Brake Controller Installation: Starting from Scratch

Custom Fit Brake Controller

Before Installation You Will Need:

  1. Brake Controller
  2. 7-Way Installation Kit (#ETBC7)
  3. 4-Pole Trailer Connector (if not already installed)




Information About 7-Way and 6-Way Installation Kits


The 7-way Trailer Connector Has a Total of Seven Wires:


The Colors of the Remaining Four Wires:





The ETBC7 and ETBC6 Installation Kits:

All the parts necessary to connect a brake controller to your vehicle are included


The 7-way installation kit pictured with all included parts

The 7-Way Installation Kit Parts

  1. 7-way trailer connector, which includes a 4-pole adapter
  2. The mounting bracket secures to the vehicle's bumper or other appropriate mounting location and harbors the trailer connector.
    • Mounting hardware, such as self-tapping screws, is included to mount the bracket to the vehicle and the trailer connector to the bracket.
  3. The gray duplex cable houses two wires that will become the 12 volt hot lead and brake wire.
    • The duplex cable runs from the trailer connector to the front of the vehicle.
  4. The black loom is a hard plastic tube that covers the 12 volt hot lead and brake wire connections at the trailer connector, protecting the connections and giving your installation a professional appearance.
  5. Circuit breakers act as midway connections for the 12 volt hot lead and the brake controller power supply (introduced later) before they reach the vehicle's battery.
  6. Butt connectors help to make connections between wires.
  7. Ring terminals attach to the end of wires and hook around battery posts and circuit breakers.
  8. Zip ties help to bind loose wires together and prevent them from interfering with vehicle components such as brake and gas pedals.




Brake Controller Installations Steps


The duplex cable has been run towards the firewall at the front of the vehicle.

Installing and Wiring the 7-Way Trailer Connector

  1. Find a suitable location to mount the 7-way connector.
    • A typical location is on the bottom of the bumper.
    • Using the self-tapping screws, secure the mounting bracket into the bumper and the trailer connector into the bracket.
  2. Plug the 4-pole adapter coming out of the 7-way connector into the vehicle's 4-pole trailer connector.
  3. Ground the 7-way connector by screwing the white wire into the frame of the vehicle.
  4. Make a small cut in the rubber sheath of the duplex cable and slightly separate the two wires inside.
    • Use a butt connector to connect the black wire in the duplex cable to the 12 volt hot lead (black wire on the 7-way connector).
    • Then do the same for the white wire in the duplex cable and the brake wire (blue wire on the 7-way connector).
    • Next, route the duplex cable under the vehicle all the way up to the engine compartment under the hood, being careful to avoid hot areas or those that may pinch the cable.
    • Before you proceed further, the brake controller needs to be mounted.
      • We will return to the duplex cable shortly.


Brake controller sitting flush on the lower right side of the dash

Mounting the Brake Controller

  1. Choose an appropriate mounting location for the brake controller mounting bracket.
    • A typical location is the lower right side of the dash, which allows easy access to the brake controller in the event of an emergency braking situation.
  2. Using the screws provided, install the mounting bracket into the dash.
    • Make sure you avoid drilling through components on the other side of the dash.
  3. Secure the brake controller into the mounting bracket.
  4. The four wires on the brake controller will be connected shortly.




The 12 volt hot lead and trailer feed have been separated before running through the firewall.

Wiring the 7-Way Trailer Connector and Brake Controller

1. Return to the duplex cable under the hood, where the brake wire (now white) needs to be separated from the 12 volt hot lead (black).



Circuit breakers mounted in the engine compartment

2. Using a butt connector, connect the blue wire coming out of the brake controller to the brake wire (white wire of the duplex cable) that was routed through the firewall.


3. Find a safe location under the hood or on the firewall to mount two circuit breakers: one 20-amp (or 30-amp; see brake controller instructions) and one 40-amp.


4. The black wire coming out of the brake controller is the brake controller power supply.


View of wires attached to positive and negative posts on battery

Brake switch wires located above the brake pedal

5. The white wire coming out of the brake controller is the ground wire.


6. Inside the cab, we only have one connection remaining.


7. With the brake controller mounted and connected, zip tie any loose, excess wires underneath the dash and under the vehicle.





brake control wiring diagram




Questions and Comments about this Article

Adrian P.

I have a Tekonsha primus IQ2 and my vehicle does not have a fancy adapter thing to plug into. My question is the 4 wires coming out of the controller can you tell me where they are supposed to connect to red blue black white Thank you in advance 102601

Reply from Jon G.

