How To Adjust Trailer Brake Controller?

So you’ve just entered into an RV lifestyle and you’re new to this electric brake controller systems. Installing one also makes you wonder how to adjust trailer brake controllers.

The EBC is an important safety feature when you want to tow a trailer. You need that device because you can’t depend on your tow vehicle to provide all the braking power necessary when you want to slow down or stop.

The trailer must also share its job in providing the right braking intensity for you to safely drive on the road.

Why Adjust Your Brake Controller?

It’s highly imperative to adjust your brake controller to its towing perfection. The process includes some simple system tweaking and initial settings you can do just by yourself.

You need to adjust your brake controller and tune it to its most effective state. Otherwise, your brake may not work, leading to dire scenarios such as skidding on the highway.

Consequences Of Not Adjusting Brake Controller

Not being able to adjust your brake controller may lead you to two things – either you will not have enough braking power to slow and stop properly or you will have excessive power to the extent your trailer totally locks up when you attempt to brake.

A Thing Of The Past

People of the past also have this kind of problem. In ancient times, people would use horses to haul trailers.

People would have to decide on the number of horses necessary to pull the weight of the trailer.

Insufficient number of horses will not be enough of to tow while too much of them would be dangerously powerful.

No Setting Fits All

There is no universal brake controller setting which means you should adjust the settings depending on the trailer you intend to tow.

For instance, if you have a pickup truck and you want to haul your utility trailer, then you will set it to its most harmonious state. But if you want to haul a travel trailer, the settings you used for your utility trailer will not work this time.

Trailers have different weights, forcing you to also adjust whenever you haul a different one.

What You Need?

Basically, you will need to be aware of the model of brake controller you have installed in your tow vehicle.

Refer: Best Brake Controller Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

It’s also vital to have the manufacturer’s instructions. If ever you have neglected the manufacturer’s papers, you can look it up online and google your brand and model number.

However, it’s crucial not to lose your manufacturer’s instructions in the first place. This is in case your make and model is not on the internet.

Start reading the instructions and incorporate what you have learned. To elaborate it, merge your manufacturer’s instructions with the step by step guide below and start adjusting your trailer brake controller

How To Adjust Trailer Brake Controller 

  1. Connect the tow vehicle to the trailer.
  2. Locate the trailer’s electrical connection.
  3. Plug the said connection to the receptacle.
    Note: The receptacle is located close to the trailer hitch of the tow vehicle’s rear part.
  4. Set the manual lever on the brake controller.
  5. Drive at about 45mph for approximately a quarter mile.
    Note: This is to warm the trailer brakes. Also, ensure you tow the rig in a dry and flat area such as a deserted road or a large parking lot.
  6. Keep your engine on and running.
  7. On the brake controller, turn the power control knob to mid-point setting.
  8. Slow down and drive the rig to about 25mph.
  9. Now release the accelerator.
  10. On the front of brake controller, slide the manual control lever to the maximum.
  11. Observe how your trailer brakes.
  12. Turn UP the power knob to the next setting – if the trailer braking wasn’t enough to slow down the whole rig.
  13. Turn DOWN the power lever to the next setting – if the trailer braking is too much such as when the trailer wheels skidded or locked up while test driving.
  14. Repeat the driving and braking test as much as necessary.
  15. Continue adjusting the trailer brake (up or down) until such time the entire trailer rig slows down smoothly.
    Note: Make adjustments until there are no more wheel skidding or locking up, while having enough braking intensity to slow the whole rig down effectively.
  16. Test-drive the rig again. But this time use the tow vehicle’s brake pedal to slow down and stop the rig.
  17. Make adjustments and further fine-tunings to the brake controller’s power knob.
    Note: Do adjustments until you’re comfortable and confident enough that the trailer already brakes in coalesce with the tow vehicle. The two braking systems must do their share in slowing and stopping the whole rig without skidding and grabbing.

Tips on Adjusting Brake Controller

Observe The Weight Of The Load

There are other factors to consider when making adjustments on the trailer brakes. For instance, the weight of the trailer (if the load changes) and the weather may force you to adjust the trailer brakes with the brake controller’s power knob.

A heavier load means you have to increase the power. Moreover, a slippery road due to heavy rains is an indication you should reduce the braking power.

The Gravel Life Hack

It has been stated in the step-by-step guide to test-drive on a plane pavement like a huge parking lot. However, there is actually a life hack that is more effective in determining how well your trailer brakes. If available, do your initial test in a gravel lot.

Driving on a gravel surface will make it more obvious if your trailer locks up because of the skid marks.

You’ll also hear the sound of the gravel whenever you skid. This gives you a clear indication that you need to tweak some adjustments again. Do the steps above until satisfied. 

You might also like: Top 10 Car Summer Maintenance Tips Before Have A Long Journey

Conclusion

Knowing how to adjust trailer brake controllers is a very important knowledge to master because who else is capable of adjusting your own trailer but you alone. Learn these steps by heart and put them into good use. 

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