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Easter towing? Consider an electric brake controller

Media Releases

Mar 08, 2023

Easter is a time when a lot of us hit the road with caravan, watercraft, motorbikes or some other equipment in tow, keen to enjoy the great outdoors while the weather’s still favourable.

For some, coupling a trailer to the back of the four-wheel drive or family wagon might be a regular thing, but for others it may be a once-a-year occurrence. Whether experienced or novice though, all drivers will benefit from having an electric brake controller fitted to their vehicles, especially if towing heavier trailers over longer distances.

Legally, depending on the trailer’s gross trailer mass (the weight of the trailer and everything in it), an electronic brake controller, such as Bendix Ultimate Tow™ will be needed.

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Heavily accessorised vehicles towing large caravans and other equipment will benefit greatly from an electric brake controller.

Keeping things legal

As a starting point, drivers should be aware of their vehicle’s towing capacity and ensure this isn’t exceeded. Certain larger caravans – even unladen – may already be pushing the tow limits of some medium sized four-wheel drives.

By law, trailers with a gross trailer mass of between 750kg and 2,000kg need to be fitted with either a mechanical or electrical braking system. And anything over 2,000kg needs to have an electric, or electric over hydraulic brake with an electric ‘break-away’ function. Break-away systems are designed to activate the trailer or caravan’s electric brakes if they decouple from the tow vehicle.

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By law, trailers with a gross trailer mass of between 750kg and 2,000kg need to be fitted with either a mechanical or electrical braking system; anything over 2,000kg should also have a 'break-away' function.

Drivers will of course still benefit from an electric brake controller even if their trailer’s gross mass is less than what’s stipulated by law, by providing them with additional surety and peace of mind in the knowledge they have the technology in place to help them deal with any issues that may arise.

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Even lighter loads will still benefit from the added surety and peace of mind that an electric brake controller provides.

Tow vehicle GVM and modifications

In Australia and New Zealand, the two tow vehicle types normally used are dual cab four-wheel drive utilities (and their wagon derivatives), along with full size four-wheel drives such as the Land Cruiser and Patrol.

While most of these models have generous braked towing capacities of up to 3,500kg and GVMs around the 3,000kg to 3500kg mark, once fitted with a few accessories and loaded up with equipment, supplies and occupants, they will be very close to operating near their maximum GVM. Also remember that when towing, the tow ball weight figure of the trailer or caravan, also contributes to the tow vehicle’s overall GVM status.

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Remember that a trailer or caravan's tow ball weight figure contributes to the tow vehicle's overall GVM status.

The result of this situation is that considerably more pressure is being placed on the braking system, and if the tow vehicle is fitted with larger tyres, this further compounds the problem – a 10 per cent increase in tyre size means 10 per cent more braking force is needed. So even if on paper the towing capabilities of the tow vehicle sits within the legal requirements, it’s common sense to invest in an electric brake controller for the added safety it provides.

Bendix Ultimate Tow™ Electric Brake Controller

Developed, fully programmed and tested from an Australian facility, Ultimate Tow™ features its own unique braking algorithm, ensuring superior performance and reliability in demanding local conditions.

When hitched to trailers and caravans with electric brakes, the electric brake controller activates and controls the braking force supplied by the electric brakes in the caravan or trailer whenever the driver in the tow vehicle applies the brakes.

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Bendix's Ultimate Tow™ is fully programmed and tested from an Australian facility, and features its own unique braking algorithm, ensuring superior performance and reliability in demanding local conditions.

The controller allows braking to be easily modulated by adjusting the dial left for a lower setting or right for maximum setting. This adjustment might be needed when descending steep hills or mountain roads, providing the driver with additional controlled braking capacity.

Bendix Ultimate Tow™ also features an override function – if the driver notices that the trailer/caravan is swaying, they press the same dial to engage the override. This applies the trailer brakes independently without the tow vehicle brakes needing to be on, pulling the trailer or caravan into line and minimising the swaying affect. Other safety features include an open circuit and trailer disconnection indicator.

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Modulating the Bendix controller is easy via a convenient dial; the unit also features an override function which can be actuated by pressing the dial.

Ultimate Tow™ is suitable for installation in a wide range of popular vehicles and is compatible with the ALKO ESC systems fitted to many caravans and trailers. The unit offers a compact, remote head and OEM-style finish with built-in LED for easy access during nighttime driving and attractive aesthetics.

Installing Ultimate Tow™ is also simple – only a single small hole is required for the remote head and it can be located in the smallest of knock-out dash panels.

Placement is made even easier with the included 1.28m of cabling, which allows greater flexibility to mount the control unit in a variety of under dash or under seat locations. The control unit features rugged aluminium construction and can be installed on any angle, and everything required to fit Ultimate Tow™ is provided in the kit, so there’ll be no unexpected trips to the auto shop mid-job.

Bendix Ultimate Tow™ is available from leading automotive, 4x4 and camping stockists across Australia and New Zealand, and is covered by a generous 3-year warranty.

For further information:

For more information free call the Bendix Brake Advice Centre on 1800 819 666 or +61 3 5327 0211 from overseas (8am-5pm Monday to Friday EST), e-mail us at: brakeadvicecentre@bendix.com.au or visit our website www.bendix.com.au

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