Whether you’re towing a trailer for work or pleasure, you’re asking a lot of your vehicle. Stopping with increased weight and force behind your vehicle is more challenging, so you want the best brake system on board. Fitting your electric trailer brake system with the best parts can give you real peace of mind.
Choosing Electric Trailer Brake Parts: What You Need to Know
Electric trailer brake parts are electric brake system components used for commercial, utility, and cargo trailers, RVs, and many other trailers. These parts may sit on your towing vehicle or trailer. An electric trailer brake system consists of the following parts:
- A trailer wiring end plug
- A mating plug on the tow vehicle
- An electronic brake controller
- Left and right electric brake assemblies
- Drum and hub assemblies
- An emergency breakaway kit featuring a battery with box, trickle charger, and breakaway switch — this will automatically activate the trailer brakes if the trailer detaches from your vehicle
- An end plug connector
Make sure you’re buying parts compatible with your existing components. For example, if your trailer wiring end plug has a six-pin round pin connection, your towing vehicle needs a mating plug with the same connection. Consider your own abilities when choosing your components. Some modern electronic brake controllers have pre-wired plugs which are easier to install. Alternatively, an auto electrician can do the work for you.
How Do Electric Trailer Brakes Work?
Electric trailer brakes receive a signal from the brake controller mounted in the tow vehicle. When they receive the signal, electromagnets trigger the braking mechanism via the drums. The brake controller and brake light circuit control electricity to the brakes for a smooth braking experience.
Do You Need an Electric Trailer Brake System?
It depends where you live and what you’re towing. Small utility trailers often do not have their own brakes because they’re not designed to carry heavy loads. The tow vehicle’s brakes will be sufficient. Larger, heavier trailers intended for heavier loads will usually have their own brakes, particularly if they have more than one axle.
Some states have laws requiring motorists to have independent brake systems, such as electric brake systems, when towing trailers with heavy loads. In these states, you must have an electric trailer brake system or similar to avoid fines.
Electric Trailer Brake Systems vs. Mechanical Trailer Brake Systems
Electric trailer brake systems offer a much smoother braking experience than traditional mechanical trailer brake systems. While mechanical trailer brake systems have become smoother in recent years, electric trailer brake systems are still prized for their smoothness. These systems limit pressure on the brakes of your towing vehicle, helping them last longer. Through the brake controller, motorists can reduce swaying. This is a real benefit on hills and areas with high winds, especially for people new to towing.
What To Look For In Electric Trailer Brake System Parts
Electric trailer brake system parts have an important role in keeping you, your loads, and other road users safe, so it’s important they’re up to the task. You can feel confident purchasing from established brands such as Tekonsha, Dexter, and REDARC who have made electric trailer brake parts for years. However, there are some new brands entering the space creating electric brake controllers with Bluetooth and wireless technology. If you want a cutting-edge controller, it may be worth trying an innovative new brand.
Reviews can help you feel more comfortable in your choice. Read the feedback that other customers post to determine the quality of the parts you’re considering purchasing. If parts typically receive positive feedback, you can feel confident they’ll work well for you. Here are some of the electric trailer brake parts we love.
Best Electric Trailer Brake Part #1: REDARC Tow-Pro Elite Electric Brake Controller
- Designed to suit most common trailer braking and 12- and 24-volt systems
- Proportional and user-controlled braking modes
- Comes with a universal pig-tail wiring harness and universal switch insert panel
Two modes give you greater control over your braking. You can make adjustments with the user-controlled mode or rely on the inertia sensors in proportional mode. This compact unit measures 7 x 7 x 3 inches and weighs 12.6 ounces, leaving more space on your dash.
Best Electric Trailer Brake Part #2: Dexter 7,000 lb Trailer Axle NEV-R-Adjust 12” x 2” Electric Brake Kit
- Fits Dexter 7,000-pound axles that support electric brakes
- NEV-R-Adjust self-adjusting brakes offer high performance and low maintenance
- Made in the United States
This kit features left- and right-hand brake assemblies and five-bolt mount hardware to service one complete axle. The brakes measure 14 x 14 x 8 inches and weigh 30 pounds.
Best Electric Trailer Brake Part #3: CURT Echo Mobile Electric Trailer Brake Controller
- Versatile device that works on most trailers with one or two axles and is compatible with cruise control, low-voltage systems, and anti-lock brakes
- Plugs into any seven-way wiring connector and wirelessly links to a smartphone with Bluetooth for easy tool-free installation
- Triple-axis accelerometer for smooth, safe braking, even when you lock your phone screen
CURT is a relatively new player in the electric trailer brake game making waves for its high-quality, high-tech offerings. It syncs up to any Android or iPhone, turning your favorite device into a brake controller interface so you can control and monitor your braking from the phone. Safety notifications alert you to major issues like an overloaded or disconnected trailer. The epoxy resin interior protects the internal electronics, making this controller suitable for all weather conditions.
We mostly chose established brands with a reputation for quality built over several years in the business. We were selective when choosing newer brands, only recommending those using cutting-edge technology to great effect. All the parts featured receive high customer ratings of at least four stars on Amazon.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.