Curt brake controller reviews

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The Best Trailer Brake Controllers (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

Written By Car Bibles Staff

Published Oct. 2, 2018

If you tow trailers, whether occasionally or regularly, a trailer brake controller is a product you should definitely consider investing in. It’s easily one of the most important towing accessories available, probably second only to the trailer hitch itself.

Why is it so important? Because it helps you to tow a trailer safely, and that, after all, is the most important consideration there is. In this guide we take a good look at some of the best trailer brake controls on the market and then take a deep dive with our in-depth buyer’s guide to assess all the features and design points you need to know about these handy little devices.

The Best Trailer Brake Controller


Our first model comes from Tekonsha, and it is not only a proportional trailer brake control, it is also possibly the best electric brake controller on this list. Just take a look at the features it is packing.

First, it has the bright, easy-to-read LCD display screen. That’s very handy, because this little gadget wants to give you a lot of feedback. We’re talking output currency, battery condition and voltage output among other diagnostic readings. That makes it easy to ensure that the product is working correctly and solving any issues if they do come up by pinpointing the source. 

It is compatible with electric and hydraulic braking modes, it has three languages, it has a brake boost feature, it works on up to four braking axles and you can save the settings for up to five separate trailers. Heck, we bet it would even cook a steak for you if you ask nicely.

Ok, it won’t cook a steak, but it will help you to control the braking on your trailer simply and effectively. It’s not cheap, but you are getting a very effective device for your money here.

Key Features

  • Bright LCD Screen
  • Built in Boost Feature
  • Proportional Style Controller


  • Brand Tekonsha
  • Model 90195
  • Weight 1.45 Pounds


Easy to Use, Large Control Button

Wide Range of Diagnostic Outputs

Customizable Braking Levels


It’s not Cheap

Not a Simple Device


Next up we have a Reese Trailer brake control. A somewhat different model to the one we just looked at, it is a far simpler design of brake controller. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however, with a number of useful design points coming out of that simplicity.

Installation, for example, is extremely straightforward. As a solid-state electronic device there are no orientation issues here – you can hang it upside if the mood takes you. It does come with a useful installation harness, though the wires that run to the plug attachment are a little shorter than those you will find on some other models.

Once in place, set up is as easy as install. Use the big chunky buttons to enter and adjust trailer weight and brake activation speed and away you go. You will pay a little extra for the Reese name, but the guarantee of quality design and high-end construction is probably worth the few extra bucks.

Key Features

  • Plug and Play Model
  • Bright Screen
  • For Use on 12 Volt System Only


  • Brand Reese Towpower
  • Model 8507111
  • Weight 5.6 Ounces


Very Simple to Install

Very Simple to Use


Quite Short Installation Wires

Limited Voltage Use


Our next model of brake controller comes from CURT, and it is a pretty interesting little design. It’s big stand out is the fact it boasts a built in Triple-axis, motion-sensing Accelerometer. Now, an Accelerometer may sounds like the coolest ride at a carnival, but it is also a very handy little gadget to have in your car or truck. 

This built in device measures the acceleration – or deceleration – the controller undergoes inside the vehicle, adjusting the trailer brakes to match. What’s more, as a triple-axis installation it can also tell the pitch that the box is currently at. Why is this important you ask? Because it means the box can tell if the trailer is being hauled up a hill, and when it is coming down the other side. It can the adjust brake power accordingly. If you tow through hilly terrain then this bespoke braking adjustment could be very appealing indeed. 

There are nine levels of braking sensitivity you can adjust to, meaning this is not really a true proportional braking control. It does deliver a lot of interesting features though and for a price tag considerably lower than many full proportional braking control systems. 

Key Features

  • Built in Triple Axis, Motion Sensing Accelerometer
  • Works with Trailer Brake Lights
  • Nine Levels of Braking Sensitivity


  • Brand CURT
  • Model 51140
  • Weight 8.8 Ounces


Senses Adjustments in Speed

Adjusts Braking Power on Hill Climbs & Descents

Very East Set Up – It Does It Automatically!

Great Value for Money


Not a True Proportional Controller

Must be Installed Within Set Angles


Next up we have this device from Draw-Tite. It is a proportional trailer brake control, however it is a more basic model overall than many other proportional models. On the one hand, that’s definitely a good thing. On the other hand it is missing a few of the things you would expect on a premium model.

