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Trailer Brake Disconnect Warning/Message


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While in Colorado this summer I started getting an intermittent “trailer brakes disconnected” message on my dash. Very intermittent.  At times I could drive a couple hours and all was good, then the message would come on intermittently for the next hour.  It only stays on for anywhere from a few seconds to 20 or 30 seconds and then go off again.  When I had the message the trailer brakes were definitely off.

I checked the 7 pin connector and looked for loose wires.  When we got home I had my local RV guy check the trailer. He found nothing.  I took my truck in to the dealer, he checked everything (connector, traced wires, used trailer simulator and drove around, etc) and he found nothing.

I just pulled our trailer over to the house to get ready for our next trip and sure enough I got the message couple of times before we got home.

In the spring my RV guy recommended we replace the brakes next visit because there’s not much life left.  When working they still have good stopping power.  I’m thinking after this next trip (home mid-October) I’ll go ahead and have him replace them.  My hunch is that it’s something loose or not well connected on the trailer side.

Any thoughts?  Mike

Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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6 minutes ago, Mike and Carol said:

Any thoughts?

When the brake pads on my 2008 Tundra got thin, the "Brake" warning light on the dash started to light up intermittently.  Like you, I knew the pads were near the end of their useful life because I check them when rotating tires.  But, I thought the pads still had some life left, so I didn't immediately replace them.  The brakes continued to feel solid, so the light made me wonder if there was another issue with the braking system.

When I finally got around to replacing the pads on the 2008 Tundra, the "Brake" warning light went out.  Lesson learned:  when the light comes on, even intermittently, replace the pads (or in case of Oliver brakes, the shoes) sooner rather than later.  I concluded the Tundra must have a sensor that activates the warning light when any of the pads get too thin.

Please post what you learn after your Oliver brake shoes are renewed.

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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1 minute ago, Rivernerd said:

When the brake pads on my 2008 Tundra got thin, the "Brake" warning light on the dash started to light up intermittently.  Like you, I knew the pads were near the end of their useful life because I check them when rotating tires.  But, I thought the pads still had some life left, so I didn't immediately replace them.  The brakes continued to feel solid, so the light made me wonder if there was another issue with the braking system.

When I finally got around to replacing the pads on the 2008 Tundra, the "Brake" warning light went out.  Lesson learned:  when the light comes on, even intermittently, replace the pads (or in case of Oliver brakes, the shoes) sooner rather than later.  I concluded the Tundra must have a sensor that activates the warning light when any of the pads get too thin.

Please post what you learn after your Oliver brake shoes are renewed.

This is what I’m thinking as well.  I’ll be getting them replaced next month and will let everyone know the result.

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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@Mike and Carol, I suggest checking for a loose ground connection, or a corroded connection, probably on the trailer.  Also check the ground connection to the 7-pin connector.  Add electrically conductive grease to the 7-pin connector, if you have not already done so.  I have encountered similar symptoms on a utility trailer, which ultimately proved to have a poor ground connection.  I have not seen these symptoms when towing our Oliver.

Does the cover/latch on the 7-pin receptacle on the truck engage the catch on the 7-pin plug of the trailer to secure it?  Have you tried wiggling the 7-pin connector when it is engaged in the truck's receptacle to see if this triggers the message?.

I assume your Ram TV has an OEM brake controller.  Has this been checked?  When the message is displayed do the brakes respond when pressing on the brake pedal or by manually applying the brakes using the brake controller?

When the trailer is connected and the the "trailer brakes disconnected" message is displayed do the lights on the trailer work?  Brake lights?

If you have another trailer or a friend has one, does the problem still occur when another trailer is connected to your truck?

Good luck.

Don

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spacer.pngNorth Texas | 2022 LEII, Hull #990, delivered 2/17/22 | 2014 BMW X5 35d

 

 

 

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M & C,
Are you getting the notice via your Dash Messages?
We did, and here is what it was.  (I am working on a Post about this).

