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Trailer Brake Controller for a 2021 Volvo XC90 with a Factory 7-Way Package


I have a 2021 Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid that came with a factory installed 2” towing receiver and 7-pin plug. Seems like that should indicate that the necessary signals would be provided by the car—through the 7-pin plug—to the trailer’s brakes. Which would mean I don’t need to add a controller to the rig to be certain that the trailer braking function is working. Here’s the problem: I have checked with all the Volvo people at my local dealership, asking the question “is the trailer getting braking signals from the Volvo?” and each time the person I ask has that deer-caught-in-headlights look then answers “Yes...” Needless to say I am not reassured. One bit of evidence that *suggests* the car already handles the braking is that eTrailer lists several brake control units on the web site but after having told the site the make/model/year of the car with the note “WITHOUT FACTORY TRAILER CONNECTOR” in yellow. Any help appreciated on this. Your team continues to provide the best site I’ve found so far when I need something for my rig. Plus, your level of expertise on arcane questions like this one is impressive. Thanks


Expert Reply:

Thank you so much for your kind words. We strive to give everyone the information they need so they can make the best choices for their vehicles.

A factory 7-way (or any 7-way for that matter) does not send braking signals to a trailer's brakes. Instead, it provides the power and functionality needed for a brake controller to do that. These two have to work in conjunction in order to utilize the trailer's brakes.

That having been said, many vehicles these days (especially those with built-in tow packages like yours) come with built-in brake controllers. Check your manual and the LED menu in the car to see if this is true for yours. There may also be some controls in the vehicle's cab.

If your XC90 does not have a built-in controller, I recommend the Curt Echo, part # C51180. It's quickly becoming one of our most popular controllers due to its ease of install and customizability. For your current setup, the only thing you would need to do is plug it in and set everything up through the app on your phone. I've linked to a video review of this controller for you to look at.

expert reply by:
Kef G

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