On the good side we have proportional braking that is a very good value for a more advanced braking system style. You also get the ability to control up to three braking axles, which should be enough for the majority of trailer sizes. It has a really nice snap-in mounting clip that makes it easy to remove the control box when you don’t need it and the plug and play installation is nice and simple.

On the negative side it’s just a little basic. For example, it will try to give you diagnostic information if it detects any errors with the braking system, but that information can be a little hard to read owing to the simple LED screen. It can also struggle a little when braking on loose surfaces like gravel. All in all though given the low price, it’s not a bad little device at all.

Key Features

  • Built in Boost Feature
  • Works Proportionately in Reverse
  • Bright LED Display


  • Brand Draw Tite
  • Model 20191
  • Weight 1.2 Pounds



Well Designed Installation Cradle

Boost is Useful for Heavy Loads


Can Struggle on Gravel

Very Basic Design

Diagnostic Read Outs Can be Difficult to Interpret


This product is essentially a more basic version of the Tekonsha product we feature later. The larger, information rich screen has been swapped out for a simple LED screen, and the buttons have been removed and replaced with a dial. You won’t be able to make the delicate adjustments to brake power or the set up of the device, but you are also saving quite a bit of cash.

In operation, the device is very similar to the one we just looked at earlier. They even have a virtually identical snap in cradle assembly. So all the pros of the item above – that fact it is easy to install and set up, the fact it provides proportional braking – are the same.

That means that the negatives are also identical. While this is a simple and effective device it is also missing some of the bells and whistles of its premium brother. Still, you are getting Tekonsha build and design quality for a good price, so that’s pretty impressive.

Key Features

  • Plug & Play Port
  • LED Screen
  • Boost Feature


  • Brand Tekonsha
  • Model 90160
  • Weight 1.25 Pounds


Easy To Install

Good Value for Money

Basic Version of Previous Tekonsha Product


Hayes is a company that has been putting out aftermarket vehicle tools for quite a while, and this is its entry into the trailer brake control market. It’s a time based model so you are already looking at a lower price than the more high-end proportional models.

As a time-based model it is very to install, and it also require no pre-leveling, which we always like to see in time-based braking control units. It’s simple to set up, it’s simple to use… what more can we say? It works on up to three axles and with both manual and automatic brakes. It’s simple and it’s effective.

One thing that isn’t quite so effective is the attached connector, which is frankly garbage. It has a strange design that means it is compatible with some vehicles types for an easy plug and play installation but not with others. Hayes suggests you buy the model with an additional connector to ensure compatibility. The thing is though that extra adaptor costs some extra money. That pushes the total price up toward that of a more basic proportional brake unit. That really does dent the value for the money of this product.

Key Features

  • No Level Adjustment Required
  • Fast Installation
  • Made in the USA


  • Brand Hayes
  • Model 81760
  • Weight 9.6 Ounces


Very Responsive

Works on up to 3x Axles


Terrible Connector

Low Value for Money


The big stand out with this model is the fact it is so simple to set up and easy to use. The connector is well designed, to allow for true plug and play ability with this model. Once installed, setting brake power is crazy easy, as the device literally has two control buttons. That’s it! Look at the number on the screen. Does that feel like enough braking power? If not, press the plus button. If the power is little too much, press the negative.

Like we said it’s simple but effective. One down side is that manual braking applies full power instead of the percentage of power you’ve set the device too. That’s handy enough for emergency braking, but people who like to manual brake for added control in certain situations may not like that lack of ability to brake to a percentage rather than a full lock.

Key Features

  • Simple Installation
  • Big, Easy to Use Buttons
  • Time Based with Digital Settings


  • Brand Hopkins Towing Solutions
  • Model 47284
  • Weight 10.4 Ounces


Easy To Set Up

Small Unit


Can’t Save Settings

Manual Control is Full Power Only


Here’s a second entry from this fine company because, quite frankly, it is always a pleasure to see a Reese trailer brake controller. This model is very different from anything else that Reese Towpower offers, however. It is in fact far different from any other product that has made its way onto our list.

This is by far the most stripped back model of trailer brake controller we’ve seen. There isn’t even a screen to display settings, and of course no screen means that there are no diagnostic reports. If the brake system isn’t working, it’s up to you to figure it out. We don’t even have buttons. The brake power is instead controlled by an old school looking, tiny plastic slider. The whole device looks old school; in fact, is it just us or does it look like an old VHS player?

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. This is after all a Reese trailer brake control, so it is highly effective in use. It’s also a dream to install and while it may not be the smallest controller on the market, the fact it has no screen or manual control means you can install it just about anywhere you want. It also has the build quality of Reese for an affordable price tag and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call value for the money. Who needs buttons anyway, right?

