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Wireless Brake Controller........Anyone have any expereince?

2kwik4u

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OK, so I'm heading to pickup my dads truck that I bought on Sunday.

Rented a trailer from these guys: Log in or sign up to view $140/day as compared to the $100/day for the UHaul POS. Issues with making it work on my Audi on 2-fold. One is the hitch size. I need a 2-5/16, and I only have a 2in. That's easy. Borrowing a buddies adjustable hitch that has the right ball and I can make fit with the right height. Done.

Next is a brake controller. Audi doesn't have one in it currently, and I'm pretty certain I can't put my hands on the wiring harness AND controller fast enough to pickup the trailer tomorrow. I don't mind driving with it empty without brakes, but I'm gonna want them for the loaded trip home.

SO, Local Advance Auto has one of these on the shelf. $289 is kind spendy, however it'll do the chore in the time I have available. Any thoughts?
 

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wow, didn't know about these and didn't read all the details.
how much is just renting a truck?
 

dgfreeze

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While I have very limited PERSONAL experience, I have sold a few. The feedback I’ve gotten is that they work just fine, but can sometimes be a little finicky with connections to your phone. Didn’t sound like it was a big deal, and overall are perfect for scenarios like yours, where you’re dealing with a vehicle you don’t really want to wire up a complete brake controller, because it’s not something you need on a regular basis. Should be just fine. I have only played around on the app, and stuff. Never towed myself with one, but haven’t gotten any negative feedback other than the periodical connectivity stuff. 62B8803A-1906-4312-A1F4-C9A0A3658AEF.jpeg
 

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so it works like an electronic surge brake that's activated by your foot hitting the pedal, triggering brake lamp, then your phone's accelerometer tells it how hard you're stopping?
pretty cool
 

dgfreeze

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so it works like an electronic surge brake that's activated by your foot hitting the pedal, triggering brake lamp, then your phone's accelerometer tells it how hard you're stopping?
pretty cool
I believe it has it's own accelerometer, but otherwise, yes.
 

dgfreeze

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And obviously, you can adjust how much voltage it sends to the brakes when you step on the pedal. From there, it uses the accelerometer to dictate how far to ramp that number up. It really operates just like a normal aftermarket brake controller, just uses your phone as a control interface, which is brilliant. It’s fantastic for SUV’s, and people who rarely tow, and don’t want the permanent mounted unit, which requires holes in your dash, and a box mounted permanently, which often is in the way of your knees, etc.
 

2kwik4u

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And obviously, you can adjust how much voltage it sends to the brakes when you step on the pedal. From there, it uses the accelerometer to dictate how far to ramp that number up. It really operates just like a normal aftermarket brake controller, just uses your phone as a control interface, which is brilliant. It’s fantastic for SUV’s, and people who rarely tow, and don’t want the permanent mounted unit, which requires holes in your dash, and a box mounted permanently, which often is in the way of your knees, etc.
From what I've read online it works just like a regular brake controller. Takes 12V +/- from the trailer wiring, then uses the brake light signal and a proportional gain to activate the trailer brakes.

I bought one. Pick it up at 9 in the morning. Picking the trailer up at 10:30, so it'll be trial by fire!

@jthackman backup plan is using my best friends Titan to make the tow. Has an integrated controller and plenty of capacity. He's not real jazzed about driving my Audi, and I tend to be self sufficient minded. If I can't make the controller work, then I'll use his truck for the tow. Stay tuned for a review of the controller, and I'm hoping a rather uneventful trip to IL and back!
 

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I look forward to your review!
 

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FWIW I’ve used the uhaul car haulers several times recently and they aren’t bad. They have surge brakes too, which would have solved your problem.

Only thing I’d worry much about with that controller is the manual/emergency braking function since it’s a Bluetooth vs hard wired connection but you probably won’t need it for hauling a car (limited chance of sway).

We rented a camper for a trip this summer and a lot of the rentals included one of those so they must be relatively foolproof. I ended up putting a wired brake controller on my vehicle instead (Redarc - highly recommend) and it was a very quick install with the adapter plug that came with my truck.
 

2kwik4u

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FWIW I’ve used the uhaul car haulers several times recently and they aren’t bad. They have surge brakes too, which would have solved your problem.

Only thing I’d worry much about with that controller is the manual/emergency braking function since it’s a Bluetooth vs hard wired connection but you probably won’t need it for hauling a car (limited chance of sway).

We rented a camper for a trip this summer and a lot of the rentals included one of those so they must be relatively foolproof. I ended up putting a wired brake controller on my vehicle instead (Redarc - highly recommend) and it was a very quick install with the adapter plug that came with my truck.
So, the UHaul thing is a hit and miss for me. I hate that I can't control tongue weight, or detach it from my vehicle during the rental.

