A Brake controller is frequently set up after a trailer purchase to assist in, you guessed it, braking a towing vehicle with a trailer attached. Lighter trailers don’t inevitably require these brake controllers, but is recommended for a trailer with a total weight of more than 1,000 lbs. In this guide, there are two different types of brake controllers that we want to review, they are proportional and time delayed controllers.

The controller is usually installed under the dashboard of the vehicle and connected to the trailer brakes. It’s activated when the driver hit brakes on the towing vehicle, thereby activating your trailer brakes.

 Why Do I Need These Brake Controllers?

Well, the shortest answer to this question is, “for your very own safety”. Imagine a group of children running in a row, each holding the hands of those in front of them. The line moves smoothly, as long as all children have a constant speed. If one of these children suddenly decides to slow down, it creates a pile up or other problems in the flow of traffic.

Towing trailer behind your vehicle works in the same way. The extra weight of a trailer can make it very dangerous to reduce the speed or stop a towing vehicle. The swing of the trailer may cause it to move further and creates hazardous driving conditions.

Brake controllers eliminate the likelihood of a trailer experiencing these braking problems by activating the trailer brakes each time the driver steps on the vehicle brake. The brake control fundamentally senses the amount of energy that the brakes of a trailer required to slow down and stop safely.


There are two types we will cover:

 Proportional & Time based brake controllers

 Proportional Brake Controllers

If you find yourself pulling trailers on a regular basis, a proportional brake control is probably the best option. These controllers usually cost a bit more than a timed controller, depending on the brand you choose. However, for a smoother and more predictable stop, a Proportional brake controller (PBC) offers better design and features.

The basic design includes an acceleration sensor. This can measure the gravity and deceleration of the towing vehicle. This means your brake controller can calculate a couple different variables to assist in your braking. As the vehicle slows down, the controller provides a proportional voltage to the trailer brakes. So, if you decide to break very quickly your trailer brakes will mirror the amount of pressure and speed you applied the brakes. Same applies if you break at a slow rate of speed over time. In effect, this will cause less wear and tear on your trailer brakes.


  • Emergency Braking
  • Fast reaction time
  • Smooth driving
  • Less wear for a vehicle
  • Good for more frequent trailer users and heavier loads
  • Efficiency and safety


  • A bit more expensive

  • More complex installation


Time Delayed Brake Controllers

These controllers are also activated when the brake pedal on the towing vehicle is pressed. After activation, the controllers apply a time delay circuit to the trailer brakes. The amount of pressure the trailer brakes apply is based on a pre-set option configured on the brake controller. These settings will determine the rate of speed and intensity of the brakes being applied.

Time Delayed Brake Controllers are generally more affordable. In addition, they can be mounted in any position because they don’t require sensing the vehicles motion. A common problem with activated timing is the use of pulsating brakes when the controller is set too aggressive. Gain issues can be remedied with a pulse prevention device to disconnect the controller from the vehicle electrical system.



  • Easy installation

    dump trailers
  • Slightly cheaper

  • It can be mounted in any position.


  • More wear

  • The possibility of braking pulsing issues

 If you are among our customer base or you happened to find our article while browsing the web, you will truly know how vital it’s to be safe when driving your own trailer on the road. Of course, one of the best ways to ensure the safety of yourself and others is to know that your trailer has the best trailer brake controller to suit your needs.


Proportional Brake Controller Versus The Time Delayed Brake Controller: Which Type Is Best For Me?

 Proportional Brake Controller

Again, a proportional brake controller detects when the towing vehicle slows down and repeats the trailer's deceleration. This applies regardless of the braking intensity, for instance, a sudden stop or perhaps slow stop.

The proportional brake controller is recommended for more frequent trailer users and heavier loads. See our recommended options here: Prodigy 2 & Prodigy 3

The Time Delayed Brake Controller

Remember, this brake controller sends signals at a predetermined intensity rate to the trailer brakes. The speed and power can be adjusted from the controller based off personal preference and safety.

The brakes of the vehicle and the trailer can get more stressed with these controllers if you frequently haul trailers or are hauling heavy loads. These type of controllers are good and recommended for occasional trailer users and if you use lighter weight trailers.

We recommend the Curt Venturer Brake Controller when buying a time based controller. 


The Very Best Brake Controller For Towing

A common question is which type of brake control is best for towing. As you can see above, proportional brake controllers cause significantly less brake wear compared to time delayed brakes. Also, because they offer a smoother braking experience, there will be less overall damage to the brakes and  structural systems.This provides a lower risk of accident due to an imbalance between the vehicle and the trailer.

The proportional brake controller does have a few more advantages however we still recommend and sell many time based controllers. The reason is that your more casual trailer user doesn’t require a more sophisticated braking system. Therefore, a time based controller will be the controller we typically install.


Regardless of the trailer brake controller you choose to buy at North Carolina Trailer sales, we can help you service, troubleshoot and install your brake controller. Make sure you buy a quality trailer brake controller, brake harness, and parts by visiting here. For any questions you may have don’t hesitate to call us at 336-276-0329. Keep up with our company on our Facebook and Youtube.