Like towing mirrors, I go through a lot of brake controllers. Unlike towing mirrors, it’s not because I am constantly having them fall off cars – it’s mostly because nearly every car I test has a different one fitted. By far the best, though, is the Redarc Tow-Pro.
And it is for completely superficial reasons, mainly, but I hate how the older style brake controllers eat up knee room when fitted to that little corner under the steering wheel and centre console. With the Tow-Pro’s only intrusion into the cabin consisting of a small round dial designed to fit in a switch blank, it not only looks good, but in many cases it’s the safest option.
Many modern 4WDs are now fitted with driver’s side knee airbags (part of ANCAP 5 Star criteria), so fitting a brake controller over that is exceptionally unwise. Even in older vehicles, a hard, blunt, square box at you’re knees isn’t going to act as a crumple zone if you are involved in a crash. We’ve driven cars with the controller on the dash, next to the A-pillar, but that’s hardly an elegant solution.
But that’s not really what makes it special, the Tow-Pro isn’t the only remote mount brake controller, but it is one of the only remote mount inertial brake controllers. That means it can sense how hard you are braking and apply an appropriate amount of power to the caravan’s electric brakes. More than that, though, it can be switched over to User Control Mode and become a completely manual system, where you choose the braking force by turning the dial up or down. It is also compatible with AL-KO ESC.
Installation is easy, if you’re familiar with a brake controller’s wiring needs, and Redarc pre-strips the four cables saving even that bit of work. Thoughtfully the connection between the dial and the main box is a standard network data cable, so if needed you can buy an off-the-shelf replacement up to 5-metres long and mount it anywhere.
The downside? They are pretty expensive. Considering you can get an older-style inertial brake controller for about $120 off the shelf from most auto-parts stores, the $339.90 can seem steep.
But, after using it in cars like the Nissan Navara NP300 and the Land Rover Discovery 4, it seemed the obvious choice to replace the old Tekonsha I’d been banging my knee on in my old Cruiser.
Note: Redarc has just released the Tow Pro Elite, an upgraded model which discards the need to calibrate the unit before use, and updated the braking algorithms for smoother braking performance. We’ll be taking a look at it as soon as possible.