Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/17/24 11:32 p.m.

I recently bought a 2021 expedition max, and I need to install a trailer brake controller. From what I have learned, there is a factory one that can be plugged in to the existing underdash wiring harness. The module is supposed to be there already although I haven't checked to be sure that it's there in my truck.
 

It then needs to be activated by the dealer or someone with FORCAN. 
 

I don't know what the dealer would charge to activate the new factory one. I think that the aftermarket controllers shouldn't require that. One of the advantages with the factory one is that the adjustments for the gain, etc. can be done through a menu on the dash using a steering wheel button. 
 

So, that's all I know so far and I don't know how much of it is wrong. Any comments? Suggestions? Criticism and derision also welcome.
 

 

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/18/24 8:22 a.m.

If you go aftermarket, there are at least 2 types.

The cheap option uses a kind of "timer" to apply the trailer brakes based on how long you are on the brake pedal.

The betterer one uses a sort of gyro to apply the brakes based on the input that the brake pedal is pushed AND the deceleration of the vehicle.  This tells the controller whether you are just touching the brakes or mashing them.  

wae
wae PowerDork
1/18/24 9:20 a.m.

In reply to wvumtnbkr :

One advantage of the cheaper time-based units is that they can be mounted in any orientation or even just stuck in a cupholder.  The accelerometer-based controllers have to be securely mounted at somewhat specific angles.  That may or may not be a problem for you, but I prefer using the cheap one in the Merc because there's no good place to permanently mount a controller so I only connect it when towing and then can sort of stuff it between the seat and the console.

But if you can find a way to activate the built-in controller, that's way more betterer.

porschenut
porschenut Dork
1/18/24 10:21 a.m.

Not sure if your car has one built in or just a connection for one.  Regardless the guys at etrailer.com have the best info and selection.  

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/18/24 10:33 a.m.

Kinda shocked that you could still buy a 2021 Expedition Max that didn't have one built in. My 2015 has it. Do you not have the trailer tow package?

I have to assume that the wiring to put the factory unit in is all there. I agree with calling eTrailer, but maybe also check the Ford truck and Expedition forums?

glueguy (Forum Supporter)
glueguy (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/18/24 10:47 a.m.

There are also wireless brake controllers that operate through your phone now.....

I don't know how I feel about that but it's an option.

cyow5
cyow5 Reader
1/18/24 11:03 a.m.

RedArc has options with a remote mounted knob (wired), so you can put the controller behind the dash somewhere. My Tacoma was pre-wired, so it was literally plug-and-play without even removing panels. That being said, if there is a factory controller in there or that you can retrofit, getting it to work would be your best bet. It'd drive me crazy to have a two contol gain knobs - one that is live and one that is dead. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/18/24 1:45 p.m.

Thanks for the replies. I've briefly read some forum discussions on this topic, the RedArc controllers are well spoken of. 
 

I'm sure I have the option of calling the dealer and having them install the controller and program it. Since it has the module (I hope ), it should only require the dashboard part, but I'm trying to see if I can limit the expense. 
 

On the other hand, it might make sense to get established as a customer.

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/18/24 1:56 p.m.

I would go with the factory option so it is integrated in the dash and you don't have to worry about mounting the controller somewhere. I thought about it for my F150 but already had a good aftermarket controller (Tekonsha prodigy P3) so I got the plug-and-play harness and mounted it in a cubby. 

I did use Forscan to enable remote start and found it pretty easy to use if you have a laptop to load it on and a compatible adapter. 

CAinCA
CAinCA GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/18/24 2:04 p.m.

Do you have FordPass? If so you might have points that you can apply to the brake controller. I bought the rear wheel well liners for our F-150 completely with points.

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/18/24 6:02 p.m.
wae said:

In reply to wvumtnbkr :

One advantage of the cheaper time-based units is that they can be mounted in any orientation or even just stuck in a cupholder.  The accelerometer-based controllers have to be securely mounted at somewhat specific angles.  That may or may not be a problem for you, but I prefer using the cheap one in the Merc because there's no good place to permanently mount a controller so I only connect it when towing and then can sort of stuff it between the seat and the console.

But if you can find a way to activate the built-in controller, that's way more betterer.

I can verify the gyro type work much better and do not lock the wheels on an empty trailer nearly as bad. 

gixxeropa
gixxeropa GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/24/24 9:17 a.m.

I've installed the OEM ford brake controller in my 2010 f150, took about 15 minutes including activating it with forscan. You just need to download the program and buy a compatible cable to plug your laptop into the obd2. It's nice to have the OEM because the controller info will pop up on your dash

gsettle
gsettle Reader
1/24/24 10:02 a.m.

I'd only used aftermarket ones til I got my current 3500 Silverado with it built in... I would never use anything but built in if I had the option.

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/24/24 10:54 a.m.

I agree that if I had an option for a factory one that is my first choice. I change vehicles regularly and I got sick of buying and installing trailer brake controllers. I bought this one 2 years ago and it works great, through an app on your phone (for adjustments only). It is great and can swap from vehicle to vehicle easily, you can also save multiple trailers (for your settings).

 

https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Brake-Controller/Cadillac/Escalade+EXT/2012/C51180.html?VehicleID=201282975

Mel9146
Mel9146 New Reader
1/29/24 6:13 p.m.

I tow now with my 32 ft diesel pusher and running wires that far was not in my best interest.

Bought a wireless from an RV dealer mounted the receiver on the side of the box I added on the nose of the trailer, works excellent.

 

Working on getting additional receiver units for my other trailers 

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