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Brake Buddy Select 3 Portable Supplemental Braking System Installation - 2021 Ford Ranger

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How to Install the Brake Buddy Select 3 Portable Supplemental Braking System on a 2021 Ford Ranger


Hey everybody, Ryan here at etrailer. Today on our 2021 Ford Ranger, we're gonna be taking a look at and showing you how to install the Brake Buddy Select 3 portable braking system. But before we do that, why don't we kinda just run through the five main components that we're gonna need to actually pull our Ranger down the road. The first one is indeed going to be the base plate, and that's gonna provide us with a solid and reliable connection point, that way we can hook our tow bar up to it. And this tow bar is gonna be the second component and it's gonna be the physical link that actually connects the front of your Ranger to the back of your RV. The third main component is going to be safety cables and these are pretty straightforward these are they're in the event of an unlikely disconnect.

These are gonna keep everything connected together. The fourth main component is going to be tow bar wiring. And what this is gonna do is transfer the lighting signals from the back of your motor home to the back of your truck, not only keeping you safe, but legal as well. And last but not least the fifth main component is going to be a braking system, and what this is gonna do is apply the brakes in your Ford whenever you hit the brakes in your motor home helping to bring you to a more complete and predictable stop. So this right here is a system and how it's gonna work is it's just gonna sit on your floorboard, hook up to your brake pedal and you'll simply just plug in one wire.

So set up is easy, relatively compact design and it's super light, that saying don't really have a ton of weight to it so anyone should be able to manage it and set these thing up and it sizes to the handle actually folds in and it doesn't take up a ton of space. There's bags available for this too so you kinda keep everything together, and storage is key when you're over the road, you don't have a ton of room to put stuff so this being compact really is convenient to help free up that space. So one thing I did notice with the Ranger in particular is the adjustment for the Break Buddy, cause you need this to sit in there nice and level. And so there are some feet on the bottom that are adjustable. So the first couple times you set this up you might have to play with it a little bit and kinda play with the seat adjustments to make sure everything fits in there nice and tight.

But once you got it figured out, you don't have to readjust these. You can leave them this way and that way the next time you go to flat tow, you can drop it in, adjust your seat and call it a day. Now we do go into more depth on how to set it up and everything else like that here in a moment but just wanted to kinda paint the picture for you. It fits in here pretty well, and the way it's gonna work is whenever you apply the brakes in your motor home the Brake Buddy is gonna sense it and apply the brake pedal. Now, as far as what's happening back here we do have a screen and some settings that we can adjust and it's just kinda telling you what's going on and everything else but we're also gonna have the capability to do that in the motor home, which is what myself and a lot of other customers prefer to do anyway, but it's nice to have that option back here as well.

