Brake Controller Wiring - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-29-2017, 10:02 AM   #1
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Name: Michael
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Brake Controller Wiring

I have an question to put out to you folks who have experience in installing brake controllers. I am shopping for a brake controller that will go into my 2010 Subaru Forester. The installation instructions to all of these controllers say that the wire connecting the controller to the brake light switch should be connected at or near the car's brake light switch which in most cases is located under the dash. I have a bum neck with a couple of fused vertebrae so standing on my head under the dashboard isn't very appealing to me nor am I crazy about the idea od tampering with the OEM wiring there .I have an alternate idea that I would like to throw out to get your opinions. Since I already need to run a battery heavy wire from the engine compartment to the trailer plug at the rear bumper to charge the trailer electrical systems, why not piggyback another smaller brake controller wire with it and make my connection for the brake controller there? After all, the wire is connecting to the same brake light circuit, but just at the opposite end of the car. Will it work?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:23 AM   #2
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Ask these people and see if there is a kit for your vehicle. If they ha e a kit you can get someone to co. Ect it for you.
https://www.etrailer.com/Custom-Fit-...sha/22112.html
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:50 AM   #3
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I'm not understanding what you are proposing.

If your tug does not have a pre-wired pigtail for a brake controller then you need to wire power, a line to the brakes AND a signal line that is ~12 volts when, and only when, you have your foot on the tug's brake pedal. The latter is the one that is normally connected to the wiring near the brake pedal switch, and yes it can be a b*** to get to. I guess you could pick up the signal elsewhere but with a small increase in the chance of failure.


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Originally Posted by Nor Cal Mike View Post
I have an question to put out to you folks who have experience in installing brake controllers. I am shopping for a brake controller that will go into my 2010 Subaru Forester. The installation instructions to all of these controllers say that the wire connecting the controller to the brake light switch should be connected at or near the car's brake light switch which in most cases is located under the dash. I have a bum neck with a couple of fused vertebrae so standing on my head under the dashboard isn't very appealing to me nor am I crazy about the idea od tampering with the OEM wiring there .I have an alternate idea that I would like to throw out to get your opinions. Since I already need to run a battery heavy wire from the engine compartment to the trailer plug at the rear bumper to charge the trailer electrical systems, why not piggyback another smaller brake controller wire with it and make my connection for the brake controller there? After all, the wire is connecting to the same brake light circuit, but just at the opposite end of the car. Will it work?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:54 AM   #4
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I would check with the dealership. Some vehicles come from the factory “plug and play” for trailer brake controls. I had a friend who had a Honda Pilot that came that way. Just had to locate the connector behind the dash.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by CPW View Post
I would check with the dealership. Some vehicles come from the factory “plug and play” for trailer brake controls. I had a friend who had a Honda Pilot that came that way. Just had to locate the connector behind the dash.
But don't trust the dealer completely. I spent sometime on the phone with Toyota tech support who insisted that my vehicle was pre-wired for a brake controller. It is not. And I had a Toyota dealer tell me that there was no OEM (Toyota) hitch for my prior tug (a Highlander). There was, and I made them install it at the cost of of a Curt hitch as per our prior agreement.

I might go to a decent trailer shop, or even u-haul and ask them to look it up. Or even e-trailer.com.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nor Cal Mike View Post
I have an alternate idea that I would like to throw out to get your opinions. Since I already need to run a battery heavy wire from the engine compartment to the trailer plug at the rear bumper to charge the trailer electrical systems, why not piggyback another smaller brake controller wire with it and make my connection for the brake controller there? After all, the wire is connecting to the same brake light circuit, but just at the opposite end of the car.

Will it work?
No

You need a dedicated signal from the brake switch to activate the controller. What you will get at the rear is a brake signal to the controller that that will be interrupted and or brakes applied by the turn signals when they flash. This is why you need to have the you brake signal pickup at or near the brake switch to get a dedicated brake signal for the controller to work properly. By installing the brake controller as directed by the controller manufacturer at most is piggybacking the brake sensing wire to the controller off the brake switch wire which most times with a scab on clip connector to the brake switch wire. You will not be cutting and "Damaging" your OEM wiring harness in any significant form or fashion.

If this installation is an issue with your bad back just PAY to have the controller installed by a garage or your local trailer supply store.

This assumes your vehicle is NOT equipped with a factory installed trailer wiring harness.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:10 AM   #7
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We had our local trailer place (not an RV place, but trailer place - they work on campers, horse trailers, flatbed trailers, etc.) install ours for about $250....and that included the harness, installation and adapter kit- whatever they needed to do to make it work on our 2011 Toyota Highlander. Instead of doing it yourself, I'd look for a place like that in your area and just have them install it.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by vintageracer View Post
No

You need a dedicated signal from the brake switch to activate the controller. What you will get at the rear is a brake signal to the controller that that will be interrupted and or brakes applied by the turn signals when they flash. ..
Well that depends on where you pick up the signal, which is part of what I did not understand was being proposed. If you could pick up the signal when and only when the pedal is depressed it should work, but if the voltage is also present when the bulb is lit for turn signals, then it going to be a very amusing thing to see -
the trailer braking every time the signal flashes. And totally impractical if it does that, so I agree.. go to u-haul or some place that does this work and let them do it if its not something you want to tackle.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:22 AM   #9
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I suspect you could do that, but you would actually need three wires in that case. The first would be for the 12 volt charge line which has nothing to do with your brakes. The second would be the blue wire connection between your brake controller and your 7 pin connector. The third wire would be the one that normally taps into the brake pedal circuit at the brake pedal, but could theoretically be run to the rear of the car and connected to the brake light circuit there. The important thing to make sure of if you do it that way is to make sure that the wire you tap into is only hot when the brakes are on, and not a shared line with the turn signal circuit, otherwise you would only have intermittent brakes when the turn signal lit. The center mounted brake light would be the best to tap into, although I think your Forester has separate brake and turn signal bulbs so you might be able to use those brake lights.
There are also wireless controllers available, but I don't have one so have no idea how they work.
Good luck, I hate crawling under modern dashboards any more too!
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
I'm not understanding what you are proposing.

