Do you need the best towed vehicle braking system? Camping in our recreational vehicle is delightful and such a perfect time to bond with our families. For many of us, it’s our primary shelter and mode of transportation. But then, it’s not the only vehicle we’ll drive, especially if we want to explore a town or go to certain places.
That’s why we need to tow another vehicle which is more suitable for driving in narrow streets. However, the weight of the towed vehicle can be an issue and dangerous, too. Braking can be challenging while towing another vehicle like an SUV. For this, you need a tow brake system that works well in keeping your driving safe for you and your family.
Table of Contents
Best Towed Vehicle Braking Systems
1. Hopkins 39530 BrakeBuddy Stealth
- Low profile design
- Delivers full braking capabilities at a proportionate rate to the tow vehicle
- Responsive inertia sensor
- Fast restoration of the vacuum system
- Easy connection and disconnection with any vehicle
- Can be tricky to install
The BrakeBuddy Stealth is a remarkable piece of supplemental braking technology. It comes with several neat features that give the system versatility and effortless operation.
One of the most essential attributes of this Hopkins brake system for towed vehicles is its efficient braking power. It applies the same brake power to the towed vehicle to make your stopping distance a lot shorter.
You will also find the sensitivity of the inertia sensors to be spot-on. A braking event’s inertia instantly triggers the BrakeBuddy to activate the towed vehicle’s brake pedal. There are no delays in the restoration of the vacuum system, either. You can be sure that you have 100% braking power every time, regardless of how frequently you apply the brakes.
The BrakeBuddy lives up to its name. You can install it out of sight. It is also straightforward to operate. You can easily connect the system to any vehicle that you want to tow. The BrakeBuddy also makes it effortless to disconnect. This is important when you need to disconnect your towed vehicle in a flash.
Several towed vehicle braking system reviews say that the BrakeBuddy Stealth is not for novice RVers who may not know a thing or two about installing such systems. There is no doubt that the Stealth is a remarkable product. However, one has to be knowledgeable and skillful in its installation to enjoy the many benefits that the system provides.
2. Roadmaster 9160 Towed Car Braking System
- Provides automatic, proportional, and synchronized braking
- Comes with an emergency BrakeAway device
- Compatible with air brakes or air-over-hydraulic brakes vehicles
- Works with cars that come with power brakes, ABS is not needed
- Requires additional hardware to complete the installation
- Not compatible with power assist brakes
If you want a reliable flat tow brake system that you can install on any vehicle, you should consider the Roadmaster 9160. This is a system that provides reliable and rock-solid braking for your motorhome and dinghy vehicle.
The 9160 Brakemaster braking system for towed vehicles comes with an ingenious technology that allows it to synchronize the brake systems of the motorhome and the towed vehicle. The system will enable you to reduce your stopping distance whenever you apply the brakes. There is no need to worry about the weight of the tow vehicle affecting your stopping capabilities.
You will also appreciate the versatility of the 9160 Brakemaster. It works with any motorhome type with air brakes or air-over-hydraulic brakes. It does not matter if the tow vehicle does not have an ABS. The Brakemaster will still work.
The system works best with cars that come with power brakes. However, it’s not compatible with power assist brakes.
One component that separates the 9160 Brakemaster from other products is its Brake Away System. This allows you to stop the towed vehicle immediately when it’s separated from your RV. It is the perfect solution for emergencies.
The Roadmaster 9160 tow vehicle braking system is not very easy to install. Unfortunately, its installation can take a few weeks because you still need to purchase additional parts and hardware. This can translate to extra cost in terms of parts and labor.
3. Demco 9599007 Braking System
- Ideal for motorhomes with air brake systems
- Energizes the toad’s power brakes without using an electronic vacuum system
- Slim design that can be installed under the hood
- Comes with Total Coach Protection that safeguards the motorhome
- 100% proportionate and synchronized braking
- More expensive than other systems
The Demco 9599007 Air Force One is a one-of-a-kind braking system built for modern motorhomes. The product has an ingenious technology that energizes the toad’s power brakes without using an electronic vacuum system.
This SMI braking system relies on the motorhome’s air brake system signal to deliver proportional and synchronized braking. It automatically activates the brakes on the towed vehicle when you step on the brake pedal of your RV.
Everything occurs in real-time. There is no lag between the pedal’s pressing and the activation of the brakes in the towed vehicle. You also get the same amount of braking force in the wheels of your car.
The Air Force One also has a very slim design that you can install under the hood and hidden from view. Once installed, you can forget having to activate the system every time you connect your toad at the back of your motorhome.
