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Old 02-02-2021, 11:54 PM   #1
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2015 Sonic - help me decide by Friday 2/5 - NSA Ready Brute, RVi3, or Brake Buddy

Ok - Need help deciding based on your experiences, especially if any of you have done an install of an NSA Ready Brute surge braking setup on a Chevy Sonic or Chevy Cruise (same/similar drive train). NSA hasn't been of much help and local shops won't help or do install of the NSA product, so I am hoping for some real-world experiences on this one.

Tow Vehicle: 2004 Coachmen Concord 235SO Ford E450 V10. Plenty of reserve GVRW and tow capacity. The Sonic is <3,000 pounds.

I used to tow a 2003 Chevy Tracker, Roadmaster Falcon All Terrain Tow Bar, Roadmaster Even Brake proportional braking system. The tracker was totaled (person cut in front of us) and we were away from RVing for a period of time and sold the whole setup. I was happy with the All Terrain, but the Even Brake (brake in a box) system would sometimes apply the brakes to the tracker when I didn't want it to. Reducing sensitivity helped, but didn't solve the problem. In the end, this caused my brakes in the Tracker to be damaged. I don't want to repeat this with the Sonic.

This Friday (2/5/21) I am installing the Roadmaster base plate and all required wiring for tail light setup, etc. on our 2015 Chevy Sonic 1.4L turbo (automatic) and a charge cable from the motorhome for good measure. Chevy confirmed it is 4-down towable (RS for that year isn't)

The tow bar and braking system is where I am stymied.

1) Ready Brute Option. I pre-purchased a lightly used Ready Brute tow bar for $450. I need to buy the Roadmaster clevises for $110 and the surge brake cable for around $100 to complete it out, plus do the install. (It already has Blue Ox clevises installed; Roadmaster is built locally and less expensive locally) In looking at the clearances for installing the cable, I am admittedly confused in how I will run the cable past the radiator and a turbo intercooler that is mounted in front of the bottom section of the radiator. It just seems that the cable will take a tighter than desired bend. Also, our state requires a front license plate, so it appears I would need to find a different location for the plate (off center). Total cost if I can get it to work out: $660. No warranty (all used)

2) Falcon All terrain tow bar + Brake Buddy Classic option. $250 for a used but in good shape Falcon All Terrain that I have found locally; $879 for the Brake Buddy classic 3 if I can't find a good used one. $1,129 total. $1,304 if Brake Buddy Select 3 proportional. 5 year warranty. I'm a bit leery that the classic version will do the same as the Roadmaster Even Brake.

3) Falcon All terrain tow bar + RVI3. $250 for used Falcon all terrain; $1250 for RVIBrake3. $1,500 total. 3 year warranty.

I am confident that I can sell the Ready Brute for what I paid ($450) if it isn't the viable option. If I purchase the used Falcon All Terrain, I know that I can also recoup what I pay for it.

I don't intend to install a permanent supplemental braking system at this time and am ok with a 'Brake piston in a box" option. Ideally I am wanting to keep cost down, but don't want to end up eating any savings by damaging the Sonic's brakes.

Anyone out there that can help based on their experience with the NSA product and a smaller car like this? Or if not, which of above do you recommend based on real-world experience?

Thanks for any help and suggestions! I've included photos of the engine bay. Attempting to route the cable from below on the NSA product seems to be too much of a cable bend, especially near the intercooler. From the top past the hood latch gets me to the front, but means mounting the cable too high up from the tow bar itself and again, what seems to be too much bend to come out the front bumper.
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:39 AM   #2
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You should be able to just "snake" it thru fairly straight with some looking and planning. Just don't restrict anything that moves or get toooo close to hot exhaust or turbo.
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Old 02-03-2021, 12:17 PM   #3
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I've seen the cable run right through the front plate.....
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Old 02-03-2021, 01:39 PM   #4
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I have a suggestion, ok a couple. Since you already have the Ready Brute, using the ready brake makes the most sense right? Wait until after the base plate is installed to make your call since it will give you an idea on the height the NSA cable needs to be. Then working backwards from the bumper (for the NSA cable) you can get a better idea where to route it. Centered is best but it CAN be slightly off center like right next to the front plate. Lastly, if the toad is less than 3000 lbs are you even required by law to have a aux brake?
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Old 02-03-2021, 02:18 PM   #5
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I have a suggestion, ok a couple. Since you already have the Ready Brute, using the ready brake makes the most sense right? Wait until after the base plate is installed to make your call since it will give you an idea on the height the NSA cable needs to be. Then working backwards from the bumper (for the NSA cable) you can get a better idea where to route it. Centered is best but it CAN be slightly off center like right next to the front plate. Lastly, if the toad is less than 3000 lbs are you even required by law to have a aux brake?


