Any vehicle you tow behind your RV or truck should have its own braking system. It prevents putting strain on your primary brakes and reduces the stopping distance; hence, keeping you safe at all situations. Therefore, investing in the best towed vehicle braking system is the right way to ensure your safety as well as your vehicle’s safety.
For those who already understand the importance of a towed vehicle’s braking system and are looking to invest in one, we have discussed all in this in-depth towed vehicle braking systems’ review article.
- Style: There are many types of towed vehicle braking systems that you can choose, from progressive to direct. Progressive brakes help avoid skidding with their gradual application of pressure, while direct brakes provide proper alignment for precision.
If you’re a heavy trailer user, opt for the proportional braking system for towed vehicles like the Ready Brake system because you can hit it hard to stop in an instant.
- Compatibility: Your brake system should be compatible with your vehicle to work. If not, it may require an additional adapter, as is usually the case for a Jeep flat tow brake system.
- Alert System: Since you’ll be towing a vehicle from behind, you’ll need an LED or dash monitor for guidance. It would be even better to integrate your flat tow braking system monitor with an audio alert. This system is essential, as it will ensure precise control and better safety on the road.
I have selected some of the most popular braking systems available in the market and reviewed them for you.
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Table of Contents
Top-Quality Towed Vehicle Braking System Reviews
Below I share my personal experience with some of the best towed vehicle braking systems in the market.
1. Blue Ox BRK2019 3 Brake System
The first product on my list is a braking system that is highly reliable for your truck and camper by Blue Ox. I was expecting the product to be a bit heavy, but it is stunningly lightweight. So it became extremely easy for me to carry around.
Considering that the system is entirely electrical, there is no need to fuss with a hose or pump, which always has a risk of leakage. So, this makes the entire brake system well contained and synchronized. Since these brakes come with plug and play connectors, they offer effortless installation.
With this electronic device, you can rest assured about safety. It offers automatic check and control throughout the set-up and towing process, making sure the brake pressure is stable for fast response.
Moreover, with an electric braking system, you have to spend less on maintenance as opposed to a conventional braking system. This portable RV braking system comes with a two years of manufacturer’s warranty, which reassures of its quality build and reliable performance.
Another thing I liked about this system is that it merely took a couple of seconds to get to full brakes when I did a test run. Instead of giving sudden jolting that can result in a lot of damage, the vehicle’s brake system is steady and does not give any surprises. This is important for the safety of people who are on board.
A great integration in this product is the in-coach controller or remote controller, which has an extended range frequency of up to 53 feet. Moreover, it comes with an effective supercapacitor that offers sufficient backup and more energy storage. The faster-charging feature also makes it a great product.
2. NSA RB-4000 EV Brake
The next brake system on my list is by NSA RV products. This RB-4000 EV brake comes with a strong design that ensures durability and high performance. It is considered one of the reliable braking systems available in the market.
The brake is designed to function on a hitch-mounted tow bar or tow vehicle. The system is entirely mechanical and does not feature even a single electrical component.
On the test drive, it offered proportional and instant braking for my towed vehicle. Additionally, you will also get a dash light that illuminates when you apply brakes on your towed vehicle. It holds the towing capacity of up to 8000 lbs and weighs around 20 lbs.
With this product, you will get a DL-300 dash monitor system, ReadyBrake, conduit bracket, brake tie brackets, towed vehicle internal cable sling accompanied by conduit, and conduit floor mount, and instruction guide. You will get everything in this package, so you do not have to buy anything separately.
The dash monitor system enables you to monitor the towed vehicle braking system from the comfort and safety of your RV. And, lastly, the product comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer warranty so you can be assured of its quality.
3. Roadmaster 8700 Braking System
When it comes to choosing a powerful braking system, safety is the most important feature. And, Roadmaster 8700 is one of the top-tier systems to consider in this aspect. Roadmaster is one of the leading manufacturers, so I had great expectations on their product, and I was not disappointed.
This vehicle’s brake system is very compact, easily placed under the driver’s seat, and can be set-up as a flat tow brake system. The Roadmaster invisibrake braking system generates sufficient air as well as a vacuum, which is capable of optimally energizing the brakes of your towed vehicle.
Coming to the installation, I referred to the instruction guide, which is quite detailed and easy to understand. Read it thoroughly, and you will have no trouble setting it up. The adjustment process is extremely straightforward, and you do not have to fuss with any on and off switch.
