic fluid to the brakes that expand and cause your vehicle to not

shove it it’s like when you’re doing the dun dun dun dun don’t talk to any stop

that dance you know what I’m talking about the train or the line or whatever


you call it little cruise ship or party whatever when you stop you don’t want

your trailer to shove the truck and be out of control you want your brakes to

work so anyway on boats you still do the hydraulic because you can dunk it

underwater it’s a closed system everything stays nice you have an

electronic brake control system and a seven wire around or five wire whatever

your configuration is where it has a break one let’s just show you like on

the seven wire flat it’s this one right here that’s brakes this is reverse

you’ve got positive negative you’ve got your brake light turn signals all that

kind of stuff so you have one two three four five six and one in the middle so

this one it’s usually a blue wire is your brake control your brake controls

mounted up here so we’re not talking hydraulic anymore

however say it’s not a boat say you have like meaning I’ve got a flatbed trailer

and nice thing about the electric brakes is that they’re just so easy to use

they’re just awesome you have a brake controller let’s show you what a brake

controller looks like these are brake controllers these are aftermarket brake

controllers the kind that you screw on to the kick panel of your truck now

there’s a couple of things to consider when you do one of these

there’s adjustability there’s pendulum style

there’s the activation switch you can actually either squeeze down or squeeze

together the switch and it will cause it it’s made to be one hand operated you

have one hand on the wheel somebody cut you off you stomp your brakes that

that’s not enough you can squeeze and activate it by hand I always you know

with your steering wheel here see here’s your steering wheel I always like to

have my left hand because you have your turn signal switch and your flashers

everything there so I always have left hand on the

I like to have mine on the right hand side bunch of manufacturers started

putting them on the left-hand side and dodge just came back around said this is

stupid it’s clear down out of the way you can’t even see it this is your

dominant driving hand so put it to the right since what they did in 2013 and so

it’s cool I like that that’s great see how do that so back to the brake thing

how does a brake controller work well it works based on electrical current

traveling from this this little box has a bunch of wires coming out of the brake

controller does you got positive negative and brake signal this will just

do a little brake symbol and it sends that signal out through this guy where

your trailer connects and goes in a configuration like this this is what the

yru scheme and it kind of looks like so these all go at the same time now this

is an electromagnetic system when you look at the inside of a brake drum when

it’s for a trailer you’ll have eight lug nuts and a hub hole and then outside of

that you’ll have a braking surface you know for the shoes to push it gets we’d

be looking at it sideways and then also you have a bunch of holes right here and

this is where the electromagnet goes your brake drum looks like I’ll just

show you this one here’s your brake drum and here is your brake backing plate

these are your brake shoes on each side and then this is the actual mechanism

this is works kind of like a brake pad against the surface on your brake drum

so when you send all this current this magnet right here becomes activated

magnetized in its variable let’s come back out here to the controller’s again

your controllers always have some of us as one through 10 or 10 through 100 and

it’ll have like increments of 5 on this will have increments

point five on this one point five there did it so you can adjust it so if you

have a lightweight trailer you might only set it to forty or four depending

on the system so it’s light weight and then when you put a car or a piano or a

toolbox and you chained down something heavy onto this then all of a sudden

you’re heavier and you need more assist you need more pressure on this magnet

now how’s this magnet sticking onto here going to cause this to work on your drum

brakes you have this horn to a cam there’s like this metal bar so that when

this is spinning around because you’re driving down the road and this magnet

always has says I love you then wants to stick on to this and this is turning

it’s going to turn this it’s going to grab this and it’s going to move like

this there’s an actuation of one moving pretty cool little gift so this is what

happens when they move and you see that the top part is expanding well when the

top part expands it pushes those shoes away from each other and into the drum

so when that happens it causes the trailer to slow down so the harder you

push on your brakes or the harder the signal goes or the greater the signal

going to the brakes the more that this magnet is going to just really grab hold

of it and this is a where surface that come where out needs maintenance there’s

also a where surface that can wear out it needs maintenance or check remember

how I said that you can manually activate your brake controller whether

its factory or not you need to be able to reach to it remember that whole

conversation so a good thing to do is to test that now and then because this not

only was used to an emergency but you should also test it make sure that your

trailer brakes are working properly make sure that you’re getting an effective

amount of friction holding the truck back but just where there’s no traffic

you go in a parking lot or whatever I’m standing on the brake some zero miles an hour

