Toyota Tacoma Brake Controller: 12 Helpful Tips (Explained)


toyota-tacoma-Brake-Controller-cost-installation-setup

Looking for Toyota Tacoma brake controller?

If you are planning on towing a trailer over a certain weight or length, then in many states it is a legal requirement that you have some sort of braking system in it.

This braking system needs to be controlled by a gadget known as a brake controller.

On this page, we are going to tell you everything that you need to know about getting a Toyota Tacoma brake controller up and running in your vehicle. Let’s jump in, shall we?

How Does a Brake Controller Work?

As we said, the brake controller controls the brakes. It does this via the 7-way plug that connects to your trailer.

The brake controller will sense when your vehicle is breaking. It will then send a signal to the brakes on the trailer saying “you need to brake too”.

How it senses when you are braking will be dependent on the brake controller that you own. However, in most cases, there is going to be a small sensor located inside of the brake controller. 

It is a rather simple process accomplished by nothing more than electrical signals. 

Read also: Trailer Brake Controllers: 25 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

How Do You Choose a Brake Controller for Your Toyota Tacoma?

There are a lot of brake controllers on the market. They can be broken down into two broad categories.

toyota-tacoma-Brake-Controller-installation-setup

Wired Brake Controllers

These are physically wired into your vehicle. They will be directly connected to the electrical system. In the Toyota Tacoma, you will likely already have a location where you can hook the brake controller up. This is because the vehicle has been specifically designed with towing in mind.

There will be a physical controller in the vehicle that you can use to adjust the various settings on the brake controller (more on that shortly)

If you buy a wired brake controller, then you will need to purchase a separate wiring kit to allow you to connect it up to your Toyota Tacoma. This wiring kit acts as a converter plug of sorts.

Wireless Brake Controllers

Wireless brake controllers sit on the outside of the vehicle. They will often sit on the trailer hitch and be connected to the 7-way via a plug.

They will communicate using Bluetooth to either your mobile device or a controller built into your vehicle. 

One of the major benefits of a wireless brake controller is that it is removable. So, if you use a variety of different vehicles to tow trailers, then a wireless brake controller is going to be ideal.

No matter type of brake controller you have in mind, you will need to do your research to ensure that you are picking up the best one for the job.

Always make sure that you read through reviews. Ideally, you should have as much control over the way in which the brake controller works as possible.

If there is some sort of automatic adjustment on the brake controller, then this is going to be even better. It will making setting it up dead simple while you are out there on the road towing your trailer!

How Do You Install a Brake Controller in Your Toyota Tacoma?

Whether you have a wireless or wired brake controller, installation in a Toyota Tacoma should be fairly simple. This is because the vehicle is built for towing. Therefore, most of the connections should already be in place. 

Note: if you do not have a 7-way plug on the back of your vehicle, then the process is a little bit more convoluted than what we list here. Therefore, you will likely need to talk to a mechanic. They will be able to help you out.

Read also: Tekonsha Wireless Brake Controller: 11 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

Installing a Wired Brake Controller

No matter which wired brake controller you purchase, it is likely that you will need to buy a wiring kit for it. You can think of a wiring kit as a small converter that will convert the wires of the brake controller to fit your vehicle.

You shouldn’t have that many issues finding a Toyota Tacoma wiring kit, no matter which brake controller you purchase.

The location where you need to plug the wired brake controller in is located just behind the steering column. You will need to remove the kick panel to access it.

There will be a lot of wires here, but you will be looking out for only one. This is the white plug that connects up to the wiring kit that you have.

Once you have plugged everything in, all you need to do is mount your brake controller and you are ready to go. All you need to do is make sure that your brake controller is plugged into the 7-way at the back of the vehicle.

Installing a Wireless Brake Controller

Installing a wireless brake controller is even simpler. It needs to be plugged into the 7-way at the back of the vehicle.

The cable that comes from the trailer will then need to be plugged into the brake controller. Basically, the brake controller is in between the trailer and the car. 

2020 Toyota Tacoma – Trailer Brake Controller Install (Tekonsha P3) >> Check out the video below:

How Do You Set-Up a Brake Controller in a Toyota Tacoma?

Once you have installed your brake controller, you are going to need to set it up. How you do this will be dependent on the brake controller that you have purchased, so you will always want to read through the manual to see what it says.

Now, if you have purchased a decent brake controller, then there may be some sort of automatic adjustment on the brake controller.

This means that you just connect it up, hit a button, and away you go. However, it is always worth knowing how to manually adjust things too.

This way you will be able to adjust everything ‘on the fly’. That is what we want to take a look at here.

Read also: How To Set a Trailer Brake Gain? 6 Easy Steps (Explained)

Setting up a Brake Controller in a Toyota Tacoma

To start with, you are going to need to attach the trailer to your Toyota Tacoma. Make sure it is plugged in.

The brake controller should be turned on. If you have a wireless brake controller, make sure that it is connected up via Bluetooth.

You now need to find a flat road surface where you can easily hit 20mph without any obstacles in your way.

Once you hit 20mph, you will need to brake. One of three things will happen:

  • The trailer slows down at the same speed as your vehicle.
  • The brakes will lock up
  • The trailer takes too long to slow down

If the first situation happens, then great. It is rare, but if it does, then you are ready to drive.

If you have the second situation happen, then you will need to turn the gain of the brake controller down. The gain is the amount of force that the brakes apply to the trailer.

If you have a lighter trailer, then you need less gain. Once you have turned the gain down a notch or two, check the brakes again.

If the third situation happens, then the gain of the vehicle is too low. This happens if the trailer is heavy. Turn it up a notch or two and recheck the trailer.

How Much Does Installation Cost?

Since the Toyota Tacoma brake controller is dead simple to install, you likely wouldn’t need to head to a mechanic. However, if you do want to make life a little bit easier for yourself, then you can expect the installation to cost between $100 and $200 if you head to a professional. 

If you also need to have a 7-way installed on the back of your vehicle, then expect the total price to be even more than this.

However, since it is rare that a 7-way will need to be installed on a Toyota Tacoma, it is tough for us to give you an accurate price.

Read also: What Is The Average Cost To Install Trailer Brake Controller – (Facts & Numbers)

Troubleshooting Issues

There are two issues that you will almost certainly be able to fix on your own.

Brakes Locking Up

This normally means that the gain is too high, so just turn it down.

Brakes Not Working Fast Enough

This means that the gain on the brake controller is set too low, turn it up.

In some cases, you may be able to also fix certain wiring issues with the brake controller. If it doesn’t work at all, then make sure that it is plugged in correctly.

You may also want to double-check that there are no cross-wires in the 7-way. This can happen if the 7-way way is a lot older.

Other than this, there isn’t much that can go wrong with a brake controller. If you can’t fix the issue, we suggest that you head to a mechanic and see what they have to say. 

Conclusion

As you can see, there is not actually all that much to a brake controller. However, it is a vital safety device that you really should have installed if you are towing a trailer or RV with your Toyota Tacoma.

Once you have it installed, it is likely going to last for years, no matter how much you are using it.

References

https://www.etrailer.com/question-335319.html

https://www.etrailer.com/question-340130.html

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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