Trailer Brake Controller Installation - 2016 Chevrolet Express Van

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How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller on a 2016 Chevrolet Express Van


Today on our 2016 Chevrolet Express van, we're going to be taking a look at installing the Draw-Tite Activator IV trailer brake controller, part number 5504. Now we're also going to be using part number ETBC7 and part number 20127 to help us with our installation. Here's what our brake controller looks like fully installed. Now this is a time delayed brake controller, so we have the option of mounting this in any spot or in any direction that we want underneath our dash or above our dash if we'd like. Now it's going to feature an LED display, and it's going to have a red light with a black background. Now over here on the left where it says gain, this is going to be the control that established the maximum power available to our trailer brakes. Now it starts out as low as 0.0, and it's going to go up by 0.5 all the way up to 10. Now over here where it says sync, this is going to control how aggressive our brakes are powered.

Now it starts out at zero, zero, and it's going to go up all the way to nine. Now again since this is a time delay, and this is the aggressiveness, if we have it set at 0 and we have our gain set at 10, when we push on our brake it's going to slowly go up applying more pressure to our trailer brakes. If we have our sync setting all the way at nine maxed out, as well as our gain maxed out, we can touch our brakes, and it's going to ramp up very quickly and get to the maximum stopping power right away. Now it does also feature a manual override button, so in case of an emergency or anything like that, we can grab this button and instantly have maximum power going to our trailer. When we have our trailer connected, if we're not pushing on our brake and we're not pushing any buttons on our controller, there won't be any lights. We'll know that it's connected because as soon as we touch the brakes or push any of the buttons on to activate it, it's going to have numbers on here.

When we don't have a trailer connected, and we go to hit our brake, all we're going to see is a red light. It still letting us know our brake controller is getting power, but it's not hooked up. Now if we hit the override button, it's going to do the same thing. We're not going to see any numbers because it's not hooked up, so it's not actually putting any power out. Now that we've gone over some of the features, let's show you how we get it installed. Here's our ETBC7 kit.

This is going to be the wiring that's going to help us complete our brake controller and get it installed. Now they do come with these butt connectors, but I'm going to be replacing them with heat shrink butt connectors. Now the yellow one, any time you see me use one of these, going to be using part number DW05745-10. That's for a pack of 10. Now any time you see me use the blue butt connector, that's going to be part number DW05744-10.