Key Features

  • Anti-Lock Compatible
  • Time Based Design
  • Slide Adjustment


  • Brand Reese Tow Power
  • Model 74642
  • Weight 9.6 Ounces


Simplest Design on the Market

Amazing Value for Money

An Antique Red Power Indicator


No Screen

Very Stripped Back Design

No Buttons!


We finish up with the third entry from Tekonsha, and one of the more feature-packed models to make the list. That does mean we have a higher price tag, however. What do you get for the price?

Well, a lot of useful features. For one thing it can handle four braking axles, an upgrade in capacity compared to many other models of trailer brake control on the market. In addition, you have a lovely bright screen with blue numbers. That doesn’t really make much difference, it’s just a bit of change from the usual red. That screen also gives back a huge amount of real-time diagnostic information, making it easy to monitor your electrical and braking systems.

It’s not cheap, but it is packing a lot of cool features. It doesn’t really have any standout, killer feature but it also doesn’t have any real weaknesses, either. It’s essentially an upper mid-range product with an upper mid-range price tag that does exactly what it says it will on the box. 

Key Features

  • Digital Display
  • Install at Any Angle
  • Boost Feature 


  • Brand Tekonsha
  • Model 90885
  • Weight 8 Ounces


Handles up to 4 Axles

Gives Great Diagnostic Feedback

Best Trailer Brake Controller Buying Guide

As promised, for we are people of our word, here is our deep dive into the features that you should keep an eye out for when selecting your product. We’ll also chat a bit about why you should use a brake controller, and even take a quick look at how to install your device.

After that we’ll have a try at answering some of the most frequently asked questions about these devices, and then you should have everything you need to make the most of your trailer brake controller.

Camper Travel Trailer at Sunset

What to Look for in an Electric Trailer Brake Controller

A lot of trailer brake control units actually share a pretty limited range of features. That is because these devices are at the same time both complex and simple (stick with us here). They are simple in that they only perform one function, they are easy to install and relatively easy to use. They are complex because they automatically calculate and apply baking pressures, and take a fair amount of responsibility for safe towing.  Here are some of the features that make these simple but complex machines tick.

  • Proportional or Time Based: We will go into the difference between the two types of brake controller in more depth below. Choosing between them is however one of the big decisions that you need to make when you buy your controller.
  • Brake Boost: You will find this more on proportional styles of controller. Basically, if the device senses that heavy braking is happening, such as an emergency stop, it will apply a boost to the braking power. This is usually only about 5% or 10%, but that extra power can be helpful when you are trying to stop a heavy load quickly but safely.
  • Number of Axles: Count how many wheel are on your trailer, divide the number by two and that is how many axles your controller needs to control. Most controllers are going to be fine handling two or three axles. There are some, but not many, that can handle up to four, so keep an eye out for one of them if your trailer has an extra set of wheels.
  • Built in Screen: There are lots of versions without screens, but we only included one in out list. We frankly simply couldn’t not include that one as it was a Reese trailer brake control with a price of under 30 bucks. Broadly speaking though we prefer a controller with a screen. It’s just that little bit easier to set up and it is also useful to get the diagnostics presented back to you on a nice bright, easy to read screen.

Why Should you Use a Brake Controller

  • Safety – Towing a trailer is not as easy as it seems and there is a wide range of safety advice you should adhere too. That is why the extra safety factor of a trailer brake control kit has to be the number one benefit of these devices. When you are hauling a trailer, you are dramatically affecting the braking characteristics of your vehicle. When you apply brake force, a brake controller adds additional braking power by activating the trailer brakes. This adds braking power to all (or most) of the wheels you are controlling (vehicle and trailer) making braking faster and easier.
  • Protect Vehicle Brakes – Without a controller, all the stopping power when you are towing has to be supplied by the brakes on your car or truck. Not only is this very dangerous with heavy towed weights, it also puts a huge strain on your vehicles brake system. Therefore even if you are only towing lighter trailers, it makes sense to hook up a trailer brake controller. It will spread the braking power around the whole rig (car and trailer), putting less pressure on your vehicle brake system.
Camper Travel Trailer

Types of Trailer Brake Controller

There are two types of brake controller, and you will find examples of both on this list. They are Proportional and Time Based.