JD had a similar post about Brake wire issues, which I found informative.
https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/2685-how-to-brake-wiring-is-undersized-some-answers-and-partial-solution/#comment-25131
 
There is a 2-wire pair (mine looked like old brown table lamp cord) which travels through the front and rear axles that bring the current for electric brakes from the Drivers side to the Pass side.  It is a common way RV manufactures do it.  That wire has slack and sits inside and rubs inside those tubes.  
Ours rubbed/abraded to bare wires on a couple of surfaces, causing an intermittent short that soon became a constant short.
I basically just cut the old wires off and ran a larger insulated 2-wire pair 12awg across the outside of the back of the axles at the rear so to prevent rock strikes, once I had it all connected. WE HAD BRAKES AGAIN…

I found that removing the wheels made it easier to get in and work at each hub, where green brake wires go into back of the plate to get to the brakes.

Before you cut your wires, maybe test the green wire going into brakes with a meter to make sure.  If you pull the "Brake break-away" cable and then measure the current where the brake wires come in (inside driver side wheel well) you might get a reading, but I am not sure what an electrical short might do to that reading.

I was told 80% of the time it is the 7-pin (which it was not), so I naively replaced it, before I found out what the real issue is; now I have a “bugly” 7pin, which is not sealed to the weather like the OTT factory one...

Best of luck.

B~Out

 

image c.jpeg

image d.jpeg

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Maggie & Bryan | Arnegard, ND | 2020 LE II "Twins" Hull #665 | 2021 RAM 2500  6.4L HEMI Gasser  4dr  6.5' bed

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We had this intermittent issue probably 10 years ago. It was a poor ground connection.

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

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1 hour ago, dhaig said:

@Mike and Carol, I suggest checking for a loose ground connection, or a corroded connection, probably on the trailer.  Also check the ground connection to the 7-pin connector.  Add electrically conductive grease to the 7-pin connector, if you have not already done so.  I have encountered similar symptoms on a utility trailer, which ultimately proved to have a poor ground connection.  I have not seen these symptoms when towing our Oliver.

Does the cover/latch on the 7-pin receptacle on the truck engage the catch on the 7-pin plug of the trailer to secure it?  Have you tried wiggling the 7-pin connector when it is engaged in the truck's receptacle to see if this triggers the message?.

I assume your Ram TV has an OEM brake controller.  Has this been checked?  When the message is displayed do the brakes respond when pressing on the brake pedal or by manually applying the brakes using the brake controller?

When the trailer is connected and the the "trailer brakes disconnected" message is displayed do the lights on the trailer work?  Brake lights?

If you have another trailer or a friend has one, does the problem still occur when another trailer is connected to your truck?

Good luck.

Don

Don, thanks for the suggestions.  I replaced the 7pin connector, my RV guy checked it when I took it in.  Dielectric grease applied.  The 7pin fits and is secured by the cover.  The Ram dealer checked the controller.  The brakes don’t work when the message is on.   I haven’t had the message come up when stationary, so I can’t tell if lights are affected.  Wiggling the 7pin does nothing.

I’m going to crawl under the trailer in the morning (when it’s not 100+ degrees) to “explore”.  Mike

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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1 hour ago, SNY SD UP said:

That wire has slack and sits and rubs inside those tubes.  Ours rubbed/abraded to bare wires on a couple of surfaces, causing an intermittent short that soon became a constant short.
I basically just cut the old wires off and ran a larger insulated 2 wire pair across the back of the axles at the rear so to prevent rock strikes, once I had it connected. WE HAD BRAKES AGAIN…

Bryan, I haven’t checked that wire - will do so in the morning when the weather is a bit cooler.  Thanks - Mike

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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55 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

We had this intermittent issue probably 10 years ago. It was a poor ground connection.

Thanks, Sherry.  I’ll check it again.  Mike

Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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2 hours ago, SNY SD UP said:

That wire has slack and sits inside and rubs inside those tubes... I basically just cut the old wires off and ran a larger insulated 2-wire pair 12awg across the outside of the back of the axles at the rear so to prevent rock strikes, once I had it all connected. WE HAD BRAKES AGAIN…

Same thing happened with our first trailer. The wires were actually folded inside the axle tube and chafed until they shorted.  Dumb design. Same repair. Never had another problem. 