The only way to use the UHaul trailer is to pull up to the front stops and then strap down. Often this leads to too much tongue weight. The second part is because they don't include tongue jacks on their trailers. I guess the idea is that if they hook and unhook, it eliminates some user error. As a novice this might be a benefit, but with some experience,it's a nuisance.

The surge brakes are also a hit and miss. Personally, I avoid them like the damn plague. I've towed tens of trailers with them and the reactive nature and finicky activation has been an issue every single time. I know lots here have them, but IMO they suck. With that said, they don't require a controller to operate and keep wires out of the water on boat trailers (which is another fallacy IMO, but am argument for another day).

I do agree on a little concern about the panic button and that activation being via Bluetooth. I've had a few instances towing where they needed that to keep the setup straight in a panic stop, and the slider has worked well. I'll test it out on this trip.and see how it works. I've got thousands of miles on trailers and only used it a few times, but it's like 4wd, if I didn't have it when ai needed it things could've gone south in a hurry.
 

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Picked up the controller and the trailer this morning. Had to drive all over the dang city, but ai got it done.

This trailer has brakes on both axles and they're super strong. Lowest setting on the controller is almost too much. Otherwise it's a full plug and play affair with no drama. Once trailer is plugged in, the Audi activated the outputs and the unit came alive. Open the app, pair with the PIN in the package and the app is live. Emergency button works relatively quickly, adjustment for gain and sensitivity are quick and easy. It's really straightforward and seems to be working quite well.

Leave for IL at 7:30 in the morning. I'll post updates here as I can.

PXL_20230114_155847589.jpg
 

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I looked at those when I was debating on doing electric drums. Look like a slick setup, especially if you're changing vehicles or trailers a lot.

Interested in your thoughts after you've used it for a while. Congrats on the truck btw,
 

2kwik4u

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I looked at those when I was debating on doing electric drums. Look like a slick setup, especially if you're changing vehicles or trailers a lot.

Interested in your thoughts after you've used it for a while. Congrats on the truck btw,
Thanks. Truck needs some TLC but was less expensive than a utility trailer ($1,500). Have some home and camp projects I want to complete this year and didn't want to rent a trailer every time. Oldest is gonna be 12 this year. Good chance this might be his first vehicle as well. Kinda neat it was "pawpaws truck" as well.

Tagging @dgfreeze in here.

The controller worked surprisingly well. The trailer I was using had absurdly strong brakes, so I kept the gain set VERY low for the whole trip. 5% empty and I'm not certain the brakes were activating at all. 10% and the trailer would noticeably pull on the Audi. Once loaded the 10% setting was still a little strong, but closer to appropriate. Would have been nice to adjust at a finer increment than 5% at a time. I adjusted the "sensitivity" setting from 0-9 and never felt any difference. The panic button worked well, and had very little delay. It was a bit annoying driving with a phone mounted on the dash with a giant orange button showing the whole time. Would be nice if they included a small physical panic button you could pair with the unit instead of having to constantly use the app. The app paired quickly and easily with the controller, and would pickup quickly when we stopped for fuel or lunch or whatever. Overall a VERY pleasant experience with the controller, and if you had to move vehicles often, or don't have a vehicle with a plug and play harness this is a pretty solid solution IMO. I'll likely never buy another controller as I can just take this one with me on any vehicle that doesn't have one built in.

This also moves me one step closer to putting electric brakes on my boat trailer since the 190's didn't get them from the factory. Been talking about that for years, but haven't done it yet. Been waiting for a bearing to fail or something like that to justify the cost.
 

dgfreeze

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Thanks. Truck needs some TLC but was less expensive than a utility trailer ($1,500). Have some home and camp projects I want to complete this year and didn't want to rent a trailer every time. Oldest is gonna be 12 this year. Good chance this might be his first vehicle as well. Kinda neat it was "pawpaws truck" as well.

Tagging @dgfreeze in here.

The controller worked surprisingly well. The trailer I was using had absurdly strong brakes, so I kept the gain set VERY low for the whole trip. 5% empty and I'm not certain the brakes were activating at all. 10% and the trailer would noticeably pull on the Audi. Once loaded the 10% setting was still a little strong, but closer to appropriate. Would have been nice to adjust at a finer increment than 5% at a time. I adjusted the "sensitivity" setting from 0-9 and never felt any difference. The panic button worked well, and had very little delay. It was a bit annoying driving with a phone mounted on the dash with a giant orange button showing the whole time. Would be nice if they included a small physical panic button you could pair with the unit instead of having to constantly use the app. The app paired quickly and easily with the controller, and would pickup quickly when we stopped for fuel or lunch or whatever. Overall a VERY pleasant experience with the controller, and if you had to move vehicles often, or don't have a vehicle with a plug and play harness this is a pretty solid solution IMO. I'll likely never buy another controller as I can just take this one with me on any vehicle that doesn't have one built in.