  • Proportional: More complex and more expensive but arguably the superior system – at least if you are towing regularly enough to justify the outlay. They basically monitor the speed of the vehicle, sensing deceleration rates and applying the brakes on the trailer to match. That provides a bespoke application of braking power for a smooth slowing down process. Installation is a little harder, as they must be installed within a certain angle arc in order to work properly.
  • Time Delayed: The second type of trailer braking control is much simpler. They are also though easier to install (they can be mounted at any angle) and a lot cheaper. They work by allowing you to set a percentage of braking power that is applied to the trailer brakes when you push the vehicle brake pedal. That power is held for a set amount of time. They are much simpler therefore, but don’t supply the same bespoke braking power levels as a proportional control. That can make stopping a little bit jerky instead of nice and smooth.

How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller

One of the good things about trailer brake controllers are the fact that they are very easy to install, provided that you have a relatively modern car. If so, you should find a small panel toward the bottom or side of the steering column. Pop it open and you should find a plug that you simply, well, plug your new brake controller into. Mount the holding bracket with a power drill or even some 3M Command tape and away you go.

It could be an idea to break your multimeter once the controller it installed, to just double check the electrical system is working perfectly.

Best Trailer Brake FAQ:

Q: What is a trailer brake controller?

Without sounding too obvious, a trailer brake controller is one of those devices that really does what it says it will on the box. It says it will control the brakes of your trailer, and that is exactly what it does. It does this to help you control the braking of your vehicle and the trailer when you are towing a load.

Q: How does a trailer brake controller work?

It really depends on the type of controller that you’ve selected. We go into this a little more in depth in the buying guide up top. Broadly speaking though, it is connected to the trailer braking system via the vehicle’s electrical system. It then applies the trailer brakes in tandem with the application of the brakes in the vehicle itself. In other words when you throw you big boot down on the car’s brake pedal, the trailer brake control tells the trailer to brake too.

Our Top Pick 

We called it early, but for us the overall top pick simply has to be the 90195 from Tekonsha. It just packs so much into such a small box it’s hard to go elsewhere with our pick, despite the long list of excellent products that came after it. It’s simple to install, it’s simple to use and above all it is just jammed full of so many useful features. As we mentioned in our initial review, no it’s not cheap. But if you’re going to invest your money you may as well put it into the best trailer brake controller that money can buy and for us that is this one.


  1. How Brake Controllers Work – HowStuffWorks

The Curt Wireless Brake Controller bills itself as a completely wireless, non-invasive brake controller for trailers.

So, what is this brake controller all about? Who could benefit from it? Well, hopefully, we are going to be answering some of your most burning questions on this page.

This is a complete guide to the Curt Wireless Brake Controller.

Curt Company

Curt is an American company that specializes in towing accessories. This includes hitches, electrical systems, and various extra components.

Basically, this is one of the companies that you would go to if you are in the market for something related to towing, whether you are pulling an RV, trailer, or even in the haulage business.

Rest assured, this is a company that makes some good components. That isn’t in any doubt.

What is the Curt Wireless Brake Controller

So, what is the Curt Wireless Brake Controller? Well, it is pretty much what it says on the tin. It is a wireless brake controller.

If you have ever had to have independent brakes on your trailer before, then you will know that getting them installed can be quite cumbersome.

You need to have some pretty serious wiring there, and when you have some wiring, there is just more that can go wrong with the system.

By making a brake controller that needs no wiring, there is less that can go wrong with it. In fact, it can easily be installed by anybody. 

That isn’t all, though. The Curt Wireless Brake Controller will be hooked up to your smartphone via Bluetooth. In fact, this is going to be how you control the vast majority of the features that the brake controller has (more on that in a short while)

Read also: What Is The Average Cost To Install Trailer Brake Controller – (Facts & Numbers)

Features of the Curt Wireless Brake Controller

Alright, so you are going to need to have a smartphone or smart tablet with Bluetooth functionality to use the Curt wireless brake controller. It will need to be either an Android or an iOS device. Obviously, these are going to be the main phone operating systems available. No. It does not work with Windows Phone.

👉 This system is designed to be ‘Plug and Play’ (we will talk about the installation in a short while). This means that you can add it and remove it from your vehicle whenever you want.

Just sync it up to your phone each time you do, and you are good to go.

👉 The Bluetooth signal can stretch up to 50-feet which, of course, you are likely to get nowhere near when you are driving.

The 50-feet is just an extra amount ‘just in case’ there is something which can interrupt the signal of the Wireless Brake Controller.

