How to Troubleshoot Your Brake Controller System

Trailer brake controller issues could cause all manner of dangerous circumstances on the road. braking power to fail in the connected trailer’s brake system. Considering all the other forces at play while your trailer is on the road (a 35-mph crosswind can exert as much as 3,440 pounds of force on your trailer), brakes are essential to maintaining control.

So how can you make sure your brake controller is in good condition? Here are a few tips.

How to Troubleshoot and Inspect Brake Controllers

First, connect the trailer to the tow vehicle in order to engage the brake controller. While inside of the vehicle make sure it is visible and easily accessible. Keep the manual close.

Second, examine the trailer brake controller. Make sure the in-cab control is installed correctly with reference to the owner’s manual determining if an adjustment is needed.

Third, look at the front of the controller; digital or LED screens commonly display troubleshooting codes. Take note and read up on the codes displayed with references to the owner’s manual. Make sure to adjust according to specifications.

Fourth and finally, check the brake controller wiring. Make the brake controller wiring is correctly connected. Check the continuity of voltage between the controller and the connector harness. Be sure to bring a 12 Volt test light.

3 Common Brake Controller Problems to Watch for

It is possible to be entirely done installing the brake controller and have an unrecognized issue. Consider these three issues as you move forward with your brake controller.

  1. Display shows trailer not connected: One solution is that the trailer brake system could have a short on the brake signal wire, trailer, or vehicle side. Another explanation could be corrosion in the trailer and/or vehicle plug.
  2. Controller loses battery ground connection: If a ground wire is not connected to a negative battery terminal or there is not a solid ground connection then an error could happen. Alternatively, adapter wiring might not match the OEM vehicle connector.
  3. Brakes apply too aggressively for controller settings: Two possible culprits are that the brake assemblies are not properly adjusted, or the boost/gain on the controller is set too high for the size of the trailer.

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