If you are planning on getting a brake controller installed on your Toyota 4Runner, then you have landed on the right page.
Here, we are going to tell you absolutely everything that you need to know about getting that brake controller up and running.
This includes a bit of information on the actual installation part, as well as a treasure trove of information on setting up that brake controller when you are using it.
Table of Contents
What is a Brake Controller?
The job of a brake controller is to control the brakes of your trailer.
A sensor inside of a brake controller will detect when your vehicle is braking. This signal will then be sent through the 7-way connector at the rear of your vehicle.
The 7-way connector will then send a signal to the trailer’s brakes to say “you need to be braking too”. It is a rather simple system, but incredibly effective.
How Do You Choose a Brake Controller?
There are a lot of brake controllers on the market. However, all of those brake controllers can essentially be split into two categories:
- Wired brake controllers
- Wireless brake controllers
Wired brake controllers, as the name suggests, will require physically being wired into your vehicle. On the Toyota 4Runner, it is not necessarily a hard job, but it is one that may take a little bit of time anyway.
Wireless brake controllers communicate via Bluetooth with either a receiver built into your vehicle, or through your mobile device.
These sit outside of the vehicle. They can easily be removed if you are switching out vehicles, though.
Since they pretty much just clip into place, they are ideal for those that use various vehicles to tow trailers, or perhaps those that want something that is a little bit simpler to install.
Beyond this, there isn’t that many difference in features between brake controllers. There isn’t a lot to them.
Ideally, you would be looking for one that has a proportional braking system but, even then, this isn’t a requirement.
Just stick to a good brand and make sure that you read through reviews. You won’t be going far wrong if you do that.
How to Install a Brake Controller in a Toyota 4Runner
How you install a brake controller in a Toyota 4Runner will be dependent on the brake controller that you own. Of course, you should always read through the manual to know exactly what you should be doing. We will give you a general overview here, though.
We are assuming that you already have a 7-pin on the back of your vehicle. If you do not, then this is not a job that you will be able to tackle yourself.
Installing a Wireless Brake Controller
Installing a wireless brake controller should be dead simple. You need to install the mount inside your vehicle for either your mobile device or the included wireless controller, depending on the brake controller that you have purchased.
The actual wireless brake controller unit sits outside of the vehicle. It will plug directly into the 7-pin. The trailer will then plug into the wireless brake controller.
This is one of the main benefits of going wireless. Everything is so simple to set up.
Wired Brake Controller
Installing a wired brake controller is a touch more difficult. However, it should still be fairly simple on a Toyota 4Runner.
The process begins the same. You will be installing the brake controller mount in your vehicle. Most people will place this just below the right of the steering wheel for ease of access.
It also ensures that you do not need any wire extensions, etc.
Your next job is to plug it into your system. In order to do this, you will need to a wiring kit for your brake controller.
This is essentially a ‘converter’ that allows the brake controller to be plugged into the Toyota 4Runner. You will need to buy the converter at the same time that you buy your brake controller.
Once you have the brake controller mounted and plugged into the wiring kit, you must look for the wires just up from the leftmost pedal. So, just underneath the steering wheel. You will be looking for the connector that matches the brake controller connector. It is rather simple.
Once it is in place, your vehicle is ready to hit the road. Although, you may still want to do a small amount of testing.
How to Install Trailer Brake Controller on 4th Gen 4Runner >> Check out the video below:
How Much Does it Cost to Have a Brake Controller Installed in a Toyota 4Runner?
Since it is so quick to do, then it would likely not cost you more than $100 plus the cost of the equipment if you head to a mechanic.
If you also need to have a 7-way installed, which is unlikely with a Toyota 4Runner as most will have one installed anyway, then you can expect to be paying a few hundred dollars more as it is a far more intricate job.
Setting Up a Brake Controller in a Toyota 4Runner
Many of the more modern brake controllers on the market will automatically adjust their settings by ‘testing’ the weight of the trailer and working out the settings. However, it is still important that you understand how brake controllers work.
This is because, on occasion, you may have to adjust the settings yourself!
On the brake controller, you will have a setting known as ‘gain’. This setting is essentially the amount of braking power the brake controller tells the brakes to have.
The higher the gain, the more braking power. You need to ensure that you get this right, and it is all based upon the weight of the trailer. Here is how to set up the brake controller for your trailer.
Remember, the settings on your brake controller may vary, so do make sure that you consult the instruction manual to know which buttons you need to be pressing.
Connect Everything Together
By this point, we are going to assume that your brake controller is installed in your vehicle and everything is connected up properly. This includes having your trailer hitched up to the vehicle.
Find a Flat Area of Land
You now need to drive to a flat area of road where you will be able to reach 20mph without any issues. Most people will just drive around outside of their home.
Drive and Observe the Braking
Once you hit 20mph, brake with your vehicle. You will then want to observe how the trailer brakes. It should either:
- Brake in line with the vehicle. This is a good thing.
- Brake slower than the vehicle
- The brakes lock up
Adjust the Gain
If the brakes lock up, it means that the gain is set too high. You will have to turn it down and retest the brakes. Only turn it down a notch or two.
If the trailer is braking too slowly, then it means that the gain is too low. You will need to turn it up and retest it. Again, you are not going to need to turn the gain up that far for each test.
Troubleshooting a Brake Controller Issue in a Toyota 4Runner
Brake controllers are pretty simple pieces of technology and, for the most part, the only issues that you will have to deal with would be the brake controller having the gain set too high or low. However, you already know the signs of that from the previous section.
The only other issue people report is that their brake controller isn’t sending the right signal to the brakes of the trailer.
If you notice any issues, then make sure that the brake controller is connected up properly in your vehicle.
At the rear of the Toyota 4Runner, you will want to check that the cabling is not damaged i.e. the cables that plug directly into the 7-way. You will also want to ensure that there is no damage to the 7-way.
If you still can’t spot any issues, then you may want to check inside of the 7-way to ensure that there are no crossing wires. If there are, fix them. They will be shorting out the circuit.
Other than this, all you can really do is head to a mechanic.
They will be able to diagnose the issue for you and, to be honest, most of the repair jobs for a brake controller, assuming the brake controller itself isn’t faulty, should be fairly quick.
As you can see, installing a brake controller in a Toyota 4Runner doesn’t require that much in the way of effort.
In fact, even if you have a lack of experience with vehicles, it should only take a few minutes for you to install the brake controller.
Testing it out every time you attach a trailer of a different weight should take no more than 5-10 minutes. Putting in this small amount of work will make you that much safer out there on the road.
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