We test Redarc's Tow Pro Elite electric brake controller fitted to our 3.2 litre Ford Ranger towing our 2.5-tonne caravan and mobile office over some of Australia's most demanding tourist roads.
The Tow-Pro Elite was fitted using the same wiring loop as used for a competitor's brake controller fitted for the past two years. This saved re-running wires through the vehicle to a 12 pin rear plug, and obviously, some auto electrician installation costs.
At times, the Guardian Model brake controller previously installed on our Ranger required maximum setting for sufficient braking force on steep bitumen declines. The Redarc's Tow-Pro Elite had no such problems handling our rig offering smooth caravan response without any harsh, unexpected feedback.
The award-winning Tow-Pro Elite is the only brake controller on the market to offer two types of braking in the one unit: automatic and user-controlled modes. Australian made and Australian designed, the Tow Pro Elite is suitable for 12v or 24v vehicles.
We found the addition of an automatic mode (mentioned above) to be really useful on the road. Redarc's comprehensive operating instructions explain how it works:
Active Calibration constantly monitors vehicle direction of travel and allows the Tow-Pro Elite to learn and continually confirm its mounting orientation. This process occurs whilst the vehicle is moving and the brake is applied, with or without a trailer connected and you cannot even notice Active Calibration occurring.
When Tow-Pro Elite is first installed it will begin learning its mounting orientation through Active Calibration as soon as you start driving, at this point Automatic Mode is selected but not yet fully operational.
Until the Tow-Pro Elite has determined its mounting orientation, the unit will function as if it is in User Controlled Mode, this is indicated by the LED glowing green with blue flashes.
As the Tow-Pro Elite becomes more confident of its direction of travel the length of the blue flash will increase to the point that the LED is solid blue which indicates it is now operating completely in Automatic Mode. Under normal driving conditions, the Tow-Pro Elite will learn its mounting orientation within 20 brake applications, if no trailer is connected, Active Calibration will occur as normal without any indication from the LED. The LED will already be blue when the trailer is connected.
The trailer brakes can also be applied manually by simply pressing the control button. Braking force is indicated by the same LED changing from blue when the brakes are applied to orange or red as the severity of braking increases ensuring secure and safe application.
Easy to adjust.
Having towed now for some time using Redarc Tow Pro Elite in a variety of traffic conditions on the Gold Coast, city driving in Brisbane, the Hinterlands, Eumundi and Gympie, the Sunshine coast with all their roundabouts and more, we are extremely happy with the Tow Pro Elite performance and ease of operations.
Our Gross Vehicle Mass is around 5,600 kgs and we generally found that settings 4 and 5 were suitable for the towing of our rig.
However, a higher setting may be required for extreme braking if travelling mountainous routes such as the Great Alpine Way over Mount Hotham or something like Swampy Plains Creek road (from Corryong to Cabramurra, the highest permanently inhabited town on the Australian continent, situated at 1,488m AHD (4,880 ft) in the western Snowy Mountains).
Swampy Plains Creek road.
It should be noted that a lesser setting is required for towing on gravel roads to prevent caravan wheel lockup.
The small control knob protruding through the dashboard and the mouse-sized control unit fitted under the dash out of sight are easy to install and use, both manually and as an automatic drive-and-forget unit.
The Tow Pro is about the size of a computer mouse.
All in all, we found The Tow-Pro Elite to be a superior unit to the competitor product previously installed on our vehicle. The addition of automatic mode takes some of the hassle out of driving day to day, and the ability to manually operate trailer brakes on the fly instils confidence when towing conditions change. A quality electric brake controller is a necessity for anyone planning to go caravanning in Australia.
Our only wish is that we had it for some of the High country roads we have travelled.
Buy the Tow Pro Elite online from the Redarc website or your nearest stockist.
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