What Should Trailer Brake Gain Be Set At

Trailer brake gain might seem insignificant at first glance, but anyone who has pulled a trailer knows how crucial it can be. It’s a nuanced subject, filled with a surprising amount of complexity. The gain can be 20% all the way upto 80%. But don’t worry, we’re here to untangle the threads and guide you through what gain should you use.

What Should Trailer Brake Gain Be Set At

What Does Trailer Brake Gain Do?

Trailer brake gain helps you control how hard the brakes work on a trailer you’re towing. Think of it like a dial that you can turn up or down. If you set it right, your trailer follows your vehicle smoothly, without feeling out of control. 

How Often Do You Need to Adjust Trailer Brake Gain?

Just like tuning a musical instrument to hit the perfect note, the brake gain of your trailer needs occasional adjustments to ensure that the harmony between your vehicle and trailer is pitch-perfect. Let’s face it, no one likes a trailer that’s on its own on the road.

Adjusting trailer brake gain isn’t something you’ll be doing every day, nor is it a rare event. It’s a periodic task, one that requires attention when certain factors come into play. These factors include changes in the trailer’s weight, differences in road conditions, and switching between various trailers. Here’s a breakdown:

When You Change Trailers

Each trailer has its own unique personality. You wouldn’t wear flip-flops to a black-tie event, so why use the same brake gain setting for different trailers?

When You Change Road Conditions

Slick highways, rough off-road trails, or muddy paths, each road sings a different song, and your trailer’s brake gain needs to dance to the tune.

When You Change Cargo Weight

A trailer loaded with fluffy pillows will need a different touch compared to one carrying heavy machinery.

What Range a Trailer Brake Gain Should Be Set?

Trailer brake gain is not a one size fits all kind of setting. It is dictated by the type of trailer, the road conditions, and the weight of the cargo. This critical aspect of towing can often be overlooked, but getting it right. 

Let’s explore:

When Trailer Is Changed


Trailers all move differently. Different trailers have different weights, sizes, and brake systems. These variables impact how the brake gain should be set to ensure a well-coordination between the truck and the trailer.


Heavyweight trailer

It is heavy doesn’t mean you have to set maximum gain for the trailer keep it around 70% to 80% depending on road conditions.

Medium Weight Trailer

This is the most common type of trailer. Depending on road conditions your gain should be around 40%-60%.

Light Weight Trailer

Light weight trailers don’t need much brake. But that doesn’t mean you should not use any gain at all keep the gain from 20% to 30% depending on where you’re driving.

When You Change Road Conditions


Imagine you’re driving on a smoothly paved road, and then suddenly you find yourself on a bumpy, muddy path. The change in road conditions means a change in how your trailer behaves, and consequently, the brake gain needs to be adjusted to maintain control and safety.


Gain for Highway Roads

You’re going to drive fast in highway plus you will get good traction, but doesn’t mean you have to set maximum gain for the trailer keep it around 70% to 80% depending on trailer weight.

Gain for Off-roads

You will be getting less traction here. Depending on trailer weight your gain should be around 40%-60%.

Gain for Muddy Roads

Muddy roads don’t have much traction. But that doesn’t mean you should not use any gain at all keep the gain from 20% to 30% depending on trailer weight and if you have mudtires.

Which Type of Brake Controller Provides Better Brake Gain for Trailers?

When it comes to towing a trailer, the brake controller determines how the trailer follows the towing vehicle, creating a balance that’s critical to safety and performance. Now, the question is, what’s the ideal type of brake controller to achieve this goal?

Wireless Trailer Brake Controller

Wireless Trailer Brake Controllers are the modern ones in the towing world. They work by connecting to a Bluetooth-enabled device, giving the driver the ability to adjust brake gain without wires.


  • Ease of Use: No tangled wires to deal with.
  • Flexibility: Ideal for those who switch between multiple trailers.
  • Portability: Easily move it between different towing vehicles.


  • Dependence on Connectivity: If the Bluetooth connection fails, you might find yourself in a pickle.
  • Compatibility Issues: Not all trailers might be compatible with a wireless setup.

Integrated Trailer Brake Controller

The Integrated Trailer Brake Controller is typically built into the towing vehicle itself. It’s like the wise elder of brake controllers, known for its reliability and efficiency.


  • Seamless Experience: Everything is in one place, making adjustments a breeze.
  • High Compatibility: Works excellently with the specific vehicle it’s built into.
  • Robust Performance: Less prone to connectivity or compatibility issues.


  • Less Flexibility: If you switch trailers often, this might not be your first choice.
  • Potential Complexity: Some integrated systems might require professional installation or adjustments.