Red - COLD Side of Stop Light Switch (only gets hot when brake pedal is pressed) Blue - 7-Way Output to Trailer Black - 12V Power White - Ground 75502

Randy

good morning one of our service trucks is a 1997 f350 dump the wiring harness for the brake is under the dash near the ashtray. the brake controller was not engaging so I bought a new hopkins controller. when I plugged it in I got the e1 error long story short I could not find the ground or short so I rewired the entire controller wiring by passing the old harness. and rewired the plug in I still get the e1 error but the brakes engage I can't put the truck in service until the digital read out shows engagement thoughts? oh the traile is a brand new superior oversize covered trailer thanks for the help 102007

Reply from Jon G.

Try checking out the connector on your F-350 for the trailer. Make sure all of the wires are in good working order - especially the wire for the brake controller. I know you said your trailer is brand new but it wouldn't hurt to double check your trailer wiring. You can confirm that it's good by hooking the trailer up to another one of your trucks. 75204

Reply from Randy

@JonG thanks checked the trailer on another vehicle worked perfectly. I will have the truck side reworked and let you know thanks 75212

Reply from Jon G.

@Randy Thanks for the update! 75226

Mirek

I have a 2013 Hyundai Sonata I am towing pop up RV with (Starcraft about 1400 lbs). This is an upgrade trailer for me as I started with a little coleman (900 lbs) that did not have electric breaks. My question is what does it take to have the electric break wired on this trailer. I have the 7 way to 4 way connection and trailer lights and blinkers work. I have several extra wires (blue, black, white i believe) with the connector. If i purchase a break controller can I use the current wiring or does a cable need to be run again all the way to the battery. I have a 4 way plug coming out of my trunk. I purchased 7 way to 4 way plug set up because the trailer has 7 way plug. Can I do this myself or should i take it to a car electrician or a shop ? I have no clue about any of this but if it is very simple I could probably get the job done :) 101782

Reply from Jon G.

It sounds like you have something similar to the Hopkins Adapter # 37185 installed on your 2013 Hyundai Sonata. If you're wanting to install a standard-style brake controller then you can just use the Wiring Kit # 5506 to finish up the connections for the 7-Way. If you want to go with the Curt Echo Brake Controller # C51180 instead then you can just use enough 10 Gauge Wire # 10-1-1 to go from your connector all the way to your positive battery terminal. The only other thing you'll need is a 30A Circuit Breaker # PK54530 in-line on that same wire. 75091

Roy ..

Have a new 2020 Silverado 1500 truck did not come with factory installed trailer brake switch . So I ordered the original switch that fits in dash and installed it but it will not connect to the wiring harness the dealer provides with new truck so my question is how does it wire up . Or how do I find where to wire it in. 98732

Reply from Jon G.

I'm not sure how the OEM brake controllers install so you might need to reach out to a dealer about that, but the aftermarket brake controller harnesses, like part # 3016 , connect inside the junction box near the emergency brake pedal on your pickup. You can check out the installation instructions on the 3016 product page for a visual. 73510

Jp

I have a 2005 Ford E450 RV. I have installed a brake controller under the dash using the existing vehicle plug dedicated to the controller. I have an existing 7 blade connector at the rear of the RV with four wires for stop, turn and running lights. issue I have is finding the connectors that are set up for the tow package namely the blue and orange wires that come out of the wiring harness. Did Ford put in a brake controller and rear 7 pin connection but didn't route wires for brake and voltage? 98287

Reply from Jon G.

For the Ford vans (which includes the E-450 chassis) you should be able to find the clue and orange wires like what is mentioned in the linked article. I will say that sometimes on RVs the wiring or other parts can be different so if you absolutely cannot find this wiring then you'll need to run some of your own wiring and make your connections. You can do this with 10 gauge duplex wire # 10-2-1 , a 40A circuit breaker # 9510 , and whatever ring terminal size fits your battery. 73145

Reply from Jp

@JonG thanks, looks like i'll need some wire 73163

Chris H.

I'm installing a brake controller and a 7 way plug on a 1995 Ford F Super Duty, single cab flat bed dually. I have a 3035 wiring harness adapter to connect the brake controller to the trucks wiring under the dash/radio. I believe i found the harness it plugs into. My question is- if i use the 3035 adapter, do i still need to install the circuit breakers and run two wires back to the 7 way plug? I've already wired the 7way to the truck 4 way, minus the blue/electric brake and black / power wires. I am not seeing any other wires run to the rear of the truck, except the 5 factory wires for rear lights. No brake or power wires. 97448

Reply from Jon G.

