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Curt Echo Mobile Trailer Brake Controller Review

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Review of the Curt Echo Mobile Trailer Brake Controller

Hi there heavy haulers. Today we're going to be taking a look at Curt's Echo wireless brake controller. And what I like about this brake controller, more than anything, is how easily it is to get it installed. If you have a fully functioning seven-way, it simply plugs in and then you just download the app, install it on your phone, pair it up with the device, and you now have a functioning brake controller without having to splice in any wires, pull stuff under the dash, and potentially install additional components just so you can get a brake controller installed.And there is a few reasons why this is easier. To get your typical brake controller installed, there are four wires that go to the brake controller. You'll need power and ground to operate the controller, to get it powered up.

Some of your vehicles may have connectors inside to accommodate those and others don't, and then you have to run those wires. We got power and ground right here at our seven-way. so that's done for us.The other two wires you need for your brake controller is you need the brake input from the switch on your brake pedal, and a lot of the modern vehicles today use pedal position sensors, which send a variable voltage, which may not be compatible with a lot of the other brake controllers out there. With this one, it goes off of your brake light signals that are going through your seven-way for the lighting signals. So those are already present as well in your seven-way.

So you don't have to tap into that and potentially buy there's additional components because with those pedal position sensors, you have to purchase a stoplight switch in order to send a regular 12 volt signal. This is getting that from your lighting signals.The other thing you need is your output from the brake controller back to your seven-way. And with the Curt Echo, we actually don't even need that wire at all because the Echo is a proportional brake controller that monitors the light inputs. If you get both the left and right turn signal, the controller knows that's a brake's input from the brakes getting both of those signals come on. And then the inertia sensor inside the detects the movement of the vehicle to see if it's slowing down, and if it is, then it will send an output to the brakes to apply them.So if you don't have any of those other wires, that's a lot of stuff you have to run.

Some things go from front to back, sometimes you have to buy components. This just plugs in. So to put it simply, in order for your Curt to work, you need proper working lighting functions on your seven-way, and you need the 12 volt charge circuit on your seven-way. Then you plug the Curt in and it's good to go. In most of your seven-ways, if you've got one factory on your vehicle, it's going to have all of those right from the factory.