Air Trailer Brake Controller

Air Trailer Brake Controllers use air pressure to apply the brakes. These are often found in commercial settings, used for heavyweight trailers.


  • Powerful Control: When it comes to handling heavy loads, air brake controllers are the champs.
  • Reliable: They’ve been around for quite some time and have proven their worth.
  • Safety Features: Many systems come with fail-safes to prevent total brake failure.


  • Not Suitable for Lighter Trailers: Like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, it might be overkill for lightweight trailers.
  • Complexity: May require specialized knowledge or professional installation.

What Brake Gain Is Not Right for the Trailer?

Finding the perfect brake gain setting for your trailer is much like crafting a fine dish, too much or too little of a key ingredient, and the entire recipe is thrown off balance. When it comes to brake gain, neither extreme is conducive to a safe or comfortable towing experience.

Overapplying brake gain can cause a trailer’s brakes to react too abruptly, leading to wear and tear on the brake system, jolting stops, and even skidding. On the other hand, underapplying the brake gain results in a sluggish brake response, compromising the safety of the vehicle by extending stopping distances. 

Essentially, determining what brake gain is not right for the trailer requires a careful balance, an understanding of the trailer’s specific needs, and knowledge of road conditions. In the world of trailer towing, having too much or too little of a good thing is a path best avoided.

Which Trailer Type Needs More Brake Gain?

Setting the right trailer brake gain isn’t just about safety, it’s about efficiency, wear and tear, and even fuel economy. It’s not all about the sheer weight either, although that plays a significant role. Understanding this will not only enhance your driving experience but also extend the life of your brakes.

Lightweight (Below 7000 lbs.)

Lightweight trailers are often used for transporting personal belongings or small commercial goods, they require a gentle touch. Setting the brake gain too high here would be like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. 

This category demands caution in setting brake gain, ensuring the brake pressure is in unison with the trailer’s petite weight. Too much brake gain leads to premature wear and tear. Too little will reduce control over the vehicle. But make sure to keep gain on the lower side.

Midweight (Around 7000 lbs. – 14000 lbs.)

The midweight trailers are the workhorses of the trailer world. Whether it’s moving furniture or hauling construction materials, these trailers offer a balanced blend of power and agility. 

With the weight being in the mid-range, brake gain needs to be proportionally adjusted. Too high, and you risk overstraining the brake system. Too low, and it’s like trying to rein in a galloping horse with a silk thread. The optimal brake gain setting for midweight trailers should be around 50%.

Heavyweight (Over 14000 lbs.)

Heavyweight trailers are giants, demanding respect and a proper understanding of brake gain settings. They are used for transporting heavy machinery, bulk goods, and sometimes even other vehicles. 

More weight requires more brake gain. However, you can’t just crank it up to the maximum. Like a master conductor leading an orchestra, setting the brake gain for heavyweight trailers requires a nuanced understanding of both the vehicle and the road conditions. 

Get the gain right, and you’re cruising, get it wrong, and well, you’re in for a bumpy ride. So, instead of turning it upto 100% keep it at around 80%.

What Trailer Brake Gain Is Suitable for Which Road Type?

When it comes to towing, the environment plays a significant role in determining how you should set your trailer brake gain. It’s a versatile calculation, like crafting a bespoke suit for different occasions.

You wouldn’t wear beachwear to a formal event. Likewise, the way you set your trailer brake gain will vary depending on whether you’re cruising down the highway or trudging through mud. Let’s take a closer look at the road types and how they influence the brake gain settings.


Highways offer a smooth and predictable terrain, enabling consistent driving speeds. It’s the perfect environment to keep your brake gain setting at a moderate level.

  • Suitable Brake Gain: Moderately adjusted. Because of Consistency in speed and road conditions.
  • Result: Smooth braking response, matching the trailer’s brakes with the truck for a balanced and harmonious ride.
  • Pro Tip: Check the weight of your trailer and set the brake gain accordingly, keeping in mind the highway’s speed limits. Too low, and you risk losing control; too high, and you might wear the brakes out.


Off-roading with a trailer is an exhilarating adventure, but it demands careful consideration of your brake gain setting. Off-road terrain is unpredictable, with twists, turns, bumps, and dips galore. It’s like a rollercoaster ride for your trailer.

  • Suitable Brake Gain: Carefully adjusted to a higher or lower setting depending on the terrain. Because unpredictable terrain requires more refined control.
  • Result: The ability to navigate complex terrains without losing control or risking damage to the trailer’s brakes.
  • Pro Tip: Adjust the brake gain in small increments, testing as you go. The wild nature of off-roading means a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it.