But something that is really nice about this setup is the fact that you can use it as a proportional type braking system. And that's just really gonna help make your driving experience a little bit better and your stopping power a little more predictable. So what proportional means is however hard you apply the brakes in the motor home, it's going to match that backing your towed vehicle in the truck. So to kinda give you an example elaborate on how that's gonna work. Let's just say for maybe kinda rolling up to a stoplight, so we're halfway on the brake pedal a little bit. The braking system is gonna apply the brake in the Ranger at the same rate. On the other hand, let's say, if we're on the interstate and maybe there's an accident up ahead or something like that an emergency and we really have to stand on that brake pedal and come to a fast stop, the Rangers gonna do the same thing. So overall kinda gives you a little more confidence whenever you're going down the road. One nice feature too, is that this system gives us the ability to change over to full braking power as well. And what's gonna happen if you use that is no matter how hard you hit the brake in the motor home whether it be lightly or pushed all the way down it's going to apply the Rangers brakes at full power. A couple of scenarios I could think of where you may wanna use that is maybe if you we're towing in very hilly terrain where it's a lot of ups and downs and you want that power at all times to help kinda keep that truck behind your motor home, or maybe you have a relatively small motor home pulling a decent sized pickup. That might be another case for maybe just personal preference, everyone's a little bit different what you're comfortable with, maybe you've experienced that in the past and that's kinda what you like and are used to. So it's just really nice, even if you don't use it it's really nice to have it and not need it than the other way around. And it's super easy to change all we have to do is more or less push a button on the remote here inside the motor home. So with that said, why don't we check the remote out. And pretty simple stuff here, so I talked about that breaking mode, so you can see it there, if you push a button around proportional if you do wanna change it to full, just change it to full and that's really all there is to it. We're gonna be able to adjust the breaking sensitivity. So seven being extremely sensitive, one being the least sensitive. What I like to do is start somewhere in the middle three or four kinda drive it around if you feel like the breaking power is too aggressive or something like that you can always dial it down a little bit. If it's not coming on strong enough, turn it up. So kinda have to play with it and find that sweet spot but it's easy enough to do. Up here we're gonna have some information to whenever we are breaking, now green that we're not moving now but whenever you are driving and towing and hit the brakes this will illuminate kinda telling you, hey, we got some braking power going on in the vehicle. And then of course there's one more thing here called the breakaway emergency. So if the breakaway pin is pulled so in the event of an unlikely disconnect what's gonna happen is the braking system in the truck is going to turn it on help bring it to a stop and this'll alert you up here that, hey you had a disconnect if you didn't already figure that out. So I did mention that breakaway switch and so I just kinda wanted to touch base on it a little bit, really simple. This is it right here and what you would do every time you hook up you'd take the tether, put it around that key ring and hook the other end of this tether up to the hitch on your motor home. So if you we're to come separated, very unlikely but things do happen. What happens is this pin would get pulled out and activate the braking system. So at the end of the day a nice breaking system that really does work well with the Ranger. Now, as far as the installation goes, really not too bad only a few things you have to hook up really your breakaway switch, the included battery charger and just a couple of wires. So really straightforward and shouldn't take you a whole lot of time. Speaking of which let's go ahead, pull it into the garage and hook it up together now. So to begin our installation, the first component that we're gonna hook up for our Break Buddy portable braking system is he charge line and we need to mount up the main portion of it, and we're gonna do that under the hood, so pop the hood and the area that we're gonna be working with, is over here on the driver's side kinda just behind our headlight. So behind our headlight, I mounted up the main body of the charger. And pretty simple there's a couple of holes in that main body and I simply just drilled a couple of small holes in the core support there. When you're doing that make sure there's nothing behind there that you can hit. And then I just used a couple of zip ties to secure it and it's nice and sturdy, not going anywhere. Now we can focus on getting the wires hooked up. So we're gonna have three wires coming off it, a black one, a white one, and a red one. The red one will eventually run down to the front of our truck at the six way connector. The black and white wire are gonna kind of run towards the back. Black one is gonna go to the positive battery terminal, the white one is gonna go to the ground on our chassis. So we'll just start with the white one, I simply just routed that up, along through here and it's gonna have a pre-attached ring terminal. In the ground that we're going to hook it to, it's kinda tricky to get to and it is a little difficult to pull the whole bolt out to get our ring terminal around it. So what we're gonna do to avoid that and this is perfectly fine, we're just gonna take a pair of snips and kinda cut small opening in that ring terminal that way we can just kind of sneak it behind the head of the bolt. So we'll go just big enough to get it behind there. So, right here is a bolt that we're gonna use to connect our ground. I'm gonna take a 13 millimeter wrench and like we talked about just loosen it up some just