So it's just plug in and go.Now, if your vehicle doesn't have a fully functioning seven-way, we do have kits available here at etrailer so you can get that going. If you have no wiring whatsoever, you can get a four-pole wiring kit here at etrailer, that's going to give you all your lighting signals. And then we offer a upgrade kit to take your four-pole and turn it into a seven-way. There's two available. There's ETBC7, which is for your regular brake controller, and then there's ETBC7L, which is another kit we offer that has a few less components that aren't necessary for the Echo. It's going to help save you a little bit of money because you don't need those components. And that'll upgrade your four-pole to a seven-way that has all the necessary components for the Echo. So this doesn't exclude people that don't have a seven-way. We do have those components, but the best part is if you do have a functioning seven-way, it just plugs in and go. It's just so easy compared to any other controller.And not to show you how easy it is to get it installed. We've just pulled it out of the box. You've got your controller and you also have your strap. We're going to start by sliding the strap through the slot on the side, and we keep the little tab there facing towards the outside. That'll make it easier to connect your strap. We're just going to pull it up like that, lift up on our seven-way connector, plug the brake controller in. Once we plug it in, we can see that the light lit up, indicating that it's getting power from the truck. So we know we're good there. We'll then take our strap, we're going to wrap it around, being sure to go through the slot on the other side, and this is going to then pull this down because if you look here, there's a tab in there and there's a tab here. And when the cover is down, it prevents the brake controller from coming out. But over time, you can get some vibrations and it could just be in just the right spot where this lid opens up and this slides out of here.So the purpose of our strap is to ensure that we don't ever get a gap in between our cover here and the brake controller, so it's always going to be locked in. We'll just press one of the holes over the small ball and the other side to lock the strap in place, and now our brake controller's stuck in there and it's not coming out. We'll then plug in our trailer and we're just going to do a quick look here. We can see that the light has changed, indicating that we detect a trailer's been connected. So now we're going to go ahead and just head inside our truck and we're going to get our app paired up with our controller.With your typical brake controller, you're going to have it mounted here on the dash. And I'm a pretty tall guy, and for me having something there on the dash, I'm constantly hitting it when I'm getting in and out. Sometimes when I'm just moving around, I'm hitting it. Sometimes accidentally pressing buttons on there and changing my settings and it gets a little annoying. We don't have any wires or anything in here. The installation for the controller is completed, it's all there at the back.And another thing that's cool about the Echo is that it actually overrides any other brake controller. This truck here has a factory brake controller, but if we plug in our Echo and you try to apply any output from this brake controller, it won't pass through the Echo. The echo is the only one that's going to apply the brakes. So that's really nice and this won't also damage, it won't cause any damage to the Echo if you've got another controller and you apply the slider or anything. The Echo just knows, "Hey, I'm the one that's in control here and not any other controller."What's cool about that is if maybe you're using somebody else's truck, maybe a relative, and you're going to be hauling your trailer, something that you already got, you can go ahead and choose your profiles, plug in your Echo, and now you've got your settings, you can use your controller, the things that you're comfortable with to haul that trailer. And there's no wires we need to run through our firewall. Nothing we need to run inside. We don't have to hunt for any factory wiring that may be hidden down underneath the carpet or under the dash. It just plugs into the back. We're going to now pair our app and we're ready to go.So once you've got the app downloaded on your Android or iOS device, you can go ahead and open it up. And in a lot of cases, if this is your first time, it's going to ask you right away to pair the controller. We've already been paired with several of these that we've installed now. So just in case you somehow miss that screen, you can easily access it by hitting the three bars here at the top that opens up our menu, and then we can press, Sync devices. And that's going to open up our screen here where it shows our Echo brake controller's not connected. It's asking us if we would like to pair it with the brake controller. We do. I've already got Bluetooth turned on, so you want to make sure you have it turned on before going further. We're going to go ahead and hit, Okay.And now it's asking for the pin. The pin can be found in two different places. There is a quick start card that comes in your kit, you can find the pin on there, and you can also find the pin inside the cover of the brake controller. So I went ahead and entered in the pin and then hit, Continue. And then it said was attempting to pair, it paired pretty quickly. It only took a couple seconds here and then we got, "Pairing successful." So we're going to hit, Continue. And now we're set up.It takes you first to your profiles. You can set up the five different profiles, which is really nice if you have more than one trailer, or maybe if you have more than one vehicle because maybe you have two different vehicles you'd like to pull the same trailer with. But depending on the weight of those vehicles and the size of those vehicles, you need slightly different brake controller settings so it feels proper in those vehicles. Or again, if you have multiple trailers but you use the same truck, those trailers are likely different weights. So you can adjust the output of the brake controller for those particular trailers.So it's great for people at home, it's easy to get it set up, and you can have all these profiles, but it's also great for your commercial applications. If maybe you've got just a small company, maybe like a lawn care service, and you've got a couple of different trucks that you haul around a trailer with some stuff in, you could easily get this set up for the various trailers you have for that particular service and the various vehicles. And it's so easy to get it installed, we saw, you just plug it in. You got working seven-ways on all those different vehicles in your fleet. Just pull it out and move it to the other one for the one you're using that day, whichever one's hauling a trailer.So I've gone ahead and selected profile one here since we haven't really set anything up yet. This is what you're going to see, this is kind of the standard settings you're