I’ll let off the brake and then I’ll pinch my controller you know either this

way or this way depending on what truck and test to see if the brakes are

working when I do that this magnet sticks the brakes come on and it should be able

to hold the truck it’s also a good idea to test your setting to see how well

that’s working if you do it if it’s kids then your setting is too high you should

choose a lower setting they’ll be on any of these controllers

you always see a plus and a minus and it might be like this or it might be on top

of the controller say you got like one of these ones with a squish button it’ll

be a button here and here there’ll be one that’s positive and one that’s

negative or you get it off brand and they’ll be they get a positive whatever

but basically you can adjust it to have the right amount of braking so when you

go to stop at a stop sign stoplight or a test in a parking lot you go to hit the

brakes if it’s pushing you if it’s still shoving you then you can adjust it so

see how nice and adjustable and wonderful and these are even self

adjusting you’ve got a self adjusting screw right here I’ll show you in a

picture that’s better here’s a picture here’s the adjusting

screw and automatically adjusts just like your emergency brake would or your

drum brakes on your car it’s a great system I really really like it sometimes

they’re a little bit more squeaky you know that but for the most part they


cool well they breathe well you’ll find that a backing plate usually has a

cutout here and a cutout here and a cutout here to allow for extra cooling

so that your magnet doesn’t get too hot anyway that’s what braking controllers

are and do and how they work so when you push on the button it sends a signal if

you push it halfway it sends a signal halfway push it all the way it sends a

signal all the way and you know gives you a variable braking according to what

you’ve got going now the thing the reason why I got a new truck is because

your exhaust brake works in concert this is the brake symbol right here with the

exhaust cloud in the middle of it the exhaust brake all of these things work

together in concert with your brake controller these new trucks they not

only have like a black box like airplanes do it records for a half hour

on the ECM exactly what’s happening it records

if you’re wearing your seatbelt it records the speed there records how far

the brake pedal or accelerator pedal is depressed I mean you know I think I

already said if a seat belts are on it’s just ridiculous

I mean you I don’t know it’s kind of invasive in privacy or if you want to

lie and say it wasn’t me you can’t do that now because your car will look a

little tattletale on you but basically the nice thing about it is all those

sensors on your pedals convey this stuff automatically some of these brake

controllers like the last one I had the agility one it had a little bracket that

I’ve mounted by and then it sticks up like this so it’s facing you so you can

see the display and a little smash button and the buttons on top and then

it also had a little thing here and you always have that pointing straight down

well there’s a pendulum in there so that when you step on the brakes it doesn’t

automatically go straight to 80 on a heavy load when you start breaking it

like slam the horses face into the front of the horse trailer you know they’d be

like what the world did I do to deserve that so they have these pendulum systems

to make it so that’s real gradual and it’ll display the number on the front of

the screen you know it’ll say you know when you first touch your brakes it’ll

say five and then as you start to slow down and as that pendulum starts to

swing forward it increases and it goes so that’s five and then it’ll go to ten

and then 40 you know and so on it’s just start to slow down goes to 80 and then

at a complete stop that usually you know max out it you know like 80 90 whatever

and then they hold at a lower thing so that’s the pendulum system the drawback

to this now these brake controllers they’re about let me just insert this

here they’re about you know $60 to $200 for a really nice one but with these

systems you know like with my old system I’d step on the brakes and then I’d stop

and let off and it’d take forever to get that pendulum to kick back it’d take

like a second second and a half delay where I’d go to go but my trailers on

the brakes when I’m trying to take off I drove me crazy as is so annoying so

anyway the new brake controllers that are integrated it I just paid you know with all my

discounts and everything that I get, I paid $300 to get mine in and I had to

have my brand new truck sat at the dealership for you know a couple of

hours to have them program this so that it would work with all the other things

I installed out I’m going to do a explanation on Sunday on how that works but

basically the performance of this is so much better because it doesn’t rely on a

pendulum it knows how far I’m pushing the pedal and it’s computerized so that

it sends just the right amount of braking to the wheels on the trailer

it’s absolutely fantastic so anyway that’s how brake controllers work you

want to see the truck figure out here’s a picture of the brochure I don’t think

I have any pictures of the truck to put up just yet that’s the kind of truck I

got and it’s just awesome they put it in the right place it’s integrated the

computer eyes I mean I’ve never missed like driving a car when you tow the

trailer you’d never guess that you had something big heavy and you know

potentially dangerous behind.

Source : What’s a Trailer Brake Controller

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