Top 6 Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems In 2020 Review

Brake lights are not a new idea. They were first used way back in 1905. They started to become law in 1928. You would think that having an effective way or warning people that you were about to brake was only common sense. Not to some people evidently. Regulatory control and requirement to have brake lights didn’t really arrive until the 1960s.

Two lights on either side of the car that glowed red became law. Interestingly, there are some parts of the world where people do not even have lights, let alone brake lights. The ‘third’ brake light arrived in 1986. Of course, you might be towing a trailer or anything else behind you. Drivers behind really do need to know when you are slowing or stopping.

Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems

6 Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems On The Market Reviews

  1. Reese Towpower 8508700 Compact IQ Brake Control – Best Mid-Range Towed Vehicle Braking System
  2. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control – Best Value for the Money Towed Vehicle Braking System
  3. CURT 51140 TriFlex Electric Trailer Brake Controller – Best Budget Towed Vehicle Braking System
  4. Roadmaster 8700 Invisibrake Hidden Power Braking System
  5. Blue Ox BRK2016 Patriot Ii Braking System – Most Versatile Braking System
  6. Roadmaster 9160 Brakemaster Towed Car Braking System – Best Premium Braking System

When you are towing a trailer or anything else behind you, there are braking systems for towed vehicles to help other drivers know your next move.

So, let’s have a look at the Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems and find the perfect one for you…

1 Reese Towpower 8508700 Compact IQ Brake Control – Best Mid-Range Towed Vehicle Braking System

One thing that cannot be avoided when towing anything is the stress placed on the vehicle that is doing the pulling. That stress increases proportionately as the weight of the load increases.

This Towed Vehicle Braking System from Reese, the Towpower, goes some way to alleviating that stress. Its big design feature is that it offers proportional braking. This is an advanced system that will judge the amount of braking power needed at any one time.

When it comes to performance…

It is obvious that the more weight, the more will be the braking pressure needed. This will adjust this when necessary. It will apply a boost when you are towing heavier loads. This will allow you to stop safely. As the vehicle decelerates, the correct amount of pressure is applied.

There is an LED indicator that will check the status of the system to make sure the system is active and operational. This is mounted on the in-car display that is mounted on the dashboard. It can be mounted wherever you choose for easy visual sight.

What else did we like?

It is quite a small unit and doesn’t take up much space. The braking system will close down when the ignition is turned off, so there is no accidental drain in the battery. This system will operate with one, two, or three axle trailers. There are easy instructions available for installation.

A good system, but the build quality is a little flimsy in places. Reasonable price point, though, which makes it an attractive option.

Reese Towpower 8508700 Compact IQ Brake Control
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Has a proportional braking system.
  • Easy to fit with an unobtrusive dashboard fitment.

Cons

  • Has a rather flimsy build in places.

2 Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control – Best Value for the Money Towed Vehicle Braking System

This is a nice looking braking system from Tekonsha. The company was established in 1964 but has evolved into specialist manufacturing. The core products of the business are now trailer brakes and brake controllers. And of course, the wiring you will need to fit them.

This braking system has a well-designed dashboard display that is very distinctive with an LCD screen that is easy to read. The screen has options for multiple colors, and it can be set to display in English, Spanish, and French.

On the screen are various diagnostic reports. These include battery condition, output voltage, and output current. There are also warnings for a no-brake malfunction.

What did we like best?

The system is designed to allow you an element of control over what is going on. There is a boost feature that will increase the amount of brake pressure being applied at any one time. There is also a choice of brake modes. You can select either Hydraulic or Electric. There is an electric control that will allow you to use up to four braking axles.

The installation includes a port for a plug and play option. It has a snap-on clip for mounting the unit and removing it when it is not in use.

The absolute minimum…

When the vehicle ignition is turned off, the screen stays active for a further five minutes. It will then turn itself off. There is an absolute minimum of strain on the vehicle battery in this situation and is no cause for concern. It is a good system and one that should be considered as one of the Best Towing Brake Systems.

It is a well-made display, but the control buttons are a little cheaply made and not that easy or effective to use. A reasonable price point for a decent system.

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Pros

  • Nice looking unit at a reasonable price point.
  • Good display screen and with plenty of information and options.

Cons

  • Some of the operating buttons are a little cheaply made and stick sometimes.

3 CURT 51140 TriFlex Electric Trailer Brake Controller – Best Budget Towed Vehicle Braking System

The Curt 51140 is a compact brake controller that is easy to fit. Installation is quick and easy, as it can be plugged directly into your vehicle in minutes. To do this, it takes a plug harness that is specific to each vehicle.

But there’s a catch…

Unfortunately, it is not supplied and is an extra you have to spend more money on. However, the brackets and basic hardware are supplied for fitting without using an external vehicle specific harness.

Once it is installed is an adjustable system that will work with a variety of vehicles. There are nine levels of adjustments that will let you try and match up the individual circumstances of your trailer or its load. It will operate with the majority of trailers on one to four-axle size. That means from two to eight individual brakes, including anti-lock brakes.

Super simple…

The design is simple and is not going to overload your dashboard. It measures only 3.25 by 4 by ⅞ of an inch. There is a digital display for information. It has what Curt refers to as intelligent braking. This detects the motion of the trailer and vehicle and will provide the necessary power to the brakes as is necessary.

This is a system that has had some people remarking that it drains the vehicle battery, which is something to be careful of.

CURT 51140 TriFlex Electric Trailer Brake Controller
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Has some good features built-in.
  • Small and compact internal display unit.

Cons

  • May need extra investment to fit using a vehicle-specific plug-in.

