Last Updated on March 6, 2023
Trailer brake gain cannot be overemphasized. The brake controller controls the amount of power applied to the trailer brakes. This is significant because it will determine the trailer’s stopping or towing power.
By applying the brake pedal to the vehicle, the gain instructs the brake controller on how much electric current to apply to the electromagnets trailer brake. This is relevant because it indicates how quickly the trailer will stop.
But have you ever wondered what the steps involved in how to set trailer brake gain are? Owning a trailer brake controller will require you to know the term “trailer brake gain”.
It is always best to err on the side of caution and set your trailer brake at a higher setting if you are unsure of what gain control to set. Let’s explore this topic in the following discussion.
What is Trailer Brake Gain?
The trailer brake gain setting is the amount of braking power applied to the trailer brakes. This power is supplied by an electric current and is measured in amps.
The brake controller determines how much electric current flows through the trailer’s brakes using a rheostat, like a dimmer switch for your lights. The higher you set the brake gain, the more electric current flows to the trailer’s brakes and the stronger they will be.
How to Set Trailer Brake Gain in Some Easy Steps
Trailer wheel brakes are usually set at a higher gain than the tow vehicle’s brakes. This gives the trailer extra stopping power since it does not have its engine to slow it down. If you don’t set the trailer brake gain high enough, the travel trailer could start to push the tow vehicle when you hit the brakes.
You’ll want to set your trailer’s brake gain so that it is just strong enough to stop the trailer without locking up the wheels or causing them to skid. Here are some easy steps to take to set your trailer brake gain:
Step 01. Connect Your Trailer:
You will need to ensure that your travel trailer is properly connected to your tow vehicle. All the electrical connections should be made, and the safety chains should be attached.
Step 02. Set Up Your Brake Controller:
Once your travel trailer is connected, you can set up your brake controller according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Try to mount it in a location where you can easily see the settings and reach it with your hand.
Step 03. Calibrate Your Brake Controller:
Many aftermarket brake controllers will need to be calibrated before they can be used. This is so that the controller knows how much electric current to apply when you hit the brakes.
If your brake controller does not have a calibration feature, you can usually find instructions on calibrating it in the owner’s manual.
Step 04. Test Your Travel Trailer Brakes:
After calibrating your brake controller, you can then test your trailer brakes. With the parking brake engaged, slowly apply pressure to the trailer’s brakes by pushing down on the brake pedal.
The brakes should engage smoothly and evenly. If they don’t, you may need to adjust the travel trailer brake gain.
Step 05. Adjust the Trailer Brake Gain:
If your trailer’s brakes are not engaging correctly, you will need to adjust the trailer brake gain. Simply turn the knob on the brake controller to the left or right until the brakes engage smoothly and evenly.
It is always best to start with a lower setting and then work your way up until you find the perfect balance. You don’t want the trailer’s brakes to be too weak or strong.
Step 06. Retest Your Trailer Brakes Again:
Once you have adjusted the trailer brake gain, you will need to retest the brakes. With the parking brake engaged, slowly apply pressure to the trailer’s brakes by pushing down on the brake pedal.
The brakes should engage smoothly and evenly. If they don’t, you may need to adjust the trailer brake gain again.
Consequences of Improperly Setting Trailer Brake Gain
Improper trailer brakes can lead to disastrous results. If the trailer brakes gain is not set high enough, the trailer could start to push the towing vehicle when you hit the brakes. This could cause you to lose control of the car and have an accident.
If you do not set the trailer brake gain properly, it could result in the following problems:
- The trailer could start to push the towing vehicle when you hit the brakes.
- The trailer wheel lock up, causing the trailer tires to skid.
- The trailer could become difficult to control, leading to an accident.
So, you must take the time to set the trailer brake gain properly. It could save your life. Moreover, it will give you peace of mind knowing that your trailer’s brakes are working correctly.
If you are having trouble setting the trailer gain level, it is best to consult with a professional. These brake controllers will be able to help you select the trailer brake gain properly so that you can avoid any accidents or problems.
What is a Trailer Brake Controller & How Does it Work?
Trailer brake controllers are a device that is used to control the electric brakes on a trailer. It is usually mounted in the cab of the towing vehicle and is connected to the trailer’s brakes.
When the vehicle’s brakes are applied, the factory trailer brake controller sends a signal to the trailer’s brakes. This signal tells the trailer’s brakes how much electric current to apply. The amount of electric current is determined by the brake controller’s settings.
