How to Install a Trailer Brake Control

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Trailer Brake Control Install. How To Made Easy!

Trailer wiring
The Trailer Brake Control and Additional Plug-In Wiring Harness. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

Using a trailer is quickly becoming part of the American lifestyle. Whether you're towing the boat, the jet-skis, or the utility trailer, towing is here to stay. But if you're going to be part of the population that is pulling a trailer make sure you put safety first. Many new cars and trucks come with towing packages, but most do not come with a Trailer Brake Control. The Trailer Brake Control is a module that controls the electric brakes found on many trailers. You will need to install a brake control if you want those brakes to help you stop your vehicle and the trailer you are towing. If your vehicle has a Towing Package, installing the Brake Control is a pretty simple affair, you just have to buy an additional wiring harness that plugs directly into the plug your car came with. If your vehicle does not have a towing package it can be a lot more complicated because you have to splice in the wiring yourself, which is much more complicated than the plug-in. See more about trailer wiring.

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Determining If Your Vehicle Is Pre-Wired For a Brake Control

Brake Contoller Install Step One, Determining Your Vehicle's Wiring
Looking for the Electric Brake Controller in your vehicle. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

This Brake Control installation was performed on a Nissan Titan Pickup, but your application will be similar. It'll probably be a lot similar on a true truck like a Chevy or a Ford, but that's another conversation for another day. The first step is to look under your dash to see if you see a plug labeled "Electric Brake Controller." The plug may be right there in front of your face as you stick your head under the steering wheel, or you may have to search around a little bit with your work light shining upside down to find it. Don't reach under the dashboard and start pulling wiring harnesses all over the place, but you don't have to be afraid to touch things under there, either. You may have to do some slight rooting around to find the existing plug. It will be similar to the one you see pictured above, but may or may not be the same color.  If this is the case you will have an easy time of it.

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Choosing The Right Wiring Harness

Brake Contoller Install Step Two, Choosing The Right Wiring Harness
Choosing The Right Wiring Harness. Photo By Adam Wright 2010

The Brake Controller comes with a wiring harness that is the kind you have to splice into your vehicle's wiring. If you have never done wiring on a car before you might not want to attempt this install as your first wiring project. If your vehicle comes with a Towing Package you should have a Brake Control plug already wired and ready to go. You will need to use the wiring harness that is made for your vehicle.

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Installing The Brake Controller Module

Brake Contoller Install Step Three, Installing the Brake Control Module
Installing The Brake Control Module Under The Dash. Photo by Adam Wright 2010.

Once the wiring is done all that is left to do is to install the Brake Control Module under your dash. The Brake Controller comes with a bracket that screws in. You will want to install the Brake Controller in a spot where you can access it easily but where it will not be in the way. Don't worry about the service guy needing to reach what's behind it, they are easily removable from their brackets making service a non-issue down the road. Once installed you can determine how much braking you want on the trailer by setting the Brake Control Module. Setting the Module will depend on your comfort level and what it is you're towing. Consult your trailer's information and the weight of what you're towing to decide.