Stuck in the mud? Muddy roads are slippery and can be treacherous to navigate with a trailer. They require a skilled touch.

  • Suitable Brake Gain: Lower setting. Because the slippery nature of mud requires a softer touch on the brakes to avoid skidding.
  • Result: Maintained control even in the muddiest of situations.
  • Pro Tip: Remember, mud can be deceptive! If you’re not sure how deep or sticky it might be, take it slow, and don’t be afraid to adjust on the fly.

What Happens When You Reduce Trailer Brake Gain?

Reducing trailer brake gain is softening the handshake between your vehicle and the trailer. It’s an adjustment that has both potential advantages and drawbacks. When you reduce brake gain, you’re essentially allowing the trailer’s brakes to respond with less force to the towing vehicle’s cues.

A reduction in brake gain can cause the trailer’s brakes to be less responsive. This might be appropriate in certain road conditions like slippery or muddy terrains where too much braking force might cause skidding.

However, reducing the brake gain too much could lead to a lack of control over the trailer, particularly during sudden stops. The trailer might not stop as quickly as the towing vehicle, leading to longer stopping distances and potential instability.

In a nutshell, the process of reducing trailer brake gain is a delicate balance that must be finely tuned to ensure safety and smooth operation. It requires understanding the specific requirements of your trailer and the conditions you’ll be driving in.

What Happens When You Increase Trailer Brake Gain?

When you increase the trailer brake gain, you’re essentially turning up the volume on the trailer’s brakes. In terms of trailer brake gain, increasing it means that the brakes on the trailer will respond more aggressively. While this might be beneficial when you’re hauling a heavy load, it’s has downsides.

Increase the brake gain too much, and the trailer might start out braking the truck, leading to a bumpy ride that’s about as comfortable as riding a mechanical bull. Over time, this braking can wear down the trailer’s brakes, tires, and even damage the connection between the truck and trailer.

However, if managed properly and with finesse, a slight increase in brake gain can offer better control and safety, especially when dealing with heavy loads or demanding road conditions.

So, the next time you find yourself fiddling with the trailer brake gain, remember, a little goes a long way. Too much, and you might just find yourself in a rodeo you never signed up for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is trailer stopping the truck or the truck stopping the trailer?

Both of them should be stopping at the same time. The truck initiates the braking process, but the trailer brake gain needs to be adjusted so that the trailer follows the lead smoothly.

Is trailer brake gain set automatically?

While automation is the new buzzword, not all brake controllers are created equal. Some advanced systems do offer automatic adjustment based on factors like weight and road condition. Still, in most instances, it requires the driver’s expertise to fine tune the settings for that perfect towing harmony.

What PSI should trailer brakes be?

Trailer brake pressure typically ranges between 100 to 120 PSI. However, it’s a smart move to consult the specific trailer manual, as different manufacturers might have different specifications.

What is the best setting for trailer brake controller?

The best setting depends on a medley of factors, including the trailer’s weight, type, the road condition, and even the weather. The best would be integrated trailer brake controller, thought it is complex in some cases but in most cases it is the best choice.

Why do my brakes need more pressure?

Several culprits might be at play. It could be a leak in the system, worn or damaged components, or an improper adjustment. It’s akin to taking the wind out of the sails of a ship; you just won’t get the performance you need.

How do trailer air brakes work?

Using compressed air, brakes apply significant force to the brake pads, allowing them to stop heavy loads effectively. It’s a pneumatic system that uses air as a mediator to transform the force of your foot on the brake pedal into stopping power

How do trailer brakes get power?

Power for trailer brakes typically comes from the towing vehicle itself. An electrical connection, known as the trailer wiring harness, ensures that the juice flows from the truck to the trailer, activating the brakes when needed.

What happens if air brakes lose pressure?

The loss of pressure in air brakes leads to diminished stopping power and, in extreme cases, brake failure. Regular checks and maintenance are essential to prevent this situation. 

What does low brake pressure feel like?

Low brake pressure feels like trying to push a door with a broken handle. It feels soft, spongy, and unresponsive. It’s a sensation that often signals a problem in the brake system and warrants immediate attention.

What causes poor braking efficiency?

Poor braking efficiency is caused by worn pads, damaged components, leaks, or even poor adjustment can all conspire to rob your brakes of their vitality. A thorough inspection can pinpoint the cause and restore your brakes to their former glory.


Trailer brake gain is an essential aspect of towing that requires understanding, attention, and regular checks. From the weight of the trailer to the type of road, various factors influence how you should set it. The key to successful towing lies in matching the brake gain setting to the trailer’s needs and the road conditions.

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