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Brake Controllers - Experiences & Recommendations


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Our Tab trailer has mechanically activated surge brakes, so I've never bothered with getting a brake controller installed into our Jeep. But now with our Oliver due in just a few weeks, I need to handle this soon.

 

Do any of you have any recommendations to share? Positive or negative experiences?

 

Tips?

 

Places to get a good deal?

 

Thank you all,

 

- Chris

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Chris, we chose the Tekonsha Prodigy. Though not their newest or most expensive, we felt that it was "tried and true" technology. It's digital readout does a system check and gives a code that all is ok. Should something go bad on a trip, like a brake solenoid shorting out, which would result in uneven braking, it will give that failure code.

The prodigy mounts in most places that are convenient and electronicly "self levels" for it's center of adjustment point. For night driving the led display is large enough to see easily, yet not too bright.

Locating it anywhere within arms reach seems to put the various controls and adjustments at the fingertips.

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth 08' Oliver Legacy Elite HULL NUMBER 0003(sold)

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I've had good luck pulling a variety of trailers with Prodigy controllers ... there are other more expensive and/or flashier controllers out now, but this one's proven. And if there's a custom harness for your TV spend the few extra bucks - it will greatly simplify your installation and in many cases make it plug-n-play.

 

My only general recommendation is that you mount the control unit somewhere along the centerline of your dashboard and not tucked away to the left of your steering wheel. The reason for this is so your co-pilot can reach over and access the manual trailer brake lever in an emergency. Application of the trailer brakes (but not your tow vehicle brakes) can be an effective way to pull your rig back into line in the event of sway. Odds are if that ever happens you'll be busy with both hands on the steering wheel, so it's good to have the controller somewhat easily accessible to the passenger seat ...

 

My $0.02.

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Have owned several brake controllers thru the years, always a Tekonsha, this time the Prodigy...

 

Stuart, VERY wise about the mounting position.

Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

      ALAKAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA       ABBCMBNSYTsm.jpg

 

 

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The technician that installed my Tekonsha Prodigy break controller said it was the best on the market. I've appreciated it's simple, yet sensitive setting system. I also had it placed to the right of my steering wheel so Oscar can "whack it" with his paw if things should ever get out of hand. :shock:

Pete & "Bosker".    TV -  '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV  - "The Wonder Egg";   '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.


Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com


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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone know what a reasonable price would be to install a Prodigy break controller in a Toyota RAV4? I was told by a well known Austin, TX hitch hitch installer that it took an hour and a half to two hours and would cost $140 to $175.

 

That sounds high to me. What do you folks think?

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Does anyone know what a reasonable price would be to install a Prodigy break controller in a Toyota RAV4? I was told by a well known Austin, TX hitch hitch installer that it took an hour and a half to two hours and would cost $140 to $175.

 

That sounds high to me. What do you folks think?

Depends if you already have the 7-wire setup (power for controller & aux., lights, etc.) in place and all that needs to be installed is the brake controller itself. If that's the case I would agree that it's high. But if they have to do all of the wiring from scratch or possibly convert a 4-wire setup to 7-wire then the price seems reasonable. I think it also depends on the quality of the work. There is a real opportunity to cut corners with some sloppy work. A quality installation takes a little more time and money. Have you specified exactly how you want the work done?

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No, I haven't. I do know that I have the factory towing option on my 2007 Toyota RAV4. However, if you have a Toyota dealer do the work they charge even more. I'm not sure why, but I think it has to do with the wiring for some reason. One would think that with the towing option, a lot of the necessary wiring would already be in place, but I'm not at all sure it is.

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No, I haven't. I do know that I have the factory towing option on my 2007 Toyota RAV4. However, if you have a Toyota dealer do the work they charge even more. I'm not sure why, but I think it has to do with the wiring for some reason. One would think that with the towing option, a lot of the necessary wiring would already be in place, but I'm not at all sure it is.

Does the factory towing option include a 4 or 7 pin connector? I assume you have the V6?

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DougI, I don't know much about your RAV4, but I HIGHLY doubt you are pre-wired for a brake controller. You typically only find that on full-size pickups and SUV's. Therefore, your installation will likely require splicing into the brake pedal switch, connecting a hot and ground somewhere, and possibly running a brake wire back to the 7-pin plug.

 

If that's true (that you are NOT pre-wired), the price you quoted does not seem high. But, this type of work requires a bit of attention to detail, and you may not want to select the installer based soley on price.

