How Much Should it Cost to Install Brake Controller & Adaptor? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 08-10-2015, 01:25 PM   #1
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Name: jen
Trailer: Casita Spirit Deluxe 2003
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How Much Should it Cost to Install Brake Controller & Adaptor?

Hi all. I got the p2 brake controller, the proper pigtail for my F150, and the proper 4-7 pin adaptor for the back. I think, though, according to Ford, it would require a bit of wiring about 4-5 feet in back there, with 10 guage wire, to hook up to their wiring system. Not sure.

Ford quotes me $200.
A local mechanic quotes me $175.

This seems really overpriced to me. With the pigtail and the controller, I could probably do it myself with a video.

The wiring--I don't think so but I will watch the video. I am just SO NOT MECHANICAL and I don't trust DH, he's just sweetly scatterbrained.

But isn't that expensive? Seems really overpriced.
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Old 08-10-2015, 02:14 PM   #2
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Name: Louis
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Had it done here in Calif for $105.00 at a trailer shop they know what they are doing and
they adjusted the brake controller they will need the trailer towed in .

Lou
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Old 08-10-2015, 03:17 PM   #3
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You can probably DIY this - since the factory wiring is already in place, you're only connecting between the OEM harness and the trailer connector, which should be fairly easy.

I personally think the quotes you got are overpriced unless they were running all of the wiring from scratch (as would be the case in a vehicle without any tow wiring already in place) - but it doesn't sound like that is required.

Also, some may disagree with me, but you need to know how to adjust the brake controller yourself - relying on a business to do it isn't wise, what happens when you hook up a different trailer and it needs different settings, or you realize that it was never set correctly to begin with? The process is really fairly straightforward and something that anyone towing with brakes should be familiar with.
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Old 08-10-2015, 03:30 PM   #4
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I'd still go with having either an RV shop or a trailer shop do the install. (Not FORD or Joe Mechanic) Not all wiring on computer controlled TV's is as straight forward as it used to be. Add to that, if they set it up for the first trailer you will know; 1) that it actually works with your trailer and 2) what is supposed to feel like.


When we bought a sticky for a S-I-L with a Suburban size GMC SUV, I let the dealer install it and verify that everything worked before we left the lot. As it turned out there was a problem with the trailers left brake connection in the 7 pin cable. Cost for installing a P2 was all of $75.


A few extra $$$ is cheap insurance for safety. And anyway, how many of us tow more than one trailer with brakes?



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Old 08-10-2015, 04:19 PM   #5
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Name: Steve
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I would want to know that your getting everything you need. Your F150 is the easiest to get a trailer install kit for. You need to mount the controller. Get the install kit and unplug some connectors and plug in the new connectors. Then mount the 7 pin receptical back by the trailer hitch and plug it all in. Ok, plug and play that's the easy part. But while that gets your brakes and lights connected you still need your charge line and a heavy one at that. And to do that you have to run a power line from the battery to an isolation relay and a circuit breaker and back to the 7 pin receptical. I would also connect a ground wire along this same path. If this isn't done right you will get poor charging to the RV battery and maybe poor power to the trailer brakes. This is extremely important if you want to run the fridge on 12 volts when your driving down the road.

I would suggest a dedicated trailer place to wire your hitch and controller. They know how its supposed to be, can do the complete job, can test the trailer brakes and break away switch and train you on how to use the controller. They will mount the controller where it makes sense and works properly instead of just the easiest place to stuff it. Paying an RV shop or dealer their high wage to do this is just asking for trouble. Take it to a trailer pro.
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:02 PM   #6
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That's what we paid in KS this spring to have it done. It was basically from scratch and running all the wire. I thought it seemed expensive at the time. We had it done at shop that does RV and farm type trailers. They also did the hitch but we got a deal through the Chevrolet dealer that we bought our used Durango through, they just included it in the price of our vehicle. It was supposed to be discounted that way.
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
...But while that gets your brakes and lights connected you still need your charge line and a heavy one at that. And to do that you have to run a power line from the battery to an isolation relay and a circuit breaker and back to the 7 pin receptical. I would also connect a ground wire along this same path. If this isn't done right you will get poor charging to the RV battery and maybe poor power to the trailer brakes. This is extremely important if you want to run the fridge on 12 volts when your driving down the road.
Need is a strong term... Yes you need it if you're going to run the fridge off 12 volts (for the heater element), but not too many people do that. And many others get along fine without a charge line.

