If a trailer comes equipped with electric brakes, how do you control them from in the car? Do you have to install a special brake controller?
My vehicle is not currently tow equipped (2003 ford escape), but I will be installing an engine oil cooler, a 4-port wiring harness for the brake and tail lights, and a 3500# class II hitch. I did some research and that is what I need to get it tow ready. Apparently my car comes with a transmission oil cooler. Installing these components will put the towing capacity from 2000# to 3500#.
I assume the 4-port wiring harness will not control the trailer brakes, and that I will need a separate brake controller. Is this correct?
I didn't think the towing capacity would change without changes to the suspension
Adding a larger hitch won't make it tow a larger load, and may actually mean that you tow less, since the new hitch is going to weigh more than the older one....probably
Not sure about adding an engine oil cooler??? Unless you are talking about a transmission cooler for an automatic transmission.
Adding an transmission oil cooler will help with the life of the transmission, but won't increase your capacity.
An automatic transmission car/truck will have a transmission cooler from the factory, but usually, when you are towing, you will add an auxiliary oil cooler to that system, to help the Original Equipment. It basically just ties into the tranny's oil lines running to the radiator cooler, to run in series with that oil cooler.
You would need a brake controller for the electric brakes on the trailer, which means you may need a different wiring harness, to allow for that connection too. Some are set up with the brake lights. Been a long time since I've used one.
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In order to control the trailer electric brakes you will need a controller. The controller is activated when you depress the brake pedal. It either senses the vehicle slowing down (for inertia controllers) or has a simple time-based control. The controller then sends voltage (and current) to the brake magnets. Most people recommend the intertia controllers because they allow the trailer to brake at the same amount as the tow vehicle. The time based controllers increase the voltage to the brakes based on how long you've been pressing the brake pedal and not good for hard "panic" stops.
You will need a 7-way connector, not the 4-way. The 4-way is only good for the trailer's lights (4 wires are for: tail/marker lights, left turn/brake light, right turn/brake light, and ground). The 7-way gets you those plus wire for power to the brakes (separate from the lights), 12V power (aka battery charging wire), and an "auxilary".
Good question before spending the $$$ and finding out the connector is wrong.
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Yes you would need a brake controller that wires into your car so when you step on the brake it also applies the trailer brakes. SOME smaller trailer also have "surge brakes" which need no controller but they're limited in what they can do. If you have electric brakes on the trailer, as others have said, you need a 7 pin connection, not a four pin. If you have surge brakes a 4 pin may work (I'm not totally certain as I've never used surge brakes).
One thing you need to keep in mind is that your tow RATING of 3500 lb. after making the modifications, is for a completely EMPTY car. When you add several hundred pounds of people, cargo or optional equipment, the tow rating is reduced by a like number of pounds. Keep that in mind when you select a trailer to tow.
Good luck / Skip
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Many vehicles come with two manufacturer-stated tow limits, usually stated as with or without brakes. Getting the trailer moving is much easier for most vehicles than stopping it, especially for lighter tow vehicles.
It sounds like you don't have the trailer yet... you'd be smart to make sure whatever you buy has brakes, regardless of how heavy it turns out to be. Not only do they assist in stopping, they're wonderfully efficient at stopping trailer "sway" should it occur.
FYI: As stated above, you'll need more than a 4-pin connection not only for brakes, but for a charging line if you expect to charge the trailer battery from your car's electrical system. Pin # 7 on a standard 7-pin is "extra"- can be used for backup lights if you're lucky enough to get a trailer that has them.
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I have read a few forums posts on what the differences are between the Ford Escape 2003 w/ a tow package and the model w/o. Apparently the tow package includes an engine oil cooler, hitch, and wiring harness. I plan on buying the hitch, wiring harness, and a brake controller and installing them myself, and buying the engine oil cooler online and having a mechanic install it.
Apparently all ford escapes with automatic transmissions have transmission fluid coolers, so I do not need to add another.
And I plan on getting a P/U under 2500# fully loaded and make sure it has electric brakes.
All cars I have ever owned with an automatic transmission had a transmission cooler. That isn't the same as adding an auxiliary cooler for better cooling.
You cannot change the tow rating. You can improve the towing capability but the rating is set in stone. There may be many subtle changes to the suspension, brakes, charging, and other systems included in the towing package.
Look at the Tekonsha Prodigy brake controllers. They are very good.
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