So a 4-Way trailer connector only carries the light functions for a trailer, if that's all you have on your 1995 Ford pickup then yes, you will need to run some additional wiring. The good news is that it sounds like you have a factory installed 4-Way and that you also have the factory wiring for a brake controller already existing on your truck. This means that instead of running the wires all the way to your cab you should be able to connect them to the orange and blue wires that exist in the bundle of wires near your driver's side frame behind the rear wheel. According to the instructions for the Tekonsha Wiring # 118242 it does look like you'll still need to install fuses and relays. I recommend checking out those installation instructions as well as this helpful article on wiring. 71487

Reply from Jp

@JonG I've looked at each bundle even unwrapped the harness to look at the colors, stretched them out but the connector wires are MIA. i'm thinking since there is a 7 pole connector welded to the receiver that it is factory installed and they didn't install the connectors I'm searching for. But the wires should be accessible somewhere back there. thanks for the input 73164

Sorin N.

The instructions say to connect the hot lead and the e-brake controller directly on the battery. This would add a constant drain to the battery when engine (alternator) is not running. What's the purpose of providing a "hot lead" to the trailer that can potentially discharge the vehicle battery? Isn't better to run those trough a relay that provides power only when ignition is "ON/Aux"? 96635

Reply from Jon G.

Great points! Any trailer brake controller that I've looked into has such a small amount of draw when it's not being used that it would take a few weeks of the car sitting parked for it to completely drain the battery. If you plan on keeping your trailer hooked up to your vehicle and you don't want the trailer battery to drain the vehicle battery then you can either install a smart charger or you can install an Isolation Solenoid # TR118665 which will cut power when the ignition is off. 70833

Reply from Sorin N.

@JonG Thanks for the suggestion! 70903

Jim C.

I have a 2008 tundra that doesn’t have the factory tow option. It was wired for a 4 pin blade receptacle. Now I’m trying to wire it for a 7 pin connector with trailer brakes. I installed the 7 pin receptacle on the bumper and plugged it into the plug that I disconnected from the 4 pin. I already installed the brake control unit in the cab. My problem now is I don’t have the last 2 wires ( the electric brake wire and the power wire ) running from the front back to the plug in the back. All my blinkers and lights are hooked up and work. I just don’t have the last 2 wires. Is there a harness or do I have to tap the lines from the back of the control unit. Thanks 96508

Reply from Jon G.

Since it sounds like you already have the connector portion of the # ETBC7 wiring kit, the wires that you're looking for come in the kit # 5506 . This also includes circuit connectors, butt connectors, and ring terminals. 70830

Reply from Jim C.

@JonG thanks. 70840

Greg V.

All my my trailer connections are hardwired. So, if I run the Red wire from the brake controller to the back of the vehicle and hardwire splice it into the same line as the brake lights (connecting the vehicle and trailer plug), is this effectively the same as connecting it to the wire right behind the brake pedal? I'm getting blinking in my trailer lights when all brakes, running lights, and indicators are all enabled simultaneously. Can't figure out the problem! 95849

Reply from Jon G.

If you're having issues with your trailer lights then you'll want to take a look at the light circuits and make sure that they are all connected securely and that all of your grounds are installed on a clean, bare-metal surface. The brake controller will only send power to the trailer brakes. The only time that a brake controller can mess with the trailer lights is when there is a mis-wire or some corrosion somewhere that causes the brake controller signal to leap over to the other circuits. 70828

Trent

With a constant 12v going from the positive terminal to the 7 pin connector, and the brake controller going to the positive terminal as well (via circuit breakers) my brake controller on my ram 2500 is lit up as it's registering a trailer connected. With those wires going straight to the positive shouldn't they be spliced in to a keyed-on positive wire? 94893

Reply from Chris R.

The brake controller, although wired directly to the battery, will eventually go into a sleep mode with the vehicle's ignition turned off. There's no need to wire it to a keyed power source. 69958

Glenn W.

I have a 16 ft jayco starcraft caravan with electric brakes.I have fitted a tekonsha primus iq brake controller to my tow vehicle.The controller is showing that there is a short in the wiring.On unplugging brake magnets the wiring is clear.Each magnet is measuring 3.4 ohms and testing from the tow plug the measurement is 1.7 ohm.The brakes are operating as they should be but I am getting the 5H flashing on the screen.How do I rectify this problem. 94436

Reply from Chris R.

The short may be coming from somewhere else. Inspect the 7-Way connectors, both on the tow vehicle and on the trailer, and look for any corrosion or debris built up inside the pins that needs to be cleaned out. This can sometimes lead to a short on the brake output circuit. With regards to the controller installation - was it completely hardwired or were you able to use a plug-in adapter harness? 69957

Dan

I have a 2000 chevy signal cab short bed. I have the Tekonsha Voyager brake control. Cannot get to work. With plug supplied by gm when truck was new. 94202

Reply from Chris R.

