Bills Mobile Hitch & Tow Bar Installation


What Are Supplemental Braking Systems And Why Do You Need Them?

An RV or a motorhome can surely be convenient if you decide to make a road trip to some distant place. However, this convenience is only limited until you reach your set destination. Once you reach your destination, this giant-sized vehicle can become a nuisance. It will not only occupy a big size but can also ruin your experience.

So, to avoid this scenario, your best option will be to carry a vehicle with your RV. Yes, we are talking about towing a car with your motorhome, so you can enjoy your travel without worrying about anything. However, if you’ve decided to tow your car, you must do this in the right way. A supplemental braking system, in most cases, is a must for the towed vehicle. Other than that, you’ll require a tow bar for a smooth connection between your motorhome and toad vehicle.

But, if you’re new to the concept of towed car brake systems, you must know why they are vital for your vehicles and why you should consider adding them. So, let’s start by learning what exactly is a supplemental braking system.

Understanding A Supplemental Braking System

As the name suggests, a supplemental or tow bar braking system is a unique braking mechanism that applies brakes to your toad vehicle when you apply the brakes in your motorhome. So, suppose you’re traveling in your RV while towing a car. After some time, you apply brakes on your motorhome. Now, once you do this, the supplemental braking system will help apply brakes to your towed vehicle.

This whole braking process ensures the safety of both your RV and toad vehicle. You can find different designs for this in the market, but they all have the same job, i.e., to activate brakes in the vehicle you are towing behind the RV. In addition, this mechanism plays a crucial role in managing the weight of your car. Furthermore, if a breakaway happens, this braking mechanism can help stop the vehicle at its position.

And, if we go by the law, in most states having a supplemental braking system for a towed vehicle is a must. 

Why You Should Have A Supplemental Braking System: Top Four Reasons

Well, surely, if we are talking about a supplemental braking system, you may have a question somewhere in your mind asking why you need it for your vehicle. As far as we are talking about the benefits of having a tow bar braking system, there are many reasons to have one. Whether we are discussing the safety of your motorhome or toad vehicles or following the law, a supplemental braking system is a must.

Also, as per the law, towing a vehicle or trailer weighing over 3,000 pounds requires a braking system in many states. Of course, this law can vary from state to state, but generally, having a supplemental braking system for the towed vehicle becomes a must if you’re towing a trailer behind your motorhome.

Furthermore, you should not add this braking system to your toad vehicle just because the law asks for it. This mechanism not only ensures your safety but also enhances the function and lifespan of the tow bar. So, let’s explore four reasons to add a supplemental braking system to your towed vehicle.


When traveling on the road, your safety should always be your top priority. And when you’re towing with your RV, you must not take any chances. A towed car brake system reduces the stopping distance between your motorhome and your car. And if not that, it can at least stop the toad car from increasing your motorhome’s stopping distance.

When you attach a vehicle to your RV, this toad car weight gets added to your RV’s weight. Thus, if you try to tow a vehicle without adding an auxiliary braking system, there are significant chances of increased stopping distance between both vehicles.

Also, as previously mentioned, this braking system can come to the rescue in case of a breakaway. So, in case your tow bar stops functioning, the supplemental braking system can help control the toad car. Furthermore, this braking system can help prevent the car from bouncing off the track in rare cases of a complete breakaway.

Now, after reading this, you know how crucial a tow bar braking system is for a toad vehicle.

Lowers Strain On Brakes

Although a braking system plays a significant role in safety, you must know this also helps increase your vehicle’s brake lifetime. It actually helps by reducing the strain on your motorhome’s primary brakes. By adding this brake system to your vehicle, you can make it easy for your RV to apply brakes more smoothly. Furthermore, it can reduce the wear and tear your motorhome’s brake goes through while towing a vehicle.

Usually, an RV is not designed in such a way that it can stop the additional weight of a toad vehicle. Surely, the braking capacity of your RV can be more than the weight of your toad vehicle. However, every time you apply brakes in your motorhome, the dinghy vehicle will put extra stress on your RV brakes. On the other hand, if you don’t have a supplemental braking system equipped, your toad vehicle’s wheels and tires will also experience stress.