👉 One of the brilliant things about the Curt Wireless Brake Controller is that you can save tons of settings inside of the app. So, if you are the type of person that regularly switches trailer type or vehicle, then you can put these settings into the device. 

👉 From your mobile device, you will be able to keep an eye on when the brake controller is being used, as well as do a small amount of calibration yourself.

This means that you have a decent amount of customization over how that wireless brake controller is going to be working for you.

Does the Curt Wireless Brake Controller Know When to Brake?

This is one of the bigger questions that we often see asked when it comes to wireless brake controllers.

This is because, with a wired system, the trailer knows when to brake because of all those wires hooked up to the brakes. You don’t get that here. It is wireless, after all.

However, we can assure you that the Curt Wireless Brake Controller knows exactly when you are braking due to a small sensor in the device. This sensor detects a stopping motion.

If the brake controller gets it wrong (which is almost certainly never will), there is a manual override built into the app. This will allow you to correct everything.

Curt Echo Smart Wireless Brake Controller – How it Works >> Check out the video below:

Do You Need the Curt Wireless Brake Controller?

It depends. Obviously, if you are driving a trailer that does not have independent brakes then, no, you do not need to have a wireless brake controller. It would be rather useless for you. It wouldn’t be able to control anything at all.

If you do have a legal requirement to have independent brakes then, yes, the Curt Wireless Brake Controller is a fantastic choice. It is dead simple to install.

While we believe that just about anybody could benefit from this Wireless Brake Controller, we feel the people that will be getting the most use out of it are those that regularly switch trailers or vehicles.

There is just something about being able to carry all those settings around with you in your pocket, knowing that whenever you plug your device in, it is ready to go. It means that you do not have to tinker with anything..

We actually believe that wireless tech is going to be the future for brake controllers so, why not get the very best brake controller around?

It is going to do nothing more than help you have the most pleasurable and safest driving experience while on the road of the United States.

Best Trailer Brake Controllers

Below you can find some of the best wireless brake controllers. Just follow the link to Amazon where you can see the current pricing:

Installation of the Curt Wireless Brake Controller

Now, there are many of you that will likely have a wired brake controller already. Contrary to popular belief, you will not have to disconnect that if you plan on switching to the Curt Wireless Brake Controller.

This is because the wireless brake controller will actually override the wired system. So, this will make the installation a little bit simpler.

👉 The wireless brake controller will plug directly into the seven-way by the hitch (i.e. the power system). It operates on a 12V.

Obviously, if you do not have that, then you won’t be able to use the Curt Wireless Brake Controller. However, you also wouldn’t be able to use any other independent braking system, so it is likely that you have one already.

👉 You will also need to download the mobile app onto your smart device. Don’t worry, this is completely free. In fact, you can even download it if you don’t own the Curt Wireless Brake Controller.

It won’t have any functionality, but you can see what it is all about while you are eagerly waiting for your wireless brake controller to arrive.

👉 If the brake controller is powered, then you will be able to follow the instructions in the app to pair it up to your device.

It will do a little bit of calibration to ensure that everything is working perfectly. We do not suggest that you tinker about with these settings unless you know exactly what you are doing.

👉 That’s it. You can now drive your vehicle, confident that the wireless brake controller works. Although, you may want to drive it up and down your street at a slow speed just to double-check.

However, as long as the wireless brake controller is powered and connected up to your phone, then there shouldn’t be any issues with it.

👉 It is important that you ensure that your mobile device is powered at all times here. This is because it will constantly have a connection to the brake controller.

If the phone battery dies, then the brake controller won’t be able to function properly.

Thankfully, most of us will have some sort of power system in our vehicles where we can connect our phones up. If you don’t do this, then it is likely that the phone battery will die in just a few hours of driving. 

Installation Instructions: CURT 51180 Echo® Mobile Brake Control >> Check out the video below:

Is it Safe to Use the Curt Wireless Brake Controller?

Is it Safe to Use the Curt Wireless Brake Controller? Yes, the CURT Wireless brake controller is safe to use. However, I know that there are a few people out there that may have concerns about hooking up their brakes wirelessly.

After all, hacking is a problem with some wireless connections.

I can assure you that this isn’t going to be a problem here. The Curt Wireless Brake Controller can only work with the device that it has been paired up to. Nobody will be able to break that connection.

That being said, it is unlikely that you will find anybody on the road that is willing to break that connection either.

Most hackers aren’t really looking to take control of wireless brake controllers. That would be rather pointless, especially since there are not actually many of these devices out there on the road.