You also don't need an isolation relay as long as you remember to unplug the trailer when you stop for more than a minute... an isolation relay IS a good idea if you have a charging line, but saying you need it and a charge line is like saying you need the most expensive trim when you buy a car.

Anyone most of you know this... I just wanted to clarify for the new people
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:31 AM   #8
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Name: Darrell
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I brought my E150 into a local repair shop that claimed to be hitch specialists. I had already installed a Prodigy P2 with pigtail connection and connected to the factory connection under the dash. The 4-pin wiring harness was already in place at the hitch.

It took them a day and a half to do the rest (brake, charger wiring and 7-pin adapter) - but they didn't charge for all the time it took. So they only wanted 600 bucks. It was all so dumb...had mixed feelings of pity and disgust over this.
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:44 AM   #9
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Name: Randy
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Originally Posted by jenbooks View Post
Hi all. I got the p2 brake controller, the proper pigtail for my F150, and the proper 4-7 pin adaptor for the back. I think, though, according to Ford, it would require a bit of wiring about 4-5 feet in back there, with 10 guage wire, to hook up to their wiring system. Not sure.

Ford quotes me $200.
A local mechanic quotes me $175.

This seems really overpriced to me. With the pigtail and the controller, I could probably do it myself with a video.

The wiring--I don't think so but I will watch the video. I am just SO NOT MECHANICAL and I don't trust DH, he's just sweetly scatterbrained.

But isn't that expensive? Seems really overpriced.
You already had the brake controller. So other things must be...7 pin connector, a few feet of 10-gauge wirings ( I bought every time 8 feet) and..labour. To me, b/t 100 to 150 bucks is FAIR price, 175 is over priced and 200 bucks is...RIP OFF. I did all myself for 2 different towing vehicles-a Toyota matrix wagon and a Chevrolet minivan- All my figures in CANADIAN DOLLARS. Just a share....
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:28 AM   #10
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Name: Cathi
Trailer: Scamp 13'
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UHaul?

I recently purchased a 13' Scamp and a 2008 V6 4WD Ford Escape. I will be getting a hitch, light wiring and brake controller installed at UHaul in the next little while. The total labor charge for wiring and brake controller is $120 Canadian. I am assuming the UHaul folks have a lot of experience and will do a great job.

I plan to use a 40 watt Coleman solar panel to charge the RV battery...no charge line.

I'm brand new at this, so my plans may be unrealistic...time will tell.
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:42 PM   #11
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Brakes

Thanks all. I don't plan on that fancy stuff. I don't plan to boondock either...so I will get the simple wiring.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
Need is a strong term... Yes you need it if you're going to run the fridge off 12 volts (for the heater element), but not too many people do that. And many others get along fine without a charge line.

Anyone most of you know this... I just wanted to clarify for the new people
IMHO: You are confusticating the new people.

I sure don't know that, and I have only been RV'ing for 40+ years
Unless one was absolutely refusing to ever overnight without hook-ups, they do NEED a charging line. How else will the coach battery get charged when not at a powered hook-up site, which I am guessing is a lot of us who use National Parks and Forest Service Campgrounds, much less when boon-docking and the occasional (or frequent) parking lot overnighter.. Running a charging line is hardly like deluxe trim options on at new vehicle, it is essential for the total RV'ing experience.



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Old 08-11-2015, 02:25 PM   #13
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How else will the coach battery get charged when not at a powered hook-up site
Solar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
which I am guessing is a lot of us who use National Parks and Forest Service Campgrounds,
Yes you are guessing.. many people only camp with shore power. They don't NEED the charge line. In fact, for a time I camped only with shore power and didn't even have a battery on my camper.. I survived.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Running a charging line ... is essential for the total RV'ing experience.
I agree, but many people don't do the TOTAL RV'ing experience. Many only use shore power, some only go out for one or two days and recharge the battery at home. Some don't even use electric at all when camping.