The vehicle’s brake system comes with an LED monitor, which can be attached to the dash of your vehicle. You can connect the audio signal circuit board to this LED monitor in order to get an audio alert as well. During my test drive, I gauged the brake, and to say I was satisfied would be an understatement.
The progressive braking system is extremely well-designed, and if you need to stop the vehicle immediately, it engages the pedal and swiftly ramps up the braking. One of the best features of this product is while towing, the battery is getting charged.
4. Hopkins 3 Towed Vehicle Brake System
Next on my list is a versatile product by Hopkins that I got to try recently. The 3 Towed vehicle brake system comes with all the right features that you would expect in a braking system. The supplement braking system ensures that braking action between the RV and the vehicle being towed remains proportionate.
The system is sleek and lightweight, which makes the installation process less complicated. It is also easier to move the product from one vehicle to another.
During my test drive, I found the brakes to be instant and swift. Moreover, it is integrated with proportional braking technology. This adds to the exceptional braking performance that I experienced.
Another thing that I was very impressed by was the one-touch startup button. You do not have to fuss with multiple settings; just push a button, and you are all set to go. There is one cord that offers braking power as well as a breakaway. The product is designed to work on all types of vehicles that include hybrids.
5. Roadmaster 9160 Braking System
This 9160 Brakemaster is another great braking system offered by Roadmaster. To begin with, the installation was easy and straightforward. The guide was thoroughly laid out, so I did not have to waste the whole afternoon trying to figure out how the system works.
The real-time brakes are truly impressive. It performed well on the dry road and also did exceptionally well on the wet road when you need sudden stops.
Another great thing about the product is that you can easily connect, remove, and reconnect the cylinder when you need to use it in your car. It saves a lot of time and effort as it comes out quickly in comparison to the permanent system. Moreover, the actuator is compact and sports a lightweight design, so it won’t take much space under the seat.
The most popular part of the whole braking system is the monitor alert. The LED monitor is added to the brake light switch of the towed vehicle, and when the lights of your vehicle go on and off, the notification light responds in the same manner. This is very important as it notifies you whether or not the brake pedal has been pressed.
6. Blue Ox BRK2016 Braking System
If you are looking for a smooth and safe riding experience, then the BRK2016 braking system by Blue Ox is a product to consider. I had used another Blue Ox braking system before and was always satisfied. So I had good expectations for this product.
Contrary to the predecessor, the 2016 model is sleeker and more compact. Additionally, the integrated carrying handle faciles the moving of the device from one vehicle to another.
The system works in perfect sync; the brake pressure you apply on the RV perfectly matches the amount of force on the towed vehicle. This is possible because of the internal sensor and a faster actuator.
The brake system has also received a major safety upgrade, which helped in excessively reducing the shock as well as wear. So even if you are making a sudden stop, you do not have to worry about safety. Moreover, the swift mechanism also ensures that not much strain is placed on the brake, thereby protecting from further damage.
You will have no problem with the installation of the system, even if it is your first time. The instruction guide is thorough and well laid out with pictures, so you probably will have no problem with it. When you plug in the power cord, a green colored indicator light will lit to indicate the system is running.
There was no need for any adjustments on the Cherokee, which also made the set-up easier and faster. My previous model took an entire day to get properly installed.
Another great feature of this product is the coach monitor, which is reliable and allows you to adjust sensitivity settings. This is more convenient to use as you can make changes in the brake with just a push of a button. The wireless remoting system works well to change the backlight of its screen.
Along with that, it features an alerting system that generates a warning alert and then displays a default message in breakaway circumstances. I was also impressed by the efficiency of the supercapacitor battery, making sure the brakes always have adequate power to function properly.
7. Roadmaster 9400 Brake System
Roadmaster is one favored company when it comes to the brake system. I have personally tried multiple brake systems from it and have left completely satisfied. Similar is the case with their 9400 brake system. Weighing 30 lbs, it is a lightweight product that is easy to carry around.
It automatically increased or decreased the braking pressure, matching the proportion of the motorhome. This means that the brakes are applied at the same time and with the same intensity in both vehicle. Even brakes offer full emergency braking whenever you need it without causing any wear on the brake.
The brake system comes with an LED display, which allows you to have better control over the braking and towing. Moreover, the constant self-diagnostic testing ensures that the RV toad braking system continues to perform at its optimum capacity. It also comes with low battery protection that allows you to run the vehicle for extra time.
