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Redarc Tow-Pro Elite Trailer Brake Controller Installation - 2011 Ford Explorer

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How to Install the Redarc Tow-Pro Elite Trailer Brake Controller on a 2011 Ford Explorer

Narrator Today on our 2011 Ford Explorer, we're going to be taking a look at, and showing you how to install the Red Arc tow pro elite proportional Trailer Brake Controller. And to help us with the installation, we're also going to be using the universal mounting panel, part number 331-TPSI-001. And also the Decondra plug-in wiring adapter for trailer brake controllers. Part number 3035-P. Now the really big benefits of this brake controller is the fact that we can virtually mount it anywhere. The main part of it is gonna be hidden under the dash, so we're not gonna have to worry about those big boxes.

And we're not going to have a restriction on how it mounts. We can mount it in any direction under the dash. And so long as the cable will reach the knob, we can mount the knob just about anywhere in our vehicle. So here's what our brake controller looks like once we have it installed. This is going to be a lot smaller and more compact than most brake controllers, 'cause all we're gonna have is this small dial with a light on it, rather than having a huge box that we're stuck mounting underneath our desk somewhere, where we potentially could hit our knees.

Our brake controller is gonna be a proportional one. So that means that, however we apply the brakes in our Explorer, it's gonna match that so that our trailer can work together with our Explorer. So if we ease into a stop, it'll ease the brakes on our trailer. However, if we go into a panic stop and slam on the brakes, it's going to apply them very quickly and aggressively. The way we're gonna adjust our breaks, is we're gonna have this dial, and it is numbered.

And you can see, with my foot on the brake, if I turn the knob up, it's gonna go from a blue color to a red color. Now, down a lower scale of things from zero to five, it's gonna be that bluish kind of-- Turning into a purple color. And the higher we get, it's going to turn red, letting us know, it isn't gonna be applying them with a lot more force, and a lot more aggressively. And if we push on the button, that's going to be our manual override, like most brake controllers. So if we get into a time where our trailer start swaying and we need to slow it down, we can just reach over, and push the button.