Can you tell me what specifically isn't working with the brake controller? Is it not powering on at all or is it not working to engage the trailer brakes? 69655

Reply from John H.

@Dan Check the two fuses by the studs in your underhood fuse box. You should have a fuse next to each stud and there should be ring terminals with wires coming off. One goes to your brake controller plug in the cab and one goes to your 7-way connector at the back of the truck. I believe the stud closest to the positive battery terminal is for the brake controller plug. 70925

Ace

One question: WHY do you have a live wire (from B+) going directly to the trailer brakes, while the brake controller is supplying the brakes with current, and the lights have a separate system? We have a simple resistance-based brake controller and old-fashioned hydroelectric brakes on the trailer. The only way to make the whole system work in our case is to ground that wire to the firewall/frame! The ONLY power supply to the trailer brakes is via BLUE wire from the controller! Now everything works! 86325

Reply from Chris R.

I'm not quite sure what you mean. There should only be one power wire going to each brake assembly - and that is the blue brake output wire that you mentioned. The 12V hot wire would connect to a trailer mounted battery bank to provide a maintenance charge during travel - it would not be tied to the trailer brake system. 68274

Reply from Ace

@ChrisR Oooh, OK, gotcha! Guess I forgot how trailers are typically wired- our battery bank is powered by solar. Thanx for clarifying! 68340

Reply from Chris R.

@Ace No problem! 69653

Reply from John H.

@ChrisR There should be a wire going from the battery to the breakaway and then to the brake output wire. This would activate the brakes in a trailer breakaway situation. 70926

Cody M.

Working on a 2013 Ford F550 with a Utility bed and hoist. Im trying to install a new 7 way plug and it was all going well except I can't seem to find my brake wire. All of my wires tested negative so I have to run wires from the LED lights to the pickup end itself. I found my brake wire I believe but still no power from the original harness. How do I run a new brake wire from the brake switch? Thanks 84532

Reply from Chris R.

Are you referring to the factory trailer harness on your F-550? The brake and turn signal circuit should be sent along the same wire (trailer wiring is combined), so I would test the wires you already found for the turn signals and see if they also carry power with the brake lights illuminated. 67718

Miguel

Hi, I'm installing a Reese towpower 8508211 brake controller on a 2019 VW Jetta everything is pretty much done but the only problem I had when trying to connect the red wire to the brake switch there were no wires on the brake pedal so what I did, I tap in to one of the wires that runs to the brake tail lights that runs from front to back on the side of the door this wire only gets power when you press the brake pedal. On the brake co troller screen I get 2 dots and when I activated manually I get an N.C. on the screen I wounder if my installation is correct? Thank you 81507

Reply from Chris R.

Are you testing the controller with a trailer actually hooked up? The "N.C." means "no connection", so that would be a normal message if the trailer isn't plugged in. 66795

Reply from Miguel

@ChrisR Looks like I got them to work I had both wires from the brakes connected to positive and no ground, so now I have one positive and one ground to each brake, both tires are locking up on the air but not when I'm driving the car at 25mph I can barely feel the trailer to engage the breaks all this with a max (10 & b1)at the brake controller do you think this problem has to do with any wiring issue or I need to break in my new pads in order to performed to the fullest. Thank you for your help 66945

Reply from Chris R.

@Miguel If you have new, self-adjusting brake assemblies they may indeed just need to be broken in a bit. Take the trailer up to an empty parking lot and just engage those brakes a bunch - each time you do this they'll essentially adjust a bit more until you have ideal braking. 67231

Don J.

Brake sense color and location for 2004 mercury mountaineer premier 4.6l v8 awd 81140

Reply from Chris R.

If your Mercury Mountaineer has the factory 7-Way connector at the bumper there should be a built-in brake controller port behind the dash with which you can use the Plug-In Adapter # 3035-P (if you have a Tekonsha or Draw-Tite controller). I wasn't able to track down info on an exact location, but typically these ports are to the left of the steering column, hidden a bit behind the dash. You might even check with a local Ford dealer to see if they have any information on this. 66794

Charles B.

I have a 2019 canyon, I bought a hopkins impulse controller. Can you help with the wiring please. I have to use it in 2 days, please advise 80553

Reply from Chris R.

Your Hopkins Impulse controller can be wired right into the factory harness under the dash. There isn't a plug, but all the needed wires are already present. They should be labeled by function. Coming from the Impulse the red wire will go to the brake input circuit, the black wire is for 12V power, the blue wire is for brake output (to the trailer), and the white wire is for ground. 66359

Darby L.