It is also worth noting that the Air Force One has a Total Coach Protection system. This is a proprietary name for what other products call the breakaway system. The technology protects the air supply of your RV in the event of a sudden separation of the towed vehicle. This protects your motorhome, allowing you to continue your adventures.
The only downside to this Demco device is its price. It is as much as twice the price of other systems. This is not an issue for many RV owners. The dependability and performance of the Air Force One is enough justification.
4. Blue Ox BRK2019 Brake System
- RV monitor provides constant feedback and is easy to adjust
- Monitor doubles as a failsafe mechanism to prevent fishtailing
- Removable design for portability
- A breeze to install
- Can operate on on almost any vehicle
- One of the most expensive systems on the market
- LCD controller display information can be difficult to see
The Patriot 3 is innovative supplemental braking that does an excellent job of keeping your motorhome adventures safe. This Blue Ox braking system has enough features that will make other products look unimpressive.
Blue Ox designed the Patriot 3 with optimum portability in mind. The company believes that many motorhome owners have several vehicles they may want to bring along. The Patriot 3 is a compact and portable device that you can install on one vehicle and then remove and place into a different tow vehicle. The system allows for effortless installation of the unit in other cars. It is a versatile braking system.
When it comes to braking, the Patriot 3 works as efficiently as it should. The system comes with a remote that monitors the acceleration of the motorhome. The same device serves as an efficient control system. You can easily adjust the sensitivity and the pressure on your brakes.
It also doubles as a failsafe mechanism. You can use it to override your brake system. This is handy in instances when you want to prevent your towed vehicle from fishtailing.
While many laud the inclusion of an LCD RV controller, they do wish that Blue Ox designed the device with a more readable display. The information can be very challenging to decipher for people with visual problems.
Another minor concern is its price. This product is one of the most expensive towed vehicle braking systems on the market. However, you really cannot say anything negative about its performance. This makes the Patriot 3 worth it.
5. Roadmaster 9100 Towed Car Braking System
- Suitable for RVs with air or air over hydraulic brakes
- Compatible with motorhomes that have air-over-hydraulic brake systems
- Installation is effortless
- Construction ensures longevity
- Does not come with complete installation components
- Does not have a breakaway system
The Roadmaster 9100 Brakemaster is a nice product for motorhome owners who do not have a need for a break away system. It is very similar to the Roadmaster 9160 Brakemaster both in design and functionality. The only difference is the absence of the Break Away System, which the 9160 Brakemaster has.
One advantage of the 9100 Brakemaster is that it works with motorhomes that have air or air over hydraulic brakes. This makes the product appealing to motorhome owners.
Its design also facilitates effortless installation. I only had to drill the hole and mount the bracket. Many RV tow vehicle brake systems require complicated procedures to have them installed or removed. You will not have such issues with this product.
The 9100 Brakemaster is also one of the most affordable systems you can get. However, the package does not come with the different installation components that you may need. This can translate into additional costs that can undermine the affordability of the product. Once you have the mounting plate bolted onto your floorboard, everything else is a breeze.
You might also miss the Break Away System of the 9160 Brakemaster. You will have to acclimate yourself to the absence of this feature by driving as safely and defensively as you can. Making sure everything is in order before moving should give you the peace of mind you need on the road.
6. BrakeBuddy 39494 Brake System Classic 3
- Comes with 3 preset braking settings
- Real-time monitoring and notification of braking action
- Can be moved to different cars
- No hidden cost
- Ingenious one-touch AutoStart technology
- Some people may find the system tricky to install
There are dinghy towing brake systems that seem affordable at first. However, when you factor in other attributes, these products tend to cost you more than planned. You will never have this kind of problem with the BrakeBuddy Classic 3.
One admirable feature of the Classic 3 is its pre-programmed brake power settings for different vehicles. There is a low setting for small cars, such as compact SUVs. Small SUVs, mid-size pickups and crossovers can have a medium braking setting. The highest possible setting is for larger vehicles. The system effectively takes the hassle of finding the correct brake power settings for your car.
There is one reason why people love the braking presets of the Classic 3. It allows them to maximize the versatility and portability of the unit. You can quickly move it to different cars, depending on your needs. As such, you can install it on your off-road vehicle one time and your family sedan at other times.
You will also appreciate the wireless brake performance monitoring unit of the Classic 3. It makes it easy to determine the working condition of your system. There is also the one-touch AutoStart system that does more than activate the Classic 3. This feature also has diagnostic capabilities, keeping you informed of the status of your brakes.