What To Know Before Buying A Towed Vehicles Braking System
Choosing the right braking system will make a significant difference to your vehicle brake system and a significant difference to the safety of you and your vehicle. Below I have laid out some factors that you should consider while choosing the braking system:
A Portable tow car brake system makes it easier for you to set up and carry from one vehicle to another. So if you have to tow more than one vehicle, then portability is an important factor to consider. A portable towed vehicle is convenient as you do not have to pay extra money.
Many of the tow braking systems are easy to install. All you have to do is place it near the driver’s seat on the floorboard, connect the arm to the brake pedal, and set up the braking power. The only drawback of portable systems is that it gets damaged quicker when moving around a lot.
- Permanent Braking Systems for Towed Vehicles
Permanent braking systems as the name suggests once installed stay there and are typically hard-wired to the towed vehicle and in some cases, also to the vehicle doing the towing. These systems can be mounted in a way that it is out of the way. And once you start the device, you do not have to do anymore controlling.
Considering that the device needs to wire into mechanical and electrical systems, the costs associated with the installation can be higher. But it is a one-time investment.
There must be an adequate mechanism that controls the reaction of the brake. The brakes must be prepared to offer optimum power to stop at a safe stopping distance so that it is able to ramp up the braking pressure automatically without any input from you. Additionally, it should be able to decrease the pressure itself while avoiding pressure on the brake.
- Driver Signal
Another important feature of the tow vehicle brake system is the capability to control while driving the main vehicle through a dashboard signal or any other kind of signal. You should always be aware of whether or not the brakes are active and the kind of pressure they are putting. Moreover, the brakes should also be able to account for the brake lights of the towing vehicle.
- LED Display
Generally, the auxiliary braking system comes with some type of LED display. It is a useful feature as it informs you regarding the status of the system and other important data, including diagnostic tools. When you are aware of things such as output current, output voltage, or warning system alerts, you can better identify the issue and take rectifying measures sooner.
There are LED diagnostic displays that feature various colors and have multiple language options for better use. Make sure you choose a display system that is easier to understand and comes with user-friendly menu options.
- Choosing Between Hydraulic and Air Brakes
Not all brake systems for towed vehicles work in a similar manner since most of the brake systems come with hydraulic brakes. But some of them need compressed air to power the brakes of larger and heavier vehicles. Therefore when looking for a brake system, make sure that it works with the brake type that is integrated into the vehicle that you will be using to tow.
- When Choosing Progressive Brake
These types of braking systems for towed vehicles function only when the brakes of the towed vehicle are engaged. The auxiliary braking system worked when it determined that the vehicle’s brakes had been activated. The longer you press on the brakes, the longer the auxiliary brakes will sustain.
This is executed to protect the brakes from overheating. The main drawback of using this system is that it only depends on the signal offered by the main brakes. However, it is often inaccurate as the system calculates or estimates the declaration of your vehicle.
- Check the Legal Compliance
Prior to deciding on a braking system, it is better to check the legal regulations for the state where you reside. This is because states like New York need a braking system if the weight of the towed vehicle exceeds 1000 pounds. Additionally for Michigan, the weight limit stands at 15,000 pounds.
For that reason, it would be safer to be compliant with the law of the state you live in and the state you are traveling to.
- Be Clear About the Warranty Information
Generally, the braking systems for towed vehicles come with a warranty. The period of warranty can stand at one year or be a lifetime warranty.
It is better to buy a supplemental braking system that features a warranty. This is because damages to these systems can prove to be very expensive and a warranty will help you save such costs.
Additionally, you should also check the warranty information on the installation of the braking system as well. Based on the model you select, certain things can void the manufacturer’s warranty, and you have to take it to certain professionals.
- Compatibility with Vehicle
Some towed car brake systems might not be compatible with particular models. So check whether or not this specific information is provided by the manufacturer. While vehicles of Chevy, Jeep Wrangler, Honda, etc. are compatible with brake systems, you might need to purchase an additional adapter for properly setting up.
What Are The Types Of Towed Vehicle Braking Systems
The following are the common types of towed vehicle brake systems –
- Proportional Braking System
These systems work together with the towing vehicle. If you slam the vehicle hard, then the brakes on the towed vehicle will also slam hard. This is accomplished via a sensor known as an accelerometer, which senses how slowly or quickly your truck or RV is decelerating.