What Happens if the Phone Battery Dies or the Phone Connection is Lost?

Nothing, and that is a good thing.

If your phone battery dies or that phone connection disappears for some reason (that can happen sometimes with a Bluetooth connection if there is too much interference in the local area), your brakes are not going to stop functioning.

The Curt Wireless Brake Controller is able to remember the last settings that it was given from the mobile device that was paired up with it.

If your phone is still active, you will be given a warning that the Bluetooth connection has dropped, but the brakes will continue to work.

That being said, you still want to ensure that your phone is connected up to the mobile device as much as possible. You also want to ensure that if there are any issues that they are corrected as soon as possible.

While the brakes will continue to function, if there is no connection between the phone and the wireless device, then you will not be able to use that manual override feature, if you need to use it. You also won’t be able to change the settings of the device.

How to Purchase the Curt Wireless Brake Controller

You should have a ton of places where you can pick up the Curt Wireless Brake Controller. It comes from one of the biggest names in the world of towing, after all.

Read also: What Is The Average Cost To Install Trailer Brake Controller – (Facts & Numbers)

This means that you can buy from any retail outlet or online store that deals with towing accessories. In some places, you may even be able to buy the brake controller directly from Curt!

I really like the CURT 51180 Echo Mobile Electric Trailer Brake Controller with Bluetooth-Enabled. It’s not terribly expensive but gets amazing reviews. Just follow the link to Amazon where you can see current pricing.

👉 Purchase: If you are interested in this CURT 51180 Echo Mobile Electric Trailer Brake Controller with Bluetooth-Enabled then just follow the link to Amazon where you can see current pricing.

CURT Echo Brake Controller Near Me

Are there CURT Echo brake controller near me? yes, you can find on following place:

  1. Amazon: If you are interested in this CURT 51180 Echo Mobile Electric Trailer Brake Controller with Bluetooth-Enabled then just follow the link to Amazon where you can see current pricing.
  2. At

Curt Echo Brake Controller Reviews – Wireless

Below you can read some wireless brake controller reviews and comments of our readers:

John M.: “Just picked up our new tab 400 and drove 200 miles with the Curt controller on our sienna. Worked great!

The  only thing the app is used for is setting the current profile, seeing the brake application, manual brake application and adjusting/selecting the current brake profile.

The link is Bluetooth, so it doesn’t depend on getting cell service at all. Even if you lose connection to the controller, it still works, you just won’t see how it is working. Even if you don’t have a connected phone when you plug it in, it will default to the last braking profile used. 

i had the tech ride with me when we set up the Curt and he was very impressed.  They sell and install the Prodigy RF. It does hang out a ways, I don’t think it will ever fall out, but I may rig a safety harness of some sort anyway.  Nice option if you have multiple tow vehicles, happy with it so far”

DENNY606: “The Echo has a locking tab, which is engaged on the 7-pin lift cover and secures it in place.  The Echo has a similar setup to latch the trailer 7-pin plug.

The setup does add some length to the connection, but I towed out TaB400 150 mikes down coast mountain roads, no issue, worked great.  Also towed the TaB over a dirt, poorly maintained access road, which was a test for it staying put, again, no issues.  

Also towed it again over the coastal range, two-lane roads, then highway driving at 60pmh.  No issues.  
The brake action, once adjusted stayed set, no noticeable lag, and everything worked as expected.  You do need to be sure the cover latches set correctly.  

One could add a Velcro strap around the cover and Echo controller to keep it latch engaged.”


If you need a brake controller for your vehicle, and you want something that is a bit fancier than normal, then we suggest that you take a look at the Curt Wireless Brake Controller.

It is easily one of the best options on the market right now. The tech behind it is absolutely superb too, which means that driving with this connected up to your vehicle is going to feel fantastic! 


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How We Selected Trailer Brake Controllers 

In order to narrow down our list of the best trailer brake controllers, we sought out products that came from reputable brands and offered reliable performance that ensure you can tow your trailer safely without worrying about its brakes. We considered and compared each brake controller’s feature set, ease of use and installation, any available real-life experiences, and price. From there, we assessed how helpful each could be to those towing trailers small and large.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

Picking out the perfect trailer brake controller for your towing needs can be a bit of a complicated process. You need to think about the features of your trailer as well as what kinds of features are must-haves in your brake controller. But we’re here to help, and we’ve got all of the advice you need to find just the right device.