While the Brake Buddy Classic 3 is a very portable device, some people find it tricky to install the system in their vehicle. You can use learning resources to determine the best possible approach to the system’s installation.
7. Roadmaster 9700 Supplemental Braking System
- Three presets: light, medium, and heavy
- Active brake monitoring and notification system
- Free from false braking
- Comes with fast-charging, high-performance air compressor
- Fully adjustable brake pedal clamp and feet
- Bulkier than other brands
If you are the type of motorhome owner who feels more secure with an efficient breakaway protection system, this product is a wise choice. It has all the excellent qualities of the 9160 Brakemaster but with a more portable and versatile design.
The Roadmaster 9700 comes with three presets: light, medium, and heavy. The system makes sure that your towed vehicle will also start braking the moment you apply pressure on your motorhome brakes.
To help minimize brake wear due to extended braking, the 9700 also comes with an active monitoring and notification system. It keeps track of the force applied to the brakes and alerts you with a tone if you are unnecessarily braking for too long. This is one way you can keep the integrity of your brake system.
The 9700 only activates with brake light illumination. This prevents false braking. Most products on the market rely on inertia sensors. As soon as the sensors detect deceleration, these products get activated. The 9700 does not do that. It turns on only when the brake light turns on.
Braking consumes your motorhome’s air supply. Because the 9700 can recharge the air reservoir faster than other brands, this allows you to apply the brakes again quickly. This system also comes with an adjustable brake pedal clamp that ensures the perfect fit for any brake pedal. The feet are also adjustable to ensure stability and security.
While it is portable, some car owners complain of its tight fit into space under the steering wheel. It is bulkier than other portable products on the market.
8. Hopkins Towed Vehicle Brake System
- Delivers correct brake power to towed vehicle
- Comes with a wireless controller for efficient pairing with the unit
- Features sensitivity control for optimum brake response
- Brake pedal clamp is easy to install and remove
- Has a portable, stable design
- Brake pedal clamp may not fit certain vehicles
Hopkins is one of the most trusted names when it comes to braking systems for motorhomes and recreational vehicles. Its Brake Buddy Select 3 is one of the brand’s best selling products because of its portability and reliable features.
Select 3 is almost similar to the Stealth when it comes to performance. It applies the correct braking force on the towed vehicle’s wheels in proportion to the force used on the motorhome. Never again will you have to fret about your car’s weight becoming such a hindrance to effective braking.
Users of the system love the Select 3’s wireless controller. It pairs with the central unit in an instant. It also gives you feedback about the status of the system, which is crucial if there is a problem with your brake components. You will also like the sensitivity controls of the Select 3, which are designed for different vehicle types.
Installing Select 3 is never an issue. The brake pedal clamp is easy to install and remove. However, there are individual brake pedals that the clamp may not fit. This is often the case in vehicles with small brake pedals.
9. Roadmaster 8700 Power Braking System
- Delivers progressive brake force for safer and more efficient braking
- Help protect the brakes of the towed vehicle from excessive wear
- Can charge the tow vehicle’s battery while driving
- Low profile, space-saving design
- Requires professional installation
The Roadmaster Invisibrake braking system uses a very different kind of technology for managing the braking capabilities of both your tow and towed vehicle. This product employs a progressive braking system that gradually increases the brake force to the towed vehicle.
Such a design allows for safer and more efficient braking. As long as you apply pressure on the brake pedal, the force to the towed vehicle’s brakes also increases. It will only reduce the braking force after 15 seconds of continuous braking. This is to help protect the brakes of the towed vehicle from excessive wear.
One very nice feature of the 8700 Invisibrake is its ability to charge your tow vehicle’s battery. Most systems draw power from the battery as they run. This is not the case with the Invisibrake. It contributes to the generation of power for keeping the battery charge at optimum levels.
There is one minor hiccup for the Invisibrake. If you do not have basic knowledge of your car’s electrical and braking systems, you will have to call a professional to install the Invisibrake for you. An improperly installed Invisibrake can cause some severe problems in your lights. The product also comes with so many components that keeping track of where each part should go can be confusing.
10. Roadmaster 9400 Even Brake System
- Very easy to install and operate motorhome and car braking system
- Full-time proportional and synchronized braking
- Comes with a low battery alert
- Self-diagnostic monitoring and testing capabilities
- Advanced terrain-sensing logic
- May not work at high altitudes
- A bit expensive
The Roadmaster 9400 Even Brake System is perfect for people who want a high-performance device that is very easy to install and even easier to operate. This product offers the same performance level that you can get from other Roadmaster systems in a portable and convenient design.