Then the same force is aligned to decrease the speed of the toad. In multiple cases, the proportional braking system must be set with the adjusted pressure to the weight of the vehicle that is being towed. Once that is set, there is no need for further adjustments.
One of the major challenges of this braking system is that it does not work efficiently with hybrids featuring power-assisted brakes.
- Progressive Braking Systems
These systems are more basic and function only when the brakes of the towing vehicle are engaged. The supplemental brakes are added as quickly as the system gets a signal that the towing vehicle’s brakes have been engaged.
The longer the brakes are pressure, the higher will be the pressure that this system puts on the toad. Additionally, sensors assert brake pressure to a particular point and then release after a specific time. This is done to protect the system from getting overheated.
These RV tow vehicle brake systems are more precise in their functioning. Although it has to predict how much braking is needed, the direct method does eliminate the guesswork and offers proper alignment. This is because it is connected directly to the brake of the vehicle, which you are using to tow. This implies that there is no issue of under-baking or over-braking.
When installing a direct braking system, it is better to refer to a manufacturer’s guidelines. This is because tapping into the brake lines may void the warranty on certain vehicles. The installation of this system can be complicated and require some mechanical skills.
Benefits Of The Towed Vehicle Braking Systems
If you want to transport a vehicle from one place to another safely, then investing in a braking system can be worthwhile. Here are some of the main advantages of towed vehicle braking systems
- To Prolong the Brake Life of Motorhomes
Depending solely on the main braking system while towing vehicles every time is not a good idea. This tends to generate wear on the brakes easily. If one of them malfunctions while you are on the road, it will be difficult for you to call for help and get the issue fixed. But when you have a toad brake system, you can make sure that the brakes of your main vehicle are working properly as there is less pressure on them.
If you wish to carry another vehicle through a tow dolly, then you would definitely need a good braking system so that you can ensure that it stops at the exact moment when you step on the brake. And this is what a toad braking system works to provide. It is dangerous to drive on a rough road or a freeway relying only on the main brake system. The heavyweight of the vehicle will certainly impact the performance and increase the chances of mishaps.
- Ensure the Quality of the Tow Bar
When you invest in a tow bar, you have to ensure that it’s maintained in top condition. One of the most suitable ways to ensure that it does not sustain damage is by buying a braking system for towing your vehicle. Without a proper braking system, the tow bar absorbs the momentum of the vehicle that is being towed. And when this happens constantly, the tow bar will eventually bend, which will compromise its performance.
- To Protect The Main Vehicle’s Warranty
Warranty is imperative when you own a motorhome or RV. Other than collisions and physical damages, the warranty takes the burden of a lot of expenses.
Additionally, if the brakes of your vehicle start to malfunction due to inadequate deceleration or an accident due to the vehicle or its impact, then the damage is not covered by the policy providing company. A good-quality braking system can help you in preventing this from happening.
- Adherence to the Law
Across the United States, people use dinghy towing brake systems; similarly, they would consider the weight limit required on a motor vehicle or RV. If you own a tow bar or tow dolly, you must install an adequate braking system to safely and legally travel across the country.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do towed vehicle braking systems work?
Towing braking systems generally feature breakaway kits and battery-powered electronics that detect when the vehicle which is being towed has been separated from the main vehicle.
The battery sends power to the brake of the unhitched vehicles, slowing down the runaway vehicle and mitigating any potential damages to the driver or the drivers. It is installed in a towed vehicle and connected to the towing vehicle electrically. Additionally, if you want to tow a vehicle through a motorhome, ensure that you do not avoid the procurement.
Who makes the top-tier towed vehicle braking system?
When it comes to choosing the top-rated towed vehicle braking system in the market, the brand is an important aspect to consider. And below are some of the most trusted brands to rely on to purchase a braking system for towing vehicles –
- Blue Ox
Blue Ox in the year 1991 was acquired by Automatic Equipment, and since then it has been a leading company in the aftermarket towing industry. Along with braking systems, the brand also manufactures carriers, hitches, and tow bars.
This company was established in 1970 and had been constructing aftermarket towing products for the last 50 years. They manufacture all their products at their dedicated plant located in Vancouver, Washington.
This company started 70 years ago as a manufacturer of agricultural products and later shifted to making motor accessories. Over the years, it has expanded into recreational vehicles and manufacturing brake systems.