4 Roadmaster 8700 Invisibrake Hidden Power Braking System

The Roadmaster 8700 is a braking system that will use the electrical connections that are already built-in to the vehicle that is being towed. This allows the vehicle to be towed to show its brake lights at the same time as the vehicle pulling. It will operate in nearly any vehicle that has vacuum-powered brakes. It will generate about 100 psi air pressure at its maximum.

What is progressive braking?

This is not what is usually recognized as being a proportional braking system. It is known as ‘Progressive braking.’ This unit will not anticipate or decide on the amount of braking pressure to apply. The maximum level of braking is set in advance.

When the brakes are used, it will increase pressure to the preset level. It seems like it has less control than systems that engage proportional braking methods. The system bypasses your own battery and will recharge the battery on the vehicle being towed. You will need to check that this system will actually work with your vehicle. It does not work with all models.

That is the least of the major worries here…

Firstly, it is not easy to install at all. In fact, if you manage to achieve it once, likely, you will not want to do it again. If you sell your vehicle, then it might be better to sell it with the system in it.

Secondly, the price of this unit would cost out at five or six times the price of some of its competitors with what appears very little real benefits to justify it. Not a system that we could feel comfortable with at all.

Roadmaster 8700 Invisibrake Hidden Power Braking System
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • It will bypass the vehicle battery and charge the battery of what is being towed.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • Difficult to install.

5 Blue Ox BRK2016 Patriot Ii Braking System – Most Versatile Braking System

This system from Blue Ox is an electric system that uses proportional braking design techniques. It will operate on both hybrid and conventional cars and vehicles.

It is unlike most of its competitors in that it has no wires or cables to fit. And it operates using a remote system that is in constant communication with the built-in braking system. It has its own built-in battery, which ensures power is always available and does not drain your vehicle battery. It will also self-calibrate.

Take it anywhere…

There is an LED display on the unit. It is completely portable and has a carrying handle. You should be aware, though, that whilst it is portable, the system does weigh eighteen pounds. Fitting is not a problem as it is, as we said, a portable machine and just easily plugs in for use.

But you should know…

There are some negative issues with this braking system that ought to be mentioned. At this price point, all situations must be considered. One issue it appears to have is that there are times when it doesn’t brake hard enough to stop you. There might be occasions when it is not a comfortable deceleration.

A further issue is that there can be times when the brakes are on in a small measure all of the time.

Check for compatibility…

This is certainly not the cheapest option around. And as it is known not to fit all vehicles, a quick check would be wise to ensure it will fit yours.

Blue Ox BRK2016 Patriot Ii Braking System
Our rating:4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

Pros

  • Electric remote control system requires no wires or cables.
  • Easy to plug in and use.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • There can be issues with the unit over the amount of braking pressure.

6 Roadmaster 9160 Brakemaster Towed Car Braking System – Best Premium Braking System

The Roadmaster 9160 braking system is a proportional braking design. It is connected to the towing vehicles’ main air brake or hydraulic system. The pressure of the system is, therefore, controlled by the pressure in the brake line in the towing vehicle. The system is operated by an air cylinder.

It does not need any special tools for the fitting, but it has its fitting problems. Size and position are one issue. But also the pictures of this braking system show a footplate. That design has now been changed, and the seat bracket for the footplate has to be purchased separately, we understand.

What is a breakaway system?

It has a breakaway system. If the vehicle being towed separates from the main vehicle, the vehicle being towed will brake and stop. There is also a light that monitors the status of the system.

You are then kept informed when the vehicle being towed has its brakes applied. The monitor light will fit on your dashboard. It is compatible with nearly all vehicles, but it is always advisable to check first.

Roadmaster 9160 Brakemaster Towed Car Braking System
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros

  • No tools needed for fitting.
  • Breakaway system fitted.

Cons

  • Can be very awkward to install and it is very expensive.

Do you need a Towed Vehicle Braking system?

Most certainly, you do. Not only for the safety of yourself and other road users but because in many places it is a legal requirement. But there is a little more to it than just that. If you are towing another vehicle or a heavy trailer, braking becomes an issue. It is an issue for control but also for the added strain it will put on your main vehicle’s braking system.

Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems Buying Guide

Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems Review

There are three main types of design.

Proportional

This is a system that synchronizes its braking pattern with the towing vehicle. Brake hard upfront, and the vehicle being towed will do likewise. It operates using a sensor. This senses how fast or slowly you are slowing down and applies the same to the towed vehicle. Sometimes proportional systems have to be set up, But that will usually only be once.

You should be aware that proportional systems are unlikely to work well with hybrid vehicles. They have power-assisted brakes.

Direct

The most accurate and efficient system because it is linked directly to the main braking vehicles system. The installation, though is not easy and may take a mechanic. You should also check your manufacturer’s warranty to ensure you are not making it void.

Progressive

By far the most basic, and of course, the cheapest system. It is a system that relies on estimates. It only operates when it feels the towing vehicle’s brakes are being used.

Things to consider

Do you want a portable system or fixed. Both are available. Portables are usually easier to connect up and can be taken from vehicle to vehicle. They can be damaged by the constant movement between vehicles. Permammet systems are built-in and cannot be moved easily. Sell the vehicle, and you might as well sell the system with it.

What about the visual confirmation of systems in operation. This can be an important feature, and some units have a mountable box with a screen for the dashboard. Finally, a breakaway cable is always a good feature to ensure you have. It is quite a good idea for the vehicle to be towed to be able to apply its brakes independently, especially if it becomes detached from the towing vehicle.

For all of your automotive safety needs…

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So, what are the Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems?

For our choice, we have gone for a basic system. But one that has a lot of very good features. Including a color LED screen that has information in different languages. It is also set at a very attractive price.

Therefore, we have chosen the…

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

This is for us, is the Best Braking System for towed vehicles you can currently buy.

Happy towing.

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