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Trailer Brake Controller Installation - 2003 Chevrolet Express Van

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How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller on a 2003 Chevrolet Express Van


Today on this 2003 Chevrolet Express we are going to install part number ETBC7 brake controller install kit and we are also going to use brake controller part number 90185 from Tekonsha, the Prodigy brake controller. The first thing we will do is start off with the mounting bracket. The hitch that is on this vehicle already has a bracket installed on it so it is ready to accept our 7-pole bracket. What we noticed when we first tested it, the screws are kind of on the long side so it is hitting up against the bumper. We took the bracket that is on the hitch and we gave it a little pull and tilted it down a little to get some clearance for the bolts. With it tilted down, we can also put the bolts in either way if you want. It is kind of hard to put a screwdriver on top of this so that is why we will put the bolts in the threads facing up. Put a little washer on there, then our nut. Next we will get the 7-pole to 4-pole adapter ready to install but we will do that part on the work bench. 00:53

What we are going to do is wind this up in electric tape and leave our leads out that we need. We are going to leave the 4-pole sticking out and we are going to need the brake wire which is going to be blue, and our black wire for 12 volt power supply and then we will wrap up our purple and white wire. Our white wire is going to go directly to the frame from the ground and then the purple wire is going to be for reverse lights if it is ever needed. Into our black and blue wires we are going to install a gray cable that has black and white wires inside of it. What we are going to do is peel away the gray sheath, strip the wires back, and make the connection. We are going to go black to black and white to blue. Cover those up with some electric tape. Next we will install the loom along the wires like this. Install the harness into the bracket and that will get bolted into place also. 01:48

Now we are going to take our wiring harness and we are going to run it over the hitch and behind it. Next we will connect our 4-pole from the ETBC7 to the pre-existing 4-pole that is on the van. That is going to be pretty much a permanent connection so we are going to run some electrical contact grease inside this half of the connector and then we will push them together and then we will secure it with a zip tie to make everything nice and tight. We will take our gray wire harness and we will thread it through the frame as best we can to our initial routing of the wire. We took our gray wire and we ran it inside here and we were able to sneak it through the frame, over the suspension components, and out down here. So we will take our ground wire and we are going to ground this to the frame using a number 14 self tapping screw that we outsourced from a local hardware store. We can continue on with our gray cable running up to the front of the vehicle and then run it up along side the frame. When we route our wires underneath the vehicle we want to make sure we stay away from anything moving, like the suspension components. We will pull our wire from the inside out. When we get our wire pulled up we will pull it all the way across to see how much wire we need to go to our circuit breaker and battery. Once we have that accomplished we will cut off the remaining wire which we do not need. With that, we will take a wire and we will split the gray sheath and take it apart because the white wire is going to have to go back towards the brake controller inside the cab of the vehicle. The black wire will go to the circuit breaker and then to the battery. Now we have got to find a place for the circuit breakers. We are going to end up with two but we will start with just the one 40 amp circuit breaker for our hot lead going out back. That is the one we are dealing with right now. It looks like on the inside of the fender well there is plenty of space between the two pieces of sheet metal so we can attach it here however the battery in this bar is a little in the way so I think what we will do is take the bar off and then disconnect the battery and remove the battery from the vehicle to give us some more working room. Now we will find a place for our circuit breaker. We will probably put one here and one about here and install it next to the ground lead here, I think that will work. Lets run our wires to get a good idea of how much length we will need for our connections so cut here and we will have plenty left over to go out to our positive terminal on our battery and we will run this part of the wire that comes from the 7-pole to the silver side of the circuit breaker and then the copper side will go to our battery. Install the small ring terminal. Connect it to the circuit breaker. Then our other half of the wire, we will do the same thing again, put another small ring terminal on there. Leave enough length for the battery. On this side we will install the larger ring terminal. 04:53

