Do I need a brake controller when towing?

Although the laws regarding braking systems are controlled by the state and may differ, most of the laws are the same across Australia.  But here at Brixton 4x4 we urge those looking to tow to err on the side of caution and take all measures available to enhance safety when towing.

In Australia, trailers that have a gross trailer mass (GTM) of 750kg or less and a single axle will not require a braking system. Saying that, most caravans exceed this 750kgs limit, it is likely a braking system is required for you to tow a van.

GTM under 750kg- No additional brakes required

751< GTM < 2,000kg- Braking system on wheels of at least one axles; 

1,000kg GTM > 2,000 kg - Requires a “breakaway” system, system must be powered by a full-charged battery at ALL times (can be either standalone or auxiliary)

Why do I need an electronic brake controller?

You only need an electric trailer brakes controller if electric brakes are fitted to your trailer, caravan, or camper.  The electronic brake controller provides added safety to you and others on the road.  

Using a brake controller lets the trailer or caravan's brake system know how much braking power is needed to stop, allowing the electric brakes to take care of most of the braking power without relying on your vehicle to use all its power to stop or slow the caravan or trailer down.

What other safety systems may be needed when towing?

Brake Away System

These systems provide a way of automatically turning your caravan’s electronic brakes on in an emergency. If you caravan was to become uncoupled from the tow vehicle, a battery will keep the system operable on the caravan for at least 15 minutes. All states require that caravans and trailers with a GTM of more than 2000kg to have this system.

The weight of your caravan will also determine the number and type of safety chains required while towing:

  • Trailers that do not exceed an aggregate trailer mass (ATM) of 2500kg must have at least one safety chain fitted.
  • Trailers more than 2500kg and not exceeding 3500kg ATM must have two safety chains of 3500kg designation fitted.
  • Trailers more than 3500kg ATM must have two safety chains made from steel of a minimum 800MPa breaking stress. Each chain must be sized such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ATM.

What is the best brake controller for me?

At Brixton 4x4 we have tried and tested numerous brake controllers on the market and have chosen 2 brands which were stand out products.

CURT Spectrum-2™ Brake Controller

The CURT Spectrum-2 Brake Controller is a fully compatible unit, able to operate up to eight trailer brakes at a time (1-4 axles). It can be used on vehicles with ABS brakes and cruise control and electric over hydraulic, and it works with low-voltage and PWM systems.

brake controller

Elecbrake Brake Controller 

brake controller

Elecbrakes Brake Controller is a trailer mounted electric brake controller, wired directly into the trailers electrical circuit via an easy to use “Plug & Play” adaptor. Elecbrakes draws power from the taillight circuit as well as the brake light circuit ensuring sufficient power is available for up to two braked axles. 


This easy to install device also has the Elecbrake Remote Control which provides an override button to activate the trailer brakes remotely.

towing brake controller


While we have strived to provide the most accurate and up to date information possible, towing regulations are complex and constantly evolving. Brixton 4x4 urges all towers to check any legal requirements with local government authorities and doesn’t accept liability for any unintentional errors or omissions in the following article.

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