What is an RV supplemental braking system?



A supplemental braking system for RVs detects when you apply the brakes in your motorhome and automatically applies the brakes on your towed vehicle. A supplemental braking system can be classified into four types:

  • Pre-set
  • Proportional
  • Direct
  • Vacuum-assist

Pre-set systems

RV supplemental braking systems most commonly come in pre-set configurations. Portable electric systems are connected to your RV and activate when the brake lights are engaged on the RV. A brake signal is received by the car’s device, which depresses the brake pedal with an extended arm when it receives the signal. Despite their portability and ease of installation, these systems can’t match other types of systems in terms of accuracy or control.

Proportional systems

The most popular type of supplemental braking system is proportional. Your RV slows down when these sensors are activated. Consequently, when your towed vehicle brakes, the system applies brakes proportionally to what you do in your RV. It is more accurate to use proportional controls than pre-set controls, and they are more precise in terms of control. Emergency braking can be provided by this braking system. 

Direct systems

Your towed vehicle’s brake timing and pressure are directly detected by direct systems linked to your RV’s brake lines. It is more difficult to install direct systems, but their accuracy and responsiveness make them a great choice. The best thing about direct braking systems is that manual adjustments are never required. It is advantageous to install a direct system with professional assistance or if you have mechanical experience.

Vacuum assist systems

Power-assist braking is a problem for many vehicles, particularly hybrids. It is possible to damage these vehicles by using a typical braking system. Vacuum-assist systems can help in this situation. A vacuum-assist system utilizes a vacuum source to safely and effectively apply braking force to vehicles equipped with power-assist braking systems. Unlike emergency brakes, vacuum-assisted supplemental braking systems require some installation. A vehicle with power-assist brakes, however, may only have this braking system. A trailer or another method may also be used to tow your toad.

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