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Trailer Brake Controller Installation - 2001 Nissan Xterra

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How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller on a 2001 Nissan Xterra

Today on this 2001 Nissan Xterra we're going to install part number 90195 from Tekonsha, the P3 brake controller. To install our brake controller we're also going to use part number ETBC7 to install it, and we're going to work with that part number first. We're going to take the seven pole adapter and connect that to the gray cable in the kit. We'll use the butt connector to make our connections, and we'll use the color code as follows: We're going to go black to black, and white to blue. Our black wire will be used for our 12 volt power supply going out to the seven pole connector, and our blue wire will be our brake controller output. Now that blue wire is going to change from blue to white and then it will go back to blue eventually at the brake controller.

We'll go ahead and tape our wires up and we'll also use the loom material that comes with it to help protect the wires and make it look nice. Now we're going to need an extra bracket to mount this to our hitch on our vehicle. The bracket we're going to use is part number 18159. This bracket is designed to work with square or round hitches. In this case, we've got a round hitch to deal with so we're going to go ahead and cut out along the marks on the inside of the bracket to make it fit a round hitch.

Now we'll go ahead and take our wires and thread it through the bracket. Then we'll go ahead and use the hardware that comes with the ETBC7 kit to attach it to our bracket. Now it's a good idea to drill out the holes first before we install our hardware since the hardware won't fit in the holes already drilled in the bracket. Then we'll go ahead and install the hardware. We'll install the bolts from the outside to the inside.

Then we'll install the nuts on the inside of the bracket. Now, two of the bolts will be really hard to get to, to get the nuts started. So, as a tech tip, we're going to use a magnetic pick-up tool to actually hold the nut for us while we thread it into place. OK. At this point we've got our seven pole connector and our bracket connected together.

We'll go ahead and attach it to the hitch. The bracket comes with a clamp that we'll run around the hitch and through the bracket. Then we'll tighten it down. We'll cut off the excess part of the clamp and tuck it inside the bracket. Now we'll go ahead and connect our four pole from our seven pole connector to the pre-existing four pole on our vehicle. We'll go ahead and use some dielectric grease to help protect the pins and the contacts. We'll tape it together and also use a zip tie to help make it a semi-permanent connection. Then we'll go ahead and route our wire over the spare tire over to the passenger side. Once we're over to the passenger side, we'll go ahead and take the white wire with the ring terminal and run that to the body underneath. That will be our ground. Then we'll go ahead and zip tie the wire as best we can to the hitch and anything else behind the bumper. Then we'll go ahead and run our gray wire up towards the front of the vehicle towards the battery. We're going to run our wire along the frame and also along the parking brake cable going up to the front, and we'll zip tie as we need to secure the wire. Now when we run it to the engine compartment, we'll go ahead and keep the wire hidden behind the heat shield. Then we'll run it up the side of the firewall and zip tie as need to keep it in place. We'll take our gray cable and route it up to the battery. Now at this point we can tell we're not going to have enough cable to go from the battery to the brake controller eventually. We're going to take the covering from the gray cable and strip it back the rest of the length starting by the circuit breaker and working our way towards the end of the cable. With the gray sheath removed from the wires, we'll go ahead and leave them alone for now, and then we'll install our circuit breakers. We're going to install a 40 amp circuit breaker and our 20 amp circuit breaker. The 30 amp breaker in the ETBC7 kit will not be used. So, our black wire, we'll go ahead and run it to the circuit breaker, our 40 amp, and we're running it to the silver post on the breaker, and then the copper post will eventually be ran to the battery. So we'll make our connections to the circuit breaker and run it to the positive posts of the battery, but we will not make an electrical connection to the battery yet. We'll save that for last. Now our white wire, we're going to run that over the top of the engine compartment over to the drivers side. Now well leave the wire alone for there and were going to locate the grommet were going to eventually push the wires through. We're going to use a screwdriver to make a hole in the grommet and then use a piece of airline tubing to help pull our wires through. Now there'll be three wires that will be going through. There will be our white wire that we just pulled over. We're going to pull that through the grommet, and then we're going to get an additional length of the gray cable, and the part number for the extra length of cable will be etbcxw. We're going to combine that with the white wire and pull that through our grommet. We'll go ahead and pull all three wires through the grommet and to the inside of the vehicle. Now we'll go ahead and take the remaining part of our cable that's in the engine compartment and run it back over to our battery. We're going to run it through the 20 amp circuit breaker just like we did before. The wire that will go to the brake controller will go to the silver post and then the rest of the wire from the copper post will go to the battery. And once again, we'll put it in on the wire, but we will not connect it to the battery. And, our white wire will eventually go to the negative side of the battery for ground. Next we'll go ahead and take that cable and zip ties and we'll secure it to the firewall. Now we'll go back inside the vehicle and get underneath the dashboard on the drivers side. At this point we're going to look for our brake signal. We're going to follow the brake pedal up to the brake switch and test our wires. Now our brake wire looks like a light brown color with a red stripe and silver bands. We'll use a quick splice connector from the ETBC7 kit to make our connection. Now the wire that we're going to connect to our brake light switch is going to be the wire harness from our brake controller. Now we'll go ahead and connect the rest of our wires from our brake controller harness. We'll start off with our blue wire. That's going to be hooked up to our single white wire that was ran to the seven pole connector connected to blue, and the other two wires still in the gray cable we'll hook up color for color; white to white and black to black. We'll use the supplied butt connectors to make our connection and then go ahead and tape them up. Now I'm going to take our brake controller bracket and mount it to the bottom of the dash. The two screws that come with it will go right into the plastic and hold it secure. And then we'll take two machine screws that come with the brake controller and we'll attach the brake controller to the bracket. Once those two screws are started we'll go ahead and tighten them down for good and then we'll get underneath the dash one more time and zip tie our wires up and make sure they are safe and out of the way. Now we'll go back to the battery on the vehicle and we'll make up our final connections. Our two black wires will go to the positive side of the battery and we'll go ahead and trim the cap on the terminal to make room for our wires. And, then our lone white wire, that will go to the negative side of the battery, and we're going to use an extra nut to hold it in place. We're going to use a 6 mm with a 1.0 thread pitch and that's going to be part number 185916. With all the connections made, we'll go ahead and take a look at the brake controller. Now we should see a red indication that says no trailer hooked up. Now we'll go ahead and plug the trailer into the vehicle we'll notice how it changes. You can see the screen will show a truck and a trailer icon so we know we have a good connection. Now we'll go ahead and move the manual override to make sure that works and we can see how the numbers go up in value. And, then we'll go ahead and push on the brake pedal. That will give us a small number, in this case a little over two, and it looks like we've got signal from our brake pedal. So with our initial tests, it looks like our brake controller is ready to go. And, with that, that will finish it for our install of part number 90195, the Prodigy P3 brake controller on our 2001 Nissan Xterra.

Questions and Comments about this Video


I love etrailer, but this is by far the most confusing write-up I have ever read. It could be replaced by one simple diagram.

Info for these parts were:

Employee Mike H
Video Edited:
Mike H
Employee Sue W
Video Edited:
Sue W
Employee Dustin K
Video by:
Dustin K
Employee Shane T
Test Fit:
Shane T

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