This company was started out in 1953 in Emporia, KS. It is one of the oldest and the most popular companies that produce towing electrical products. The company envisions making the towing experience of the consumers safer and more efficient.
What are the 3 main braking systems on a lorry?
The three main braking systems on a lorry include –
- Service Brake
The service brake in a lorry is the main braking system. It is generally controlled by foot and separated mechanically from the emergency brake or parking brake. This can include drum or disk brakes or both depending on the system.
It is generally hydraulic and depends on hydraulic pressure to launch the braking system. The general service brake harnesses a bias where most of the braking force is applied on the front brakes. This maintains the control of the vehicle under heavy braking requirements.
- Secondary Brakes
These brakes are designed to work when the primary brake fails to launch. It is generally located at the front axle and is controlled by a hand lever. This type of brake also includes a piston that is used to clamp a brake rotor against a steady reaction plate.
- Emergency Brake
An emergency brake is used when the vehicle is in a stationary position. It comes with a cable connected to the wheel brakes and then further integrated to a pulling mechanism. Typically, parking brakes are operated on the rear wheels to reduce the traction when applying the brake.
How do you set up and use a towed vehicle braking system?
Some of the braking systems are difficult to install. The challenge of installing a towing braking system mainly depends on how often you change your motor homes. Some people continue to shop for different RVs, buying and selling for better units. But there are also people who are content with their investment and plan to use the RV for a long time.
If you change your RV frequently, I would suggest portable braking systems as it would be easier to switch between multiple vehicles. Moreover, the installation process of these systems typically takes one to two hours. The main task is to adjust the pedal clamp on the brake pedal of the RV, plugging into the wiring harness, and add the power cord into a proper power source.
On the other hand, if you only tow a single vehicle behind your RV, then a direct braking system would be more adequate. It is directly connected to the braking system of your RV; therefore, the installation process is more time-consuming and demanding. Also, having a direct braking system does not make the whole setup permanent, and it would be difficult to move the system from one place to another.
Is a towed vehicle braking system removable?
Yes, unlike permanent models, an automobile braking system can be removable when it’s a portable or wireless unit. This is because such products allow you to detach the systems and install them on other vehicles.
Here are the other pros and cons of wireless brake controller.
These portable models are lightweight and easy to install since they don’t require any cutting or drilling. They’re also cheaper than hard-wired braking systems. In addition, they allow you to switch between vehicles with ease.
However, wireless brake controllers have a limited range and can interfere with signal-jamming devices. Their limited battery life can also pose an issue.
Are air brakes better than electric brakes?
An air brake system is better for flat towing large and heavy trailers. It has adequate power to stop bulky vehicles short. This makes air brakes safer for RV towing.
Electric brakes are ideal for lightweight applications. They’re easy to use because they work independently using a brake controller. While these brakes are cheaper than the air brake models, they need an expensive battery to work and costly repairs.
How much can you tow without brake controller?
It depends on the area where you’re towing. In North Carolina and New York, you can tow without a brake controller if the trailer is lighter than 1,000 lbs.
However, in other regions, such as North Dakota and or New Jersey, brake controllers are always required when towing, regardless of weight. Therefore, it would be best just to check the local regulations to decide the best course of action.
How much does a whole new brake system cost?
A whole new brake system may cost around $800-$1,500. With this kit, you’ll get everything, including the operating unit, hardware, and connection assembly.
If you want a cheap flat tow brake system, you can find some good used flat tow brake system units in auto parts and surplus.
There are a plethora of aspects that an RV owner should know when investing in a towed vehicle’s braking system prior to making a purchase decision. Having proper knowledge allows you to buy the right product and eliminates the chances of any mishaps to you or your vehicle. And when you search for a towed vehicle braking system, there will be a lot of options available.
This abundance of options can become confusing and overwhelming. To make things easier for you, I have listed and reviewed some of the best towed vehicle braking system available in the market. Additionally, I have also added additional information that will make your buying process easier and more efficient. Hence, just go through these vehicle braking system reviews and make a perfect buying decision.
Okay, so I’m Philip Lopez. I join Riverside Trailer as an editor, where I will be doing research for both content and reviews. I contribute to studies aimed at understanding the most typical problems encountered by RVers on the road. I also keep up with the newest RVing gadget innovations so that I can promptly evaluate and recommend the best options.