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Old 12-19-2021, 10:25 PM   #1
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Question How to test Brake Controller?

I bought my trailer used (barely) right before the covid fiasco hit. I was a disappointed in the braking power. I was told to set them you dial it up until the brakes lockup then back it off. Mine could barely be felt even when the gain was at max. I figured the shoes probably needed adjusting but never got to it (Trailer ended up being my quarantine cabin, parked alongside a river.. working on-line.. quarantine was very good to me).
Eventually I brought it home and parked it.. still never checked the brakes.
Recently I bought a brand-new dump trailer, also with brakes. Guess what? they behave the exact same way.. full gain on the controller, barely feel the brakes.
It could be a heck of a coincidence or, maybe the controller isnt right?
How can I check the controller?

It's a factory controller on my 2019 Ram Truck..
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Old 12-20-2021, 01:49 AM   #2
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Check your seven pin on the truck that it’s clean and no
Loose wires. I use auto contact cleaner auto stores carry it
They also make a seven pin contact checker that are between
10 and 80 bucks. Amazon/ auto stores / Home Depot. Or last resort
Go by uhaul they have a box that will check it along with voltage
And continuity.
All our best central Florida
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Old 12-20-2021, 04:23 PM   #3
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OK well if you read closely, you'd see that the brakes are working, just not strong enough.. Obviously it's connected.
Since I've not been able to verify what I should see on that line, I'm going to assume while a trailer is connected that the voltage should vary with the setting and at full gain it should be close to 12VDC?
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Old 12-20-2021, 05:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JTMD View Post
OK well if you read closely, you'd see that the brakes are working, just not strong enough.. Obviously it's connected.
Since I've not been able to verify what I should see on that line, I'm going to assume while a trailer is connected that the voltage should vary with the setting and at full gain it should be close to 12VDC?
Yes… and No…

I’m no electrical expert, so I’m not someone who can diagnose your problem. But I do know that it’s not as simple as sticking a probe into the appropriate slot on your 7-way plug, and expecting to see a 12 volt readout.

While the brake gain adjustment does increase the output of the integrated brake controller… the output is also dependent on the speed of the truck.

If I go out to my truck right now with a volt meter… insert the probe into the brake output slot on my 7-way, and have someone else step on the brake pedal with my controller at its highest setting of 10… I’ll only see anywhere from about 1.9 volts on my meter, and not 12.

Why? Because my truck is sitting still… and via various sensors in the truck, the brake controller knows that. So it knows it doesn’t have to send much “force” (electrical output) to the brakes to stop.

However, if you increase the speed of the truck… the electrical output of the brake controller also increases. The only problem is, you can’t take a reading if the truck is rolling along at 55 mph… not safely, that is… unless you have some very specialized & usually expensive equipment.

If you really feel it might be the controller, then take it to the shop and have them check it out.

As an alternative… see if you can borrow a friend’s truck, hitch up one of your trailers, and see if the same ‘soft brake’ conditions exist. If not, you’ll know your issue is with your truck... but if so, then more than likely the issue is with your trailer.
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Old 12-24-2021, 03:19 PM   #5
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ATC has some good ideas to check break controller. I had a similar situation to yours, bought a barely used ‘17 TT in ‘18. Break performance was poor. Breaks were very “out of adjustment” like they just threw the drums on and called it good. Stops much better now. Easiest thing to do right now is check trailer break adjustment and then move on from there.
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Old 01-01-2022, 10:19 PM   #6
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Comments previous are valid, however, if you use the manual control and fully energize you will get a voltage proportional to your settings, at least of a Ford controller. Using the foot brake it is all speed relative, but the manual controller goes full on, whenever I hook up to my trailer I always check the brakes first thing.
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Old 01-01-2022, 10:21 PM   #7
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I have a Ford F-150 with factory controller! Can you access the trucks towing settings? I can go into the settings and adjust the actuation sensitivity, low, medium, or high. Default was low and I had a soft application, like you are saying, as the brakes are applied by sensing the braking inertia of the vehicle. I adjusted my trailer brakes, (it was new) to ensure they were correct. Still soft for me, went into the settings and set to medium, it is way more aggressive and needs less pedal pressure to feel the trailer brakes. Again mine is a Ford. Check your trucks owners manual for information and you have this feature!
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Old 01-01-2022, 10:24 PM   #8
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ATCguy is correct if you have a modern truck. The brake controller is controlled by the computer to account for speed, deceleration, and trailer sway. Read your owners manual about the integrated brake controller. Adjustments are selectable on newer Fords. Adjust your controller so that your truck and trailer combination feels like normal bare truck braking. If it feels like you are not stopping without being scared add more gain. If it feels like the trailer is pulling back on the truck decrease the gain.
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Old 01-02-2022, 01:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JTMD View Post
I bought my trailer used (barely) right before the covid fiasco hit. I was a disappointed in the braking power. I was told to set them you dial it up until the brakes lockup then back it off. Mine could barely be felt even when the gain was at max. I figured the shoes probably needed adjusting but never got to it (Trailer ended up being my quarantine cabin, parked alongside a river.. working on-line.. quarantine was very good to me).
Eventually I brought it home and parked it.. still never checked the brakes.
Recently I bought a brand-new dump trailer, also with brakes. Guess what? they behave the exact same way.. full gain on the controller, barely feel the brakes.
It could be a heck of a coincidence or, maybe the controller isnt right?
How can I check the controller?

It's a factory controller on my 2019 Ram Truck..
Most travel trailer have self adjusting breaks. Drive forward and hit the breaks hard until you get breaks. If it doesn't work then start checking the break circuit. Also, if everything is working right, you will get a message on your screen that you have a trailer hooked up.
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Old 01-02-2022, 04:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by capeharj View Post
Most travel trailer have self adjusting breaks...
I’d agree that most late model trailers have them… but would strongly disagree that “most travel trailers” in general have them.

I bought my Voltage new in 2913… with every available upgrade package, and many other bell & whistle accessories included… and it DID NOT have self-adjusting brakes.

The OP’s listed trailer is a 2014, and I’m betting that it might (probably) not have them either.
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