Now one thing that this brake controller is gonna have that a lot of them are not, it is going to have a feature called user control mode. So when our light is blue, it's going to be in proportional mode. And again, it's going to match our Explorer. But if we ever go off-roading, or we get into situation where we just want our brakes to work exactly how we set them, and not so much ease in, or follow what our vehicle's doing, we can turn our dial all the way to zero, we're gonna hold our break down, and we're going to quickly tap the manual override twice. And we're going to release our break, and you'll notice the light turned green. Now what this is going to do, whatever we have our breaks set at, when we apply our breaks, it's gonna automatically send that exact amount of braking power to our trailer. We're not gonna have a slow sweep in, or a building up, it's just going to apply that amount, right away. And again, when it would be good to have that kind of control, is when you're going off-roading, or going down a lot of hills, or times where you need to have the vehicle slowing down, but you don't want the trailer to slow down so much. But, keep in mind you will want to monitor this a lot. Because again, however we have it set, the brakes are coming on at that exact amount right away. They're not going to build in, it's just going to have that pressure automatically. To switch back to proportional mode, it's going to be the same way. We're going to turn the dial all the way to zero, hold our brakes, and give it a quick double tap, and we'll have a blue light, letting us know it's back in proportional mode. Now to get your brake controller installed, you are gonna need a working seven pole on the back of your Explorer. And you can find a lot of different wiring options here at So now that we've seen what our brake controller looks like, and going over some of the features, let's show you how to get it installed. To begin installation, we're going to find the spot that we want to mount our brake controller. In our application, we're going to be mounting it right below this panel right here, right below these buttons. Now since we're using the bezel, I wanna to make sure that we have enough room for everything behind there. So I'm going to pull this panel off, so we can see and make sure that there's going to be room and we're not going to damage anything behind that panel there. So we just come to the bottom here, and kinda get a finger underneath it. But if you can't get enough, you're gonna take a trim panel tool, you're just gonna come, and get behind the panel. That's gonna be held in by a few clips, and we'll just work our way towards the top, popping those loose. We'll go ahead and set the panel aside, and reach in and double check that there's not gonna be anything interfering underneath. Now there is gonna be a plug for these buttons that are right here. So you want to make sure you go down far enough, that you're not going to cause any problems. Right in this general area, would be a good spot to mount it. With the bezel, they are going to provide you with a template, so we can tape it right to the dash. Once we get it where we want it to be, and then we'll know exactly where we need to drill. So we're going to take a little bit of electrical tape, and tape my template to the dash. Now on the template, we're going to have two marks that we're going to want to drill out. Now, the instructions are in metric, and they're gonna tell us to drill a four millimeter hole. But typically we're not going to have metric drill bits. So you're gonna wanna grab a 5-30 seconds steel bit, and that'll be about as close as we can get to that size. So we're gonna drill two pilot holes, go right in the center. And then we're gonna go right above that, where the other mark is. Two pilot holes drilled out, we can remove the template, and we're going to use the lower one to cut a 25 millimeter hole, or again, a one inch hole. And it's typically easiest to use a hole saw. So lining up our hole saw with our first pilot hole on the bottom. And you're going to wanna take your time, and try to make it as clean cut as you can. With the hole going through the dash, we can come back and clean up any of this excess plastic around the edge. The bezels are also gonna come with a couple little foam pieces that are pre cut out. And just take the back thing off, and they'll stick right to the bezel. And that's gonna help to make sure that it sits nice and flush against the dash, 'case there's any curves. But we'll take our bezel, making sure that that little dot is on the top, and it'll read trailer brake. And I'll put it in the hole. Make sure that it pushes all the way in, and it's nice and snug. So now we can grab the main unit. Now we're going to have two plugs that we're going to be plugging wires into. On one end, it's going to look kind of like a phone jack. And on the other end we're gonna have a four pin connector. So we'll grab our wires before we get everything in place, we'll grab the four pin connector. Line it up, make sure it locks into place. And then on the other end, we're gonna take the straight cable end, and plug it in, make sure it locks into place as well. Since we can mount this unit, just about anywhere in any orientation, we're gonna be mounting ours right in this pocket, since there's plenty of room, and plenty of things to secure it to. So we're going to take our four wires, we're just going to feed them down through the bottom of the dash, so that we can meet up with the connections we need to make later on. Just feed those down. And if we need to, we can always reach up and grab all of the extra wires. We're just going to leave those at the bottom of the dash for now. And the phone jack looking cable, we're going to leave out, because eventually that's going to get connected here. But again, we want to make this as easy as we can for ourselves. So now we just need to find a secure spot to mount the box inside of here. Now, there's a couple of things that we can do. We can mount it in any direction we want, but it needs to be a secure mounting point. We don't want to mount it to wires, to where it's going to be moving around when we're driving. So we can mount it any direction, but it needs to be a solid mount. So I'm just gonna tuck it behind these wires. Now I'm gonna do my best to wrap a couple of long zip ties going around this support here, and coming back. So it's gonna be nice and secure against that metal bracket. So this took a couple