How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller-Best Products Reviewed

How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller

Most of the people spend hundreds of dollars on installing trailer brake controllers.Go to any auto dealer,they will ask for an insane $150-200 just for installing it.Where in reality,it is not a rocket science job at all and you could do it pretty easily on your own.Keep reading,as we are about to guide you in detail, how to install a trailer brake controller and how you can do it sitting in your own garage.


So...You have done a detailed research on Trailer Brake Controller-How they work, you know all about Proportional and Time Delayed trailer brake controller, and guess what after going through multiple sites, reading thousands of reviews and product comparison you have finally got the best trailer brake controller for your truck.

Now comes the toughest part....Installation!!!

We will be there,but before that,let's spend few minutes to understand(or is it brushing up the basics for you?) about trailer brakes.

Trailer brakes are of two kinds.Hydraulic and electric.Hydraulic brakes are pretty much similar to what you have in your vehicle,which works on inertial force.We will not be discussing much about it in this post,but to give you an idea this,this type of brake mainly works when your tow vehicle slows down.So it is mainly for normal day to day can learn more about it by reading this Wikipedia article on Hydraulic Brakes.

But emergency situation demands more than just normal hydraulic trailer brakes.For example,if you brake too hard in a hydraulic trailer brakes, it might cause catastrophic mishaps.One of the very common is known as "whipping".If you are not sure what whipping is the following pic might make sense to you.

Now imagine, you are making a tricky turn and all of a sudden you have to brake hard,what will happen to your trailer?It will take the entire vehicle out of control within a matter of seconds even before you could react and do something about it.This is where electric trailer brake becomes helpful.

Installing a Trailer Brake Controller

Installing a Trailer Brake Controller is not a difficult task.With a little bit of vehicle knowledge,you can easily do it in just about one hour or so.But if you are new in this,you might take a look at some of the Frequently Used Wiring Terms.

To start with,first you have to find a position where you can mount your trailer brake controller.Many people place it under the dashboard and directly above the right leg so that becomes easily accessible i.e you can monitor and control any problem at ease.

Brake controllers consist of four wire which can be  plugged to the braking system's wiring.These are:

  1. Trailer Feed(Usually Blue)-supplies brake power to the trailer connector.
  2. Ground(Usually White)-connects the brake controller to a negative, grounded source.
  3. Brake Switch(Usually Red)-the wire that transfers power once the brake paddle is pressed.
  4. Power(Usually Black)-supplies power to the brake controller.

Etrailer has a very useful chart to match wire colors from the brake controller to your vehicle.

Etrailer has a very useful chart to match wire colors from the brake controller to your vehicle.

Modern vehicles are mostly equipped with a towing package.If that is the case, installing the Brake Control is a comparatively an easy task.In such case,all you need is vehicle-specific brake control wiring adapter which can be directly plugged into your inbuilt vehicle plug.In the absence of towing package or custom adapter a universal wiring harness can be used.In this case, you'll have to splice in the wiring yourself, which is much more complicated than the plug-in.Harness will plug into the controller at one end and the other end(which you have spliced)into the existing wiring on your vehicle.

Additional Tip for Buyers

Vehicle manufacturers keep on changing wiring configurations frequently, so  a circuit tester to verify all connections can be useful.DIY Car Guy has made a great video guide on installing a trailer brake controller.Additionally you can also read Etrailer's complete article on Brake Controller Installation: Starting from Scratch.

Leave a Comment: