Can You Add Factory Trailer Brake Controller in Silverado? The Truth

While you might think the stock brakes on your Silverado are enough for trailing, it certainly isn’t.  The significance of a brake controller in trucks is enormous when it comes to carrying other vehicles behind your Silverado. It enables you to keep an eye on the tow car’s movements to prevent disasters.

So can you add factory trailer brake controller Silverado? No. If you didn’t purchase your truck with the OEM trailer brake controller functionality, then you cannot install a trailer brake controller. I have double-checked with many dealerships, and none of them said that you could install one if it didn’t come with that option from the factory.

On the other hand, if your Silverado has the option to do so, there are many options for you to pick from. So without any further ado, let’s check out everything to know about brake controllers in a Silverado.

can you add factory trailer brake controller silverado

What Is A Factory Trailer Brake Controller?

It’s a mechanism to monitor and control a trailer’s electronic brakes from a pickup truck. Furthermore, it can be found underneath the dashboard on the left side of the steering wheel.

There are two varieties of it: proportional and inertial. The ability of the brakes to stop the tires from turning after pushing the accelerator can be pre-set by the proportional controllers. As the trailer’s speed decreases, the inertial controllers detect and apply the brakes.

Can You Add Factory Trailer Brake Controller Silverado?

As previously mentioned, not every Silverado can have a factory brake controller installed. You could be asking, “How do I know that?” Here’s the catch, if your Silverado truck has an integrated brake controller panel, then you can add one.

It should be visible on the instrument panel to the left of the steering wheel. You will be able to spot the panel easily. Thus, if the brake controller gets damaged, it wouldn’t be a problem to replace it with a new one.

However, if your truck didn’t have a trailer brake in the first place when you first bought it, then buying this type of equipment won’t help it.

You will come across many products saying they will be able to reprogram it to your truck’s system. Yet, I have confirmed that you certainly cannot by interacting with many Silverado dealerships. So it can be concluded that you just can’t install one no matter how the product tries to program it.

What Are The Alternatives

The only reason you are here is that your Silverado has the potential to add a factory trailer decelerator controller. Nevertheless, you may also have looked at the pricing of manufacturer-made controllers. They are certainly too pricey.

Thankfully, there are cheaper alternatives available that do the same job as the OEM ones. I have tested a few alternatives myself, and if I had to name the best ones, then it would be the Tekonsha 8507120 and CURT 51110.

The CURT 51110 is one of the cheapest yet good controllers you can find on the market. On the other hand, the Tekonsha 8507120 is a bit pricier than the CURT 51110 but certainly performs better than it.

How To Operate The Trailer Brake Controller

Now that you know whether you can install a brake controller or not, let’s take a look at how to operate them.

Step 1: Automatic Detection

When a trailer with electronic brakes is first connected, the trailer brake DIC screen will automatically appear. If it doesn’t appear, though, look at the installation and seek for issues.

Step 2: Trailer Gain Setting

To access the brake page, use the odometer trip stem or the DIC vehicle information button to go through the DIC menu pages. Another choice is to press the control panel’s trailer gain button merely. It acts by storing the selected trailer gain in memory.

Step 3: Adjusting Trailer Gains

Drive according to the scenario that portrays the towing circumstances you anticipate. Go for a ride at a speed of 30 to 35 mph and fully engage the manual trailer brake lever.

Utilizing the gain adjustment buttons, adjust the trailer gain to a value slightly below the trailer wheel lockup. When a trailer wheel locks, it will sound screeching or emit tire smoke.

However, if you’re hauling a trailer that’s substantially overloaded, trailer wheel lockup might not happen. In this situation, increase the trailer gain to the maximum level permitted by the towing situation. For example, if the chevy Silverado brakes soft then try increasing the trailer brake power.

Step 4: Readjusting

If the weight of the car being towed, the weight of the trailer, the state of the road, or if a trailer wheel lock-up is ever noticed. The trailer gain should be readjusted at that point.

That’s it; you now know how to operate a trailer brake controller. However, if you are facing problems with your Silverado seeming unusually low and sluggish, it might be the ABS. Yet, don’t have any scan tools? Well, we have covered how to bleed abs module without scan tool Silverado.


It’s time for the FAQ section, where we will answer some of your queries. Undoubtedly, it’s the best section to learn more in fewer words.

Do I need a brake controller if I have a tow package?

Without a brake controller, electric trailer brakes are inoperable. You will need a brake controller to tow if your trailer has electric brakes.

How do you turn off gain output on a trailer?

It is done by setting the trailer gain to 0.0; the output to the trailer should be disabled.

Why are my trailer brakes not working, but the lights are?

Examine the insulation of the brake circuit wire from the plug to the brakes for any evidence of wear or cracks that might be the source of a short by checking it from end to end.


So, can you add factory trailer brake controller Silverado? Either your manufacturer has implemented it in your Silverado in the first place; otherwise, there is no way you can install one.

Nevertheless, if you are not interested in replacing the brake trailer controller with an OEM one then there are many cheap alternatives available.  Everything apart, if you need to tow, don’t do it without a trailer decelerate controller. The chances of accidents are just too much.

Hi, this is Johnny Norris grew up in a car-oriented family. I love helping people by solving different problems they face in their Chevy car. Following my suggestions, how-to guides, you can save up on a lot of money that would have been spent on paying a professional.