of zip ties and I did tie my box to this frame support at the back of the dash. And I will say it was rather difficult to get the zip tie to go around. So, the easiest way to do it is if you kind of bend the zip tie before you put it around it, and then you can actually reach from underneath the dash, and help guide it back up. So now that we have this all the way secure and it's not going to be moving around, and we know that our bezel or plate here fits in the hole nicely, we're gonna reach in behind the bezel. And you're going to wanna squeeze the tabs on the side. And that'll release it, because we're going to have to pull this back out. So it makes it a little bit easier to put the actual switch in place. So we can grab our switch, and you want to make sure that the dial is turned all the way counterclockwise. And you'll notice that we're going to have a little clear plastic piece on top. That's going to line up with the small hole. So we're going to take our mounting plate, we're going to slide everything together, and it's gonna fit kind of loose at first. But we're going to come back. With the mounting nut, and you want to make sure that the threads and the cylinder end, is going in towards the switch. I'll slide it over. I'm just gonna make sure this is nice and snug, by hand. Again, making sure that dial's all the way counterclockwise. We'll grab the actual knob itself, you'll notice there's gonna be several numbers written on there. You want to find the zero. And we're gonna want to line up that zero, with the small plastic circle on the top, or get it as close as you can. Line it up, once you have it close, you sort of push that dial on. That way when it's on top, that'll be our reading. So we know it's all the way to the left. So it should be zero. Now, if you're having trouble getting it lined up, or you put it on, and it's not exactly where you think it should be, then simply just kinda work that dial back and forth, while you're pulling outward. And we can remove it again, and line it up as best we can. So with our switch assembled, we're going to take that phone cable, or what looks like a phone cable, and we're going to pass it through the hole that we drilled in our dash. You're gonna have to kind of reach behind, and help guide it through. Pull the excess slack out. So we have plenty of room to work. And then if we look on the back of the switch, you can see that it's gonna have that same plug. So we'll line it up, plug it in, make sure it locks into place. Gonna wanna take the excess cable and push it into the inside of the dash, making sure we have our switch in the upright position. Then I'll feed our switch into the dash. Push it in until that locks in place. You just make sure you push it firmly in place, because little ears will spring out, and lock it into place. We're gonna take a few zip ties, and we're gonna tie up all the excess wire back on the inside of this panel, and replace that panel. Line up the tabs, we just push it back in place. Now we can get ready to hook up the remaining wires. Now the four wires we're gonna have left. We're gonna have a blue, black, a red and a white wire. Our blue wire, is going to be our brake output, which is going to send the signal back to our seven way. That's going to eventually go to our trailer. Our black wire, is going to be our power for our brake controller. All right now red wire, is gonna be our brake switch wire, it's going to let the brake controller know when the brakes are activated. Finally, we're gonna have our white wire, which is going to be our ground. Now fortunately for us, our Ford Explorer already has a plug under the dash that has all these wires already there for us. This is gonna be right by the hood release, just under the dash. It's gonna be this gray plug right here. It's got a few pins on the inside. So since we already have that plug, we're gonna be using the adapter that would go for a brake controller. However, it doesn't have the right plug on the brake controller end. So, we're just going to cut that plug off and use a few buck connectors, to connect this end, to our brake controller wires. And you just take some cutters, and cut each one of the wires. And when the end of the connector's cut off, when you go in and strip back each one of the wires. And then on the each end of one of my wires, I'm going to take a block connector. Then I'm using heat shrink block connectors just 'cause it's going to provide a little bit better protection for the connection there. We'll slide it over our wire, we'll crump them in place. Now the wires in the end of our brake controller are all going to be stripped, so we can pull back the little bit of insulation that is there, and we can start making our connections. Now we're going to want to match these up color for color. So we'll crump our red wire into the other red wire, blue wire into the blue, and so forth. I'm gonna be using a heat gun to shrink down my connectors, and if you are using an open flame like a lighter or torch, you just wanna be extremely careful not to burn or char the connector or the wires. So we can take our connector, we're gonna line it up. We'll plug it right into that factory port under the dash. And just to make sure that our brake controller is working, if we push on it, we can see the light's gonna come on. So we know we are getting power here. So we can go ahead and tidy up our wires and tuck all the excess under the dash. And then we'll hook up our tester, to make sure our brake controller's sending out the right signal. I got my tester hooked up. Now what we're gonna be watching for, is the brake current and voltage. Whenever I hit the manual override button, on the brake controller, you'll see that sweeping up and down. Now you will notice as soon as we get done and we had everything hooked up, our brake control's gonna be flashing blue and green. That's because it's figuring out the direction of travel of our vehicles, so it's going to need to calibrate itself. So, with or without the trailer hooked up, we can get it calibrated. We're just gonna need to move the vehicle around so that they can figure out the direction of travel. You're just wanna drive around, hit the brakes, so that it can sense the direction that we're going. Whenever the calibration is complete, we'll have a solid blue light whenever our trailer's hooked up. That'll finish up your look at the Red Arc tow pro elite proportional trailer brake controller..

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