If you are planning on towing a trailer with your RAM 1500, then you will likely need a brake controller. On this page, we are going to tell you absolutely everything that you need to know about the installation of an electric brake controller on your vehicle.
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What is a Brake Controller?
Let’s start with the simple questions. What is a brake controller, and do you really need one?
The job of a brake controller is to trigger the electric brakes on the trailer that you are towing. If you did not have a brake controller, the brakes would never trigger.
The brake controller will sense when the vehicle is braking through a small sensor built into it. When the brake controller believes that the vehicle is braking, it will send a signal up to the 7-way socket at the back of the vehicle.
The trailer, which will be plugged into this 7-way socket, will receive the signal and know that it needs to activate those brakes, as well as the pressure that it needs to apply to those brakes.
In most states, it is a legal requirement to have a brake controller in place if your trailer is over a certain weight or length. It is important that you read the rules for your state so you know exactly what is expected of you.
Choosing a Brake Controller for a RAM 1500
Whenever you buy a brake controller, you should look for something called a ‘proportional braking controller’. This will offer the smoothest braking experience for your trailer.
This is because the brakes will be applied at the same pressure that you are applying the brakes in your vehicle.
So, if you brake hard, the trailer brakes will brake hard. If you are slowing down to a gradual stop, then the trailer brakes will slow down to a gradual stop too.
Beyond this, you need to think about the type of brake controller that you want. There are two options here.
Wired Brake Controller
This is more of the ‘traditional’ type of brake controller. It will need to be hardwired into your vehicle. While they are a bit tougher to install than the second option, they are a lot cheaper.
You also have more options available to you. This means that you will likely be able to find a brake controller that you like the look of far easier.
Wireless Brake Controller
The second option is a wireless brake controller. This type of brake controller, as the name suggests, doesn’t need to be hardwired into your vehicle at all.
Instead, it will sit outside of the vehicle. It plugs in between the trailer and the 7-way on your vehicle. Basically, it is an ‘in-line’ brake controller.
The wireless brake controller will communicate with a handset in your vehicle via Bluetooth. With some more modern wireless brake controllers, you will also be able to set them up to communicate with your mobile device instead.
This means that you will be able to control the brake controller via an app!
Installing a RAM 1500 Electric Brake Controller
Of course, the installation of your Dodge RAM 1500 brake controller will be dependent on the brake controller that you have purchased.
It is important that you read through the instruction manual of the brake controller to know exactly how you should install that particular brand. In this section, however, we want to give you a quick overview of the process for the two main types of brake controllers.
Here, we are going to be making the assumption that you have a 7-way connector on your vehicle installed already.
If you do not, then you will likely need to consult a mechanic for the installation. This is because the installation will be a little bit too tough to tackle on your own.
Ram 1500 Electronic Trailer Brake Controller Installation >> Check out the video below:
Wireless Brake Controller
If you have a wireless brake controller, then you have made life simple for yourself. This is because the installation is as follows:
- Plug the wireless brake controller into the 7-way at the back of the vehicle.
- Plug the trailer’s 7-way cable into the brake controller.
- Install the mounting system in your vehicle to mount the controller.
That is it! It is simple and, because the RAM 1500 comes with a mounting system already, you do not need to drill any holes. You just have to clip some things into place.
Wired Brake Controller
The wired brake controller is a little bit more difficult to install. However, for most versions of the Dodge RAM 1500, you still shouldn’t have that much in the way of difficulty. You just need to follow these instructions.
Remember, if you are purchasing a wired brake controller, you will need to buy the wiring kit for your RAM 1500. If you do not have this, then you won’t be able to plug the brake controller into your system.
Thankfully, this is something that you should be able to purchase rather easily when you pick up your wired brake controller.
Follow these steps:
- Mount the brake controller mounts on the RAM 1500’s control panel. There should be a mounting slot to the left of the steering wheel. This means that you will not have to drill any holes in the dash.
- Attach the wiring kit to the brake controller.
- Look for the bundle of wires by the emergency brake on the Dodge RAM 1500. They may be hidden behind a kick panel.
- Locate the blue socket
- Plug the white connector that comes from the wiring kit into the blue socket.
That’s it! Your installation is now complete.
How Much Would Installation Cost?
Since the installation of a RAM 1500 electric brake controller shouldn’t be too difficult, we can’t imagine that it would cost more than $100-$200 to have it installed by a professional. Some may even charge less than this.
Of course, you will have to add the cost of the equipment on top of this.
If you need to have a 7-way installed on your vehicle, then the cost is probably going to be a lot higher. This is because it is a more intricate job.
However, the vast majority of Dodge RAM 1500 vehicles should already have a 7-way installed on them, so it shouldn’t be a requirement anyway.
Setting Up the RAM 1500 Electric Brake Controller
Once you have your brake controller installed, you are going to need to configure it every time you take your vehicle out there on the road with a trailer attached.
In order to configure that brake controller, you need to know about ‘gain’. Gain is the amount of pressure the brake controller tells the trailer brakes to apply.
When you have a heavier trailer, you need to have more regain because the trailer will require more force to stop. Lighter trailers need less gain.
Because your trailer weight is likely to change each time, you need to follow this process to determine the correct gain. Remember, always look at your brake controller manual to determine how to change the gain on your selected system.
To start with, you will need to connect the trailer up to the vehicle and switch the brake controller on.
Find a flat area of road where you can easily reach 20mph.
When you are able to reach 20mph, hit the brakes on the vehicle and observe what the trailer does.
If you experience the trailer brakes locking up, then you need to turn the gain down.
If the trailer brakes far slower than the vehicle, then you need to turn the gain up.
Keep testing until the electric brakes on the trailer do exactly what you want.
How To Install and Connect a Trailer Brake Controller >> Check out the video below:
Troubleshoot Installation of the RAM 1500 Electric Brake Controller
Other than gain issues, which you know how to adjust now, there isn’t that much that can go wrong with an electric brake controller.
In some cases, there may be power issues due to faulty wiring. However, if your brake controller was working perfectly fine one day and not working the next, then it is rare that this is the case. The wiring will need to be looked at by an expert.
In some cases, the trailer brakes may lock up while in reverse. This is often down to a shorting of the wires in the 7-way.
This is a problem that you can often diagnose and fix yourself. If you open up the 7-way and see two wires crossing, you have your problem.
In rare cases, the brake controller may state that no trailer is detected. Again, this is a wiring issue that you will need to talk to an expert about in order to get it fixed.
Even if there are no legal requirements in your state to install an electric brake controller in your vehicle, we suggest that you do anyway.
The process is so simple and affordable on the RAM 1500 that you really should be doing it if you are towing a trailer. You will be that much safer on the roads.
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