amount that we're able to get the ring terminal slid behind it and go ahead and keep backing it off. Now you can probably see what I mentioned how tight it is right here. I feel like it just makes more sense to do it this way as opposed to having to pull that whole thing out probably be tricky to get back in but now that we have it loose enough you can just kinda slide it behind there. Then we'll just go ahead and tighten that bolt back down. As far as the black wire goes that's gonna go to the positive battery terminal so I just kinda routed that long through here where it comes up right here. This one's also gonna have her pre-attached ring terminal, except this time we're not gonna have to worry about cutting it or anything like that. If we lift up our cover, we're gonna have several studs that we can use. I like to use this on here because there's nothing else connected to it no fuses or anything like that so I feel like it's a perfect candidate. So what we're gonna do is take a 10 millimeter socket and remove that nut completely. I'm just going to slide that ring terminal over it, then tighten it up back down. Now all that's left is our red wire which is gonna need to get connected to the back of our six way plug. Now something I wanna mention since we are hooked up the ground and in battery power the end of this wire can potentially be hot. So unless you pull the fuse out of it we're gonna have power down here. Not really a big deal, instead of messing with that fuse all I did was just put some electrical tape on the end that way when we're routing this, we don't bump into metal and short anything out or anything like that. So something that I definitely wanted to mention with that said let's kinda go back up top where the red wire comes out of our main body and I'll show you how I got it down to this area. So here's our red wire coming out on the main body there and I just kinda looped it around back that way, that way if you ever do have to change a fuse or anything we can have a little bit more wire to work with, but with that said, the wire is gonna run this way and kinda drop down through that opening underneath our vehicle where we can simply just push it into the open grill area where our six way is located. So I loosen up the connector plug here's our red wire where it comes down. What you wanna do is run up behind your bracket, then we'll remove our rubber dust cover there run it through that as well, and the terminal that we're gonna be hooking that up to will be the one there in the center. That way when our motor home sends power through it that 12 volt power will run through our charger, through the fuse and maintain our Rangers battery. So I'll loosen up that set screw there to get it ready and then strip back the insulation and then we can place that into the terminal and tighten that set screw back down. Now that it is hooked up you can take the rubber dust cover, put it back over. What you can do is apply some dielectric grease to the terminals to help prevent any corrosion things like that. And when you push this over you can always seal it up real well with some tape. What I like to do is wait until I have my whole flat tow setup complete and verify that everything's working properly because in the past we've come across a small issue or something and you try to fix it and this would be covered in grease and kinda just be a hassle. So here I usually wait till the very end to do that, but for now we can simply just mount our connector plug back up. Now what we need to do is mount up our breakaway switch which is this component here. And over on the passenger side there's actually gonna be kind of a steel bracket right from the factory which is this here and there's actually a pre drilled hole in it already. And so what I did to mount up the breakaway switch is just using nut and bolt there on the back and simply just connected it through that bracket. Once you have it bolted there, I mean it puts it in a perfect spot where it's easy to get to and very secure. Once you have that done we can get the two wires routed up inside of our vehicle their is gonna be a red one and a black one coming off the back of the breakaway switch as you can see there. Now to route those wires I simply just kind of ran them along kind of behind our bumper there. And once it gets to about this point you can start to run them up kind of behind our headlight, and this is where they're gonna come up, and we'll just continue to run those along the side of our battery. And once he gets about this point this area you just wanna kinda sit tight for a second. Since these are gonna have to get routed to the inside of our truck, we might as well hook up the other wires that we need too out here, that also need to go inside that way we only have to route wires through the firewall into the interior for truck one time. So one of those wires is gonna come with the kit it's gonna be the long red wire with the fuse hold in it. It's gonna have a ring terminal on there, and before you hook this up we're gonna pull the fuse out of the holder. You'll put that back in once everything has been hooked up and installed, but you're simply just gonna remove this nut using a 10 millimeter, slide over the ring terminal and tighten it back down. So that red wire though. Gonna close this up. That red wire is just gonna kinda run along through here and again when you get to about this point, just sit tight we'll hook up one more wire and then we can push all inside of our truck. So the other wire is going to be a ground wire. And I simply just used a piece of white wire that I had laying around and decided to ground it out here that way I have all of my grounds hooked up to one spot. But what I've done is just crimped on a ring terminal, backed off that bolt using a 13 millimeter, slid it behind there and tying it back down. So now we're gonna have our white ground wire, our red and black wire from our breakaway switch as well as the red power wire that's going to our positive battery terminal. And all these are gonna run straight through into a grommet which will allow us to get inside of our vehicle. So now moving inside of