The main advantage of the 9400 even portable system is its ridiculously simple installation. All you ever need is to position the device in front of the driver’s seat and secure the clamp into the brake pedal. You can then connect the unit by adjusting the driver’s seat, which serves as an anchor for the system. Plug the accompanying wiring harness into your car’s 12-volt outlet, and the system is ready.
Once plugged, the Even portable system performs a self-test to get your brakes ready. When you apply the brakes, the system delivers the same amount of force to the brake pads on your towed vehicle. There are no delays to worry about or even differences in brake intensity.
Since the system connects to the towed vehicle’s electrical system, it can also monitor the status of the car’s battery. It alerts you to a low battery status using its LCD and LED notification. You can then park your motorhome and get ready to recharge your battery before you continue on your journey.
The 9400 Even portable systems also come with advanced terrain-sensing logic. This is important when you drive on uneven terrain or when negotiating uphill or downhill. The problem is that the system can fail if you go at very high altitudes, as there is not much air in these places.
What Is A Towed Vehicle Braking System/ How Does It Work
A towed vehicle braking system is a supplemental braking system that you need when towing your street vehicle. This system will make stopping vehicles easier and save your RV’s brakes from wear and tear, freeing you from any headaches and additional spending.
Tow braking systems also help to lower your braking distance. Most importantly, this braking system, which is a requirement in many states, keeps you and your loved ones safe from accidents that happen due to increased braking distance.
Vehicle braking systems are valuable in terms of accident prevention. The towed vehicle will have fewer chances of bumping into your RV. The RV and the toad won’t knock against each other either because your RV’s brakes communicate with the toad’s brakes.
With a braking system, the towed vehicle’s weight and momentum during braking will not strain your mobile home’s brakes. In this case, you can also prevent any accidents.
Braking systems work either in a time-delayed or proportional manner.
The proportional one gives the same brake pressure amount to the towed vehicle’s brakes and the recreational vehicle. For example, if you brake lightly, the same power amount will be directed to the towed vehicle’s brakes.
The time-delayed system lets the user set the power amount sent to the toad after a certain amount of time (e.g. three seconds).
I recommend a portable braking system if you’re switching or changing towed vehicles often. But then, take note that installing such a system takes about an hour. It also involves adjusting the pedal clamp over the brake pedal of your recreational vehicle. You also need to plug in the wiring harness and the power cord.
You might also opt for a direct braking system that is used by RV owners that tow only one vehicle all the time. This system is connected to the braking system of the mobile home. However, the installation is more challenging than that of the portable one.
Most of the time, towing braking systems include breakaway kits and electronics that can detect if the towed vehicle’s been separated from the hitch. When this happens, the battery will send power to the toad’s brakes so that the vehicle will slow down.
Types Of Towed Vehicle Braking Systems
A proportional braking system comes with a device that monitors your brakes. It can be a sensor that watches the amount of pressure being applied or an accelerometer that measures the acceleration and deceleration.
The braking system will then apply a pressure amount that is proportional to the toad. Thus, the two vehicles running in one file will have a similar intensity brake.
This brake does not adjust the pressure like the proportional braking system. When the towed vehicle registers that its brakes have been applied, it starts using the brakes with an increasing pressure, which will keep increasing as you depress the primary vehicle’s brake pedal. Still, the pressure will eventually disappear, protecting the towed vehicle’s brakes.
These braking systems are directly wired into the brakes of your primary vehicle. They will be the brakes of your car, not matching your vehicle’s brakes. Whatever pressure that you apply to the primary brake pedal will be directly applied to the toad. However, they’re hard to install even if they’re very accurate. You might want to seek a professional mechanic’s help to install them.
These are the basic types of toad braking systems that you must know to set your expectations from the beginning and think about which one may be right for you. In the next section of our towed vehicle braking systems reviews and buying guide, let’s talk about the benefits of using a toad braking system.
Benefits Of Using A Towed Vehicle Braking System
A towed vehicle brake system offers plenty of benefits, including your peace of mind while towing a vehicle behind when traveling with your family. Check out the following for more about the benefits of using this braking system.
It can be dangerous not just for your family but also for other people on the road without a braking system. Without this, you will rely on your main brakes to stop the rig, resulting in more than twice the stopping distance, especially when braking on inclines or slippery roads.
To prevent this from happening, you need a brake system which can reduce your primary brakes’ strain and take some of the load. In this case, you can control your vehicle better.
You might have to replace your brakes often if you don’t have a braking system because not having it will strain and cause your primary brakes’ wear and tear. This will also result in the brake pads wearing faster, so you might have to replace them sooner. Not using a toad brake system can also double your stopping distance.