Anyway, your advice is sound and we both agree the charge line is a good idea, but what is essential for you might not be for everyone.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:50 PM   #14
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The battery needs to be charged for the breakaway switch to function. Regardless of HOW you charge the battery, if it isn't charged your trailer brakes will not stop the trailer if it detaches from the tow.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:29 PM   #15
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.... if it isn't charged your trailer brakes will not stop the trailer if it detaches from the tow.
So it will go on forever? Gosh - we could solve the energy crisis!

But seriously, you bring up another good point if you have a break-away switch - my last camper did not (and there no need to discuss that shortcoming in this thread).

So there is something else for Jen to consider. If you have a break-away switch by all means keep your battery up.

EDIT: It occurs to me that I never answered Jen's question about the cost... the reason is that I never hired anyone to do this work, I did it myself.

In my case I spent many hours (a few days in fact) doing all the trailer towing prep. But my van is not pre-wired so it took more work. I would have gladly paid $200 to have someone do it IF I knew it would be done to my specs. (I do suggest you get all the specifics requirements in writing, such as charge line - yes or no).

Since a truck that is pre-wired should be a lot easier, I don't think I would spend $200, but $150-175 maybe. But that's just me and I don't have any estimate to compare it to.
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Old 08-11-2015, 04:03 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
Solar.
Yes you are guessing.. many people only camp with shore power. They don't NEED the charge line. In fact, for a time I camped only with shore power and didn't even have a battery on my camper.. I survived.

I agree, but many people don't do the TOTAL RV'ing experience. Many only use shore power, some only go out for one or two days and recharge the battery at home. Some don't even use electric at all when camping.

Anyway, your advice is sound and we both agree the charge line is a good idea, but what is essential for you might not be for everyone.
As I am apparently the opposite of you and almost never use hook-ups..

In June and July we spent 28 nights in campgrounds throughout the west and only had power available on two nights, and that was in a private RV Resort that we had to use by default

One of the more common questions asked by newbies on the site is "Does my car charge the RV's battery". After explaining how to determine that, the next question is usually "How do I get that hooked up" if it's not in place. In FGRV's, charging lines are by far more common than not. In my experience those without are few and far between.

And adding an expensive solar set-up is not a viable substitute for an inexpensive charging line.



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Old 08-11-2015, 06:55 PM   #17
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I don't recall but had a local hitch shop supply and install the controller and 7 pin on my 2003 F-150. They quoted me one price, and then charged me LESS because they discovered that Ford already ran wires to the back of the truck at the factory. I recommended them to a coworker and they were a lot cheaper than Camping World (a lot). I will say that "next time" I will swing by and pick up the 7 pin bracket and mount it myself exactly where I want it. They put it a little farther left than I liked but I had enough slack in the wire that I was able to move it over to "just right". Ask around and find a GOOD local place and don't be shy about discussing what you want and expect..
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Old 08-11-2015, 09:48 PM   #18
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U Haul will do the job for you, it will be done well and most likely at a very reasonable price.
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:32 PM   #19
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U Haul will do the job for you, it will be done well and most likely at a very reasonable price.
Last harness work I had done by a U-Haul shop used very cheap crimp connectors that corroded in less than 2 years. Had to redo them myself. Insist they wrap all crimps with waterproof tape.
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Old 08-12-2015, 05:05 AM   #20
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Last harness work I had done by a U-Haul shop used very cheap crimp connectors that corroded in less than 2 years. ..
Quote:
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U Haul will do the job for you, it will be done well and most likely at a very reasonable price.
Regardless of what work you have done, the quality varies from shop to shop.
Thats why you should consider DIY if you have the knowledge and skills. And if you don't DIY, you should still have the knowledge of best practices (not cheapest or easiest) so you can see that the work is done right.

You should also research the shop, check BBB.org, etc. Many (most?) people have been happy with the work done by u-haul but there will always be some that take shortcuts or are even incompetent.
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