The brake controller has a few different settings that can be adjusted. These settings include:
- Brake Gain: This setting determines how much electric current is sent to the trailer’s brakes.
- Brake Delay: This setting determines how long the trailer’s brakes will stay engaged after releasing the vehicle’s brakes.
- Brake Force: This setting determines how much force is applied to the trailer’s brakes.
These settings can be adjusted to suit your needs. For example, if you are hauling a heavier trailer load, you may need to increase the brake gain. Alternatively, if you are hauling a light load, you may need to decrease the brake gain.
It is important to note that the factory controller must be properly calibrated before it can be used. This calibration process ensures that the trailer’s brakes will engage properly when applied to the vehicle’s brakes.
How to Calibrate a Trailer Brake Controller
Calibrating a trailer brake controller is a relatively simple process. However, it is essential to follow the instructions carefully so that the trailer’s brakes will engage properly:
01. The first step is to connect the trailer brake controller to the vehicle. Once the brake controller is connected, you will need to turn on the towing vehicle’s ignition.
02. Next, you will need to engage the trailer’s parking brakes. Once the parking brakes are engaged, you will need to put the towing vehicle in neutral.
03. With the vehicle in neutral, you will need to push down on the brake pedal slowly and steadily. As you push down on the brake pedal, you must watch the trailer brake controller’s display.
04. The trailer brake controllers display will show you how much electric current is being sent to the trailer’s brakes. The brake controller’s settings must be adjusted to send the correct amount of electric current to the trailer’s brakes.
05. Once the brake controller is properly calibrated, you must test it. You will need to engage the trailer’s parking brakes and put the vehicle in gear to do this.
06. With the trailer’s parking brakes engaged, you will need to release the brake pedal slowly. You should see the trailer’s brake lights come on as you release the brake pedal.
07. If the trailer’s brake lights come on, the brake controller is appropriately calibrated. If the trailer’s brake lights do not come on, you will need to adjust the settings on the brake controller.
08. Once the brake controller is properly calibrated, you can put it into use.
It is important to note that you should always consult with a professional before attempting to calibrate the trailer brake controller. They will be able to help you set the trailer brake gain properly so that you can avoid any accidents or problems.
Tips for Adjusting Your Trailer Brake Controller
The brake controllers are usually located in the vehicle and have a knob or slider that allows you to set the brake gain. When changing the brake gain, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:
- Start with the trailer brake gain set at the lowest setting. This will allow you to slowly increase the amount of electric current sent to the trailer’s brakes.
- Pay close attention to how the vehicle and trailer are reacting as you adjust the trailer gain settings. If you notice any problems, such as the vehicle fishtailing, you will need to reduce the amount of electric current sent to the trailer’s brakes.
- Make sure that you test the trailer brake controller after making any adjustments. This will ensure that the trailer’s brakes are engaging properly.
If you are still having problems with the brake controller, you may need to consult with a professional. They will be able to help you properly calibrate the brake controller so that it is working correctly.
Take a look at some of the frequently asked questions about trailer brake controllers:
01. When Should The Trailer Brake Controller Gain Setting be Adjusted?
The brake controller gain setting should be adjusted when the towing vehicle and trailer are not responding properly to the brakes. Also, every time your trailer’s weight changes, the gain on your brake controller must be adjusted.
02. Can You Adjust Trailer Brakes?
Yes, the trailer brake controller is usually located in the towing vehicle and has a knob or slider that allows you to adjust the trailer gain level.
03. Do Electric Trailer Brakes Self Adjust?
No, electric trailer brakes do not self-adjust. You will need to adjust the trailer brake controller when the tow vehicle and trailer are not responding properly to the brakes. However, there might be some self-adjusting electric brakes on the market, but they are not common.
04. How Do You Tell If Your Trailer Brakes Are Self-Adjusting?
If your trailer brakes are self-adjusting, there will be a label on the brake controller that says “self-adjusting,” or it is easy to identify the autonomous brake by its cable and lever that is not present in manual brakes if the hub has been removed.
The braking system is one of any vehicle’s most important safety features. If you are hauling a trailer, the brake controller must be properly calibrated.
Having some proper knowledge on how to set trailer brake gain can save you a lot of time, money, and potential accidents. It is essential to be familiar with the process and always consult with professionals when in doubt.
When done correctly, you can ensure that your trailer brakes are working correctly and that you are driving safely. Thanks for reading our article on setting the trailer gain level.