Brake Controller...?

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by teh603, Jan 3, 2021.

  1. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    I've heard a lot of "get a seven pin" on here. And "get a brake controller."

    What exactly does a brake controller do? I know some older trailers would have a sense line tied in to the brake light wire, so it could trigger the brakes electrically. As opposed to surge brakes.

    Is there some kind of fancy electronic signalling that trailers need these days, to make their brakes work? How essential are they with a relatively light trailer like a pup?

    (My tow vehicle is probably going to be my '06 Colorado, which natively comes with a 4-pin. Probably, because of a very long story involving it being parked on the street, an idiot not watching where they were driving, and an insurance company- there's just enough uncertainty for me to not put it in my signature).
     
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  2. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. The controller syncs your brake pedal to the electric brakes on the trailer. You brake, the trailer brakes
     
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  3. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    I... guess?

    As opposed to just tying into the brake lights?
     
  4. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    A brake controller is no full on full off ..... it is regulated amount of voltage that varies at needed. The stop lights are full on or off. you don't slam on the brakes every time you go to stop your car, do you.
     
  5. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    So, given normal hydraulic brakes (with or without a vacuum booster) and not some weird "drive by wire" system...

    The only electrical signal you can get will be from the brake light switch, which is still going to be full on/full off. So where is the brake controller getting pedal position? Obviously not hydraulic pressure, since none of the kits I've seen have included a sensor for that.

    Edit: So it looks like they use a pendulum or a timer, instead of actually measuring pedal position or hydraulic pressure? That's... exactly not how I'd do it, but meh.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  6. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Primus IQ brake controller uses accelerometers and a computer to modulate power to the trailer brakes. Itsw very good.
     
  7. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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  8. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    It's good in theory, at least. I'll have to see how something like that actually works, and how reliable it is.

    Cue Star Trek meme: "The more complicated they make the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."
     
  9. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Um, wow. I would think that since they have been around for years and its nessassary to have them on trailors with brakes that they work well. I guess you know best. In theory.
     
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  10. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    Just curious, how would you do it?
     
  11. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    My first guess? Something that measures hydraulic pressure in the brake system. Sets pressure on engine start as "zero" and then applies the trailer brakes proportionally as pressure rises, or flashes a warning light if pressure starts to drop below "zero." Which I'm sorta surprised isn't a standard system given how literally everything has a sensor these days?
     
  12. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    Install a surge system if you don’t trust modern electronics
     
  13. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    I might just do that?

    Also, my truck (assuming I get to use it as a tow vehicle, /moblingrumble) has a tap to directly connect its hydraulic system.
     
  14. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    Surge brakes have their own independent hydraulic system.
     
  15. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    True, but the owner's manual listing I can tap the truck's brake system, means I probably have that as an option as well.

    Again, insurance and body shop allowing.

    I'll be honest, I would trust surge brakes over another electronic system.
     
  16. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what you would gain by tapping your vehicle's hydraulic system.
    Its clear you don't trust electronics. Be careful with your computer, they have been known to take on a life of their own.
     
  17. teh603

    teh603 Member

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    lol

    It's more that I've had car electronics fail too often? So the less I have to add to them, the better. It's not fun getting stranded because an $800 system decided that the Starbucks drive thru was the perfect spot to go out. It's a totally different level of problems than, say, a home PC dying.
     
  18. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    You have a mid size truck and it has a hook up for hydraulic break controller? A few brands did this in the past. Most owners got rid of the intragrated controller and replaced them with aftermarket propotional controllers. Even if you have the option, most needed a secondary break controller that was intagrated already. So built in when you bought it. Unless yours has a intagrated controller built in? Im guessing it dosen't. You still need to controll the breaks independently of the TV, so you would still need a break controller.
     
  19. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Oh ,and a seven pin conecter to signal the brakes. It still needs to get an electronic signal, even if that signal is activated by the hydraulic system.
     
  20. Jimbow

    Jimbow Well-Known Member

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    Does your pup have electric brakes? Basically it's just matching your TV to your pup.
     

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