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Old 04-02-2013, 03:34 PM   #1
Vin
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Brake controller decision time

Hello,

I'm new to the forum and RVs and hope to gain some knowledge from all of you with tons of experience. I've pulled a good variety of toys but not a travel type trailer with a brake controller setup. I'll be picking up a toy hauler next week (Forest River Hyperlite 24, 5,700 lbs) and am trying to decide on a brake controller for my "07" Tahoe (has tow pckg, including air ride). I seem to have narrowed it down to the "Tekonsha P3" and the the "Max Brake". It seems those that have used other systems then switched to Max Brake won't go back. I know it's more costly and perhaps trickier to install but is it that good? I can't seem to find a dealership that installs Max Brake. Anyone have experience with both? I'm less concerned with the cost and more concerned about ease of operation and protecting my toys. Love to hear the pros and cons from anyone with knowledge!

Vin
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:51 PM   #2
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I installed the MaxBrake on my last truck myself. It was not hard. I had a Prodigy and compared to the Max Brake it was junk. The MB is smooth and you feel as the truck and trailer are one piece. There is no lead in the trailer brakes it does not have to be reset between city and highway.

I know the MaxBrake cost more, but it works 100% of the time.

Ken
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:53 PM   #3
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Bruce Wittmeier did a good job of putting together a good answer to your question.

BrakeControllerSelection
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for the response, Second semi related question

I have to pick up the toy hauler in So Cal and drag it to Sacramento. The last thing I wanted to do was tow it up the grapevine so I'm going up 395 to 58 to Bakersfield. I'm guessing the grade is less and the trip easier on my Tahoe. Anyone have experience with the two? Anyone have experience towing 5500 lbs on various terrain with an 07" Tahoe with full tow package? Trans hold up ok?
My truck has not seen heavy use and is well maintained so I'm hoping for the best.

Vin
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:14 PM   #5
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Start out with a full service on the engine and transmission. Chevy does not have a strong history for the rear axle when used to tow heavy, so maybe a fluid change there as well. I'd also look for an external transmission fluid cooler to be added.

Ken
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:16 AM   #6
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Tahoe prep

That sounds good. I was planning a full tune up, trans & fluid changes. If anything, I thought the trans would be the weak link. Didn't really consider the rear end but I'll change that fluid as well. The truck has a factory auxiliary trans cooler but I've seen the temp top 200 degrees before and I was towing about 5k then so I hope I'm ok on the grade.
Thanks for the info Ken!

Thanks SmokeyWren for the Controller Selection link, very helpful!

Vin
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vin View Post
I have to pick up the toy hauler in So Cal and drag it to Sacramento. The last thing I wanted to do was tow it up the grapevine so I'm going up 395 to 58 to Bakersfield. I'm guessing the grade is less and the trip easier on my Tahoe.
My memory is failing, but I seem to remember than when going south to north you go down the Grapevine grade. Of course, what goes down must first go up, so the climbing up the south side of Tejon Pass might be a challenge too. But the memorable thing about The Grapevine (Grapevine Creek canyon on the north side of Tejon Pass) is it's a very long and steep grade. A Tahoe dragging a 5k trailer would be challenged to make it to the top if you had to tow up the grade from north to south, but it shouldn't be a problem going the other way.
US 99 Guide: Grapvine

And there is a nice little Tehachapi Pass on highway 58 that will get your attention too.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
I installed the MaxBrake on my last truck myself. It was not hard. I had a Prodigy and compared to the Max Brake it was junk. The MB is smooth and you feel as the truck and trailer are one piece. There is no lead in the trailer brakes it does not have to be reset between city and highway.

I know the MaxBrake cost more, but it works 100% of the time.

Ken
My experience with the Prodigy is the exact opposite. I regularly tow a 10,000 lb equipment trailer and it works flawlessly. No jerking, true proportional control, and no difference in programing between highway and city driving.

The controller can be programmed to activate the trailer brakes before the tow vehicle brakes, at the same time, or delayed until after the tow vehicle brakes have been applied. It can also be programmed to initially apply the trailer brakes at a preset rate or directly proportional to the tow vehicle brakes.

I can't speak for the Max Brake since I've never used one. I can tell you however there's a night and day difference between the accelerometer controller and either the pendulum controlled or time delay controllers.

I've used a Tekonsha Prodigy on our motorhome towing a car on a dolly over 25,000 miles, and in my Ford truck pulling a 10,000 lb trailer another 50,000 miles. In both cases they worked flawlessly.

Another nice thing is that it takes about 5 minutes or less to install if you have the trailer towing package. You just plug it into the socket and mount the controller on the dash.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:42 AM   #9
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The advantage of the MaxBrake is that it is directly linked to the driver's foot through the brake pedal and hydraulics. As the driver modulates the pedal for slightly more or less braking, the pressure transducer in the MaxBrake system senses these small changes in hydraulic pressure and modulates the trailer brake output accordingly. It's a direct link, unlike an inertia-type controller that tries to sense what the driver is doing via changes in sensed deceleration of the combined tow vehicle/towed vehicle. In effect, it doesn't increase trailer braking until more deceleration is already taking place, which is after-the-fact. Where that really can be hazardous is under slick road conditions where the amount of additional deceleration that the towing vehicle can produce may be limited. You haven't lived until you lock up or run up against the anti-lock of the truck brakes and aren't generating enough deceleration to get the trailer braking you need - instant jack knife!! Been there and done that with an inertial brake controller on my previous truck - it went straight to the trash.

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Old 04-05-2013, 11:50 AM   #10
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Vin,

I towed a 7000lb car trailer with a 07 Tahoe twice. My truck was in shop. We live in Florida so there aren't many hills. Agree on the fluid changes including the rearend. The truck did fine on a short 200mile round trip. I used a WD hitch and checked the tires often. You certainly knew the trailer was there but it tracked fine. Only issue I remember was that the transmission was never happy. You either had to drive at 57mph or speed up to 65mph. Otherwise it was always jumping around the gears. I've used an old Tekonsha for years and they are fine, but you need to adjust them for each trailer and each load. We are looking at the Maxbrake for all of the reasons listed above. I also will feel much better teaching my wife to tow with the MB system over the current system we have. Less things to worry about. I towed with a newer F250 which I think has a similar system to MB and it was a beautiful thing.

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Old 04-05-2013, 06:15 PM   #11
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I had the same experience that Rusty had and with the highly touted Prodigy. All of the people that think the Prodigy is so great have never had the experience of using a controller like the MaxBrake.

The excuses are usually the the MaxBrake is harder to install...true it is a bit harder.
Next is cost ....twice what a Prodigy cost.

But look at the added $150 to $200 compared to the total cost of the truck and trailer. $150 or $200 more as a percentage of the total cost of the rig is peanuts. Like I noted earlier...it works 100% of the time and the same every time.

Ken
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:31 PM   #12
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Will the MaxBrake system work on a diesel truck? I know Ford has their own system, not sure if it's the same.
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:52 AM   #13
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Yes, works on a diesel.

I thought the MaxBrake was overhyped, until I got one! GREAT!
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:04 AM   #14
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If your Ford truck has the integrated brake controller you do not need to add another one.

Ken
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