If you are setting your vehicle up and getting ready to tow, than one of the most important devices you will need for safety is an effective electric brake controller. It is also required by law for any vehicle towing a trailer or van weighing more than 750kg GTM (Gross trailer Mass) to have a working brake controller fitted.
There are quite a few different types and brands of brake controllers to choose from and the price can range from around $100 right up to $400+. They are basically all designed to do one thing- to assist with the braking of your vehicle under load!
Depending on the size of your van, number of axles etc. you will need to ensure that the controller you decide to install is going to be sufficient for your needs. Your Auto Parts retailer or caravan dealer can no doubt help you out with this if you are unsure.
We recently needed to install a controller for us to be able to tow our new camper, we asked around to see what others were using and there seemed to be a common name that popped up- TEKONSHA!
We looked into their range of controllers (and with me being ME) the model with the most features caught my eye. The Tekonsha P3 controller was quickly put on my shortlist for a few reasons:
- I was impressed by the easy to read LCD display
- Compact design and the ability to quick-release it from the mount for storage when not in use
- The “diagnostic” feature that allows you to see EXACTLY what’s going on. (Things like detecting a short circuit, having confirmation of trailer connectivity and a display of AMP and VOLTAGE outputs.
- The manual slide control had a “robust” feel to it too, so I felt that I had more control over applying override braking pressure.
I needed to consider the safety of my family, and I didn’t want to put my trust in a controller simply based on price. If there was something wrong and the brakes were failing or there was a system fault detected, I wanted to know about it ASAP so I thought that this diagnostic feature was quite handy.
A handy storage pouch, the necessary wiring harness, mounting brackets and an instructional DVD was all included in the box!
Of course a more basic model would still do the fundamental task of what they are designed for- that is STOPPING! But consider this when next time you are in the market for a new controller. How easy is it to use? What safety features are included? Can you read the display easily, can it be adjusted? Will it be sufficient if I upgrade my van to a larger one and what warranty does it come with? For possibly only a few more $$$ you can rest assured that a Tekonsha P3 will be up for the job now and in the future and will give you peace of mind with their limited lifetime warranty!
The Features of the Tekonsha P3 are as follows:
- Suitable for1-4 axle trailers
- Distinct, easy to see LCD display with multiple colour and contrast options
- User can customize to choose English, French or Spanish display
- Allows the user to switch between Electric and Hydraulic brakes
- Highly advanced, easy-to-understand, roadside diagnostics
- Easy access, “Up-Front’ controls
- “Boost” feature allows for different levels of customized braking
- Compact, dash-hugging design
- Unique, easy-to-use, clip-mounting systems
- Quick disconnect for easy storage; convenient storage pouch included
- Limited lifetime warranty
- 5 storable setting options for multiple trailers, same trailer different loads or even preferences for multiple drivers.
- Extra wiring harness available for additional vehicles. Plug & Play design for multiple vehicle use.
We have been very happy with our choice so far and think this little unit is worth checking out!
Tekonsha P3 Electric & Hydraulic Brake Controller
There are various Australian re-sellers of Tekonsha products- Enquire with your local Auto Electrician or Auto parts retailer. Or check Ebay for some great deals.
Email: Questions and product support can be submitted via the online form on their website
Other Useful links:
NSW RMS Vehicle standards information regarding Electric Brakes http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/registration/downloads/vsi/vsi22.pdf
ExplorOZ Website- Preparing a vehicle for towing (article) http://www.exploroz.com/Vehicle/Caravans/ChoosingandSettingUpaTowVehicle.aspx