This also moves me one step closer to putting electric brakes on my boat trailer since the 190's didn't get them from the factory. Been talking about that for years, but haven't done it yet. Been waiting for a bearing to fail or something like that to justify the cost.
Awesome, glad it was as good as advertised, and I'm grateful for the review. It is interesting that you had to have it turned that far down, and also that the percentage settings were too large steps. I have a feeling that might be more a "trailer" thing, and less a brake controller thing. Hopefully you have an opportunity to test it out on another trailer sometime soon. Also, the "sensitivity" setting might be related to how aggressively the unit ramps the voltage up after you've stepped on the brakes, and the accelerometer takes over. Does the app HAVE to be open to function, or could you switch over to maps, or something else without losing the brake controller?
 

2kwik4u

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Awesome, glad it was as good as advertised, and I'm grateful for the review. It is interesting that you had to have it turned that far down, and also that the percentage settings were too large steps. I have a feeling that might be more a "trailer" thing, and less a brake controller thing. Hopefully you have an opportunity to test it out on another trailer sometime soon. Also, the "sensitivity" setting might be related to how aggressively the unit ramps the voltage up after you've stepped on the brakes, and the accelerometer takes over. Does the app HAVE to be open to function, or could you switch over to maps, or something else without losing the brake controller?
The app HAS to be open for the emergency button to work. If they app is closed, or if the controller loses contact with the app, the controller continues to function with the previously loaded profile. I was swapping around in apps, and using Android Auto at the same time, and the controller continued to apply the brakes regardless of what I had on the phone screen at the time. Likewise I didn't have to fire up the app after a fuel stop for the controller to still apply the brakes on the way out of the parking lot, I didn't fire up the app until we were settled and moving along safely again.

I'm pretty convinced the large gap in settings was because of the absurdly strong brakes on the trailer. I've not had electric brakes do that to be before, and these were VERY strong and on both axles. The owner told me he runs his controller on 2/10 in his F150. Be curious to see how another trailer reacts to this controller though.

Two small gripes with the app. If I wanted to change a setting on the app, while driving, it would flash an alert that I had to acknowledge before the setting change would be allowed. For instance I wanted to adjust the setting UP while applying the brakes, but it made me accept an "I won't adjust and drive" screen first. The whole point was to adjust while driving so that I could see the difference. If I wanted more brake was "fanthe gain up" while braking, this might not have been ideal. I've done that in the past when I already had the brakes applied, adn wanted more from the trailer to keep the setup straight. Once I accepted it the first time though, it allowed unlimited changes so long as the app was active.

The second small gripe is the dark mode vs light mode on the app. It was VERY non-intuitive how to change that, and even in Dark Mode it's still considerably bright in the cabin at night. I get it's a giant orange button, but good grief, let me turn it down a bit eh? I have issues with light in the cabin at night anyway, so this is likely a "me" problem and not an app problem.
 

dgfreeze

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Ok, as long as the system works even with the app closed, that's what matters most. I've been dealing with trailers for 25 years, and as long as you've got the primary gain set pretty good, the odds of needing the panic button, much less having the cognitive capacity AND time to hit it in the case of an emergency is pretty darn slim. I'd say it sounds like a perfect option for part time towers, SUV's, etc.

I do agree it's really stupid to have to agree to not use it while driving. Likely a requirement for legal purposes, but awful stupid in function.

I suppose you'd have to use the dimmer on your phone screen itself. Strange that dark mode would still emit that much light...
 

2kwik4u

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Ok, as long as the system works even with the app closed, that's what matters most. I've been dealing with trailers for 25 years, and as long as you've got the primary gain set pretty good, the odds of needing the panic button, much less having the cognitive capacity AND time to hit it in the case of an emergency is pretty darn slim. I'd say it sounds like a perfect option for part time towers, SUV's, etc.
Agreed here. I've been towing for decades as well, and I've only ever used the "panic" button a time or two. Once saved my ass, but I was already arguably going too fast to begin with.

For me, I doubt I ever buy another controller. I might get another truck, but this worked good enough that I'm not sure I see the value in going through the wiring and mounting of an aftermarket controller again.

I do agree it's really stupid to have to agree to not use it while driving. Likely a requirement for legal purposes, but awful stupid in function.
I'm sure it's legal issues. It's a big orange warning, and you have to click accept to continue. I get it, but I don't like it.

I suppose you'd have to use the dimmer on your phone screen itself. Strange that dark mode would still emit that much light...
So once you figure out how to get it to dark mode, it's OK. It doesn't change automagically like everything else on the phone. Once it's in Dark Mode it's not horrid, but the button being some color other than bright effing orange would be nice. I had the dimmer on mine all the way down and it was still brighter than I like.
 
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