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How to Select the Best Brake Controller for Your Vehicle

How to Select a Brake Controller - CURTHow to Select a Brake Controller - CURT

3 Steps for Choosing the Right Brake Controller

There are several factors to consider when selecting the best trailer brake controller for your vehicle, including what type of cargo you’ll be towing, how often you’ll be towing and how you prefer to integrate the unit with your vehicle.

This guide will help you determine which brake controller is best for your vehicle and trailer. We will walk through the following steps to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Determine what you will be towing: heavy-duty or light-duty
  2. Estimate how often you'll be towing
  3. Decide how you want to install the controller

Compare CURT Trailer Brake Controllers:

CURT Echo Mobile Brake Controller with Smartphone - 51180CURT Echo Mobile Brake Controller with Smartphone - 51180

Echo® Mobile #51180

Bluetooth® enabled
Portable design

CURT Spectrum Integrated Trailer Brake Controller - 51170CURT Spectrum Integrated Trailer Brake Controller - 51170

Spectrum™ #51170

Integrated OE look
Hidden main module
Tri-color LED display

Assure Brake Controller with Screen 51160Assure Brake Controller with Screen 51160

Assure #51160

Large OLED screen
Full text readout
Tri-axis sensitivity

CURT TriFlex NEXT Proportional Brake Controller - 51146CURT TriFlex NEXT Proportional Brake Controller - 51146


TriFlex™ NEXT #51146

Tri-axis sensitivity
Auto adjustment
Digital display

CURT Discovery NEXT Time-Delay Brake Controller - 51126CURT Discovery NEXT Time-Delay Brake Controller - 51126


Discovery™ NEXT #51126

Adjustable output
No leveling required
Digital display

CURT Venturer Time-Delay Brake Controller - 51110CURT Venturer Time-Delay Brake Controller - 51110


Venturer™ NEXT #51116

Adjustable output
No leveling required
Ramp-up LED display

Part# Number
of Axles
of Brakes
Activation Method Display Vertical
Mount Angle
 Echo® Mobile  51180  1 - 2  2 - 4  Tri-axis inertia  Smartphone app  n/a  Auto
 Spectrum™  51170  1 - 4  2 - 8  Tri-axis inertia  Tri-color LED  Any  Auto
 Assure™  51160  1 - 4  2 - 8  Tri-axis inertia  OLED screen  -20° to +70°  Auto
 TriFlex™ NEXT  51146  1 - 4  2 - 8  Tri-axis inertia  Digital  -20° to +70°  Auto
 Discovery™ NEXT   51126  1 - 4  2 - 8  Time-delay  Digital  Any  Auto
 Venturer™ NEXT   51110  1 - 3  2 - 6  Time-delay  LED ramp-up  Any  Auto

Selecting the Best Trailer Brake Controller in 3 Steps

Step 1: What will you be towing?

Heavy-Duty Towing - Pickup Truck with FlatbedHeavy-Duty Towing - Pickup Truck with Flatbed

Heavy-duty towing

If you are planning to tow heavy or fragile cargo, a proportional brake controller is ideal. Proportional units perform much smoother stops, resulting in less stress on the cargo and vehicle. For the long-term benefits, a proportional brake controller is worth the small difference in cost compared to a time-delay unit.

Light-Duty Towing - Pickup Truck with Horse TrailerLight-Duty Towing - Pickup Truck with Horse Trailer

Light-duty towing

If you are planning to tow a relatively light trailer, such as a popup camper or pontoon boat, a time-delay brake controller may be sufficient. Time-delay controls are more budget-friendly and perform very well with lightweight loads.

Step 2: How often will you be towing?

Commercial Towing - Work Truck with FlatbedCommercial Towing - Work Truck with Flatbed

Frequent towing

If you are planning to tow frequently or commercially, it is recommended that you use a proportional brake controller. Proportional units use accelerometer technology to sense changes in momentum and respond with the utmost accuracy.

Additionally, if you tow with multiple vehicles or manage a fleet, rather than purchasing a separate controller for each vehicle, the Echo® mobile #51180 can easily be transferred from one vehicle to another with very minimal effort.

Jeep Towing Travel Trailer CamperJeep Towing Travel Trailer Camper

Occasional towing

If you tow only a few times a year, a time-delay brake controller may be enough to meet your needs. However, because proportional brake controllers are not drastically different in price, you may want to consider the investment for the added sensitivity and smoothness in braking.

