In our last post, the towing experts on the Chilliwack Trademasters team provided a thorough introduction to trailer hitches and weight distribution systems. Today, as a continuation of our Recreational Towing 101 series, we’re diving into trailer wiring, smart brake systems, and batteries. Read on to learn more, and for more answers to all of your towing questions, feel free to contact us!

Trailer Wiring

Let’s start with trailer hitches and wiring. If you have a pickup truck or an SUV, they will typically come with a hitch and wiring harness of some kind. Newer trucks (2008 and newer), depending on the option package, will have all the wiring needed to tow a trailer, including a factory installed brake controller. These require no modifications to tow in that respect.

SUVs and trucks with a basic option package will have a hitch and a 4-pin wiring harness, which is good for lights, but will not operate the brakes or charge the battery. A brake controller and charge line are needed to complete the wiring package.

Smart Brake Systems

Most vehicles with factory brake controllers have “smart ” controllers which can monitor the rate of change in speed. If you are braking lightly, then the controller will apply the brakes on the trailer lightly, or if you spike the brakes, then the controller will spike. Aftermarket brake controllers do the same thing. Gone are the days of adjusting dials and pendulums and fiddling with the controller as you’re driving. Now, it’s a simple “set and forget.”

Trailer Batteries

If you get a full wiring package installed, it will operate lights, brakes, and charge the trailer battery. A quick note on battery charge: All trailers with brakes must have a battery to operate the breakaway switch. In RVs, it’s the same battery that runs the interior lights, water pump, etc. On utility trailers or enclosed trailers, it is a small battery (about the size of a lawnmower battery) that will operate the brake away switch exclusively. It is a legal requirement that if the trailer “breaks away” from the tow vehicle, the breakaway switch gets pulled out, closes a circuit, and applies the trailer brakes fully. The charge line provides a trickle charge to the RV battery and is a requirement for wiring when towing a trailer. If you’re in doubt, bring your vehicle to a qualified RV shop; they can determine very quickly what exists for wiring harnesses in your vehicle.

Find High-End Towing Accessories At Trademasters

We hope today’s post has been informative for you as you arrange your own towing setup. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact the Trademasters team, and in the meantime, you can browse top-of-the-line truck, trailer, and towing accessories on our website. Shop now or give us a call today!