That's going to be for a pack of 10. To begin our installation, we're going to need to find a mounting point for our seven way connector. We are provided a bracket. We're going to mount our seven way right here on our hitch, and we're going to be using this bracket here. You can pick up one of these universal mounting brackets using part number 18136. We just put our bracket with the flat piece on top of our hitch like this, wrap the strap around, now I'm just going to tighten it down. I'm using a 5/16 nut driver to tighten up that screw. We just bend our tab enough the excess, we should be able to break it off. Now we can take our seven way bracket. We can line up the holes. We're going to go ahead and push our screws through, and then we come back with our locking nut, put it into place. Now with a Phillips head screwdriver, I'll just go ahead and tighten everything up. We can get ready and we'll put our other one in place. Now we're going to take our seven way connector, and I'm going to feed my wires up through my bracket. I put my connector in place. I'm going to take one of my screws. I'm going to line up the holes on my bracket with my plug. I'm going to come to the back side with my nut and put it in place. Just hand tight for right now, so I can get the rest of my hardware in place. I did mention before that I'm going to be replacing my butt connectors with heat shrink butt connectors, so my black and blue wire coming off my seven way, I'm going to go ahead and cut these connectors off and strip back the end of the wire. I'm going to take my heat shrink butt connector, and put it on the end of it. Crimp it into place, and it's always a good idea to double check your connection. We do the same thing for the blue wire. Now our purple wire with our butt connector here, we're not going to be using this because in most cases this is going to be your reverse light wire. We're not going to be using it, so I'm not going to worry about this connector here. I'm going to take all my wires, and I'm going to actually route them over my hitch and eventually route it towards the front of the cab. Now we'll notice that we're going to have a four pole flat end with three wires on it. Now we're going to connect that to the four pole wiring that our vehicle already has. Now before we do, I'm going to take a little bit of dielectric grease and put it inside my connections, helps reduce any corrosion and keep some of the moisture out. Now if you don't have any, you can pick some up on our website using part number 11755. I'm going to take a zip tie and zip tie my connectors together, and follow it up with a little bit of electrical tape. That way, it's a semi permanent connection. Now if we bring our attention to our white wire coming off our seven pole, with the ring terminal on it. This is going to be our ground wire. Now we're going to need to find a spot out of the way that's not going to interfere with anything that we can make contact on a metal surface. If we go straight up we can find a spot right here, which would be on the bottom of our threshold. I'm going to take the provided self tapping screw and a 3/8 nut driver, and I'm going to put it in place. Now we're going to come to our duplex wire that we have in our ETBC7 kit. It's going to have a white wire and black wire inside of a gray sheathing. Now we're going to need to cut this sheathing away, so we can gain access to our wires. I'm just going to take a knife and very carefully, if you can see that there a divot in the middle. You want to go right in the middle, and you just want to cut just enough that you're not going to cut the wire but you can pull apart that gray sleave. Now once we have our wires separated like this, we're going to strip back both ends. Now if we come to the black wire that we had our butt connector on, we're going to connect our other black wire to that on the other side of the butt connector so we can crimp it into place. Now our white wire is going to go into our blue wire that we put a butt connector on. We're going to do the same thing, insert it in and crimp it into place. As I mentioned before, these are heat shrink butt connectors. I'm going to be using a heat gun to shrink them down. I just want to mention if you are using an open flame such as a lighter or a torch to shrink down your connectors, you just want to be extra careful not to burn or char your wire or the connector itself. Now that we have our connections made back here, we're going to need run our gray duplex wire up to the front of our cab. Now everybody's going to do this a little bit differently. I'm going to go ahead and run mine, and then I'll show you how I got it done. I routed my wire up. I went up and over my spare tire. Started following along the frame rail here, zip tying it along the way. Over my shock mount, along the frame, by my fuel tank here, going along my frame zip tying it to the lines. Finally I stopped right here. Now I'm going to go up top and run a line down, that way I can attach it and pull it up to the engine bay. I'm just going to be using a piece of airline tube. You can use whatever you have lying around, anything that's going to keep it's shape and structure when you start feeding it down, such as a coat hanger. Here's where my airline tube came out. Now I'm going to take my wire, and I'm actually going to tape it to it so when I start pulling it up, I don't lose it. Now we can go back up top, and we can pull it up. You want to pull all the excess wire out, make sure that there's no kinks and it's not trapped underneath the vehicle. Now I'm just going to put a zip tie around my wire here, that way it'll help keep it from falling back down. That'll be a nice connection point to keep the wire steady. Now we're going to need to strip back this gray sleave off of our wire. Now this time instead of just a little bit, we're going to need to go back as far as we possibly can, either to where we zip tied it or as far back down into the engine that we can. We just want to be extra careful not to pierce the wire. Now that we have our wire stripped back, we're going to