Trailer Brake Controller Installation - 2009 Chevrolet Silverado

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How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller on a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado


Today on our 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 we're going to take a look at and also show you how to install the Tekonsha Primus IQ Proportional Trailer Brake Controller. This is going to work for one up to three axles. It's part number is TK90160. The Primus IQ, again, is a proportional brake controller, which is going to give us great advantages over the older time-delayed systems. With those systems it was a pre-set power range. You hit your brakes. The level of power escalates till you get to your top setting.

In the proportional aspect of this, what happens is if we just lightly hit our brakes to come to a normal, kind of a slow stop in traffic, the brake controller recognizes it, and it only sends out a little bit of power. Under a normal braking situation going down the highway, we'll get normal power. In those emergency braking situations, that's where these are really key. If we really get on this pedal hard, the internal sensor is going to determine how much braking force we're applying here. Then it's going to send that out to the trailer, giving us the same extreme braking response. Now the gain dial located here on the left side, this allows us to set the amount of power going back.

So all the way down, of course, it's going to be zero. As we start to dial this up, you can see we can go by the tenth. This is going to allow us to custom tune the amount of braking force being sent to our trailer. If we've got a light trailer and we're operating it empty, on a flat road condition, we don't need a whole lot of braking power. As we start getting larger and larger with our trailers, or our roads start to get a lot more hilly up and down, well then we want to add additional power.

That way we're going to have more braking power back there to help us control the vehicle. Now the button on top here, that's going to control the boost mode. The boost mode is going to be increased as the trailers get heavier. So we hit there. There's nothing beside the B there. That means it's off.