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Even though our new Jeep was ordered with the tow package, it did not come pre-wired for a brake controller. It also only included a 4 pin connector. I took the hitch loose from the rear frame, ground off the bracket for the 4 pin connector and welded on a bracket for a 7 pin connector. After I repainted the hitch, I re-attached it to the frame. I then made up a wiring harness to convert the 4 pin to a 7 pin connector. If you already have a 4 pin connector you don't even have to cut any wires. Just connect a plug to the 4 pin connector and the wires on the opposite end to terminals in the 7 pin connector. I ran a 10 gauge wire from the alternator through a self resetting breaker to the 7 pin connector for the charging circuit. I then ran a 12 gauge wire back to it for the brake circuit. I am using a prodigy brake controller that included a wiring harness consisting of 4 wires. One goes to the cold side of the brake switch on the brake pedal. One connects to the brake wire going to the connector. The other two are the positive and negative connections.

 

This will make you good to go.....

Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

      ALAKAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA       ABBCMBNSYTsm.jpg

 

 

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I think I am going to order what I need (a wiring harness, a four to seven pin adapter, and a hitch) from e-trailer and install the hitch and the break controller myself, with a little help from a friend.

 

Thanks for the comments and advice. I appreciate it.

 

Doug

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I think I am going to order what I need (a wiring harness, a four to seven pin adapter, and a hitch) from e-trailer and install the hitch and the break controller myself, with a little help from a friend.

 

Thanks for the comments and advice. I appreciate it.

 

Doug

I'm confused. I thought you already had the factory towing option. So, you have to install the hitch and the 4-wire harness in addition to the other 3-wire components and brake controller too? If so, the price you mentioned earlier is beginning to sound real good if done correctly. If you decide to tackle the project yourself make sure you get a factory compatible 4-wire harness if not already equipped. Also make sure the cable running under the vehicle is properly shielded.

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The price I quoted earlier applies only to the labor and does not include the break controller or the hitch itself, nor any supplies, like a 4 to 7 pin adaptor, or any supplies.

That's what I assumed. The price did not include any parts or material. As I now understand it the work involves the following.

 

Complete wiring of a 7-wire setup - A factory 4-wire connection does not exist.

Installation of a brake controller with all associated wiring

Installation of a hitch receiver

 

Again, sounds like a very reasonable price if done correctly. Good luck should you decide to tackle the work yourself. I installed mine on a Tacoma. The hardest parts were penetrating the firewall, finding the correct brake wire to tap into for the controller and working in very tight and confined spaces. Afterwards, I had an appreciation for the labor quoted me beforehand.

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  • 1 month later...
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Something we've discovered, that many of you already know, I'm sure. One Tekonsha brake controller can be used in several tow vehicles. Just add wiring harnesses.

 

Originally, we bought one Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller from our local Uhaul dealer, and had them install it in our Volvo xc90. Then we ordered a harness and holder for the Silverado, but not another controller, and Uhaul installed the harness and holder in the Silverado. We moved the expensive part, the controller box, from vehicle to vehicle.

 

Recently, we acquired a new Dodge 4x4 pickup with factory installed 7 pin tow connections and tow package.... Since the Dodge was wired under the dash for the four pins required for the Tekonsha Prodigy and other brands of controllers (as is true of most new vehicles with a full tow package), Paul decided to install this harness himself. I got on the phone, ordered a harness for the Dodge connector from NAPA, picked it up down the street, and Paul & Dave installed it. (Basically plug and play if the vehicle is truly set up for towing as ours was) Since we only tow with one vehicle at a time (only have one Oliver, and the boat trailer doesn't have electric brakes....), buying just the harnesses & brackets has saved us several hundred dollars, and all three vehicles can tow the Oliver.... We just move the controller box from vehicle to vehicle as necessary.

 

Sherry

 

edited for clarity by Paul

 

PS our local installer gave us an extra mounting bracket he had laying around for the new Dodge... total cost for new brake controller in Dodge... $18. Don't buy the generic controllers available from many camping and RV store outlets.... they don't have the plug and play connectors, and you have to strip wires to splice them in. I called Tekonsha for a local retailer for the real deal... For us, that was NAPA. Paul and our nephew installed the Tekonsha harness in about 20 minutes or less.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Ours works great Also Sherry, but if we could only get that controller to Migrate to the appropriate vehicle when the Oliver is hooked to it ! Like you guys, our boat has it's own dual axle surge brake system and doesn't require the controller.

Our old boat is sitting in the boat shed calling for water now, or, that is what I am telling Butcherknife !

Here is a look at it. Ain't it plumb pittiful sittin' there on the dry land like that !

http://www.geocities.com/harmsweigh/

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth 08' Oliver Legacy Elite HULL NUMBER 0003(sold)

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The controller box does migrate... but manually... we have to walk it over to the next vehicle..... Sometimes we use the Volvo, now mostly the Dodge... Our daughter has pretty much claimed the Silverado as her ride. :P But, I have to say, I don't blame her. It's a fun truck to drive.

Sherry

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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