bing tracking image

Trailer Brake Controller Installation - 1996 Ford Explorer

Products Featured in this Video

How to Install a Brake Controller for a Trailer on a 1996 Ford Explorer

Today we are going to install part number 90195 from Tekonsha, the P3 Brake Controller. We are also going to install along with it part number ETBC7. And this will all be installed on a 1996 Ford Explorer. To begin our install, we are actually going to start with the rear of our vehicle and then work our way forward. First off, we are going to install our bracket that actually holds our 7-pole in place. There are substitute brackets that you can use that this will go onto and mount onto the hitch tube itself. However, this particular 7-pole does not really work that good you have to get some extra-long screws and make new holes in the bracket. But in this case, it makes things a little easier and probably a little bit nicer. So we will go ahead with this bracket here that comes factory with it. We will drill out a half-inch hole, which will work perfect with the carriage bolt with a half-inch square hole in the bottom of the bumper. And we will end up with the bracket about right there. We have got our bracket in a bench vise and we will go ahead and put in a quarter-inch pilot hole first and follow it with a half-inch bit. We will our bolt into the bumper and then we will go ahead and install our bracket. And then we will put on the nut and then tighten it down and use an extra hand to hold the bracket while you tighten down the nut and bolt. All right, we will go ahead and install our 7-pole into the bracket.

All right, next we will go ahead and plug our pre-existing 4-pole flat into the 4-pole flat on the adapter. We will put some dielectric grease in there to help keep it from corroding up. And then we will put a zip-tie around it to keep it from coming apart. OK, and on our install, we are going to also have a 12 volt hot lead hooked up. And our blue wire is for the electric brakes. This white wire is going to be going to ground, and the purple wire usually gets hooked up to the reverse lights. But in this application, we will not be hooking those up, because most trailers do not usually have reverse lights. We will just go ahead and bundle this up out of the way, and make our connections for our leads that are going up to the battery. All right, we have got our wires bundles up. We just took up some extra slack for the purple wire and left it out just in case we are going to add to it for some future use. Basically, we just take the rest of this and fold it up behind the hitch. And we will zip-tie it to the frame to keep it safe and out of the way. We will still have access to our leads. We will go ahead and zip-tie our bundle up to this opening in the frame here. This still leaves some excess for our black and blue wires. Now we will go ahead and attach our ground screw. We can do that anywhere in the frame that we want. We just took our ground wire and just kind of folded it on itself to take up the extra slack. And we used a self-tapping quarter-inch screw. Next, we will actually install our gray cable here. The black wire is going to go for 12 volts, and that is going to go into the black wire on our 7-pole. And then, the white wire here,we are going to use that going to the blue wire. All right, now we will slide on the supplied loom and help cover that junction and its initial run into the frame of the vehicle. Now we will take the other end of our cable and start threading it to the front of the vehicle, along the frame, away from any moving parts or any hot parts, for that matter. All right, we have got our cable ran. I will point out with our flashlight here you can see it ran along the frame and above the crossmember, kind of a little bit above the gas tank, above the crossmember there then it came across the frame rail. And we follow the frame rail all the way down, where it went behind the body mount there, and then it came out by another body mount there by the front wheel. And the rest of this wire here will actually run up through the engine compartment up toward the hood and toward the battery again, staying away from any moving parts and anything that is hot.

All right, we have got our wire pulled through, up through the engine compartment. Now we actually take it and thread it around and behind close to the firewall and come around behind the brake booster and around the side of the fender to the battery. And you just lay it around here for now. And you can see here, we have got plenty of extra cable left over. We are going to cut off and actually use the rest of it to go between the brake controller and the battery. Next, what we have to do is find a place for our circuit breakers. We will have one for the 40 amp that will be for the hot lead that is going out to the constant 12 volts at the end of the truck. And then you also have to have one 20-amp circuit breaker for the brake controller, to protect it in case of a short. However, it is real tight inside the Ford here, so what we are going to do actually is to mount one breaker on this side of this junction box here and one on the other side. What I am going to do is remove the battery temporarily so I have working room to actually install those. With our battery removed, now we have some working room. So we will install our first circuit breaker right here. And then we do our second one on the inside of this box here. Once you have got your circuit breakers mounted, go ahead and just loop up some wire here so you have enough wire to get to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. And then your excess, we will just cut off and reuse it in a little bit. And remember, we talked about hooking up the white wire to the blue wire going out the back. So we have to reroute this white wire to go to the brake controller that will be installed in the vehicle. What we have to do is, basically, peel back this sheath about right back in here, and then we will run the white wire into the cab. And when you make this cut, you just want to make a light score. That will be better, because it will break apart as you pull the wire. Sometimes you go a little deeper than you need to, but, with a little practice, you will get it right. So for now, we will leave the white wire alone just put that out of our way. We will run this wire around the brackets here and then come out to this circuit breaker. We will cut the wire in half and add a couple of ring terminals, and add that to the terminal here. The silver side will go to the device you are going to power, and the copper side will always go to the battery. And just double-check the wire to make sure you have enough to go back to where the battery terminal was. OK, and that should be good enough. All right, and we will just leave those wires alone for now.