focus on our black wire here. Now we're going to need to mount two breakers, so we need to make sure we have enough room. Right here looks like a good spot to mount them. Now we're going to be mounting the 40 amp breaker first. I'm going to take one of the self tapping screws and a quarter inch nut driver, and I'm going to put my breaker into place. Now I'm going to take my black wire, and I'm going to move it over. I'm going to make sure that I have enough to connect to my breaker here. I'm going to cut it right there. Now the excess black wire that we just cut off, we need to hold on to that because we will be reusing it. We're going to strip back the end that's going to be going to our breaker. Place the ring terminal over our wire, and we can crimp it into place. Now if we come to our breaker, if we look very closely, next to the silver post it's going to say AUX. That's for auxiliary, and our copper post is going to say BAT. That's the one that's going to be going to the battery. We're going to connect the wire that we just put our terminal on, and we're going to put it on the silver post. Slip our wire on, and replace the nut. Now if we take the black excess wire that we cut off from before, we're going to go from the copper post here. We're going to run our wire down, making sure that we can reach our fuse panel down here right below our break reservoir. We do have a power source here, rather than going to the passenger side and connecting directly to the battery. We're going to get a rough idea of how much wire we need. That looks to be plenty right there, so we go ahead and cut the wire. We're going to strip back both ends. On one end, we're going to attach another small ring terminal and crimp it into place. Now on the other end that we just stripped, we're going to take one of our large ring terminals and do the same thing. Slip it on, and crimp it into place. Now we're going to take the small ring terminal, and we're going to attach it to the copper post on our breaker. We'll remove the nut, slip a ring terminal on, and reinstall our nut. Now we're going to leave the other end loose right now. We're going to wait until later to connect it to the battery. Now we can get ready to mount our other breaker. Now this breaker is going to provide us power at our seven way plug. This breaker, this is a 20 amp breaker, this is going to be for our brake control itself. We're going to mount it very close to our other breaker and get ready to put our wires in. Now we're going to do the same thing that we did with our other breaker. We're going to estimate from our copper terminal all the way down to our fuse panel where our power source is. We're going to cut the wire and strip back both ends. Again hold on to the excess wire that we cut off, because we will be using it. We're going to put a small ring terminal on one end and crimp it into place. On the other end, we're going to put a large ring terminal and crimp it into place. Now we remove the nut on our copper post, and take a small ring terminal and install it there. Now the excess wire we cut off, we're going to strip back one end of the wire. We're going to attach one of our small ring terminals. With this securely in place, we're going to come up on our breaker again on our 20 amp breaker. We're going to attach it to the silver post. Now we're going to take both our loose black and white wire, and we're going to need a spot on the firewall to gain access to the inside of our van. Now fortunately, if we look over to the very left hand side of our vehicle right behind our brake reservoir, we're going to see a hole. There may be a grommet in your application, but in ours we just have a hole. That's going to go directly behind the dash. Now I'm going to do the same process that I did to get my wire up into the engine. I'm going to take a piece of airline tube, and I'm going to feed it through the hole. Then I'm going to attach my wire to the other end, that way I can go inside my van and pull it through. At this point we're going to want to pull as much of the excess wire through as we can. Now our white wire is going to have a lot more excess than our black wire. Now with my black wire here, I'm going to strip back the end of it. We're actually going to connect it to the harness that's going to plug into our brake controller. Now since our black wire is connected to the breaker that's going to power our brake controller, we're going to find our brake controller harness. We're going to connect it to the black wire, which is going to be power. We're going to strip back the end. I'm going to get a butt connector and connect them together. I'm going to take one of my butt connectors and crimp it into place, and on the other end I can connect it to my black wire. Now I'm going to be bring our attention to our white wire. I'm going to go ahead and cut my wire here, about the same length as the black wire. Again we're going to hold on to this extra section, because we will be reusing it. We're going to take the white wire from the engine and strip it back, and we're going to take the blue wire coming off of our brake control harness. If you remember, the white wire that we ran from our engine here is connected to the blue wire back at our seven way. We're going to strip back the blue end of the wire, and we're going to connect them together with another butt connector. Now the excess wire that we cut off, we're going to go ahead and strip back an end of it. Then we're going to bring our attention to the white wire on our brake control harness, and we're going to strip back the end of that as well. Now we're going to connect these with a butt connector also. Now if we bring our attention to our red wire, I'm going to strip back the end of that. I'm going to put a butt connector on there. This time, normally this wire is going to go to the cold side of the brake switch. On our particular application, it doesn't have a cold side of the brake switch on our van. What we're going to need to do is we're going to need to extend this wire. We're going to need to find the fuse, and tap it into there. We're