going to have first time. It's going to have your output set at 50 and your sensitivity set to four, and you're going to have your manual activation, which is here in the middle. This is a giant button. If we hit it, you can see it's applying the brakes and then we let off, it doesn't. So that works just like your manual slider that you'd seen your typical brake controllers. So you'll still get that functionality which is great for testing purposes. And it's also great if you have a trailer sway going on at the back, you can activate the brakes, and what that does is it causes your trailer to want to go away from your truck because it wants to go slower than your truck, that stretches you too out and it pulls you straight in align once again.The sensitivity is for our inertia sensor to determine how sensitive that sensor is detecting the movement of the trailer. The higher it is, the faster it is going to apply the brakes and the more aggressive it's going to apply them. So that's for maybe a very heavy trailer you're hauling behind you. And you can also turn that down to a lower setting if you've just got maybe an empty trailer you're hauling to go load it up.And what's cool is you can make these adjustments right here from the cab without even having to get out. And I know your normal brake controllers down there, you'd be able to do it too, but you got to reach down. With your phone you could have it right up here on the dash, on a mount, so you could easily see it, access it, make your adjustments in real time. It's really nice for the first initial setup to be able to just kind of look at things, see how it feels, and get it going for that trailer.And then we have our max output, and this is the amount of voltage that's going to apply to the brakes on your trailer. The higher the voltage, the stronger the magnet is going to be, which means it's going to apply the brakes harder. So if you want just like a light brake application, you can go down to something low, and if you wanted a harder application, you would just increase that number. And this is going to vary depending upon your truck and trailer combination, depending on how heavy your truck is, and how light your trailer is, or vice versa, you'll need to adjust those settings so that way it feels natural and smooth when you're hitting the brakes.And a new feature that they've updated here, they added a vehicle hazard light feature. Since this brake controller uses your brake light signals on the seven-way, as well as the inertia sensor to determine whether or not it needs to apply the brakes, if you are sitting on the side of the road or maybe you're getting ready to pull over onto the side of the road and you turn your hazard lights on, there is a chance that it could potentially apply the brakes as those lights pulsate. So if we hit the vehicle hazard light button here real quick, we disable the brake controller to allow us to turn on those lights, get off to the side of the road, take care of whatever we needed to. Once we've got our issues resolved, we can turn off our hazard lights, hit the button once again, and our controller's back activated and ready to go.So now we're just going to go for a little cruise here so you can see the real-time activation of the brake controller. So we're just kind of cruising at a slow speed, I'm going to go ahead and hit the brakes and we can see they apply. It shows how hard they apply and then it shows them releasing as we come to a stop. So we're going to just going to go a little faster now and then hit the brakes, a little harder, kind of like a emergency stop, and you can see it applied all the way up there. Next, I want to show we're going straight and I'm not going to press the brakes. Instead, I'm going to use our brake controller to slow us down and we're not going real fast. We're going to go ahead and hit the button and our trailer has brought us to a stop. Now we're going to go ahead and induce a sway event so we can show how applying the brakes with the manual button will straighten out the trailer.Now we do want to talk about a few special vehicles out there. While this is easy to get installed on most vehicles, there are a couple of exceptions. On some of the Ford vehicles, particularly the F-150 between 15 and 17 model year, they may not supply the 12 volt activation and unless you have a trailer connected to the Echo, and even then, in some instances, the module in the truck may not determine the appropriate loads in the back to determine you've got something connected, and it won't put out the 12 volt. With those trucks, it's usually best to just run a power wire directly from your battery back to your seven-way and remove the factory 12 volt. You can get this power wire run if you purchase kit ETBC7L, it's going to have all the wiring you need to get a Echo working properly on your brake controller, and you'll have instructions in there as well on how to wire up the power wire back to your seven-way.Now with the 18 and newer F-150s, they have made some corrections to the way the systems detect your trailer. And in those, there is a tow haul mode that you can engage through your instrument cluster. You will need to turn that on in order for it to properly detect the Echo in your trailer to send out that 12 volt at the back. And lastly, some of your high-end luxury vehicles may also have an issue where they won't detect the Echo as an output, and you may need to do the same thing as with those early model F-150s.Lastly here, I just wanted to show you the lights. There are three different colors you're going to have on your light. It's either going to be blue, green, or red. Blue indicates that you are powered up on your Echo but you're not connected to a trailer. So I'm going to disconnect the trailer so you can see that it's going to switch to blue there. Blinking means that the app is not currently paired. I've closed my phone. If you we're to pair your phone, it would go from blinking to solid. We're going to go ahead and plug in the trailer and you'll see that it turns to that green color showing that we're connected. Again, it is going to flash because I don't have the device paired, so that's why we got a flash there.And lastly, you'll have red and that indicates a fault. And then if we go ahead and pull the unit out, it should go red indicating that there was a fault, and you can see there it's showing that there's a fault, a wiring fault, and that's because, well, it disconnected. But if you had any other wiring faults, it would likely continue to flash like that. It only flashes for momentarily because it only has so much power stored. But if it's plugged in with 12 volt power and you have other wiring faults, it would continue to flash letting you know that you have a fault. And that completes our look at Curt's Echo wireless brake controller.

Questions and Comments about this Video

Dave S.

Just a comment on the text from the video. You should us more paragraphs as it is too easy to lose your place. Sounds like a great product.

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