How do i test electric trailer brakes by myself? - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums



How do i test electric trailer brakes by myself?

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Old 03-23-2009, 03:16 PM
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How do i test electric trailer brakes by myself?

Im curious on how to test if the electic trailer brakes are working on a camper that is basically permantly set up. Let me explain... I recently purchased a 99 F250 7.3, it had an older trailer brake controller which I swapped out with a new one, using the existing wires. I backed the truck up to my camper to test all the lights, and of course the 7 way plug was wired differently than my camper. I rewired it to match the camper, and the every light operates as it should including the brake lights. BUT, how do I know the trailer brakes are operating? I cant hear anything from the cab of the truck with the engine off. I just want to be sure its wired correctly, so If and when I need to move the camper, im not stuck rewiring the 7 way, and/or the controller.
Are the trailer brake lights in sync with the electric brakes. (I.E. the lights are getting power, so the brakes are also)?
I recently pulled the camper 1200 miles with another truck, so I know the brakes are ok. I just dont want to avoid moving the camper to test the brakes now that it is all set up at a permanent site.
Thanks
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:26 PM
sailorjohn sailorjohn is offline
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My break controller (Draw-Tite) has a display that shows a number that corresponds to the pressure being applied to the trailer breaks. When I step on the break peddle with out the trailer connected all I see is a decimal point. When I step on the break peddle with the trailer connected it shows a number that gets higher until it reaches its preset maximum. If the wiring is shorted out some where or not working then it shows a code the paper work that came with the controller explains the different codes. For instance when there is excessive moisture in my plug and I step on the break peddle with out the trailer connected the display reads 0.0
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:07 PM
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Thanks John, you encouraged me to go on the hunt for the instructions that came with my Journey HD controller,(I cant believe I found them), and you are correct, There is codes that let me know if its hooked up correctly. And it is...
Thanks for your help.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:55 AM
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here is what I do it. with the trailer hookup up set your trailer brake controller on the setting desired.

then drive the truck in a straight path with lots of room and apply the TBC only. Using this method you will want the trailer to be able to stop both the truck and trailer. not to the point of locking up the trailer tires but you want a real good stop.

This is me ensures that it works and if I need to stop real quick there is enough gain from the tbc to keep the trailer behind me.
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:11 AM
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If you just want to see if its wired right jack up on wheel (the drivers side would be best) and give it a spin. Then hit the brakes in the truck and see if the brakes grab.

Denny
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:08 PM
badlar badlar is offline
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Use a spring clamp to hold the manual lever on the controller, or a stick between the brake pedal and the seat to hold the brake on, the take your trusty old scout compass to the wheels and see if the needle is affected when you get close to the drums. If trailer orientation makes the needle not move on one side, the needle should move 180 deg on the other side.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:35 PM
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...then jack up one side - reach down and try to spin the wheel ---- it shouldn't spin. Would also be a good time to test the breakaway switch.... unhook the cable going to the truck and then pull out the breakaway wire. Then retest as above.
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Old 04-03-2009, 02:27 AM
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You can run a jumper wire on the seven way if it is set up right - to put power on the brake signal line.

Assuming the seven way is wired right - on the curb side you have (from top to bottom) 12V power, brake and turn signal, and then the electric brake signal line pin.

Jumper the 12 volts to the signal for the trailer brakes, and see if they grab.

Keep in mind this is FULL POWER! I wouldn't do it long, although the brakes can handle it. If the brakes are working - they should grip solid so that you can't turn the wheel.

If UNDER THESE CONDITIONS you can turn the wheel - there's a problem, buddy.

Check to make sure you have a full 12V from your trailer batteries.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:36 AM
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Bud stated
Would also be a good time to test the breakaway switch.
Sorry to hijack/jump on,,,,does the breakaway switch reset or release after it`s pulled? I hook mine to the rails holding my hitch and understand if I lose trailer itll engage brakes but when does it release?

Hanklin
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:27 AM
badlar badlar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanklin View Post
does the breakaway switch reset or release after it`s pulled?
The brakes will not release until the batteries are dead or the breakaway switch plunger (if thats what its called) is reinserted into the breakaway switch.
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:23 PM
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The breakaway switch is a standard check on trailer "GET READIES", but not the only test.The brakes need to work at full and partial power with a controller properly connected. It's also a little known item that a trickle voltage is used by the controller to test connectivety. This mainly checks the ground path for all of the electrical devices between the trailer and tow machine. Your electric brake controller does that better than anything else. If your controller calls an error - go look for rusty grounds!

I about guarantee you will see something like that....

Rust around a bolt, a corroded spade connector, a wire that has corrosion creaping up inside the insulation...

It never seems to fail. The ground return is the same for every electrical device in your RV, not just the brakes.

But the micro-amperes the controller sends to check the connection is the surest check for all systems.

And "GROUND FAULTS" are the most common problem on any RV, AIRCRAFT, or TRUCK.

Twenty years working on afloat naval aircraft, carrier borne, and the corrosion manuals supplied to armed forces are my backup. Those words are written by experience. Salt water respects nothing....
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:03 PM
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Hi Bud
BPof MD

I can`t jack up trailer nor do I have a compass. I have not pulled since hooking up my prodigy , however this weekend I did back up to it and plugged in. When my wife presses on the brake I can hear an electrical humm at the wheels.Is that soundin normal?

Hanklin
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:34 PM
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sounds normal, I would suggest taking on forward and applying the trailer brakes only to see if they are working
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:09 AM
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Great !
I`m planning on leaving in a mo. so before we go I`ll test all brakes and checklist. I was hoping the sound wasn`t an open ground.
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Old 04-14-2009, 08:19 AM
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Best way to test as I think I may have said before. Hook it up, take a straight road/parking lot get up to 25-30 mph and apply the trailer brakes only. This will not only help you to set the gain but also confirm the braking action of the trailer.

You goal should be for the trailer to stop the truck and trailer combined without locking up the trailer brakes but enough gain to stop it fairly quickly from a 30 mph run. be sure your test area allows you enough room should you need to do this a few times or the brakes don't work good so you can reach if necessary.

Now I don't know if this is the text book method but it is the one that has served me well.
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