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Custom Fit Brake Controller
Installing a brake controller can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task, but even if you are starting from scratch and have no previous experience, it is definitely manageable. Now, many manufacturers run most of the wires for a brake controller at the factory, so all you have to do is plug into them - it's that easy.
If your full size Ford truck or SUV already has the factory installed 7-Way trailer connector, the only part needed to install a brake controller is the brake controller itself. Usually, Ford provides with the truck an adapter that connects directly to the brake controller and to the OEM brake controller plug on the vehicle. The OEM plug is on the driver's side, behind the trim panel that runs below the steering wheel, and to the right of the driver's side, beside or behind the radio console. If the factory brake control adapter cannot be located, a replacement is offered.
Begin by connecting the brake control adapter to the brake controller. The factory adapter may use different wire colors than the wires you see coming from the brake controller, but all of the wires should be labeled. The standard brake controller wire colors are white for ground, red for the stoplight switch connection, blue for the electric brake lead to the 6- or 7-Way plug, and black for the 12V brake controller power connection. You will connect the factory or aftermarket adapter to the brake controller according to function, using butt connectors. If using a Tekonsha brake controller, you would also have the option to use a Tekonsha-specific adapter, which would plug into the back of the brake controller. Then, plug the other end of the adapter, which is now connected to the brake controller, into the OEM plug under the dash.
To access the OEM plug, look near the diagnostic port on the underside of the dash. You should see an open-ended, gray plug hanging down near the diagnostic port (Figure 1A).
If this plug cannot be found near the diagnostic port, remove the trim panel from below the steering column and look for a gray plug on the right side, near the center console and radio area. With the lower trim panel removed, look for the gray plug beside the sheet metal that runs along the driver's side of the radio area (Figure 1B). If it is not readily visible, you may need to check further inside of the dash, reaching through the sheet metal and into the area behind the center console.
After locating the OEM plug and connecting the brake controller wiring to it, mount the brake controller to a place on the dash that is easily accessible. Typically, the controller would be mounted on the right side of the steering wheel, below the dash. The controller should be mounted comfortably within the driver's reach.
Once mounted, the brake controller installation is complete. See the owner's manual for tips on setting up the brake controller for safely towing your trailer and its load.
If you drive one of the vehicles listed above and your vehicle has a factory installed 4-Way flat trailer connector, then only a few extra parts are required to equip the vehicle for towing a trailer with electric brakes.
After connecting and mounting the brake controller as in the steps above, start in the rear of the vehicle. Follow the 4-way trailer connector wires from the trailer connector to the front of the vehicle. These wires connect to a factory plug along the frame rail, usually on the driver's side, between the back tires and the rear bumper (Figure 2). The factory plug should be mated to another connector which has wiring that continues back toward the bumper.
There are more wires coming from the front of the vehicle than there are coming out toward the 4-Way plug (Figure 3). Ford wires the front of the vehicle as if it will be manufactured with a 7-Way plug, so all the 7-Way wires are run to this connector on the frame rail. This allows a 7-Way wiring harness to simply plug in line with the wiring coming from the front of the vehicle. If the vehicle were made with a 4-Way plug, it would plug into the same connector. Because a 4-Way plug would not require them, the additional wires are terminated at the pictured set of mated connectors.
The 7-Way and 6-Way adapter will come with a 4-Way trailer end that connects to the vehicle's 4-Way trailer connector, and four (4) or three (3) extra lead wires. The white wire is for the ground, the blue wire is for the trailer brakes, the black wire (7-Way) or red wire (6-Way) is for a "hot" lead coming back from the battery, and the orange or purple wire (7-Way adapter only) is for another auxiliary function, such as reverse lights.
To install the 7-Way or 6-Way adapter, first plug in the 4-Way trailer connector on the adapter into the 4-Way connector on the vehicle. Next, snip the blue and orange Ford wires next to the plug coming from the front of the truck. Connect them to the blue and black wires on the adapter (Figure 4). Using a self-tapping screw, secure the white wire to the vehicle frame to ground the adapter. After mounting the adapter, installation is complete.
If you prefer not to cut the wires on select vehicles, a factory plug-in adapter is available:
**Note: You will want to use a circuit tester to confirm the function of each wire. We encountered blue and orange wires in our installations, but manufacturers have been known to switch colors. Your vehicle may also need additional fuses and/or relays installed to activate the wiring to the rear plugs. Check your owners manual or fuse block diagram and make sure all fuses and relays labeled for "Trailer Tow" are installed before testing the wires.
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