Monday, February 16, 2015

Brake Controller for our Trailer

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not real knowledgeable when it comes to technical stuff about our trailer and towing. For example, I know axle ratio is important, but that information does not translate into practical application for me. So, I just get recommendations from reliable sources and go with that information.

But there are some things I feel comfortable with on the maintenance/technical side that I can share.

Before pulling our trailer off the dealer's lot, I had a brake controller installed in our Ram 1500. Technically, a brake controller engages a trailer’s electrical braking system either time delayed, or in proportion to the tow vehicle's brake engagement when slowing down or coming to a halt. In other words, it helps brake and/or stop your trailer. Without a brake controller, you rely completely on the power of your tow vehicle (the vehicle you are using to tow your vehicle) to slow down and stop your trailer. And if you happen to have a trailer whose weight is maxing out your tow vehicle, that is a very scarey proposition.

In the past, most tow vehicles would have a brake controller installed after purchase. They were usually mounted on the lower dash on the driver's side, often in the most inconvenient location for your legs to bump into while operating the brake and accelerator pedals.  Today, vehicle manufacturers are beginning to sell tow vehicles straight off the lot with brake controllers already professionally installed in the dash rather than below it. We did not get such a vehicle, but we did get one with a slot in the lower dash for installing a brake controller at a later time.

When installed after-market, the brake controller usually hangs from the lower dash by a bracket, often right where your legs move while working the pedals. This is NOT our vehicle, but we've had brake controllers installed in the past like this.
So, right before picking up our trailer, I had our local Dodge dealership install the brake controller for our Ram. I like that it is flush with the dash. In fact, unless you are looking for it, you don't even notice it.

Close up of our brake controller
Brake controller and its location in the dash, right below the air/heat controls.
When you adjust the settings for the brake controller, the readout appears in the control panel above the speedometer.

I could have picked up a dash mount brake controller for less, but I'm glad I spent a little more and had this one installed. It certainly looks more attractive, and I don't bump it with my legs.

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