So, to avoid passing all the stress to your RV’s brakes, you should consider installing an auxiliary braking system in your towed vehicle. 

It Is Required By Law 

We have already mentioned that in many states, installing a braking system in your toad vehicle is mandatory. You have to look for it on the internet whether your state requires you to have a supplemental braking system in your trailer or vehicle. But, in most U.S. states, the law usually asks you to have an auxiliary braking system installed in your trailer. This is typically required when towing more than 3,000 pounds of weight. But this requirement can vary from state to state, so you must look for it.

Maintenance Of RV Warranty

Most RV manufacturers set a specific limit to how much weight you can tow without using a supplemental brake. So, suppose you exceed this recommended weight limit. In that case, you may not only damage your RV but can also face liability problems. Hence, you may even get your warranty void from your manufacturer if you don’t follow their recommendation regarding towing a dinghy vehicle over a certain weight.

Now, you know the importance of a supplemental braking system in a toad vehicle. So, next, let’s explore the different types of RV supplemental braking systems and see how they work.

What Are Various RV Supplemental Braking Systems Types, And How Do They Work?

Supplemental braking systems come in various types and have some differences from each other. Basically, all braking systems have one function of applying brakes on your toad vehicles when you do the same on your motorhome. They are of four types, including:

  • Pre-Set Systems
  • Direct Systems
  • Proportional Systems
  • Vacuum-Assist Systems

So, let’s understand each supplemental braking system one by one and see how they function.

Pre-Set Systems

The pre-set systems appear at the top of the list when we talk about the most basic type of supplemental braking systems. They come under portable electric systems that help form the connection to your motorhome. This braking system will only function if your motorhome’s lights are engaged.

So, once the brake signal gets to the device placed inside your vehicle, this device responds by lowering an extended arm onto your vehicle’s brake pedal. 

Another great thing about pre-set systems is they are easy to install as well as portable. However, their downside is they can’t provide the control or accuracy other types offer.

Also Read: How does a weight distribution hitch work and how to set up it

Direct Systems

Out of all the brake systems, direct systems offer the best accuracy. This device is directly wired to your RV’s brakes, giving you accurate results when you apply brakes on your motorhome. Basically, this direct connection to your RV makes it easy for your toad vehicle to replicate the pressure and timing of the brakes.

By installing this type of supplemental braking system, you can avoid situations like under-braking and over-braking. This is because your toad vehicle can directly sense the brake extent your RV applies. Therefore, your dinghy vehicle will only apply brakes when you actually apply brakes on your motorhome.

Installing this system can be a bit complicated, but it’s worth the effort as it is highly responsive and accurate. Furthermore, you’ll never need to perform manual adjustments using direct braking systems. So, once you get it installed in your vehicle, you’re set for a long time without worrying about performing any additional work.

However, just like the previous braking system, direct braking systems also have a downside. The downside being this braking system is quite expensive and requires professional assistance to install in your vehicle. So, if you really want this braking system in your vehicle, you can contact Bills Mobile Hitch And Tow Bar Installations for professional installation services.

Proportional Systems

Now, proportional braking systems are the most commonly used and popular type of supplemental braking system. This braking system type works by sensing when your motorhome gets slowed down. So, basically, it performs by working proportionally to your motorhome, as the name suggests. If you apply brakes in your RV, the system will also apply brakes in the towed vehicle with the same proportional force as how much you applied in your motorhome.

If you’re using a vehicle having power assist brakes, in that case, it’s recommended you don’t use the proportional supplemental braking systems. This is because these types of braking systems typically don’t work well with vehicles with power-assist brakes. Also, even if there are a few exceptions, you should try using other supplemental braking systems suitable for your vehicle type.

Compared to pre-set systems, proportional systems offer greater accuracy and control. Furthermore, this braking system also comes with emergency braking. So, ask your provider whether this braking system is suitable for your vehicle or not. You can also contact Bills Mobile Hitch And Tow Bar Installation for advice and professional installation.

Vacuum Assist Systems

As discussed, numerous vehicles, specifically hybrids with power assist braking, usually don’t work with most supplemental braking systems. And if you force this system on your vehicle, there is a significant chance your vehicle will suffer some damage.

