How To Set a Trailer Brake Gain? 6 Easy Steps (Explained)

How To Set a Trailer Brake Gain

Have you ever wondered how to set a trailer brake gain? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

If you own a trailer brake controller, then you will need to become very familiar with the term ‘trailer brake gain’. This is because it is one of the most important settings in the trailer brake controller.

On this page, we are going to talk to you a little bit about what trailer brake gain is, as well as give you an overview of how you are able to set it based upon road conditions. There is a lot of information to unpack here. However, as with all of our articles, we are going to try and ensure that everything is as easy as possible to understand.

So, how to set a trailer brake gain? In order to set a trailer brake gain, just follow the steps below:

1.         Connect your travel trailer

2.         Set the dial for the trailer brake gain

3.         Get accurate measurement

4.         Drive the vehicle at around 20mph and brake

5.         Change up the gain on the brake controller

6.         Test the new gain level by driving at 20mph again.

Remember, we are only going to be able to give you a general overview here. This is because every brake controller is different.

So, while one brake controller may have the gain adjusted in one way, another brake controller may have it adjusted in a completely different manner.

What Is Trailer Brake Gain?

What is a trailer brake gain? Trailer brake gain is the amount of force that the brakes will be applied on the travel trailer.

The higher the gain of the brakes, the harder the brake controller will tell those brakes to work.

It is vital that you get the trailer brake gain perfectly, otherwise, it will have a huge impact on the way in which you are driving your vehicle.

In fact, it may result in your vehicle being downright unsafe to drive on the roads.

Read also: Trailer Brake Controllers: 25 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

How Often Do You Need to Adjust Trailer Brake Gain?

In an ideal world, you will be adjusting the trailer brake gain every single time you head out on the road.

You will also need to regularly adjust the gain of the brakes when you are driving for long periods of time. This is because brakes can start to heat up which means that, in some cases, they may need a higher amount of gain to ensure that they can continue to grip the wheels properly.

How often do You need to adjust trailer brake gain? At the very minimum, you should be adjusting the trailer brake gain whenever you are changing the weight of the trailer.

This is because the gain is directly tied to the weight of the trailer. The heavier the trailer, the more effort it takes to slow down. This means that the brakes need to have a lot more gain. We will talk more about this in a short while. 

Is Trailer Brake Gain Set Automatically?

Is Trailer Brake Gain Set Automatically? Yes, many of the more recent trailer brake controllers will have some sort of feature in place that will adjust the trailer brake gain automatically.

It won’t be able to get the trailer brake gain perfect, but it should be able to come pretty close.

Even if your system is able to adjust things automatically, it is still wise to know how to set trailer brake gain as you never know when you may need to carry out a modification or two to the system. 

How to Set Trailer Brake Gain

As we said, while your trailer brake controller may determine the brake gain automatically, it is still worth knowing how to do everything manually too. This is because you will need to carry out regular adjustments to the trailer brake gain. 

Step 1: Connect your travel trailer up to your vehicle.

In order to ensure that the braking system works, the trailer will need to be plugged into the 7-way power system at the back of the vehicle. This is where the brake controller will send the signal to the electric brakes on the travel trailer:

Step 2: Set Dial

If you have a dial for the trailer brake gain on the brake controller, then set it to 50%. If you do not have a dial, then try to ensure that the gain is in the middle.

Even if you have a trailer brake controller that adjusts everything automatically, you will still have some sort of method to set the brake controller gain.

You may have to look into the instruction manual for your brake controller if what you need to do doesn’t seem immediately obvious. 

Step 3: Get Accurate Measurement

You will need to drive your vehicle onto the flattest piece of road that you can find. If there is any slope on the road, then you will not be able to get an accurate measurement.

A paved road outside of most homes should be fine. 

Step 4: Drive Your Vehicle

You will now need to drive the vehicle at around 20mph.

Once you have managed to reach 20mph, you can brake the vehicle.

Observe how the trailer reacts. One of the following will happen:

  • The trailer brakes perfectly (this is rare the first time round)
  • The trailer brakes slowly
  • The trailer brakes begin to lock up.

Step 5: Change Up The Gain

You will now need to change up the gain on the brake controller.

If the trailer wasn’t stopping all that quickly, then it means that you will need to turn the gain of the brake controller up.

If the brakes were locking up, it means that the brakes were gripping the wheels too hard, and this means that the gain will need to be turned down.

We suggest that you only change the gain by about 10% each time. Don’t do it too much or it will make the adjustments and testing a time-consuming process.

Step 6: Test The New Gain Level

Test the new gain level by driving at 20mph on a flat road and braking again.

Once again, you will need to observe how the trailer reacts to your braking. 

Keep repeating this process and adjusting the gain until you have a setting that you are happy with.

We recommend that you make a note of the gain level that you end up at. This way, whenever you use a trailer of the same size in the future, you will automatically know which gain level to set it to.

This means that less time can be spent adjusting things and more time can be spent out there on the road! 

If you have one of the more modern systems, particularly a wireless brake controller, then it may even be able to remember the settings for you.

For example, some of the brake controllers that are controlled via your smartphone will allow you have to have a variety of brake presets built into them. This way, you will be able to flick between them depending on the size and weight of the trailer that you have hooked up to everything.

How to Set Trailer Brake Gain | BetterWeigh™ Mobile Towing Scale >> Check out the video below:

What Happens When You Reduce Trailer Brake Gain?

What happens when you reduce trailer brake gain? When you reduce trailer brake gain, the brakes will be able to apply less force to the trailer.

If the brakes are providing less force to the trailer, it won’t be able to slow down quite as fast.

Obviously, having a trailer that is not slowing down quickly is not a good thing in the slightest! 

If the trailer is slowing down slower than the vehicle, then there is a good chance that a heavy trailer can go crashing into the back of the vehicle. Obviously, this is going to end up causing a huge amount of damage.

In rare cases, the vehicle driver will end up losing control of the travel trailer. If this happens, then the travel trailer will start to bounce from side to side. This could end up being dangerous to all of the other drivers out there on the road.

Read also: Prodigy Wireless Brake Controller: 11 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

What Happens When You Increase Trailer Brake Gain?

As the travel trailer that you are pulling gets heavier, you will need to up the gain. So, what happens when you up it too much?

Well, if the gain is too much for a lightweight trailer, then the brakes can end up locking up.

If the brakes lock up, then this is also going to cause issues for you and the other drivers on the road. You will have essentially lost control of the trailer that you are towing.

At this point, we do want to point out that brakes locking up does not necessarily mean that there is a problem with the gain of the brake controller being set too high. There is a multitude of issues that can result in trailer brakes locking up.

However, 90% of the time, it is going to be down to the gain, particularly if it is a problem that has only just started happening. 

If the brakes of the trailer are locking up in reverse, chances are that this is not actually an issue with the gain of the vehicle. Instead, it is more likely to be an issue with how the system has been wired up. This is an easy problem to correct. 



While most modern brake controllers will adjust the trailer brake gain automatically for you, it is still worth having a rough idea about how everything works.

This way, you will be able to ensure that you are safe out there on the roads! You can also be sure that you are keeping all of those other road users completely safe.


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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