Going back to our white wire, what we need to do is run this into the cab of the truck, and go inside of the cab and find an access point where we can pull those wires through. Next we are going to pull the wire through the firewall We will pull that through the existing ground that we sliced a small slit into. And we actually ran some pole wire through the inside, out to the the outside, and then we will pull our brake wire back through. Now we take our excess wire that we had from earlier, and go ahead and push that through from the inside out about a foot and a half maybe, or so. Let us go ahead and cut off any excess we need from the white wire. While we are under the dash here we will go ahead and test for our brake signals from the brake switch itself. Basically, we need to look for a signal that comes on only when we hit the foot brake. I believe it is the light green wire. Go ahead and check it. OK, so we are good there. I will go ahead and just make our connection to that green wire we will hook that up to the red wire on the harness for the brake controller. All right, we will straighten out the rest of our harness wires, and we will make their connections to the cables we ran to the inside. We will start with the white wire, and that will hook that up to the blue coming from the brake controller. Now we will go back to the wires on the gray cable here in this case it is going to be color for color. Now, we tied up our wire bundle here, and we did purposely leave some extra loops in there just in case you have to take it apart again if you ever run into a loose connection. It is kind of good practice so you are not struggling to reach up in here to fix a connection. You can pull it out toward you and then work on it, and put it back in when you are done.

All right, next we will go ahead and install our bracket on the bottom of the dash right here. All right, we have got our brake controller, and we have got our plug-in. We will snap the two together and then we will go ahead and mount it to the bracket. All right, and any excess wire we have here, let us go ahead and just zip-tie it up and out of the way. We ran our gray wire for the brake control power supply in the same fashion as we did our original wire. And then we are actually going to make a slice into the jacket here and then make our connection to the circuit breaker. All right, next we will make our final connections to the battery. And what we are going to do is go ahead and install the ring terminals onto our wire. And we are going to make one slight modification, too. This terminal on the battery here does not really lend itself to adding any other wires on there, so what we are going to do is actually notch out the ring terminal and put it in between these two halves of the clamp right here, and that will give us our electrical connection that way. And then we will do the same thing once again for our ground wire. OK, with that, the hookups are complete, and the next step is to go ahead and test your brake controller for function. We have our trailer hooked up to the brake controller, and you can see here, it shows a zero-zero. That means it is connected. If it was not connected, it would flash a bright red, telling you there was no trailer hooked up, with a little icon to match. Now, one thing you want to check for, we will hit the manual override and make sure we have got power going out to the brakes. And it shows a scale up to 11 volts right now. So if we check our trailer, we can hear the brakes humming. So we know that is good. All right, that completes our installation of part numbers 90195 and ETBC7 on our 1996 Ford Explorer.

Dean M.


Higher resolution would be a great help...

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


I have linked installation videos for the Universal Wiring Kit # ETBC7 and the Prodigy P2 # 90885 being installed on both a 2004 and a 2008 Ford Explorer for you to reference. Both of these have higher resolution (as they are newer videos) and have the same exact installation as the P2 is the older version of the P3 # 90195.

Info for these parts were:

Employee Joe V
Test Fit:
Joe V
Employee Nicholas E
Test Fit:
Nicholas E
Employee Shane T
Test Fit:
Shane T
Employee Randy B
Test Fit:
Randy B
Employee Joe B
Test Fit:
Joe B
Employee Brent H
Test Fit:
Brent H
Employee Shane H
Test Fit:
Shane H
Employee Robert C
Test Fit:
Robert C
Employee Conner L
Test Fit:
Conner L
Employee Jacob H
Test Fit:
Jacob H
Employee Ryan G
Test Fit:
Ryan G
Employee Clayton O
Test Fit:
Clayton O
Employee Zack K
Video Edited:
Zack K
Employee Andrew K
Video Edited:
Andrew K
Employee Joshua S
Video Edited:
Joshua S
Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Andrew L
Video Edited:
Andrew L
Employee Kathleen M
Video Edited:
Kathleen M
Employee Mike H
Video Edited:
Mike H
Employee Dustin K
Video Edited:
Dustin K
Employee Sue W
Video Edited:
Sue W
Employee Chad S
Video Edited:
Chad S
Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Cole B
Installed by:
Cole B
Employee Alan C
Video by:
Alan C
Employee Zach D
Video by:
Zach D
Employee Jonathan Y
Video by:
Jonathan Y
Employee David F
Video by:
David F
Employee Michael B
Video by:
Michael B
Employee Aidan B
Video by:
Aidan B
Employee Thomas T
Video by:
Thomas T

At we provide the best information available about the products we sell. We take the quality of our information seriously so that you can get the right part the first time. Let us know if anything is missing or if you have any questions.

About Us
photos and videos
Original Photos & Videos

Produced to make sure you know what you are getting and you get exactly what you need.

Installations Completed

To make sure products work and fit the way they are supposed to.

etrailer call center
Phone Calls & Emails Answered

1,125,924 phone calls and 1,350,587 emails to help find the right solution.

etrailer training
Average Hours of Product Training

We get to know our products firsthand so experts can better help you.

etrailer service
Years of Quality Customer Service

Assisting our neighbors and customers, face to face at the counter.

etrailer experts
Pages of Expert Information

Created to make sure you have all the answers to your questions, from real experts.