What’s The Cost To Install Trailer Brakes? A Detailed Analysis

According to the National Highway Administration, around 50,000 road mishaps take place on average due to the collision of trailers running without brakes or brake controllers.

If you’re wondering what a trailer is, let’s understand. In standard terms, a trailer is an unpowered vehicle pulled forward or towed by another powered vehicle.

Hence, a trailer is a vehicle for transporting goods and other materials from one place to another. Now, here’s one vital thing you need to keep in mind, and that’s the trailer brakes.

If you own a trailer, you may wonder how much does it cost to install trailer brakes? Can I install trailer brakes by myself?

How long do the trailer brakes last? So on. If you’re seeking answers to these questions, get them below.

What’s the average cost to install trailer brakes?

Installing a trailer brake or brake controller isn’t a simple job and comprises multiple costs like parts, labor, etc. The below table summarizes the average cost to install trailer brakes on your trailer. 

Steps in brakes installation  Actions Cost estimation
Vehicle-installed brakes ADR compliant electric brakes $225
Vehicle-installed brakes Installation by an auto electrician  $485
Net sum: $710
Electronic brakes Electric brakes w/ leader $699
Electronic brakes  Installation by the auto electrician $100
Net sum: $799

The above table exhibits the cost distribution while installing a trailer brake. 

Can you install the brakes by yourself?

You can install trailer brakes by yourself if you know what you are doing and follow any company’s installation manual.

It is because installing brakes involves working and changing the internal wirings.

So, if you can know where to connect the brake wires, proceed with it. For your reference, below is a detailed trailer brake installation guide.

Trailer brake installation involves three steps: mounting, plugging, and connecting. Let’s discuss these three in some detail below.

1. Mounting the trailer brakes

For mounting trailer brakes, you’ll need the brakes, a 2-3mm drill bit & driller, lubricant oil, a marker for holes marking, a No.2 head driver.

For a quick operation, you should install trailer brakes with proper markings. 

  • Hold the brake controller and mark the required number of holes to fix it either inside or outside the trailer’s drawbar. 
  • Drill the holes up to the recommended depth using the drill machine.
  • Don’t forget to lubricate the screws before tightening.
  • Fix everything in place using the self-tapping screws and head driver.

2. Plug the loom into the trailer brake connection

Here, you can either use a more convenient plug & play version or the traditional hardwired version. Both have the same principle of operation. The main difference lies in the outer structure.

In the plug & play version, plug in the trailer leads into the adapter and the adapter to the towing vehicle’s trailer port.

3. Connect to the trailer brake controller through the device

It depends upon whether your brake controller has this option available or not. If yes, connect the brake controller to your smartphone following the steps given below.

  • Turn on the car’s headlights and launch the app on your smartphone.
  • Look for the text on your phone’s screen, LOOKING FOR DEVICE.
  • Wait for the connection to complete.
  • To test your connection, press down the car’s brake pedal and the circle will turn bright red. The bright red color indicates that the controller is working and the brakes are getting activated.
  • Now, after releasing your foot off the car’s brake pedal, the circle on the screen will get back to dull red. 

How long does the travel trailer break last?

Now, since you have installed the brakes and brake controller on your trailer, you may wonder for how long will the travel trailer brake last.

It’s a common query, and here’s its answer. Ideally, your travel trailer brakes’ life depends on the driving conditions and the type of driver you are.

For example, if you live in or around low-lying areas, your trailer brake pads are less prone to wear and tear.

There’s the working science behind your brakes. It’s against the higher wear & tears the trailer brakes will suffer for someone you live around hilly regions or mountains.

If you have installed a brand new pair of trailer brakes, you can expect them to last for 3-years.

However, depending upon the weight loaded on the trailer and miles covered, you should replace your trailer brakes after every 6-12 months on a safer side.

It is because more load and distance lead to the brake pads’ failure in the long run.

Do travel trailer brakes work without a battery?

No, the travel trailer brakes won’t work without a battery. Even for the brakes’ small engagement, the battery should send a small amount of voltage to the brake’s system wiring.

If this is not happening due to the battery’s non-functioning or the battery is not present, the brakes won’t engage.

A battery is mandatory for the brakes to work because the battery’s current energizes the magnet that connects itself to the brake drum.

It makes the actuating cape pivot and spreads the brake shoes to apply the brakes on the trailer.


You will generally load the trailer with lots of goods, and that will increase its weight. To control the trailer in the mid-way of the road, merely the towing vehicle’s brakes won’t suffice.

Thus, you should always use a trailer brake and brake controller to have complete control over its movement.

Now, for motorized RVs, a brake controller is not necessary but mandatory for all other RVs.

If you’re wondering what a controller is, it’s the device that helps you control the trailer’s brakes while driving the towing vehicle. 

For the trailer brakes, you can pick anyone between the electric version or surge.

Between these two, electric trailer brakes are the best as they are easy to install, easy to maintain, and much cheaper. Hence, that’s all about trailer brakes and the cost of installing one on your trailer.