Boost level one is when we get into maybe a fully loaded, single axle enclosed trailer, where the weight starts to go up. Boost level two's going to be more for like the heavier, enclosed, tandem axle trailers. Then boost level three's going to be for our goosenecks and things like that. This is going to give us a higher percentage of braking initially, so we get everything starting braking, and then it takes over from there and gives us the proportional braking that we expect. Now the nice thing about the manual override lever is this is going to allow us to brake right up to whatever we've got set. I've got the brake controller gain maxed out now. But if we're were at, say, 6.9 or 7, you see as we grab that manual override fully it's going to get us right up to about where we've got it set there. So we're never going to, when we have to grab this in an emergency, to help one of the sway events stop, or something like that, it's not going to overpower and lock up our tires. That's the great thing about the adjustable gain, and that it's not overriding, is that when the gain's set too high on the trailer and you try to stop it, your tires typically lock up and cause flat spots. We can dial that in and get just enough braking power to prevent that from happening. Now the Primus IQ has a couple built-in safeguards. One, the brake controller protects itself and the vehicle from any kind of short. So if we have any kind of short situation we're not going to have to worry about either one being negatively affected. Now also when we're sitting at prolonged stops, instead of sending full power to the trailer, this is going to recognize that, and it's gradually going to reduce the amount of braking power being sent back, so you don't have to worry about overheating the brake. Another great built-in safeguard is going to be if our trailer ever comes disconnected, it'll flash NC, NC, letting us know that we don't have a connection, and we need to address it. As soon as that is reestablished, you'll see it'll go right back to C. We'll know that we've got a good, solid connection. Now in mounting the Primus IQ, you've got a good range, about 90 degrees that we can adjust this. You always want it to be straight in line with our direction of travel. But we can go from zero degrees, which would be flat, all the way up to 90 degrees, as long as we keep that vertical plane, and our internal sensor's going to work just fine. There's no need for leveling or adjustment. It's an auto-set sensor. Now this is what your brake controller kit's going to look like when you pull it out of the package. It's the heart of our system. It's our proportional brake controller. You'll see the plug in right here in the rear is designed to accept the pigtail that comes with the controller. We're going to be hooking these up to existing wires located under the dashboard of the truck. We'll show you where to find that. We're going to have a standard-style metal bracket. I usually prefer to use this. It's a little smaller. It's a little more out of the way. We're also going to have a fully adjustable bracket here that will allow you to put your brake controller in there, and actually remove it if you choose to. With the quick disconnect on the back, that's something that's going to be fairly simple. We'll also have six self-tapping screws. This will be what we use to secure the two brackets. You'll see they're both going to have two holes on top. We just need two screws for this one, because it clips in. For this one we'll be using two on each side to secure our controller as well. Now to find the wires we need to connect to, we'll follow the brake pedal up, and the end of those wires are going to be looped around pretty much right there, just to the left of it. Now, there's going to be some electrical tape or white tape around it, just depending. Let's get that pulled off. You'll see that'll allow us to bring these wires down. Now there's plenty of it. We're also going to have our guide right here, so we want to be careful not to damage that, because that's going to tell you what each of the wires are. All right, now the red and black wire that we pulled down, this is what gives us our 12-volt power. That's going to power the brake controller and gets connected to the black wire on the pigtail. The dark blue wire is the wire that goes from inside of the cab back to our trailer, so this is what we're going to connect the blue wire from the brake controller to. That sends out our signal. The smaller white wire, that's what we're going to use to ground our brake controller. That's going to leave us with a light blue and white, and an orange wire. Now the orange wire has the stop light signal, so that's what we're going to be connecting to the red wire from our brake controller. Now we'll start cutting the wires and getting our connections made with our pigtail. The blue and white we're not going to use, so that's been set aside. We're going to start just by stripping our pigtail wires back just a little further. All right, now we're going to take the pigtail, and what we want to do is stagger these connections down. This will keep us from having a big knot of butt connectors underneath the dash. We'll strip each of those back. Now to the end we're going to add a butt connector. Now they're not provided with the Primus IQ. You'll have to provide you're own. We're going to use yellow butt connectors for the black and blue wire, and we're going to be using blue butt connectors for the two smaller red and white wires. Now we're going to start cutting our wires from the truck here, and if you want them to be staggered, just cut them the opposite that you cut these. Now before I cut that red and black wire, I want to get these two connections made. All right, so just a quick rundown. White-ish to white is going to be our ground. This used to be white. It's kind of yellowed with age. Then the dark blue to the dark blue. We've got a red and black from the truck to the black from the pigtail. Then we've got our orange to the red from the pigtail. The blue and white wire, we'll just bundle that back up, and I like to take tape and go from as far as you can reach underneath the dash here, and just go down the length of it. That way you don't have four different color wires sticking out from underneath your dashboard. The bracket that we've chose to use, as we said, is going to be the metal bracket. I like this one over the other one, but the preference is yours. What we're going to do is find a suitable spot to now mount this. Now typically your dashboard's going to be a good area over here on the right side. Some people like it over here on the left side. If you do, just watch your knee when you're getting in and out. You might bump it. On these Silverados especially, I like mounting them right here. It's out of the way of your foot while you're driving, but it's also out of the way during everyday use. You start by removing a small Phillips screw that's located right here. With that out, we're going to take our bracket, and I'm going to slide it between these two pieces, just like that. Then we'll put our screw right back in. Now I'm going to take just two very thin washers, or you could use one slightly thicker washer. That's going to sit right on top of that bracket, and we'll run our screw through that, and right into that heavier plastic panel. Now we'll use our other self-tapping screw, and it'll go right in that panel. You'll see our bracket will be nice and firmly attached. Now we're ready to add our brake controller. I'm going to plug the plug right in the back of the controller there. Now you'll notice that we don't have any lights or any indication that our brake controller's getting power. That means we're going to have to head out underneath the hood and put in a couple fuses. Now for the excess pigtail, we'll be able to just tuck that up. I like to go right on top of this floor heat vent, and just with one or two zip ties we'll get that secured up and out of the way where we won't have to worry about it. Now we're going to pull the cover off here. We've got a couple locking tabs here on the outside we'll pull out on. We'll just kind of slide that up and off, and we can show you a few secrets located underneath. You see there are two studs sticking up here and nothings connected to them. These studs are actually for 12-volt power to the rear of the truck. Now there's no wires here that you can see, but they are available. One located right in here beside the fuse box. You can see that red wire right down there. We want to pull that up. So we kind of gently cut that tape holding it in place, and if your hand's small enough you can get it down in there. If not, just take a pair of needle nose and gently pull out on the wire. Then we'll use our M8 flange nut and we want to thread that down and on. Now with that other stud being bare as well, that means you're not going to have 12-volt power there at the rear of the truck. To find that, we can reach right down here. That's going to provide 12-volt power to that plug for us. Now we'll bring this up, and we want to connect it over here to that one. For this one you'll need an M6 flange nut. Now just in front of those two ports, typically these are both open, this one and this one. You can see somebody's already put a 30-amp J case fuse in the one closest to the passenger side. We're going to put a 40-amp J case fuse in the one closer to the driver's side. Now this is a standard height. It's going to work with the box lid. But you could also use one of the shorter ones, like what they've used there. This should provide us power to the back, and this should give us our brake controller signal now that we've hooked up our wire. Now once we have that wire connected under our hood, we'll see a C if we've got our trailer connected. In our case we've got our trailer tester connected. And an NC if you don't. But that's going to indicate to you that you've got good power. Next step to test it will be just to plug in the trailer tester, or you could plug it in to your trailer at home. You want to operate that manual override lever and listen for your brakes to activate or watch the needle on your tester. Now with the tester plugged in here, or with your trailer plugged in, we're going to operate that override, and you'll listen for the brakes to activate, or watch the dials to watch those come over and make sure you're getting the power you need. There you see our needles operate. The nice thing about the manual override lever is just by squeezing it lightly we can apply just a little bit of braking power. The more we squeeze it, the more power will be delivered to our brakes to increase our stopping power. Now with a few zip ties, we'll be able to tidy up our wires here in the front. Then it's just a matter of sliding our box back over the top. You want to kind of have it pretty square, and then just push straight down. Now with everything working properly, that's going to complete our installation of the Tekonsha Primus IQ, part number TK90160, on our 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500.


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Test Fit:
Joe V
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Zack K
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Andrew K
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Jeff D
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Joshua S
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Nicholas E
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Jacob T
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Andrew L
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Kathleen M
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Mike H
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Dustin K
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Cole B
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Shane T
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Alan C
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Randy B
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Chris R
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Jared G
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