The Safest Braking Systems for Your RV Tow Car

Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Jess

Traveling with an RV while towing your car can be a great way to explore new places and enjoy the freedom of the open road. However, it’s important to have the right equipment to ensure you can travel safely and with confidence.

An RV brake system is one of the most important pieces of equipment you should consider when towing a car behind your RV. Safety is one area where we don’t want to cut corners.

Today, we’re going to introduce you to some of the best RV braking systems to keep you and your RV safe on your adventures. Let’s get started!

What are RV brake systems?

RV braking systems help drivers of RVs and campers with trailers achieve a safe and controlled stop. Towed vehicles can add tremendous weight to an RV, resulting in longer stopping distances.

Quality RV braking systems dramatically shorten braking distance and increase safety for both the RV and the towed vehicle.

When purchasing an RV braking system, you need to consider factors such as the weight of the towed vehicle, the type of RV you have, and the price you are willing to spend.

Don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation and maintenance to ensure the brake system is working properly and safely.

How do RV brake systems work?

Ultimately, all RV braking systems have one important job: to help the towing vehicle slow down the trailer or vehicle they are towing. Most towed RVs use either hydraulic or electric braking systems. However, larger Class A motorhomes have air brake systems.

In towed RVs, the trailer is connected to the tow vehicle’s electrical system, usually through a seven-pin connection. When the driver depresses the brake pedal, a signal is sent to communicate with the RV’s brakes.

Whether hydraulic or electric, these systems reduce wear on the tow vehicle’s brakes and increase safety.

On larger vehicles with air brakes, an on-board compressor fills the reservoirs with air. The air remains in these tanks until the system needs it.

After the brakes are applied, the air flows through a series of valves and hoses to the brake chambers of each wheel. This causes the brake shoes to press on the drum and slow the vehicle.

Are RV brake systems required by law?

Regulations for RV braking systems vary from state to state. However, federal laws in the United States require towed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 3,000 pounds to have a separate braking system.

These regulations generally apply to motor homes and recreational vehicles. Some states go a step further and impose additional requirements on the type of braking system you must use.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the state in which you are traveling.

It’s worth noting that even in states where it’s not required by law, it’s generally a good idea to use a braking system for safety reasons.

These devices can help shorten stopping distances, prevent accidents and give you, the driver, more control. Aside from the initial cost, there is no good reason not to use such a system when towing.

The 5 best RV braking systems

We think a quality RV braking system is worth spending a few extra bucks on. We present five of the best brake systems you can buy. Are they also the cheapest? Probably not.

However, they are known in the community for doing their job well and being easy to use. These two features are reason enough for us to pay their premium price.

1st Roadmaster Invisibrake

This is one of the best RV braking systems on the market. There are many things to love about the Roadmaster 8700 Invisibrake. The system senses when the driver applies the brakes and activates the brakes on the towed vehicle. Invisibrake has a good reputation in the community, and many users love it.

Like many other braking systems on our list, this system is permanently mounted in the vehicle. However, this model easily fits under the driver’s seat for a clean look and to avoid potential damage.

However, the difficult installation will likely require professional help. With a price tag of $1,000, you should always consider installation costs as well.

Once installed and fine-tuned, the Invisibrake system is easy to use and requires no driver assistance. It works with almost any tow vehicle and provides reliable and effective braking performance.

2. demco air force 1

The Demco Air Force 1 is different from the other systems on our list. This unit connects to the vehicle’s air brake system, which means it’s typically for diesel pusher RV drivers. Since you’re messing around with the air brake system, this isn’t an installation you’ll likely want to do yourself.

The Air Force 1 delivers proportional braking power to the towed vehicle. This gives the towed car the same braking power as the vehicle it is towing. This symmetry provides a smooth and safe stop for both vehicles. Demco is proud to say that this is the only air brake that meets DOT and chassis regulations.

Pro Tip: Are you new to RV towing? Then you should check out our guide for towing newbies.

3rd Demco Stay-In-Play Duo

The Demco 9599006 Stay-in-Play Duo is similar to the Invisibrake, but has an inertial sensor for the towed vehicle. These sensors can detect movement of the vehicle that requires them to apply the brakes to assist the towing vehicle.

This is another popular product in the community, but it requires a difficult installation. Once installed, the Stay-in-Play Duo improves safety, provides smoother and more responsive braking, and prevents the towed vehicle from pushing the RV during sudden stops.

It is a reliable option to improve safety and control when towing a car behind an RV. This RV braking system is slightly more expensive than the Invisibrake, costing about $1,300.

4th Blue Ox Patriot 3

The Blue Ox Patriot 3 is an inertia braking system. This is one of the most commonly used braking systems for towed vehicles.

These systems use a box on the floorboard in front of the driver’s seat. The box contains an inertial sensor that detects the movements of the vehicle and applies pressure to the brake pedal accordingly.

Many drivers are enthusiastic about this system and give it excellent reviews. However, these systems usually do not perform as well as permanently installed units.

However, the Blue Ox Patriot 3 outperforms much of the competition. Users appreciate the ease of installation and the ability to move the system from vehicle to vehicle. With this unit, you don’t have to worry about expensive installation costs or buying a new unit for every vehicle you want to tow.

5. NSA Ready Brake

Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple; the NSA Ready Brake does just that.

It is a unique braking system for RVs that attaches to the tow hitch of the towed vehicle and uses a cable that goes to the brake pedal. When the driver begins to slow down, the towed vehicle’s brakes are manually applied.

The NSA Ready Brake may seem too simple, but it works. Customers love the design and the fact that you can take it from one vehicle to the next. Plus, you can usually find this complete system for under $500 and install it yourself.

This is the system for you if you’re looking for a quality RV braking system that won’t break the budget.

Please note: How do you adjust the sensitivity of your trailer brakes? Click on the link to learn how!

The right camper brake system

Choosing the right RV brake system requires thorough research. This is not a decision you should take lightly or rush into. You need to consider your individual circumstances and how you will use the system.

If there is a possibility that you will be towing different vehicles, a permanently mounted braking system is not the best solution. So take your time and buy the right RV brake system. If you don’t, it will only end up costing you more.

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