REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3
We often overlook the fact that we are allowed to tow significantly more with braked trailers. To be effective trailer brakes need to be in good order, and if electronic, controlled by a reliable brake controller like the REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3.
Like modern UHF radios, it’s easy to mount the main body of the REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3 discretely out of the way. In our LandCruiser, we tucked it up under the dash on the driver’s side. All that’s visible is the small control knob that’s similar in size to most vehicle switches.
I chose to mount the control knob centrally. It means if Gen, or anyone less familiar with the setup, is at the wheel, and a trailer starts to sway, I can easily manually activate the trailer brakes from the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Calibrating the REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3
When first fitting a REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3 brake controller it needs to learn the direction of travel of the vehicle. The inbuilt technology allows for the body of the unit to be mounted in any orientation, making it more straightforward to fit across a variety of vehicles.
The calibration process is an automatic process known as Active Calibration. This calibration is a separate process to adjusting the controller to suit the trailer brakes; we’ll look at that next.
With a trailer connected, and when the Tow Pro Elite is undergoing Active Calibration, the lights on the Tow Pro will flash between blue and green before settling on solid blue once calibration is complete.
This calibration process only needs to happen once, and for our LandCruiser, it was complete after around five minutes of city driving.
Adjusting the Braking Level
The REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3 brake controller is adjustable in increments from 0 to 10.
When adjusting trailer brakes, we’re looking for the sweet spot. If the Tow Pro Elite V3 is dialled too high the trailer brakes will be acting far more aggressively than the vehicle brakes; essentially the trailer will be trying to stop the vehicle. If the Tow Pro is set too low, the vehicle will be doing all the braking, and the trailer will be a dead weight pushing.
When we find the sweet spot, the vehicle and trailer are braking in unison. The trailer won’t be pushing or pulling, and we can stop almost as quickly as when we aren’t towing.
Every different trailer will likely need a different number on the Tow Pro. To find the sweet spot, I drive at slow speeds and adjust the Tow Pro so I can feel the trailer brakes activating early. I then change down, one increment at a time, until the trailer isn’t noticeable.
I’ll then up the speed (on a quiet street) and do a couple of emergency stops. If needed, I’ll make a couple of adjustment and do a few more test stops, but it’s usually not hard to build confidence that the braking configuration is working and set accurately.
Proportional vs User Controlled Mode vs Manual Override
The REDARC Tow Pro Elite V3 brake controller has three methods for activating the trailer brakes, proportional mode, user-controlled and manual override.
In both modes, when the trailer brakes are activated, a red LED shows on the control knob. The harder the braking, the brighter the red.
The proportional braking mode is the mode most travellers would use for the majority of their travels. The trailer brakes are activated in unison to the vehicle proportionally. The Tow Pro has inbuilt inertia sensing, if you apply the brakes in your tow vehicle a little, the trailer brakes will also be activated a little. If you press the vehicle brakes aggressively, this rapid deceleration will be sensed, and the trailer brakes will also be applied aggressively.
The proportional mode is the default setting, and the control knob will show a blue LED to indicate that you are in this mode.
User control mode is more suited to off-roading conditions. To switch into this mode, you need to set the control knob to 0, apply the brakes, press the control knob twice quickly and then release the brakes. The LED should now show green.
In user control mode the trailer brakes will be applied to the level set (0-10) rather than proportionally. On steep off-road descents, especially when the tow vehicle is using low range engine braking only, the trailer will push. Being able to touch the tow vehicle brakes lightly but aggressively apply the trailer brakes stops this push, and allows for drivers to straighten trailers that may be sliding off course and slow up descents. It’s a handy feature.
The manual override button applies light braking when in proportional mode, which should be enough to settle a wayward camper. In user-controlled mode, it also acts the same as the brake pedal and applies the dialled in braking pressure. Some drivers may prefer operating the trailer brakes this way when off-roading.
On this test trip, we were far more loaded than usual, as we spent two weeks living off-grid at the Kennedy Ranges National Park, Warra Station and in Cape Range National Park. Between the vehicle and camper, we had 200 litres of water, 180 litres of diesel, bags of firewood, water sports gear and lots of supplies.
The Tow Pro activated the large brakes on the Terra Trek camper perfectly. It was easy pulling up on the highway, almost as easy as without a trailer. On corrugations, it’s the hidden bumps and washouts that I find the hardest to negotiate, but with the Tow-Pro, dropping speed at late notice was also surprisingly effective.
REDARC build a broad range of electrical accessories for travellers at their state-of-the-art facilities in South Australia. The companies focus on research and development and quality control in the manufacturing process has led to their expansion into industries demanding high-reliability like mining and defence.
REDARC’s products have a support network of auto electricians and 4×4 accessory fitters around Australia. This network is now rapidly growing in the United States, New Zealand, Europe and beyond.
Towing is one of the more dangerous elements of travel, especially at highway speeds and with heavy loads. High quality and well-maintained camper/caravan/boat trailer brakes and a reliable brake controller like the REDARC Tow Pro are both essential to safe towing. Checking that your brakes are working well will only take a minute or two on your way out of town, and it’s another check worth adding to the list.
Photographs by Mike & Gen Collister