AND a signal line that is ~12 volts when, and only when, you have your foot on the tug's brake pedal. The latter is the one that is normally connected to the wiring near the brake pedal switch, and yes it can be a b*** to get to. I guess you could pick up the signal elsewhere but with a small increase in the chance of failure.
That be THE ONE. Short of a possible factory provided connector plug in the under dash brake circuit as mentioned by CPW I prefer to not molest the factory wiring loom. I do already have a 5 pin light wiring pigtail tapped into the tail /brake lights via a factory connector at the rear of the vehicle. I also have a 7 pin female connector plug that will be mounted at the bumper. It accepts the 5 pin plug on its back side to power up the tail /brake light circuit of the trailer. It is the brake light wire in that 5 pin pigtail that I propose to connect the "signal line" to. I will search online to see if there is an under dash factory plug for this purpose as suggested by CPW but otherwise, I prefer to not cut into or modify the original wiring in any way.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Radar1 View Post
The important thing to make sure of if you do it that way is to make sure that the wire you tap into is only hot when the brakes are on, and not a shared line with the turn signal circuit, otherwise you would only have intermittent brakes when the turn signal lit.
Ah Ha! that might be the hang up. The brake and turn signals circuits have merged by the time they get to the 5 pin plug. That would prevent my idea from working. But contrary to your description, wouldn't the brakes be intermittently applied every time you used the turn signals?
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:45 AM   #12
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If this installation is an issue with your bad back just PAY to have the controller installed by a garage or your local trailer supply store.

This assumes your vehicle is NOT equipped with a factory installed trailer wiring harness.[/QUOTE]

I was an electrician for over 40 years so wiring a brake controller was within my skill set . I also have a bad shoulder
I went to my local hitch shop and when he said $65 to install my brake controller, I said " Have at it "
Beating your head against a brick wall to save a couple of bucks is silly in my book .
When I bought my last truck , I made sure it had the factory integrated brake controller, makes life so much simpler
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
go to u-haul or some place that does this work and let them do it if its not something you want to tackle.
Not my local U-haul. When I bought this Subaru new, I had the dealer add the hitch and 5 pin trailer wiring as part of the new car purchase. They contracted that work to be done at the local U-haul store. One of the teenage U-haul grease monkeys was just about ready to tap into the factory loom to install a universal wiring kit when told his boss to I stop him. I told that him that he would have to get written permission from the dealer before I would allow this to be done because I believed it would void the warrantee on the car. He called the dealer and they agreed. U-haul then ordered the proper plug in trailer harness and installed that a week later.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Nor Cal Mike View Post
... I will search online to see if there is an under dash factory plug for this purpose as suggested by CPW but otherwise, I prefer to not cut into or modify the original wiring in any way.
If your tug is not pre-wired you have two only two choices:
1. Suck it up and "modify" the original wiring*
2. Buy a new tug that is pre-wired.

* There are no doubt hundreds of thousands of vehicles what have after-market brake controllers added by tapping into the existing wiring. Its no big deal. But of course Toyota told me that they do not make a brake controller for the Sienna van (marketed as able to tow 3,500 lbs), and they do not endorse or support any after-market controllers. Further, any modification may void the warranty.. bla bla bla.. more lawyer-speak. So I just sucked it up and wired in my controller.

Also BTW, the wire tap connectors are used almost all the time, but I have some distrust of them. They actually nick the wire to make a connection. My choice was to VERY carefully strip off a little of the insulation on the pedal switch wire, wrap my controller signal wire around it, solder it, secure it, seal it up. - surly voiding the warranty for this connection to the switch but giving me peace of mind. The snap on wire tap connectors might also be considered voiding the warranty to a limited extent but that is an argument for attorneys and not me.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:13 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Nor Cal Mike View Post
Not my local U-haul. ...One of the teenage U-haul grease monkeys was just about ready to tap into the factory loom ..U-haul then ordered the proper plug in trailer harness and installed that a week later.
If the truck was pre-wired and had a (likely hidden) plug for a brake controller, then its a big mistake to not use it! Of course there are idiots in shops all over but more often than not it seems that people are happy with u-haul's installs. If not, find a better trailer shop.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:17 PM   #16
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This might help.

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulle.../topics/433666
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:20 PM   #17
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I wired my 2012. I bought a light converter from etrailer. The brake signal you need goes in to the converter. Here are the details.

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...hed-52650.html


My 2012 had a manual transmission with a hill holder clutch. Add that to the gearing made hill starts difficult. Good luck, Raz
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Old 12-29-2017, 01:43 PM   #18
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I wired my 2012. I bought a light converter from etrailer. The brake signal you need goes in to the converter. Here are the details.

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...hed-52650.html
HA! If that does not convince people to hire this job out then nothing will!

Thats a great job and a great job documenting it. It can be a lot of work but I did all mine own work also. I think it took the better part of two full days for me. If what you see in this thread looks doable, then I say go for it. You might very well do a better job than a "professional." On the other hand, if that more than you want to tackle, have it done by a vetted professional.
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Old 12-29-2017, 01:58 PM   #19
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I am not sure this helps, but etrailer has a video of their installation:

https://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contr...eid=2017203458
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:51 PM   #20
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Try this one:

how to wire a trailer brake controler ? - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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