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Lauren

Electric Brake Controller Problem

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We have a 2018 Forest River Acadia. Brand new when we purchased a year ago from Camper's Inn. We pull with a 99 Suburban. Initially when we would plug in the brake controller, we had no issues with all lights and brakes. Now, when we plug it in, the tail lights and signals work, but the trailer brakes do not activate when plugged in. We stopped by a local camper dealer on our way to the mountains (because no one wants to come down from the mountains without trailer brakes 😱) and they were unable to determine if the issue was coming from the truck or the camper.  Anyone have an idea of where the issue could be coming from? The camper does have an extended warranty but I would like to at least have an idea of where it is coming from first before we try to send it in, knowing it will be weeks before it gets fixed.Thanks!

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You will need to test to know that. Either a volt/ohm meter or there are devices that plug between the vehicle plug and the trailer plug to indicate operation. 

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I fail to understand why a camper dealer could not give you an answer.

All you need is a simple 12v test light. Buy or borrow one if you dont have one.

The old-school incandescent bulb type, NOT a new-fangled LED tester or digital multimeter.

Unplug the trailer pigtail from the tow vehicle. 

With ignition ON (engine does not need to be running) have someone operate the brake controller knob or slider while you probe the brake pin on the vehicle's pigtail socket, usually pin #2. Of course the tester's ground clip should be grounded to the metal bumper, frame, or ground pin in the socket. The brightness of the bulb will vary depending on the amount of brake 'application' of the controller. Make sure you are testing with the brake gain setting ramped up to medium or high.

Also check that the light glows when the brake pedal is depressed, with the brake controller gain set to mid or high.

If you get no results, you can assume the problem is in the tow vehicle, possibly a blown fuse or defective relay, or maybe a wiring flaw, dislodged connector, etc. 

If you DO get results, then you can move along to some simple troubleshooting in the trailer brake system. More than likely, tools and some time will be needed for this work. 

Let us know what you find. 

 

 

 

Edited by podwerkz

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7-Way-RV-Diagram.jpg

If you don't have one, the light he refers to will do the job and you can find them at any auto parts store for between $10 and $15. 

61JqYxwxmCL._AC_UL320_ML3_.jpg

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I agree with podwerkx, but will also suggest you repeat the testing using the ground in the plug (#1 in Kirk's illustration.).  More often than not, vehicle electrical issues are caused by a faulty ground.

BTW, when was the last time you took your vehicle plug off and cleaned /tightened the connections on the back?  That's a problem area.

Edited by rickeieio

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podwerkx I don't get why we couldn't find an answer either...but the service place sure earned a pretty penny  just checking it! I will get the test light today and let you know what I find. 

Kirk W thank you so much for the pictures that helps a TON. I actually noticed that one of the pins in the trailer plug looks different and I'm betting that's exactly the problem with the #2 pin. 

rickeieio we have not taken the vehicle plug off yet this season, but I will add it to the list!

 

Thanks y'all! 

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Dirty connections for a trailer is a very common problem. The fact that your trailer lights work would seem to indicate that the ground connection between the truck and the trailer is good, but it never hurts to make sure since that is easy to check. 

If the service shop charged you for checking the trailer power and couldn't even say if the problem was the truck or the trailer, then the person checking on it was completely incompetent and they are thieves for charging you. I strongly advise you to never use their services for anything again! It should take no more than 5 minutes for a moderately competent person to determine if the tow truck is supplying power for the trailer brakes or not.

Edited by Kirk W

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Kirk, that was my point also. I was just laying out the basic steps to a very simple and easy way to figure out if the tow vehicle or the trailer is at fault. It's not rocket science.

Of course, actual repairs of the trailer brake system are not within the scope of this thread.

Lauren is free to try those steps or get someone who can...but normally a camper trailer dealer or RV repair shop will have a competent technician and the actual tools and test equipment to make a definitive diagnosis and repair. 

I'm betting it is something simple...but we're just guessing until we get more information.

Edited by podwerkz

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2 hours ago, dennisvr said:

Kurt posted.

If you mean me, check what my name is, please.

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