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Old 06-24-2011, 06:39 PM   #1
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How can I test/verify my Brake Controller?

Greetings. I just installed my trailer brake controller in my 2010 Honda Ridgeline. I think I saved myself $200 by installing the controller from my old TV.

I am not at all savvy about electrical stuff and I tend to doubt the quality of my work. Rather than wait until an emergency to discover I didn't install the controller correctly, is there a way to test my work? Can I SAFELY confirm I did it correctly and all my connections are good without attaching the trailer?

Or should I just go to a trailer dealer and ask them to check?

Thanks,
G
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Old 06-24-2011, 06:50 PM   #2
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Welcome Aboard....

If the controller op light comes on when brakes applied, a test light at the 7-way plug will indicate voltage. Hook up, plug in, turn brake gain up, have someone stomp brake pedal and listen for magnet noise at each wheel.

Find a Wally World parking lot and test/adjust away....


GOOD LUCK...
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:53 AM   #3
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A convenient post:

Brake Test

Test the controller, yes, but test for voltage at the brake itself as well.

.
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gastrolith View Post
Greetings. I just installed my trailer brake controller in my 2010 Honda Ridgeline. I think I saved myself $200 by installing the controller from my old TV.
I am not at all savvy about electrical stuff and I tend to doubt the quality of my work. Rather than wait until an emergency to discover I didn't install the controller correctly, is there a way to test my work? Can I SAFELY confirm I did it correctly and all my connections are good without attaching the trailer?
Or should I just go to a trailer dealer and ask them to check?
Thanks,
G
The way I test my brakes is to drive about 5 MPH down a dirt road with the brake controller set to a strong setting. I apply only the trailer brakes to lock up the trailer wheels and let the trailer bring everything to a stop. Then I get out and examine each trailer wheel. If I see a small pile of dirt pushed up in front of each wheel then I know that each wheel is contributing to the braking effort.
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:35 AM   #5
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Typically (and I haven't set up a controller for years), the process was to tow the trailer to either an empty parking lot or a low traveled road, and activate the manual switch on your brake controller. This would apply the trailer brakes without use of the vehicle brakes. If I remember correctly you drove about 5 to 10 mph and applied the manual control in the full braking mode. If the trailer wheels locked up, you had to back off on the gain control. The key was when the manual control was in full braking mode, that was the best your brakes could do. So the goal in setting gain was to get maximum braking force just shy of locking up the wheels.

The only other caution was that the gain might need to be adjusted lower if you got into situations where pavement slickness caused those wheels to skid.

While you can measure voltage at the tow vehicle outlet, you have to realize that it will show you a minimum voltage setting if you apply the brake pedal (since there is no forward inertia which is used to vary the voltage sent to the brakes). Applying the manual control fully should send the maximum voltage back to that contact. The only problem is you won't know if that is enough. You really need to do a test tow that I described above to fine tune the control with your specific trailer.

Jack
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:50 AM   #6
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Just an additional note. Some brake controllers had two adjustment knobs. One was an adjustment knob as I spoke about in the post above. The other knob was to adjust the aggressiveness of the trailer brakes. The goal you are trying to achieve is where the braking force being applied to the trailer is in balance with the tow vehicle. You the want the brakes on the trailer to apply enough force to control the trailer, not the tow vehicle. Too much breaking force applied by the trailer will prematurely wear out the trailer brakes. Same goes for the tow vehicle, not enough trailer braking force will put undue wear on the tow vehicle brakes and will put you in danger of jack knifing the trailer in an emergency braking situation.

Jack
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:34 PM   #7
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For testing I use a sealed-beam headlight bulb wired up to a 7-way trailer connector's "stop" and "ground" connections. It's easy to make up, draws enough current to provide a good test, and allows you to gauge the output level from the controller visually.
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