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Stephanie and Dudley from CT.  2022 LE2, Hull #1150: Eggcelsior.

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Mike, every time I've seen this problem, it's been due to the white (ground) wire coming into the trailer from the 7-pin wiring bundle not being securely connected to the grounding buss bar located under the aft dinette seat. All the rest of the wiring on that bar is yellow. All this was going on between the time our trailer was built and about Hull #200. The factory actually sent out a bulletin about this and a standing order to check for this problem on every trailer that passed thru the shop for any reason.

Your trailer was probably checked at some time in the past and it either passed inspection or was fixed. Some of those back roads Carol makes you drive on could very easily have loosened that wire. Now would be a good time to check tightness on all the wires attached to that bar.

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Steve, Tali and our dog Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie, Lucy and Reacher (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD SRW Diesel 4x4 

 

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5 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

Your trailer was probably checked at some time in the past and it either passed inspection or was fixed. Some of those back roads Carol makes you drive on could very easily have loosened that wire. Now would be a good time to check tightness on all the wires attached to that bar.

Steve, it would be nice if that was the issue!  I’ll check it today.  Mike

Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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19 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:

Add electrically conductive grease to the 7-pin connector, if you have not already done so.

 

19 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:

Dielectric grease applied.

 Mike:  Good catch.  For sure Dielectric Grease.  

GJ

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3 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:
8 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

Your trailer was probably checked at some time in the past and it either passed inspection or was fixed. Some of those back roads Carol makes you drive on could very easily have loosened that wire. Now would be a good time to check tightness on all the wires attached to that bar.

Ground wire was tight. 

Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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OK, just back from the RV repair shop, again.  They pulled the brake wires from inside the axles and attached new wires, zip tied to the outside of the axle. They gave me the old wires.  One was about 11’ long, the other about 9’.  The excess was stuffed into the axle.  One had a spot where the insulation was rubbed through showing bare wires.  The other had about 6” of electrical tape wrapped around the end where it connected to the brake.  When I took the tape off I found a weird situation that makes no sense to me.  This appears to be the same issue SNY SD UP was experiencing (his photos above).

First, here’s the rub:  (brown insulation worn to the red then to the copper.

IMG_6571.thumb.jpeg.b0374059e2afd6213f6a70368e9b0239.jpeg

 

Then here’s the end that was taped.  The tape extended from the end of the wires to where my fingers are, making it look as though it was one set of wires.  The ends of the brown pair on top were completely covered with tape and the left end of the bottom brown and white pair was also covered, leaving only the ends of the brown and white pair showing.  So, it appears they were not connected to anything?  The tech simply cut the wires off when he was replacing them which are the brown/white pair.  The top pair has one wire stripped and one is a few inches shorter than the other.  I’m not sure what this was all about.

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They zip tied the new wires to the axle.  I will add a few more to what they used.

IMG_6573.thumb.jpeg.d34ece596313b430bcd7388551b1f35e.jpeg

I had no “trailer brake disconnected” messages on the way home.  We leave tomorrow for our fall trip for some cooler weather and fall leaves.  Hopefully the problem is solved.

I will close out my ticket with Oliver service.  Their only offering was that when they’ve encountered this issue it’s almost always the tow vehicle.  Not in this case.

 

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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That is scary wiring that the tech removed, BTW the wires should be run along the back side of the axle tubes, not the top or front. That way errant stones won’t cut or crush your pretty new wires. I personally would install split loom over them, but that is a personal choice. I bet the brakes work great now.

John Davies

Spokane WA

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I had asked him to run the wires on the back of the axle. I guess it depends on what your definition of back is?  I’ll move them when I add a few more zip ties. Mike

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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For others that may experience this same problem, on my previous Chevrolet 1500 LT I was getting intermittent but often trailer brake disconnected warnings in the cab.  Replaced the OEM brake controller.  Never had the issue again.  The issue has not resurfaced in my GMC 2500HD with about 3500 miles towing leading me to believe it was a faulty brake controller switch and not the trailer.  

 

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Patrick and Danielle Wolfe / 2022 LE II Tail #22-1052 / 2023 GMC 2500HD SLT 6.6L Gas

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