Electric vs. Hydraulic Boat Trailer Brakes

A lot of boat owners use trailers to transport their boats on land and state laws dictate that these trailers must have electric or hydraulic boat trailer brakes. If the trailer has a gross weight of over 3,000 pounds, brakes are safety features that should be included. Electronic brakes have electronic sensors on the pedals to transmit the signal to the brake discs and calipers. Hydraulic brakes on the other hand use hydraulic sensors to transmit the signals.


Both electronic and hydraulic boat trailer brakes serve the same purpose and that is to stop the trailer from moving when needed. When the brake pedal in the tow vehicle is pressed, the signal to stop is sent through the brake system and both types of brakes effectively slow down and eventually stop both the tow vehicle and the trailer.


Electronic brakes use electric signals to determine the amount of braking needed. Thus, the harder you step on the pedal, the more braking power is generated. Hydraulic brakes depend on a coupling between the trailer and the tow vehicle and when you apply the breaks, the momentum of the moving trailer pushes on the coupling, causing the brakes to work.


Some people prefer electric brakes because they can be activated in 2 ways. One is by pressing on the pedal and the other is by engaging the hand brake. Some like hydraulic brakes because there are no electrical components that can get wet. Hydraulic boat trailer brakes also require less maintenance.