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Open Roads Forum  >  Beginning RVing

 > Do I need a brake controller?

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JustThePilot

Northern Illinois

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Joined: 10/31/2002

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Posted: 11/11/02 09:06pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've seen various people praise Prodigy and Jorden brake controllers. What do these do? I've go the "towing package" on my tow vehicle and it includes a 7-pin connector that hooks up to the trailer and I was assuming that this also controlled the trailer brakes. Would I benefit from using one of these aftermarket controllers? Thanks.

klewisd

West Michigan

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Posted: 11/11/02 09:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Even though your truck has a towing package, this does not include a brake controller. You will have to buy and install a brake controller. This is an electronice device that sends a signal, when you apply the brakes, through the 7 pin connector to the trailer's brakes. If you have a newer vehicle, the brake controller just plugs in to a recepticle in the fuse block under the dash board.


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Melanie

Tyler, Texas

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Posted: 11/12/02 05:17am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Unless you are towing a small pop-up, or a 13' Casita or Burro, yes, you do need a brake controller. You can get one installed for between $200 and $300, depending on brand. Your trailer has brakes, but they do not work unless you have the controller. Very important.

Happy camping!
Melanie


'92 Terry Resort 24' TT
'02 Dodge 1/2 ton 5.9L Quad cab with tow pkg and synthetics throughout.
"Camping restores my sanity. My friends say I should do it more often."

csg11

Cincinnati

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Posted: 11/12/02 06:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yup, you probably need a brake controller. How about the rest of your hitch equipment? How big is the trailer? What hitch and sway control. Let these guys know if this forum can help as there is some really good expertise out there and they like to help. Welcome aboard.
Gary

cmoehle

San Antonio, TX

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Posted: 11/12/02 07:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JustThePilot, welcome to Open Roads!

You may or may not need a brake controller.

First, tow packages usually provide just the wiring from dash to somewhere under the truck. Part of that wiring is for a brake controller.

Second, as Melanie is pointing out, whether you need a brake controller or not depends on how heavy the towable is. Legally at a certain weight and above state laws require trailers to have brakes, in which case you'll need the controller to apply them. Here are two places that list state laws: RVAdvice.com and RVSafety.com. I cannot vouch for accuracy so you might want to check with your Illinois DOT or DPS.

Finally, if you do need a brake controller, with the tow package wiring, installing either the Prodigy or Jordan should be fairly easy. Not sure about the Jordan, but you can pickup a Prodigy for $100-$125.


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wittmeba

Virginia

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Posted: 11/12/02 07:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JustThePilot,

Your first question should be "Does my trailer have brakes?" (short term if you have a trailer) or "Will I tow a trailer with brakes?" (long term). Once you know the answer to this, then you know whether you need a brake controller or not. If you dont have a trailer and dont plan to pull one in the immediate future, you dont need to worry about this right now. But keep the package of items (usually small baggie in the glove box) for your future needs.

Assume the mfg of the trailer knows the law regarding weight/loads requiring brakes unless the trailer is home made.

If the trailer connector is a flat 4 pin connector, it doesnt have brakes. These are used by small utility trailers from rental yards.

On trailer that have brakes, the pin connector will likely be a 6 or 7 pin round connector. You will also see wires at the brake drums.

If your trailer has brakes, then, Yes you will need a controller.

Trailer brakes are electric - magnets. The brake controller provides power to these magnets in a controlled manner initated by depressing the brake pedal. This lets the driver concentrate on just driving in a normal manner whether towing or not.

The two top controllers (if you need one) are Jordan Ultima 2020 and Tekonsha Prodigy. If you are mechanically handy, you may like the Jordan. Otherwise, go with the Prodigy.

Flattop

Topeka, KS

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Posted: 11/12/02 05:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

justthepilot: Prodigy. Why, I'm a newbie this year. Didnt know much. People here recommended the Prodigy or Jordan 2020. I went with the Prodigy but could have easily bought the Jordan.

Prodigy. I like it. It stops my 5th wheel very smoothly. Im sure the Jordan does the same.

FlatTop

F-250 SD, V-10
Forest River Wildcat

Tzman4

Mesa, AZ

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Posted: 11/12/02 05:52pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are knew to the 5er realm. Is there anything wrong with the control from Draw Tite, ie:,(Activator)? We are using it on a 3 axle.

*This Message was edited on 12-Nov-02 05:54 PM by Tzman4*



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Highbeam

South Puget Sound, Washington

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Posted: 11/12/02 09:23am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

On my 98 chev 1/2 ton my manual states that towing any weight in excess of 1000 lbs requires trailer brakes.

Also the only wiring provided with the "tow package" for this vehicle was the bundle for the seven pin connector. Part of this bundle was a blue wire for the brake controller to send juice to the 7-pin connector. The rest is pretty simple though.

JIMMY034

Springville, NY (S. of Buffalo)

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Posted: 11/12/02 03:06pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, you NEED a brake controller. A trucks towing package only consists of item such as the hitch, wiring harness/plug, tranny cooler etc. But just like you have to buy a weight distribution hitch, you must also equip the truck with the brake controller. Prodigy is the best one I've ever had!

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