Learn more about proportional vs. time-delay

Step 3: What kind of installation do you prefer?

Non-Invasive No-Splice Brake Controller InstallNon-Invasive No-Splice Brake Controller Install

Non-invasive brake controller

For a completely plug-and-play, non-invasive installation, the Echo® mobile brake controller only requires a 7-way RV blade socket at the rear of the vehicle. Just plug it in, and it wirelessly connects to your smartphone to control and monitor all trailer brake activity.

Integrated Brake Controller InstallIntegrated Brake Controller Install

Fully integrated brake controller

For a factory-style installation and integrated trailer brake controller experience, Spectrum™ is one of the best electric brake controller options. It uses a simple rotary knob to blend in with the other vehicle controls and has a separate main module.

Bracket Mount Brake Controller InstallBracket Mount Brake Controller Install

Bracket mount brake controller

The standard method for mounting a brake controller is a bracket attached above or below the dash. Several traditional CURT brake controllers install this way and allow for easy tilt adjustment. Learn more about how to install a brake controller.

Best Brake Controllers by CURT

#1: Echo® Series

The Echo® series of trailer brake controllers is the number one choice for modern, powerful brake controller operation. Featuring Bluetooth® capabilities that enable them for convenience and functionality, while balancing state-of-the-art controller technology and reliability, the Echo series comes in three distinct models. From Echo mobile, to Echo under-dash to Echo in-line.

Echo® is ideal for all users, from fleet managers with multiple vehicles, to casual drivers.

Best Wireless Brake Controller - EchoBest Wireless Brake Controller - Echo

#2: Spectrum™

Spectrum™ is one of the best integrated brake controllers, featuring a unique, modular design. The control interface itself is separate from the main computer module, allowing it be mounted on the vehicle’s dash, integrated with the other controls.

Spectrum™ is designed to act as a factory brake controller for vehicles that require an aftermarket solution.

Best Integrate Brake Controller - SpectrumBest Integrate Brake Controller - Spectrum

#3: Assure™

Assure™ is engineered to be one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use brake controllers on the market. It features a large, OLED screen that displays full-text readouts of trailer brake settings and operations.

The large screen makes setup straightforward and towing safer, doing away with cryptic numbers and blinking lights. Assure™ also operates with a powerful, triple-axis accelerometer for smooth, safe stops.

Assure Trailer Brake Controller with ScreenAssure Trailer Brake Controller with Screen

#4: TriFlex™ NEXT

TriFlex™ NEXT is one of the best proportional brake controllers from CURT. It is easy to use, highly precise and exceptionally compact for a traditional bracket-mounted brake controller.

TriFlex™ operates with a triple-axis accelerometer, an integrated circuit that delivers smooth, safe stops customized to your vehicle and trailer load.

Best Inertia Brake Controller - TriFlexBest Inertia Brake Controller - TriFlex

#5: Discovery™ NEXT

Discovery™ is a dependable, time delay brake controller with its intuitive interface and professional-grade capabilities. It operates as many as eight trailer brakes at a time and has a crisp digital display for clear readouts.

As a time-based controller. Discovery™ also offers the benefit of being able to be mounted anywhere, at any angle.

Best Time Based Brake Controller - DiscoveryBest Time Based Brake Controller - Discovery

#6: Venturer™ NEXT

Venturer™ NEXT is one of CURT’s top-rated time delay brake controllers because of its simplicity, effectiveness and budget-friendly price. The ramp-up LED readout is clean and easy to understand.

Venturer™ has no moving internal parts and requires no leveling, so setup is fast and straightforward.

Best Trailer Brake Controller for the Money - VenturerBest Trailer Brake Controller for the Money - Venturer

Best Proportional Brake Controller - EchoBest Proportional Brake Controller - Echo

Best Proportional Brake Controller

The best proportional brake controller by CURT is the Echo® series. Echo® is an advanced controller with world-first features, including its wireless, Bluetooth® capabilities. Available in three distinct models, Echo provides powerful, precise trailer brake operation, using a triple-axis, motion-sensing accelerometer.

Best Time Delayed Brake Controller - VenturerBest Time Delayed Brake Controller - Venturer

Best Time-Delayed Brake Controller

The Venturer™ NEXT is one of the best time-delayed brake controllers, taking its price and capabilities into consideration. Venturer™ offers simple, straightforward and effective operation with its ramp-up LED display and traditional time-based gain settings and sensitivity.