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Traveling in an RV while towing your car can be a great way to explore new places and enjoy the freedom of the open road. However, it’s important to have the right equipment to ensure that you can travel safely and confidently.
An RV braking system is one of the most critical pieces of equipment to consider when towing a car behind your RV. Safety is one area where we refuse to cut corners.
Today, we’ll share some of the best RV braking systems to keep you and your RV safe during your adventures. Let’s get started!
What Are RV Braking Systems?
RV braking systems help drivers of RVs and motorhomes with towed vehicles reach a safe and controlled stop. Towed vehicles can add tremendous weight to an RV, resulting in a longer stopping distance.
Quality RV braking systems drastically reduce the stopping distances and improve safety for both the RV and towed vehicle.
When shopping for an RV braking system, you must consider factors such as the weight of the towed vehicle, the type of RV you have, and how much you’re willing to spend.
Don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation and maintenance to ensure the braking system works correctly and safely.
How Do RV Braking Systems Work?
Ultimately, all RV braking systems have one important job, assisting the towing vehicle with slowing down the trailer or vehicle they’re towing. Most towable RVs either use hydraulic or electric braking systems. However, larger Class A motorhomes have air braking systems.
For towable RVs, the trailer connects to the tow vehicle’s electrical system, typically through a seven-pin connection. When the driver presses the brake pedal, a signal gets sent to communicate with the camper’s brakes.
Whether hydraulic or electric, these systems reduce the wear and tear on the tow vehicle’s brakes and improve safety.
For those larger rigs with air brakes, an onboard compressor fills storage tanks with air. The air sits in these tanks until the system needs to use it.
After applying the brakes, air travels through a series of valves and hoses to the brake chambers for each wheel. This causes the brake shoes to squeeze the drum and slow the vehicle.
Are RV Braking Systems Legally Required?
Rules and regulations for RV braking systems vary from state to state. However, federal law in the United States requires that towed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 3,000 pounds must have a separate braking system.
These rules typically apply to RVs and motorhomes. Some states may take it a step further and have additional requirements regarding the type of braking system you need to use.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations specific to where you’ll travel.
It’s worth mentioning that even in states where it’s not legally required, it is generally a good idea to use a braking system for safety reasons.
These devices can help reduce stopping distances, prevent accidents, and give you greater control as a driver. Aside from the upfront cost, there’s no good reason for not using one while towing.
5 Best RV Braking Systems
We think a high-quality RV braking system is worth paying a few extra bucks. We’re about to share five of the best braking systems you can buy. Will they be the cheapest? Likely not.
However, they have a reputation in the community for getting the job done and being easy to use. Those two characteristics are reason enough for us to pay their premium price.
1. Roadmaster Invisibrake
This is one of the best RV braking systems on the market. The Roadmaster 8700 Invisibrake has plenty of things to love about it. The system detects when the driver applies the brakes and activates the towed vehicle’s brakes. Invisibrake has a strong reputation in the community, and many users love it.
Like many other braking systems on our list, this system permanently mounts in the vehicle. However, this model easily fits under the driver’s seat, providing a clean look and avoiding potential damage.
However, the difficult installation will likely require professional assistance. When looking at the $1,000 price tag, always consider installation costs as well.
Once installed and fine-tuned, the Invisibrake system is easy to use and requires no driver assistance. It works with almost any towable vehicle to provide reliable and effective stopping power.
- Can be installed out of sight
- Progressive Braking
2. Demco Air Force 1
The Demco Air Force 1 is different from the other systems on our list. This unit connects to the air brake system on the vehicle, which means it’s typically for drivers of diesel pusher motorhomes. Since you’re messing with the air brake system, this isn’t an install you’ll likely want to handle yourself.
The Air Force 1 delivers proportional braking power to the towed vehicle. This allows the towed car to receive the same braking power as the one pulling it. This symmetry provides a smooth and safe stop for both vehicles. Demco also proudly claims this is the only air brake to meet the DOT and chassis regulations.
Pro Tip: New to RV towing? Then you need to see our guide for Towing Newbies
- Item Package Dimension:23.495 cm L X35.941 cm W X44.45 cm H
- Item Package Weight:8.414 Kilograms
3. Demco Stay-In-Play Duo
The Demco 9599006 Stay-in-Play Duo is similar to the Invisibrake but has an inertia sensor for the towed vehicle. These sensors can detect movements in the vehicle where it needs to apply the brakes to assist the towing vehicle.
This is another well-loved product in the community but requires a difficult installation. Once installed, the Stay-in-Play Duo improves safety, provides smoother and more responsive braking, and prevents the towed vehicle from pushing the RV during sudden stops.
It is a reliable option for you to improve safety and control when towing a car behind an RV. This RV braking system comes at a slightly higher price than the Invisibrake at approximately $1,300.
- Item Package Dimension:24.638 cm L X34.036 cm W X43.942 cm H
- Item Package Weight:5.987 Kilograms
4. Blue Ox Patriot 3
The Blue Ox Patriot 3 is an inertia brake system. This is one of the most common braking systems for towed vehicles.
These systems utilize a box on the floorboard in front of the driver’s seat. The box contains an inertia sensor, which detects the movements in the vehicle and applies pressure to the brake pedal accordingly.
Many drivers love this unit and give it glowing reviews. However, these systems typically don’t perform as well as permanently mounted units.
But, the Blue Ox Patriot 3 exceeds much of its competition. Users love that it has an easy installation, and you can easily move it from vehicle to vehicle. With this unit, you don’t have to worry about expensive installation costs or purchasing a new unit for each vehicle you want to tow.
- Fit Type: Universal Fit
- In-coach controller with extended RF range
5. NSA Ready Brake
Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple; the NSA Ready Brake does exactly that.
It is a unique RV braking system that attaches to the hitch of the towed vehicle and uses a cable that runs to the brake pedal. When the driver starts to slow down, it manually applies the brakes in the towed vehicle.
While the NSA Ready Brake may seem too simple, but it works. Customers love the design and that you can move it from one vehicle to the next. In addition, you can typically find this complete system for under $500 and install it yourself.
This is the one for you if you want a quality RV braking system that won’t break the bank.
Keep in Mind: How Do You Adjust the Sensitivity on Your Trailer Brakes? Click the link to learn how!
- Adjustable sling cable, internal cable w/conduit and conduit floor mount
- Country of origin : United States
Get the Right RV Braking System
Getting the right RV braking system requires doing research. It’s not a decision you want to take lightly or rush into making. You need to consider your unique setup and how you’ll use it.
If there’s a chance you’ll tow various vehicles, a permanently mounted braking system isn’t going to work best. So take your time and buy the right RV braking system. If not, it’ll only end up costing you more money in the end.
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API