Hauler Tech - Hayes Brake Control
No doubt it was shortly after the first vehicle was invented that somebody decided it would be a great idea to pull a wagon behind it and double the working capability. The first problem they encountered was getting their little train rolling. The second was more of a surprise when they tried to get it all stopped. That desire to tow a trailer would never diminish though, and whether the load was a utility trailer or a heavily loaded semi, the problems of safely controlling and stopping the vehicle would always be a concern. As the interstate highway system rapidly developed in the 1950’s, droves of ordinary Americans took to the roads with their futuristic looking AirStream campers, bent on places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Back in Detroit, a new company was formed to make sure they would get to their destinations safely.
The Kelsey Hayes Company’s 1950’s era brake control systems utilized the best technology of the day to help both the recreational user and the professional trucking companies control their vehicles. They were a combination of hydraulic over electric, and would activate the trailer’s brake regardless of whether they operated by air, hydraulic, or electric signal. Through the years Hayes continually upgraded their brake control systems, but even with existing technology and electronic controls, they’re still doing the same, simple task they always have. They’re just doing it more efficiently, more safely, and with less input required from the driver. The Hayes brake control systems are really protection devices for you, other people on the road, and for the expensive toys you’re hauling.
Most of us will tow a large trailer sometime, and we needed a little education on what to look for in a brake control system. Recently, George Cargo, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Hayes Brake Control, was kind enough to give us some advice.
ATV Ill. – Thank you for helping us with our trailer braking questions Mr. Cargo. So what size trailer needs a braking system?
GEORGE CARGO – For safety, anything 1500 pounds gross weight (trailer + load) or more needs a braking system. That is the minimum for quite a few states including California, but some states are a little higher. There are restrictions on overall length also, but normally you won’t violate that with a pickup and ordinary single or tandem axle trailer. It’s always best to check the laws in your state though.
ATV Ill. – What type of braking systems are available?
GEORGE CARGO – There are three main brake systems used on trailers these days. They are electric brakes, surge brakes, and electric / hydraulic; which is like a hybrid system.
GEORGE CARGO – Electric brake systems are used on the majority of trailer brake systems. The reason is they are rather simple, they’re reliable, and they are cost effective. Most trailers will have a 10inch or 12inch electric brake system on the axle. This is the type of brake system you want on most ATV trailers.
SURGE BRAKES are used on a lot of boat trailers. The reason is there are no electronics to be dunked in the water when you load or unload the boat, but with modern connectors and coatings, this is really more of a choice of the boating industry. They cost a little more.
The ELECTRIC over HYDRAULIC brake systems are more like a hybrid system. They’ve got the features of both systems and they’re usually the most expensive. Usually we see these on high end trailers like people use for hauling a race car, or even some expensive livestock or horses.
ATV Ill. – That gets us to controlling the brakes. That’s where the HAYES controllers come in.
GEORGE CARGO – Exactly. There are some really good trailers, brakes, and axles out there but you still need a way to activate the brakes. That’s what a brake controller does. Most brake controllers mount in the cab of the vehicle, and have the ability to activate the brakes when needed. Our HAYES brake controllers can do that, but we have quite a few models with varying amounts of adjustability. Through the electronics, we can really dial them in for the load, stopping power, and stopping distance, even automatically.
ATV Ill. – So what are the capabilities of the HAYES brake controller?
GEORGE CARGO – We have six electronic brake control modules right now, and one air actuated brake control system. They’ll all get the job done, but the difference is the electronics and automated features. All of our systems plug into the vehicle wiring harness, and they all have a manual override. Laws require them to have a manual override system actually. Our more basic models can be set to how much braking force you require and they’ll gradually apply that force as you step on the brakes until you reach your preset limit. They’re not unlike the dimmer switch you have on some lights in your house. That means they will only apply that preset amount of electricity (which turns into braking force) to your brakes. If for some reason you really need to jam on the brakes, you’re only going to get your preset level. Our top end models have much more sophisticated electronics inside the control module, and they’ll sense your deceleration rate, and they’ll match it. If you really need to brake hard, they’ll sense that quick deceleration as well and apply maximum force to the trailer brake system. In manual over-ride though, ALL of our controllers will ramp up to 100% power regardless of preset. We’re the only ones with that feature.
ATV Ill. – What does that mean for the driver?
ATV Ill. – Aren’t some of the vehicle tow packages including brake controls?
GEORGE CARGO – The manufacturers did try that, but it was a problem for them at first, and adding the brake controller was a very expensive option. Now almost all OEM trucks and SUVs with a towing package will include a dedicated brake controller connector under the dash that suits any aftermarket install. It’s a lot easier for the consumer.
ATV Ill. – What does it take to install the HAYES control modules?
GEORGE CARGO – Almost anybody can install our Hayes brake control modules in about five minutes. There is no more searching for the correct wires, tapping into the wiring harness, etc. Now all you need to do is three things: attach the brake control module to the dash with a super sticky adhesive mount, connect the control module wiring harness to the snap connector in the vehicle wiring harness - usually right under the dash, set the gain (power) and you’re done! Just like always, you should give a quick check to the trailer lights, blinkers, etc. before you head to the riding area, but you’re ready to go!
ATV Ill. – Where are they made?
GEORGE CARGO – We design, test and manufacture all of our products in Arab, Alabama with 100% inspection. No part leaves the plant until it is perfect, and they’re available online and in quite a few retail chains including O’Reillys Auto Parts.
ATV Ill. – Thank you so much for the brake control education and advice Mr. Cargo. We really appreciate it.
Choosing a brake controller might seem an unimportant task, but it’s critical for your safety, the safety of others, and that of your ATVs and UTVs. Considering your 50k truck, 22k trailer, and 20K worth of ATVs or UTVs inside, at roughly $150, even the top-of-the-line G2 Brake Boss control unit is huge bargain.
For more info visit: www.hayesbc.com
Special thanks to the super helpful crew at O’Reilly Auto Parts, Ionia, Michigan. You guys are great!