Leading 4WD motoring journalist and photographer, Ray Cully from Get Behind The Wheel recently reviewed the Tow-Pro Elite electric brake controller. His article was recently published in the West Australian West Wheels weekly 4WD column.
If you’re budgeting for a camper trailer weighing more than 750kg, you’ll need to allow a little bit extra to fit a brake controller to activate the trailer brakes when you apply the brakes in the tow vehicle.
Early generations of brake controller applied a pre-set amount of power — whatever the brake controller’s sensitivity level is at, is exactly proportional to the amount of braking effort applied every time you touch the brake. Balancing them can be tricky and regular adjustment will be required by the driver as terrain, speed and load conditions change.
For example, to ensure appropriate braking response the amount of braking effort applied for highway speeds would be different to stop-start city traffic. But their manual adjustment still provided greater driver control over the trailer — particularly in awkward off-road conditions.
More advanced units can sense the amount of vehicle deceleration and then apply a proportional amount of power to the trailer brakes. These offer the smoothest trailer response and avoid a harsh jerk dragging on the back of the vehicle or a heavy clunk as the trailer throws its weight forward into the tow hitch.
If you want the best of both worlds, then consider the latest Redarc Tow-Pro Elite. We had Paul Kearns from Install A Gadget fit one of the new Redarc units on a Toyota Fortuner we were reviewing to see how well the unit handled off-road duties.
Unlike some proportional brake controllers that must be mounted in a specific orientation, the Tow-Pro Elite has a three-axis accelerometer to measure acceleration in any direction. Which means the Tow-Pro Elite main control can be mounted in any orientation buried inside your vehicle’s dash and still accurately sense the braking level.
Not only does the Redarc have a Proportional mode that calibrates as you drive (even without a trailer fitted) in order to deliver a smooth proportional response to your vehicle’s deceleration, it has the option to switch into a manual, User Controlled mode.
The user-controlled mode allows the driver complete control of the brake level whether the foot brake or Tow-Pro Elite override is applied via a neat little dashmounted control knob.
Adjusting the control knob in user-controlled mode will adjust the braking force from minimal (0) to maximum (10). Alternatively, in the Proportional mode the controller will vary the braking effort up to the maximum sensitivity as set by the driver.
During testing with a 1400kg trailer in off-road conditions the controller performed extremely well. It was never overly sensitive and the progressive braking was controlled and linear in application. Having the manual override capability meant we could control braking effort when needed, allowing even further control.
The Redarc Tow-Pro Elite costs about $360 and is ADR compliant when fitted as directed.
And you can have it professionally fitted.
We thank Ray Cully who has allowed us to republish this article with his permission.