What to Consider When Buying a Trailer Brake Controller

Types of Trailer Brake Controllers


A proportional trailer brake controller uses internal, inertia-based sensors to determine when and how your vehicle brakes. When your tow vehicle decelerates, the sensor reacts and commands the controller to send power to the brakes. The best proportional trailer brake controller provides uniform, smooth braking without any push-pull movements.

Time Delay

With a time delay trailer brake controller, you’ll have a bit of a delay when you first apply the brakes. A signal is sent to the brake controller, which sends voltage to the trailer brakes. The delay can be adjusted; you can change it in the sync setting, along with additional settings like the braking power and rate of application. A time-delayed controller can be mounted at any angle because it doesn't have internal parts that sense the tow vehicle's braking motions. These controllers are simpler to install and cheaper but not recommended for larger trailers. 

Trailer Brake Controller Key Features


Voltage is one of the top factors when it comes to finding the best-rated brake controller. A tow brake controller consists of either 12 or 24 volts. The vehicle's power source must be compatible with the trailer's brakes. If the two units don't match, the braking controller may malfunction, increasing the risk of an accident.

Brake System

Trailers with electric brakes are governed by a brake controller, while hydraulic brakes require a special coupler. A towing vehicle does not control this braking element. Certain trailers have both electric and hydraulic components. The best aftermarket trailer brake controller should have the ability to operate both types.

Trailer Brake Controller Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and trailer brake controllers. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • A trailer brake controller will not work with older-style trailers that don’t have electronic control; these devices only operate on trailers with electric or electrically-controlled hydraulic brakes.
  • If you're not technologically savvy, consider having a professional help install the brake controller on your vehicle who can advise you on the best type to suit your needs.
  • Some states require trailer brakes for heavy loads. For example, in Arizona, independent brake systems are required when the gross vehicle weight is 3,000 pounds or more. In California, every trailer coach or camp trailer with a GVWR of 1,500 pounds or more must have brakes on at least two wheels.
  • Before you travel with a trailer, make sure all the electronic connections and hitch are secure. Periodically check the system by tapping the brakes to make sure it's working properly and your brake lights are functional. 
  • In addition to checking your connections, don’t forget to frequently look at the display monitor too. This will help you to ensure the system is functioning as required before setting out onto the road.


Q: What’s better: a timed or proportional brake controller?

In most cases, a proportional trailer brake controller is the better pick, especially if you tow regularly or tow heavy trailers. Proportional braking is superior during emergency braking scenarios. A timed brake controller is fine if you only occasionally tow smaller trailers.

Q: Can I tow a trailer with electric brakes without a brake controller?

No, you’ll absolutely need a trailer brake controller. Trailers with electric brakes must have one of these devices — otherwise, the trailer’s brakes won’t work.

Q: Are all trailer brake controllers the same?

Like we discussed above, there are two different types of trailer brake controllers: proportional or time delay. While both activate a trailer’s brakes and apply pressure to slow you down, one does come with a delay — and one is typically better for larger trailers.

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best trailer brake controller is the Tekonsha P3 Electronic Brake Control. It smoothly applies the brakes, controls up to four axles, and has an LCD display and one-button boost switch. It is also quick and easy to adjust, mounts at any angle, and auto adjusts to any angle.


Best Trailer Brake Controllers For 2021

Trailer brake controllers are an essential piece of safety equipment, and as the name implies, they control a trailer’s electric brakes. Without one, the towing vehicle’s brakes must stop all of the weight and momentum of both vehicle and trailer. That can result in far longer stopping distances and heat-damaged brakes at best, or a collision at worst. 

A good trailer brake controller not only activates the trailer’s brakes smoothly when the driver steps on the brake pedal up front, but it also keeps the wheels rolling smoothly when it’s time to back the rig into a campsite or parking space. It can also alert the driver to any failures in the electronic chain that links the trailer to the towing vehicle or the trailer brakes themselves.

When shopping for a trailer brake controller, there are a lot of options to consider. Ease of installation, clear readouts and intuitive controls can be just as important as the range of brake gain a given trailer brake controller offers. Here are five top-rated controllers designed to help keep trailering trips safe.

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Brake controller reviews curt


Visit any riding area and it quickly becomes evident that Side by Sides are a major factor in off-road recreation, and for good reason. They’re easier to drive than a dirt bike or ATV, you can share the ride and trail exploration with a companion, and they’re just plain fun! The downside is they are also much larger than most other off-road vehicles, with some nearly the size of a Jeep Wrangler, and that means larger tow vehicles and larger trailers to haul them. With all that extra weight behind, you had better be able to stop it safely. We’ve always counted on our Aluma trailer, but a new braking tool from CURT is the greatest thing for towing since the ratcheting tie-down.


