When you’re towing a trailer; either on a smooth highway or off-road over tough terrain; you’re asking a whole lot more of your tow vehicle! You no longer have to control just your tow vehicle but also the weight and force of your trailer behind it. This can be a problem when you need to come to a stop, with a large trailer on the back. An effective trailer braking system is a legal requirement but will also allow you to tow with confidence, knowing your vehicle can come to a quick stop, when you need it to.

Read on to find out more about electric braking systems.

What does the law say?

Firstly, let’s be clear on what the rules are…

  • Trailers that weigh over 750kg must be fitted with brakes
  • Trailers that weigh over 2,000kg must be fitted with electric brakes

For more information about the rules for braking systems on trailers, read our article here or consult the South Australian Driver’s Handbook section on Towing and Loads.

What are the options for trailer braking systems?

There are two main options:

  • inertia brakes 
  • electric brakes. 

 What are inertia brakes?

Inertia brakes use a device that senses when the tow vehicle is slowing down and applies the trailer brakes. Inertia brakes are suited to road driving but are not the best option for off-road because the system can interpret unstable surfaces and engage the trailer brakes when it is dangerous to do so. 

What are electric brakes?

Electric brakes use a sensor controlled by the tow vehicle’s brake lights. When the lights activate, so does the brake controller. This sends power down a separate heavy-duty circuit to the trailer brakes. Because electric brake systems only activate when the tow vehicle’s braking system is in use, they still work on rough, uneven terrain.

Electric brakes are the best choice for off-road.

How do I use an electric brake controller?

To use electric brakes, your tow vehicle will need to have a brake controller installed. This is usually a simple process on 4×4 vehicles. The brake controller is a small box that can be mounted on or under your dashboard. You can also choose to activate the brakes manually, via a switch on the brake controller.

Check out the video from REDARC to see how electric brake controllers are used, to assist with safe towing.

Click here to see more of our range of REDARC electric brake controllers.

Do electric brakes need to be hard-wired in?

Not in all circumstances. There are trailer-mounted electric brake controllers available on the market such as Elecbrake which we stock here at Hall Towbars.

Benefits of trailer mounted brake controllers:

  • ‘Plug & Play’: 10 minute install Trailer-mounting for multi tow vehicle use
  • Smooth proportional braking
  • 5 preset braking programs
  • Stored settings allow for multi-user accessibility
  • Tough, urethane resin encased electronics
  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Easily connects to existing trailer circuits

Speak to our team to see if trailer-mounted brakes are suitable for your needs.


An electric brake controller system will let you stop as smoothly as if you weren’t towing, giving you the confidence to take your caravan or trailer off-road safely.

Need to chat?

Contact us today to discuss fitting an electric braking system to your vehicle. If you want a quick quote, give our team a call on 8360 5100 or fill in the contact form below, ensuring that you include your vehicle make and model.

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