So, if your vehicle doesn’t support most supplemental braking systems, you should consider using vacuum assist systems. Now, explaining the functioning of vacuum assist systems can be a bit complicated. But, to give you a basic idea, these supplemental braking systems tap into a vacuum source to effectively and safely apply brakes into cars with power assist braking.

However, you should know these types of supplemental braking systems don’t support complete emergency braking. Furthermore, you’ll require professional installation services such as Bills Mobile Hitch And Tow Bar Installation to install a vacuum assist system in your vehicle. So, even if this is the case, know that most vehicles with the power assist braking only support vacuum assist systems. Therefore, if you want to experience a smooth towing experience, you should definitely consider installing a vacuum assist system in your vehicle.   

How Difficult Is Installing A Supplemental Braking System In A Towed Vehicle?

Generally, you’ll not experience any difficulty installing a supplemental braking system in your towed vehicle. However, as multiple braking systems are available, a few can be challenging to install without professional assistance. Also, even if you find installing a supplemental braking system easy, you should still consult a professional installation service to get a proper installation.

So, if we talk about how installation works, mostly all the supplemental braking systems come with installation instructions. You can follow those instructions to set up the braking system correctly.

Also, you simply need to reverse those steps when you reach your destination in order to remove the supplemental braking system from your vehicle. After that, just store it in a secure place to enjoy your adventure without any restrictions in your vehicle. So, basically, once you repeat these steps a few times, it will be easier for you to use the supplemental braking system. However, before you leave for a trip or adventure in your RV, ensure to practice the steps a few times.

Are Supplemental Braking Systems Permanently Installed?

Suppose you’ve decided to add a supplemental braking system to your vehicle. In that case, you may have a question about whether these braking systems will be permanently installed in your vehicle. Well, you don’t have to worry about this topic particularly, as supplemental braking systems can be installed both permanently and temporarily (Portable).

You can easily move portable systems between toad vehicles. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that want to tow multiple vehicles at different times. So, let’s discuss both of these towed bar braking systems categories in further detail.


Firstly, we have portable supplemental braking systems. These systems are easier to transfer from vehicle to vehicle and cost less than non-portable systems. In addition, you don’t require professional assistance to install these braking systems. In typical cases, this type of system is placed on the vehicle’s floor where the driver sits. And this system uses an actuator arm that helps activate the brake pedal of the toad car.

Since this system is not permanently installed in your vehicle, every time you need to tow your car, you’ll have to ensure you’ve placed the portable system and configured the system properly. Furthermore, when not using this braking system, you must remove and store it somewhere safe. So, while saving money by not going for a permanent braking system, you’ll have to go through this process every time you need to tow your vehicle.  


So, your other option is to go for a permanent or non-portable braking system. This braking system is often hard-wired to a toad vehicle and even to your motorhome. If you have some business where regular towing is involved, undoubtedly, adding a permanent system should be your preferred choice. Also, a permanent supplemental braking system saves you from installing and removing it repeatedly whenever you want to tow your vehicle. Furthermore, you don’t have to look for a place to store this system.

However, non-portable systems have some downsides, as they are more expensive and require professional assistance for their installation. The product cost, as well as the cost of professional installation, adds up, making permanent towed car braking systems an expensive option. Other than that, it’s not easy to transfer this system from one vehicle to another. And in some cases, it might not be possible to transfer the braking system to another toad vehicle.

Therefore, if you’re thinking of adding a non-portable supplemental braking system to your vehicle, consider the cost of the product and professional assistance.


Supplemental braking systems are necessary for towing, as they guarantee your vehicle’s safety. While having them installed in your vehicle is not required by some states, we highly recommend adding one. These braking systems help smooth your towing journey so you can enjoy your adventure worry-free. Before purchasing any type of towed car braking system, confirm whether it is compatible with your vehicle.

At Bills Mobile Hitch And Tow Bar Installation, you can get the best installation for supplemental braking systems. Our professional installers help you find the most compatible braking system for your RV and car. Also, we provide an error-free installation, so you can safely travel in your motorhome with a towed vehicle at the back. For any queries regarding our product quality or installation process, call us at (623) 210-5427.

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