If you’ve ever wired a truck for the electric brake system of your new, larger trailer you know it is an exercise in fishing wire through holes, around moving parts or anything hot, and tying it into the vehicles electrical system, hopefully without popping any fuses. Once inside the cab and no doubt to the horror of some vehicle interior designer from Detroit, you then need to drill a few holes in your highly sculpted dash and hang a rather conspicuous control box. Try that in a Jeep and see how much knee room you have left! The Curt ECHO controller is like a gift from the God of Towing in that it makes all of that go away.

The Curt ECHO brake control system follows practically everything else these days in that it is mastered by an app on your smartphone. That eliminates the need for any control box mounted under or in your dash and all wiring connecting the box to the trailer. The new Echo Mobile Brake Controller works over a Bluetooth wireless signal between your phone and the trailer / truck connection. It’s a simple plug & play connection that takes all of 3 seconds to install, but the advantages go far beyond the quick connection. Highlights of the system are many:

  • Wireless design allows it to be transferred between vehicles, and it stores multiple trailer and vehicle profiles.

  • Works off a 7-pin connection and can mange single or double axle trailers.

  • Locking tab help maintain a strong connection, and a potted circuit board is sealed off from the elements for durability

  • Triple-axis, motion-sensing accelerometer for highly responsive, smooth stops

  • Multi-color LED indicates power, trailer detection and wireless connectivity

  • Compatible with low-volt, PWM, ABS, cruise control and electric over hydraulic

  • Smartphone Bluetooth connection provides automatic calibration, controls and monitors all brake settings, and sends status updates.

  • System can be overridden at any time by pressing phone for more stopping power

  • Incoming calls still allowed, even when using system.

  • Assembled in USA


The first time you plug the Echo Brake Controller into your vehicle you’ll need to download the app, and you can either scan the code on the package as we did, or download it from the Google Play or the App store. Just plug the Echo Brake Controller into your vehicles 7 pin connection, then plug the trailer 7 pin connection into the back of the Echo. It’s absolutely the easiest accessory you’ll ever install. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your phone so the two can connect, and the Echo will immediately let you know its connected to the trucks wiring harness (turn the truck on for power) by flashing a blue LED light. This means it is ready to connect to the app. Now start the phone app. You will need the 6-digit pin from under the Echo Controller cap or the Echo quick connect packaging, and when the Echo and phone connect the LED will stop flashing and show solid blue. When the trailer wiring harness is attached the light will then flash for a little over 5 seconds as it calibrates and then turn to a solid green color. At that point you can set the trailer profile in the app.

Setting the profiles in the app was easy enough, and you can store profiles based on tow vehicle, different trailers, and even the load on the trailer. You don’t need the same braking power when empty as when fully loaded. It’s also possible to adjust sensitivity and power output for each profile at any time. This is especially handy for adjusting braking power when pulling a heavy load, or when on a slippery surface such as snow when you need a gentle application of the brakes rather than potentially locking them up. We love this feature! Inside the Echo Mobile Brake Controller is an accelerometer that senses the braking pressure you apply, and this adjusts the trailer braking pressure to match so you’re not locking up the trailer wheels, or relying completely on the truck’s brakes.

Once underway, you will notice at all times the Echo Mobile Brake Controller app shows a large, red button in the center of your screen. This is the panic button. Should you find yourself in an emergency situation, hitting the button will quickly ramp up to maximum brake force. As an added safety feature, if your phone and the Echo Mobile Brake Controller lose their connection the controller will continue to function at the setting you were last using. It should be noted that you want to mount your phone on one of those dash clips in a conspicuous, easy to reach location, but just like texting and driving, keep your eyes on the road and don’t fiddle with it while underway.



We can’t say enough about the Curt ECHO Mobile Brake Controller. We’ll never find ourselves crawling around under a vehicle or drilling holes in our dash to hard wire a controller again, it’s easy to use, and it’s both highly adjustable and portable for different vehicles! What more could one ask for in an accessory? Combined with our beloved Aluma trailer that has delivered our ATVs and Side x Sides safely over many, many miles we have the ultimate towing combination.


 See our CURT ROCKERBALL hitch review here:

Installation Instructions: CURT 51180 Echo® Mobile Brake Control

Nothing more. You will like it, just lean back briefly. I bent down very low, so that the trim touched the floor.

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