Take a moment to decide which way you want to run your wires coming off the circuit breaker and then we will snug them down. Next we are going to take a white wire from the outside and find an access point so we can get inside the cabin. To run our white wire from the outside to the inside we are going to make a slot in this rubber grommet for the main wire harness that goes from the engine compartment into the interior cabin. We are going to use a pocket knife and we are going to poke a hole in there so you can have a nice slot ran through it. There is going to be two layers of rubber so you have to be patient and work your way through. Of course make sure you do not hit any wires underneath. Try to make a nice slice through it because you are going to have to get three wires through there. To get the wires through, push a little piece of safety wire from the inside out and pull the wire back through. We have got our wire pulled out. Now we will route our white wire the way we want it so we will probably go back behind where it came from. We will use that to pull our wire back through. For our 12 volt power supply for the brake controller we are going to install a 40 amp breaker for that. The kit comes with three circuit breakers. We will always only use two depending on the type of brake controller and what is needed. In this case we are going to use a 30 amp circuit breaker which is the max that you can use for the Prodigy brake controller. This is our second piece of wire where we ran our wire on the first run. Normally we would have enough extra but since the vehicle is so long we outsourced another length of wire. We have got about nine feet here. We will make our connections for our battery first and then route our wire back to the brake controller. We will start off by splitting our wire sheath in half. We will have our black wire going to the circuit breaker and battery and we will have our white wire going directly to ground. On the gray port from the sheath to here, that is going to go to the brake controller and this other half of the wire is going to go to the circuit breaker and battery. The other half of the wire coming out the circuit breaker, again we will put the small ring terminal on there. On the other half going to our battery we will put a large ring terminal on there. Lets hook these wires up to the circuit breaker, the black wire coming from the brake controller will go to the silver terminal. On the copper side we will run our lead that goes to our battery. For our ground wire we are going to use a larger ring terminal because our mount on our battery is going to be a little bit bigger than a standard. We will use an extra ring terminal we outsourced. We have got our connections ready to go. We are going to save our battery connection itself for very last. Lets route our wire going out to our brake controller next. 07:59

Now we are going to take our pull wire like we did last time and pull this wire back to the same grommet. The first thing we are going to do is start cutting our wires to equal length. We will start with our white wire for the connections. This goes to blue on our 7-pole out back. So on our wire harness coming out from our brake controller here. We will keep it simple and connect the blue wire to white. We have got that one wire done, now lets cut back the gray sheath on our power wire for our brake controller. For our brake controller again we are going to use black and white wires and we are going to match them up color for color. By the way we are using the butt connectors that came with the ETBC7 kit. We have got three wires hooked up, now we have got the remaining red wire. What happens to that one is that one gets connected to the cold side of the brake switch inside the vehicle itself. What we are going to do for now is run some tape over our wires and make everything nice and neat so it is not a big mess. We are going to wrap it up so much and then leave the red wire out maybe about just under a foot and then we will continue on wrapping up the rest of the wires. Now we have got our harness done, now what we are going to do is go up to our brake switch which is located under the brake pedal and we are going to find the cold side of the brake switch. We tested for the wire. It looks like the white wire on the end is the one we need. Make a connection to the wire. You can cut the wire and use a butt connector and hook up to it that way or in this case we are going to use a good old simple quick splice and we are going to slide it over the wire that we want to tap into and then we will slide our red wire right next to it. We will make our connections with some pliers on the metal part. Squeeze it down tight and then you shift the lid over the top. Now we have got our metal bracket for our brake controller. We can put it in a variety of positions. The main thing that you want to make sure is that the brake controller is pointing in a straight line from front to rear and a little bit of left and right, not too much, just a little bit, and you can go about 70 degrees up and about 30 degrees down. That is about the best operating positions for it. I think down low on this flat part of plastic will probably be your best choice and then we are going to run the screw into the plastic using the provided hardware that came with the brake controller. First run the screws into the brake controller. They do thread but they have a lot of resistance so it is a good idea to start them a little and then back them off. Leaving it loose we will hook the wiring harness to the back of the brake controller. Then we will take our wiring harness and zip tie it to the under side as needed to get everything out of the way. We have got our brake controller installed, lets go back to the battery and hook up the power wires for the brake controller. For the ground for the brake controller, it is best to put it to the battery itself however it is kind of a pain to hook this wire up to the back side of this through the ring terminal because you will have to cut out some of the insulation and it kind of makes a big hassle so we are going to use a battery lead to accomplish that. It replaces this part with this part and then we can have multitude of attachments here. In this case it is going to be our ground. Our positive side already has that attached so we do not have to worry about that side. All you have to do is push them out. Sometimes it helps to pry with a screwdriver to get them started and then pull out with a pair of pliers. Then we will push that back into place. Lets go over to the positive side and we will loosen that up and hook up all of our positive leads. We will start with our one pre-existing wire. We will hook up our other two remaining power wires. Getting back to the ground connection we will reconnect that to the battery and to this post we will install our ground wire. We will go back to our brake controller and check for power. It looks like we have got a couple of dots so that means we have got good power. With that, that will finish our install of part number of part number ETBC7 and of Prodigy brake controller 90185 from Tekonsha.


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