How to Install a Tekonsha Brake Controller

by Natalie Lyda
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camping,trailer image by Greg Pickens from

The ability to tow a heavy load is a major benefit of driving a heavy duty pickup or sport utility vehicle. However, it's more important that your vehicle is capable of stopping that load. The installation of an electronic brake controller, such as those manufactured under the Tekonsha brand name, provides a supply of electricity from the tow vehicle to the electric braking system of the trailer. By enabling the trailer's brakes, the force of stopping a heavy trailer is taken off of the tow vehicle's braking system for a safer towing experience.

Step 1

Disconnect the vehicle's negative battery cables before beginning the trailer brake controller installation process.

Step 2

Connect the pigtail-style wiring harness included with the purchase of the Tekonsha brake controller to the back of the in-cab controller unit. Following the wiring diagram included with the controller, run the blue wire through the firewall and to the rear of the vehicle where it will connect to the trailer connector. Use solder or crimp-on butt connectors to secure all of the system's wires.

Step 3

Run the white wire through the firewall and connect it to the vehicle's negative 12-volt battery terminal to act as a ground wire.

Step 4

Connect the red wire, which will control the brake light functions of the trailer while it is connected to the brake controller, to the cold side of the brake light switch. The brake light switch can be found above the brake pedal on most vehicle models.

Step 5

Place the black wire through the firewall and route it towards the positive terminal of the vehicle's 12-volt battery. Install a 20 or 30-amp auto reset circuit breaker prior to the positive terminal and connect the black wire to the auxiliary side of the breaker. Connect the battery side of the circuit breaker to the positive terminal to complete the wiring process.

Step 6

Mount the brake controller module under the dash, on the driver's side of the vehicle, where it can be easily accessed for adjustments while driving. Certain Tekonsha brake controller models may require mounting at a specific angle. Refer to the installation manual for controller mounting requirements. However, it's important to note that all controllers must be mounted horizontally in order to work properly.

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