NAPA Auto Parts Genuine Parts Company
8 Fairfax St SE
Leesburg,  VA  20175
(703) 777-2055
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Electric Brake Controllers & Actuators

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Brake System for Trailers

You've set up your rig for some serious hauling! Maybe you're gearing up for an epic adventure and you're itching to hit the road. Before you go anywhere, make sure you've got all the tools needed for a safe, compatible connection between your tow vehicle and payload. Trailer braking systems vary, which means you may need additional trailer accessories like an electric trailer brake controller before you can get going.

When it comes to trailer safety, functional brakes are nonnegotiable. While some vehicle brakes can stop a trailer on their own, a heavy payload or an electrical system requires the help of a brake controller. Always inspect your trailer brake system's condition, capacity and limitations before leaving the driveway.

Types of Trailer Brakes

The two main types of trailer brakes are surge (or hydraulic) brakes and electric brakes. There are also emergency brakes, which are powered through a breakaway switch, which can detect if your trailer detaches from your tow vehicle.

Surge brakes operate separately from your vehicle using hydraulic power. They rely on slower momentum and weight from the trailer to perform the stop. But most trailers use electric brakes, which harness power from your vehicle's brake system to stop your trailer. It's important to know that a trailer with electric brakes won't operate without a brake controller, a device that uses electrical circuits to sense changes in momentum and proper brake timing.

Types of Trailer Brake Controllers

The two main types of electric brake controllers are time-delay and proportional (or inertia-based) controllers. Time-delay controllers are ideal for the occasional tower as they are adjustable, budget-friendly and easy to install. Proportional controllers are trickier to assemble, but provide great braking efficiency and versatility for those frequent and heavy-duty towers.

Electric brakes are linked to your towing vehicle through a wiring harness, so it's important to check the connection with a circuit tester if you haven't towed anything lately. Make sure there is no corrosion or fraying on your wires and your brake controller is calibrated. If you go for a time-delay controller, make sure to read How to Install an Electronic Trailer Brake Controller so that you don't miss a step!

Whether you're towing some jet-skis, loading up for a road trip or hauling materials from one jobsite to the next, NAPA carries all the parts needed to ensure safe and reliable trailer braking. Shop brake lock systems, controllers, wiring harnesses, replacement cables and pins on NAPAOnline.