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Troubleshooting the Draw-Tite Activator II With Red Dot Code and No Trailer Brakes

Question:

08 F150. 18 ft. flat bed. 7 - way blade connector. Trailer tail lights do not work. Brakes do not work. Brake lights and signal lights DO work. Activator has a red dot until I step on the brake pedal and then flashes 1.5 momentarily, and then back to the red dot. I have had this unit several years. Any easy solutions? Im getting old and too lazy to troubleshoot, so what I want to do is replace the activator. But only if that will cure the problem. Im getting like a Doctor who will tell you that its either appendicitis or gall stones. The appendix is easier to remove so we will try that first!

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Expert Reply:

Per your request, I will start with the simplest solution first. Since your controller is briefly flashing the 1.5, it sounds like it is making a connection for a second and then fails. So, I would start by checking both sides of your 7-way connector for corrosion or dirt and grime. You can clean light corrosion and dirt from your connectors using a pipe cleaner dipped in white vinegar. Then you can rub the connections with a wedge-shaped slip-on pencil eraser (like us old folks used in grade school). Finally, apply some dielectric grease like # 11755 to protect your contacts. After cleaning, you will want to test all of the functions with a circuit tester like # 40376. (The running lights should connect to the pin in the 11 O'clock position and the brake circuit would be in the 5 O'clock position.) Hopefully this solves your problems and you will be on the road quickly

If your connectors are corroded beyond the point of cleaning, they may need to be replaced. I recommend The Draw Tite Wiring Harness # 20110 and Hopkins Molded Trailer Wire Connector # H20046.

The second thing to check will be the blue brake wire circuit. According to Draw-Tite's troubleshooting chart, if your trailer is connected, you have no trailer brakes and you are getting the red dot only, then there may be an issue with the blue brake wire circuit. You will want to follow that wire looking for any splits, frays or damage and verify that you have a good connection to the the trailer connector. I've attached a link to a helpful article on brake controller troubleshooting if you decide you want to give it a shot.

Please don't hesitate to let me know if either of these solutions does not fix your issue. I'd be happy to suggest some additional troubleshooting steps.

If you decide to replace the Activator, I recommend going with a proportional brake controller like the Tekonsha Prodigy P3 # 90195 which has all of the bells and whistles. It comes with a 360 degree vertical mounting plane, a built-in manual override lever, 3 boost levels and an easy-to-read LCD display that lets you choose the color and adjust the contrast. It also includes a highly advanced roadside diagnostics display that is easy to understand. It will not only notify you of potential problems, but will tell you (or your mechanic) where to begin troubleshooting.

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