going to take some excess wire that I had laying around, and if you need some you can pick some up on our website using part number 12-1-1. I'm going to strip back the end of my wire and go ahead and crimp it into my butt connector. Now that I have my connections made inside, I need to send my white wire out back to the engine bay. I'm going to send that to the ground. My red wire I'm going to hook up to a power source that only has 12 volts when the brakes are applied. I'm going to use the reverse technique. I'm going to run my airline in through here, attach my wires, and pull it back to the engine. Now I'm going to need to find a ground point for my white wire. Now fortunately we have a factory ground right here, so I'm going to give myself a little bit of extra room. I'm going to cut my wire. Then I install one of the large ring terminal from our kit. Now using a 10 mm socket, I'm going to remove the bolt from the ground and place my ring terminal. I'm going to reinstall my bolt, make sure that all my ground wires are going back into place. I'm going to come down to our fuse panel, which is right underneath our power steering reservoir and brake reservoir here. If we remove this cover, we're going to have one on the side. Then we're going to have the larger one here. It's going to have two locking tabs on the top as well as two on the bottom. We pull the cover out. Now if we look at the diagram, we're going to need to find a fuse that's for our brake lights. We're going to need to test it to make sure that it only has power when we're pressing on the brake. I'm going to go ahead and test these fuses, and I'll let you know which one that I use. We start where our plug is, and we come over to our third one, which is a 15 amp fuse. That's going to be for our auxiliary stop lamps, and it only had power when my brakes we're depressed. That's what we're looking for. Now using a fuse tap, we're going to go ahead and tap into that fuse. Now here's our fuse tap. You can pick one of these up on our website using F2526. Now it comes with several different fuses in the kit. I'm going to be using a 10 amp fuse. We're going to put it in the top section farthest away from our terminals, and then we're going to remove our factory fuse and put it closest to the terminals. What I found is easiest is just a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the fuse out. Now we can put it into our fuse tap, making sure that we get the fuse from our vehicle into the closest to our terminals. Now we're going to take the red wire that we had running from our brake controller, and we're going to connect it to the butt connector here. Crimp it down. Double check our connection. Now we're going to insert this part of our fuse tap into the same location that we pulled our fuse out. Now with all of our connections made, we can come back to our two wires we have coming off our breaker. Now as I mentioned before, we have a power source down here. If we come down to the positive terminal, we'll be using a 10 mm socket to remove then nut. That way, I can put my ring terminal into place. Now we can come back, and we're going to make the final tightening of our circuit breakers up here using a 3/8 socket to tighten down the nuts. Now with all of our connections made besides our brake controller itself, now would be a good time to clean up all the wires and tidy everything up, now that we know that we have enough wire and everything reaches everywhere. Now we're going to need to find a suitable spot to mount our brake controller so we can still access it, see it, but it also not be in the way of our pedals where we don't have to worry about hitting our leg on it. Now I think if we can mount our brake controller right here, that'd be a good spot. We can take our supplied bracket. We can mount it right there. It'd be high enough where it won't interfere with our pedals, but also out of the way that we're not going to hit our knee on it. We're going to take the bracket. They gave us a couple of self tapping screws. We're just going to screw right into the dash here. Now you do want to double check to make sure there's nothing behind here, no wires or any electrical connections. You don't want to do any damage. Now I'm going to be using a quarter inch nut driver to put my screws into place. I also want to mention you don't want to over tighten these, because it will strip out. It is just a self tapping screw. Now to mount our brake controller to our bracket, we're going to have two holes on the side of our brackets. Now we're going to line those up with the holes right here on the side of our brake controller. Now depending on what angle you want, you can use either hole. We're just going to take our self tapping screws again and come through our bracket and go into our brake controller. I'm being very careful. I'm going to go ahead and screw our screws in. Now once you find the angle you like, we can go ahead and tighten up the screws. Just make sure they're nice and snug, and it'll hold that angle. Now we can take our pigtail and the end of our brake controller pigtail, and we can connect them together. Now all we have left to do is tie up our wires so that they're out of the way. Now that we have everything hooked up, it's always a good idea to double check and make sure everything's working properly. I have my tester here. I'm going to go ahead and plug it into my seven way. Now with an extra set of hands, I'm going to have him operate my lights. We can also make sure that our brakes are getting power and that our brake controller is working properly. As we can see we have our running lights on, and they're working. Go ahead and have our left turn signal. Looks good there, our right turn signal. Our brakes. Now our brakes and turn signal. We can also see that our brake controller is working, and if we hit the manual override button, we can watch it slowly go up all the way to the maximum. That'll finish up our look at the Draw-Tite time delay brake controller, part number 5504 on our 2016 Chevrolet Express van.


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