the vehicle we can get our wires through the firewall. They're gonna be over here on the driver's side, kinda underneath the dash up against the back of our firewall. So if we look along the firewall where the bundle of factory wires goes through if you kinda just peel that, that sound deadening material back a little bit, you'll see a grommet you can simply just poke a hole in that grommet. And then that's where we're able to pass all of our wires through here to the inside of our Ranger. So here's our wires and these are gonna get connected to this bundle of wire that has the port on it the four way port which will allow you to use that tether to go from here to the Brake Buddy system itself. If you look at the black wire coming from our harness that's gonna get connected to the red wire that goes to our positive battery terminal. So this is the one that has a fuse holder in it that we attached to the battery. The red wire from the harness, that's gonna get connected to the red wire from our breakaway switch and the brown wire from the harness is gonna get connected to the black wire from the breakaway switch. I made all those connections using some butt connectors which I do suggest picking up. You can grab them here at etrailer that way you can get everything properly paired. The white wire that's gonna get connected to that white wire that we ran that goes to the ground. And with that said, our harness here is gonna run to our port where we can plug in it. So you want this easily accessible. And I chose to mount ours here on the driver's side kick panel that way it's out of the way, but easy to get to. And I just use some self tapping screws to screw those into the panel. And I also just use some two-sided sticky tape as well just to kinda give it a little bit of extra. Sometimes these panels are kind of flimsy and so by adding that tape there, kinda just keeps it a little more secure. So now that we have all our wires and things like that hooked up, now we can set up our Brake Buddy unit itself and the brake pedal clamp. So this is pretty forward, this lever here when it's in the unlock position you're able to adjust this and when you lock it it's gonna clamp down tight. And what you want to do is spin this, that's gonna open up the gap. In our case the Rangers brake pedal is relatively narrow so I've got it pretty much closed almost all the way, there's still several threads there. But what you're gonna do is then just simply put that around the brake pedal so it just fits right over it. And then you're gonna kinda hold it like so and turn that lever. And when you turn that lever, it's gonna lock it on there and you want it to be nice and tight. You don't really need to use use all your energy as hard as you can to lock it in place as long as it's snug and on there good that's what we're looking for. Now we can set up our main unit here. I've already done this and it's just gonna be way easier to understand and see out of the vehicle as opposed to down on the floorboard, trying to explain this. So first thing you need to check is the end here. If this attachment isn't threaded onto this rode already you just need to screw it on really not a big deal just to make sure it is in this position where the hole here will be on the sides and not up and down. And then if you flip this over we're gonna have some feet and these are adjustable, and the way you can unlock them, if you just turn them and you unlock them then you can make those adjustments turn it back and it locks it into place. So when you're doing this, what we're trying to achieve is when the unit is sitting on the floorboard you're gonna want the arm to be straight at the brake pedal that way when this comes out it's going to depress our Rangers brake pedal straight on, so not way up here at an angle or anything like that. So what I've done is got that adjusted and keep in mind every setup can be just a little bit different but this should get you in the ballpark at least. The back ones I don't have any adjustment at all they're ran all the way in. And then as far as these go we have anywhere from there's six over here on this side and eight over here on this side. And so with it like this it's pretty much spot on once we get it in there and actually start operating it, we can kinda fine tune that adjustment a little bit if we need to. So with that set up, you're just gonna simply set the unit on the floorboard, make sure the handle is flipped up, push your seat up as close as you can to it. You don't wanna really force it cause then the unit will move forward and push your brake so just get as close as you can. Then down here is where it's gonna attach to our brake pedal clamp. So you can see there's two holes, hole there and hole on the clamp. What you're gonna do is take this pin push it through them, and we gonna take the clip, and you push that through and that's gonna lock everything together. So now what you can do is take the connector here plug the gray end into the Brake Buddy system, the black end will go into our port there. When we plug this in, you will hear the system kick on. System has power and now it's building vacuum. We'll give that a second and what we're gonna do is hit that button and that's gonna bleed the brakes and check for air things like that. Something I wanna mention, I tried this out a moment ago and on the Rangers if you have a manual seat, so if you pull up on the handle or adjust it, sometimes this can kinda get behind there and lift up that lever and move your seat out of the way. So what I did was just raise the seat up as high as I could go and get it a little bit tighter that seemed to solve that issue. So it'll take you a couple of tries to kinda play with it and figure out the best spot and everything else, but once you do you really shouldn't need to make any more adjustments, but you can hit auto start that will depress the brake pedal, bleed the brakes and kinda check for those errors before you get flat towing. And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Brake Buddy Select 3 portable braking system on our 2021 Ford Ranger..


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