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Old 08-28-2013, 11:40 AM   #1
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A safety feature that could contribute to an accident

A few days ago, a customer purchased a new travel trailer, and brought their nearly-new acura MDX SUV in for hitch work and brake controller installation. After hithing them up, we took a quick test drive, at which time I explained how to stop trailer sway by using the throttle and manual lever on the brake controller. For those that aren't aware, if the trailer begins to sway, you are supposed to manually apply the trailer brakes and press the accelerator on the tow vehicle. the combination of drag from the brakes and accelertion will stop the sway, at which time you can pull over, stop, check why the trailer swayed, and execute an underwear change, if needed.
Well, guess what? When you apply the trailer brakes, or touch the brake pedal at all, the throttle drops to idle, and there is nothing you can do about it. That can quickly become a Very Bad Thing if you are in the middle of the trailer trying to pass you. The last thing you want is for the tow vehicle to slow down while this is happening.
This appears to be a safety feature instituted after the Toyota runaway incidents, and, while I don't have a list of vehicles equipped with this "feature", it could begin to have more widespread use as more and more manufacturers decide this is a way to prevent lawsuits.
While swaying Airstreams are not common, it does happen, and it would be very wise to check your tow vehicle to see if it has this "feature", so you won't be caught by surprise in an emergency. It's bad enough if a trailer starts swaying, but then to find out at that moment your primary response is useless could well be a disaster.
So, take a moment the next time you are out in your (especially newer) tow vehicle to see if yours is one of these. Simply check behind you to make sure no one is following closely, and lightly apply the brakes while holding the throttle steady. If all goes well, you are good, but if suddenly the engine drops to idle, you will need to make a new contingency plan for the possibility of correcting trailer sway.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:48 AM   #2
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More data needed, please!

Was that brake controller an aftermarket one like a Prodigy 2 with just a 4-wire connection, or was it the integrated brake controller connected to the electrical system/computer of the vehicle?

I suspect an aftermarket unit, unless it has a circuit that lights the brake lights when you hit the manual lever, may not exhibit that behavior--at least I hope not, since that is my setup.

I need to check this soon, as I have Toyota tow vehicles of recent vintage, and this could be a real nightmare--even with a PP hitch setup that I get to install this weekend.

Talk about unintended consequences!!!
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:50 AM   #3
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How does the car know the trailer brakes have been applied, if done so manually at the brake controller?



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Old 08-28-2013, 11:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Was that brake controller an aftermarket one like a Prodigy 2 with just a 4-wire connection, or was it the integrated brake controller connected to the electrical system/computer of the vehicle?

I suspect an aftermarket unit, unless it has a circuit that lights the brake lights when you hit the manual lever, may not exhibit that behavior--at least I hope not, since that is my setup.

I need to check this soon, as I have Toyota tow vehicles of recent vintage, and this could be a real nightmare--even with a PP hitch setup that I get to install this weekend.

Talk about unintended consequences!!!
It is a Prodigy P2, but the throttle will return to idle if you tap the brake pedal as well. It was wired using the harness supplied by Acura, according to their directions.
I have checked, and there are, as far as a quick search, at least a couple of sporty cars with this feature. It makes it impossible to drive and corner using the traditional heel and toe method of braking and cornering.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
How does the car know the trailer brakes have been applied, if done so manually at the brake controller?



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JD
Many brake controllers will activate the brake lights when the manual lever is applied.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:57 AM   #6
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OK, since I have a Prodigy 2 set up with the factory harness in our Toyota Tacoma TVs (2008 and 2012) now I know I may have an issue...I will test that out ASAP.

Yet another reason I'm darn glad I spent the big $ for a PP (or HAHA type) sway PREVENTION hitch--thank you very much for helping justify the cost of the PP P3, and probably making my life a lot longer...never mind the probability of needing a skivvies swap-out...

Moderators: Others need to look at this data as well--can you cross-post this to the appropriate hitch and TV forums? This could be a major source of accidents with these modern vehicles....
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:00 PM   #7
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Moderators: Others need to look at this data as well--can you cross-post this to the appropriate hitch and TV forums? This could be a major source of accidents with these modern vehicles....
At the very least, make it a "sticky", so it will be the first thing seen in the subforum.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:46 PM   #8
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Interesting. I was aware of the idle-on-braking "feature" added when people as a group seemed to forget how to use Neutral (and cars-without-keys made it more complicated to switch off the engine), but it never occurred to me that the manual lever on a brake controller would trigger it, since you're not applying the TV brakes. Some highly-sensitive monitoring of voltage in the TV brake light circuit? Or did you look and see that it was lighting the brake lights?

Perhaps recommend that they try a P3. I know that at least in my F150, the P3 manual lever doesn't trigger the TV brake lights OR the trailer brake lights.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:35 AM   #9
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Here's a bit of light reading about others' take on the problem. While not towing related, it does confirm the issue:

Throttle cut off when you brake on 2012 MDX - Acura MDX Forum : Acura MDX SUV Forums

http://www.thesmokingtire.com/2012/p...ottle-cut-off/

http://www.audizine.com/forum/showth...dal-Depression

http://www.autoblog.com/2012/04/12/n...o-official-sa/
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:58 AM   #10
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Glad I have no plans for replacing our TV....


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Old 08-29-2013, 07:22 AM   #11
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All the more reason to consider a Hensley/ProPride style hitch so there is no sway to correct. Not expensive in the overall cost of late model tow vehicle and Airstream.

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:29 AM   #12
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Whoa this is not good news! I assume this safety feature would be in the new Tundras? Can anyone confirm?
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:43 AM   #13
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When trailer connected should override that "feature".... Time for software update...again ?
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:55 AM   #14
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When trailer connected should override that "feature".... Time for software update...again ?
If a market develops maybe the aftermarket will supply the necessary software.

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