Great feedback. NSA is suggesting on smaller cars like the Sonic to go down towards under the car immediately after the firewall rather than attempting to snake it through the main engine compartment. The main challenge there still is getting past the turbo intercooler that is mounted directly in front of the radiator as it likely causes too tight of a bend to make it out the front bumper.
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Old 02-03-2021, 05:25 PM   #6
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I think mine is bent at about a 4-5" radius, due to the radiator clearance, and all seems fine. As previously suggested, once you install the base plate you'll have a really good idea how tight it really is, and can decide then unless time is a major issue? Since you've already got a Ready-Brute Elite tow bar with brake, at a great price, using that is probably the best way to go if possible. If you go on e-trailer.com and look up base plates for your car you'll probably see lots of pics of the install that may give you a better idea to see how close the base plate comes to the radiator.
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Old 02-06-2021, 05:27 PM   #7
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I think mine is bent at about a 4-5" radius, due to the radiator clearance, and all seems fine. As previously suggested, once you install the base plate you'll have a really good idea how tight it really is, and can decide then unless time is a major issue? Since you've already got a Ready-Brute Elite tow bar with brake, at a great price, using that is probably the best way to go if possible. If you go on e-trailer.com and look up base plates for your car you'll probably see lots of pics of the install that may give you a better idea to see how close the base plate comes to the radiator.


Update - I got the baseplates installed. I investigated further and the routing is just too tight in my case for the cable. Purchased a good only-used-once last fall Roadmaster Falcon 2 All Terrain tow bar in perfect shape and saved $300. Putting the NSA Ready Brute back up for sale for the price I paid for it. ($450). Looking at other supplemental brake options.
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Old 02-06-2021, 06:27 PM   #8
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I've seen the cable run right through the front plate.....
That's what mine does.
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Old 02-07-2021, 07:06 AM   #9
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I installed a Ready Brute Elite on a 21 Sonic RS and it operates perfectly. The routing of the cable to the firewall was no issue. I did spend much time determining the location of the hole in the firewall for the cable. This was by far the most difficult part making sure the cable would align with the brake pedal and also have clearance on the engine side of the firewall.
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Old 02-08-2021, 11:36 AM   #10
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There are 3 Dealer/installers for NSA in Portland. Don't know why you didn't take it there to get done or at least have them show you how.
Oh well, someone will get a good deal on a ReadyBrute.
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:35 PM   #11
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There are 3 Dealer/installers for NSA in Portland. Don't know why you didn't take it there to get done or at least have them show you how.
Oh well, someone will get a good deal on a ReadyBrute.


Thanks all for the input. I called the Portland area dealers more than once and unfortunately none returned my calls after talking to the service department. Called one multiple times. Still no call back. I sold the setup yesterday.
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:49 PM   #12
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I installed a Ready Brute Elite on a 21 Sonic RS and it operates perfectly. The routing of the cable to the firewall was no issue. I did spend much time determining the location of the hole in the firewall for the cable. This was by far the most difficult part making sure the cable would align with the brake pedal and also have clearance on the engine side of the firewall.


Thanks. Great to hear! While I ended up selling it, it would be awesome to see your setup of how you routed it through the engine compartment and to the front bumper.
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Old 02-11-2021, 08:18 AM   #13
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Thanks. Great to hear! While I ended up selling it, it would be awesome to see your setup of how you routed it through the engine compartment and to the front bumper.


Using Brake Buddy, no issues at all. Had a classic, sold it and bought slightly used delux version for same $$. The higher end version does require more battery juice so charge line definitely needed.
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Old 04-06-2021, 08:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 3XACHRM View Post
I installed a Ready Brute Elite on a 21 Sonic RS and it operates perfectly. The routing of the cable to the firewall was no issue. I did spend much time determining the location of the hole in the firewall for the cable. This was by far the most difficult part making sure the cable would align with the brake pedal and also have clearance on the engine side of the firewall.


What year RS are you flat towing? I am trying to buy a Sonic and the 2018 says it is toad
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