What color wire do I need to tap on brake pedal of a 2008 Nissain Armada 78451

Reply from Chris R.

Based on my research it actually looks like your Armada should come equipped with a factory port for plugging in a brake controller (whether or not it has the tow package) - so you shouldn't need to look for the right brake switch wire for a hardwire install. For example if you're looking to install a Tekonsha controller like the Prodigy P2 # 90885 , you would just need the Adapter Harness # 3050-P for a plug-and-play install. If you don't have the tow package you would add the 7-Way Kit # N40975 . 63692

Reply from Darby L.

@ChrisR. Brak controller will not work with plug and play harness. That is why I am going to hard wire it. 63722

Reply from Chris R.

@DarbyL I see. I wish I could track down the right wire color for that circuit, but the best method will be to simply test the wiring behind the pedal to see which one only gets power when the brake pedal is depressed (and no power with any other function). This is where the red wire from the controller will connect. 63906

Chade

We have a 2019 Durango that does not have the towing package so I will need to wire directly, however I am unable to find the wire for the break sense (stoplight) switch. Do you happen to have the color and location of the wire? I have to assume it's in the wire panel just behind the ebrake pedal but I can't find any wire that is only hot when the break is depressed. 76749

Reply from Chris R.

I really wish I could track down the right wire color, however I wasn't able to find a diagram for your '19 Durango. On some vehicles finding the cold side of the brake light switch can be difficult- if you can't find a wire behind the brake pedal that only gets power with the brake pedal depressed, you might need to tap into the 3rd brake light or even use the Stop Light Switch Kit # RM-751449 for this signal. 62573

Bill

Does the connection from the brake light switch carry a ground or a positive 12volt to the controller. Would connection to the center mounted brake light on a ford transit work. How much currant does this connection draw as these are very light guage wires. 76486

Reply from Chris R.

If you're able to access the 3rd brake light and you find the circuit that only gets power when the brake pedal is depressed (and no power otherwise) then you can tap into that circuit for the controller's red wire. Sometimes this is necessary if there isn't an adequate wire to tap into behind the brake pedal. For 12V power (to actually power the controller) you'll need to connect directly to the battery in your Transit. 62412

Trent

Which color wire on my break pedal wires is the power to the brake. 2003 gmc Sonoma ext 3 door no tow package. 65059

Reply from Jason S.

I tried looking up your particular model for color. The closest vehicle I could find the color diagram for which I believe has the same wiring harness is the Chevy S10. On that model the wire color you'd be looking for is white. To confirm this or to diagnose your vehicle's brake wire, you will want to use a circuit tester like # PTW2992 to test the wire for power. You should only see power when the brake pedal is pressed and no power on the wire when the brake pedal is not. 55244

Dave L.

Thanks for the helpful article. Questions:1. The brake controller is wired directly to the battery in the diagram. I could postulate safety reasons for this i.e. not to lose brakes if the engine quits or needed to apply brakes with the truck off but Is it acceptable to wire to an accessory with appropriate relay switch position. Seems like you would have a good potential to drain the battery if you left the controller on with the vehicle off.2. You used circuit breakers in this application. Is there a reason that circuit breakers were used in lieu of cheaper / simpler fuses. Again I could postulate that maybe you would hope that the breaker would reset if the fault cleared and still retain brakes.....? But you would still lose the brakes for some period of time whether the breaker tripped or the fuse blew...…. 64941

Reply from Jacob H.

If the break controller is operating properly, it would take a very long time for it to have any affect on the battery. Using a breaker is so that instead of having to replace the fuse when ever it blows, the breaker will trip and reset. You shouldn't have any issues with fuses or breakers if everything is wired correctly. If the breaker is not resetting then it will need to be replaced just like a blown fuse. 55387

Reply from Sorin N.

@JacobH @DaveL I had the same question as above. I am especially worried about the "hot lead" that will be permanently tied to the trailer connector and the trailer (when towing). So when we stop somewhere temporarely, we absolutely need to disconnect the trailer, to avoid a battery drain, even if we don't un-hitch? 70783

Reply from Jon G.

If you are stopping for a short period (like at a gas station) you'll be just fine, but if your stop will be longer like overnight then you'll want to either disconnect the trailer connector or install a battery isolation solenoid # TR118665 which disconnects that 12V power when your ignition is turned to off. 71258



Departments

Towing

Sports and Recreation

Trailer Parts

Vehicle

What our customers are saying:

"In these days of customer "no service" I am usually disapointed when doing business with people I don't know. It was refreshing doing business with you. I'm impressed!"

Randy
Watkinsville, GA

Popular Vehicles