A tow car brake system will also help you abide by the law. Many states require a brake installed for vehicles towing 3,000 lbs in general. You need to follow the law in your state where you are driving your recreational vehicle. The toad’s brake lights should also be activated when the primary vehicle’s brake lights are.
How We Picked
When choosing a toad brake system, you need to remember certain things to ensure that you’re buying one that matches your needs. The following are factors or features we consider when comparing different systems.
Toad brakes should be ready to offer a significant stopping power when needed. In this case, they can increase/decrease their braking pressure. It will prevent the toad brakes from straining.
Status monitoring and brake lights
When choosing a braking system, like an SMI braking system, it is also essential to find one with status monitoring in the form of signs or a dashboard alert. You must know how much pressure the toad’s brakes are applying. Plus, they must connect to the tow vehicle’s brake lights.
Non-portable and portable
Braking systems for towed vehicles are portable or non-portable. The non-portable ones are installed directly into just one car. They cannot be reused or taken out. They are permanently installed into your vehicle and cannot be used with multiple toads. Usually, hard wiring is needed. You might also need the help of a professional to install them. However, the installation can be costly and time-consuming.
On the other hand, the portable ones can be reinstalled in other vehicles and can be uninstalled. They are easier to set up, but you need to reinstall them whenever you are driving. Portable braking systems are ideal for people who use more than one vehicle.
They are also convenient to use because you don’t have to pay for the installation. You don’t even have to buy a new brake system for a new vehicle to be towed. However, they can be damaged if you move them often.
Great braking systems must have a LED, which can be useful because it can signal their status and other information, including diagnostic tools. You can also find those displaying information on the output voltage, output current, and warning alerts. Thus, you can correct or troubleshoot any issues to avoid any hassle later.
You can also find toad brake systems with diagnostic displays in different languages and colors for more convenient use. No matter what you choose, you need to ensure that they’re easy to read and have menu options.
You need some hookup to the primary vehicle so that the braking system can perform its job. You need to connect some wires to the ports of the towing vehicle and the toad. The braking system uses them to check what is happening in the towing vehicle’s brakes and respond appropriately.
Hydraulic and compressed brakes
Remember that RV toad braking systems aren’t universal. Some models access the compressed air that runs the heavier vehicles’ brakes. Before buying one, you need to see if it can work with the brakes installed into the car you will be towing with.
These are some of the things to consider when finding the right braking system you need for your towed vehicle. Study your options well and figure out what system can work best for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the most popular towed vehicle braking system brands?
A: Some of the most trusted brands include Hopkins, Roadmaster, Demco, Blue Ox, and Brake Buddy. Check them out when comparing the different options that you have for towed car brake systems. They are the most trusted in the category because they offer quality and durable brake systems.
Q: What states require brakes on towed vehicles?
A: Forty states and DC specify the weight limits above which a toad needs a supplemental braking system. Three states require RV owners to have braking systems, and six other states require a specific stopping distance.
Q: What are the two types of braking systems?
A: When finding the best braking system for towed vehicles, you also need to determine if you want a portable or a non-portable one, which we’ve discussed earlier. The portable ones can be removed and reinstalled in other vehicles, so they might be for you if you’re planning to use them in at least two cars to be towed. On the other hand, the non-portable ones cannot be reused, reinstalled, or removed.
Q: How to install?
A: The installation process can be complicated or simple. It depends on the type of towing braking system you’d use and if you’re always switching motorhomes. Generally, refer to the user manual to follow the specific instructions from the manufacturer to install yours properly.
Q: How to use it?
A: Having a braking system can ensure that you will have a safe ride and prevent accidents on the road. To use it properly, check the user manual that comes with it to adjust its settings, care and clean for it, and read associated information on using it.
Q: How to maintain & care/ clean?
A: Most of the time, you need help from a professional to clean a braking system to prevent issues like it malfunctioning. Alternatively, you can also refer to the user manual that comes with your purchase.
The best towed vehicle braking system is one of the essentials you need to drive safely on the road while towing your street vehicle. To choose the right one, get started with the reviews that we’ve shared above, and compare each product’s pros and cons. Be sure to check out the things to remember when selecting this kind of product. Buy a toad braking system today!
Except when sleeping, Arthur cannot keep camping out his mind. He loves RVing that he spends most of his time in his recreational vehicle and on the road. Arthur knows that this might change once he got married to the love of his life, Amanda. But the two have no problem, as Amanda also loves camping. In fact, the both of them are excited to have kids that would also love RVing.