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Old 06-22-2024, 10:30 AM   #1
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Trailer brake controller issue

The voltage at the 7 pin connector at the back bumper of my truck (2013 Chev. Silverado 1500) for my factory installed brake controller shows 3.7-4.7 volts constantly whether or not the controller is squeezed or not. The controller setting is at full maximum (10). Is this voltage normal? (Also, the voltages for the headlights, turn signals etc are 0 & 12, off/on as id expect).

Iím asking this because even set to max the trailer barely slows when I squeeze the controller.
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Old 06-22-2024, 01:20 PM   #2
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Have you pulled off the wheels and checked the brake linings for grease?
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Old 06-22-2024, 01:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by VR51 View Post
The voltage at the 7 pin connector at the back bumper of my truck (2013 Chev. Silverado 1500) for my factory installed brake controller shows 3.7-4.7 volts constantly whether or not the controller is squeezed or not. The controller setting is at full maximum (10). Is this voltage normal? (Also, the voltages for the headlights, turn signals etc are 0 & 12, off/on as id expect).

Iím asking this because even set to max the trailer barely slows when I squeeze the controller.
Did you take this measurement with the trailer connected, or not? Are you able to take the voltage measurement while the trailer is connected?

An analog circuit like that could be floating around with no load on it. When you connect the trailer (about 1 ohm, four 4Ω loads in parallel), behavior could be completely different.

A good RV tech would make a "Breakout Box" by connecting a 7-pin RV plug to a seven-pin RV socket with 12" wires of the appropriate colors, and put a pair of spade or bullet connectors in the middle of each one. Then it's easy to partially unplug a connector pair and measure the voltage while the RV is still connected, or completely disconnect the two to measure the current. This is the compulsive approach that Bob (K4TAX) and I would take.

If you are in a hurry, you could measure the voltage by inserting probes into the back side of the socket on the truck while the trailer is plugged into the front side, or you could open the junction box where the umbilical cable connects to the trailer.
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Old 06-22-2024, 01:55 PM   #4
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some brake controllers must be able to detect a the connection to the brakes

it sends a small signal 3v
if the small signal fails to reach the brakes...... it wont send braking voltages from controller

so no matter what you got the controller adjusted to it will not send 12v to the brakes

https://www.etrailer.com/question-248488.html

you need to use a special multimeter to test the braking volts

OR hookup the trailer and drive 20mph in a safe place
squeeze the controller .... you will workout quick enough, at setting 10 whether trailer brakes are working
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Old 06-22-2024, 01:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Aussieguy View Post
some brake controllers must be able to detect a the connection to the brakes

it sends a small signal if the small signal fails to reach the brakes it wont send braking voltages from controller

so no matter what you got the controller adjusted to it will not send 12v to the brakes

https://www.etrailer.com/question-248488.html

you need to use a special multimeter to test the braking volts

OR hookup the trailer and drive 20mph in a safe place
squeeze the controller .... you will workout quick enough, at setting 10 whether trailer brakes are working
Or simply measure with the RV connected. See the post before yours.
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Old 06-22-2024, 02:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VR51 View Post
The voltage at the 7 pin connector at the back bumper of my truck (2013 Chev. Silverado 1500) for my factory installed brake controller shows 3.7-4.7 volts constantly whether or not the controller is squeezed or not. The controller setting is at full maximum (10). Is this voltage normal? (Also, the voltages for the headlights, turn signals etc are 0 & 12, off/on as id expect).

Iím asking this because even set to max the trailer barely slows when I squeeze the controller.
You should have a full nominal 12 volts at the 7 pin connector if the brakes controller is fully manually applied. It sounds to me that your brake controller or wiring to the 7 pin connector is not functioning. Being that your vehicle is a 2013 model, I would assume natural wear and tear concepts would apply.

Possibly the cheapest option would to try a wireless brake controller such as the one made by Curt. Other than that possibly you could isolate the problem with a lot of multimeter testing from the brake controller to the 7 pin connector.
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Old 06-22-2024, 02:05 PM   #7
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You should have a full nominal 12 volts at the 7 pin connector if the brakes controller is fully manually applied. It sounds to me that your brake controller or wiring to the 7 pin connector is not functioning. Being that your vehicle is a 2013 model, I would assume natural wear and tear concepts would apply.

Possibly the cheapest option would to try a wireless brake controller such as the one made by Curt. Other than that possibly you could isolate the problem with a lot of multimeter testing from the brake controller to the 7 pin connector.
Or, as Aussie Guy states, the truck will not provide the braking voltage unless it detects that a trailer is plugged in.
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Old 06-22-2024, 02:38 PM   #8
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Or simply measure with the RV connected. See the post before yours.
I don't like crawling under to measure at the junction box
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Old 06-22-2024, 02:46 PM   #9
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I don't like crawling under to measure at the junction box
And that is why you make a breakout box.

On the other hand, the real problem could be a bad connection at the junction box (several have been reported here) and crawling under gives an opportunity to check those connections.
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Old 06-22-2024, 04:10 PM   #10
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Many helpful replies - thanks!
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Old 06-23-2024, 05:44 PM   #11
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The most common type of trailer brakes are drum brakes. If you have the non-automatic adjusting type you need to perform periodic maintenance on them.

Jack each side up. If the wheel spins freely the adjuster wheel accessed in the back of the drum needs to be turned with an adjusting tool (inexpensive) or maybe a screwdriver.

If no maintenance has ever been done on these brakes it's possible tge brake material is worn out and/or cracked. If that's the case the easiest thing to do is replace the whole mechanism and start fresh.

There are many videos on all this. Be safe. Be sure you have good brakes.
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Old 06-23-2024, 06:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VR51 View Post
The voltage at the 7 pin connector at the back bumper of my truck (2013 Chev. Silverado 1500) for my factory installed brake controller shows 3.7-4.7 volts constantly whether or not the controller is squeezed or not. The controller setting is at full maximum (10). Is this voltage normal? (Also, the voltages for the headlights, turn signals etc are 0 & 12, off/on as id expect).

Iím asking this because even set to max the trailer barely slows when I squeeze the controller.
We have a 2011 Chev Silverado. Unless the trailer is connected, there is little to no voltage for the brake line at the 7-pin connector. The system "senses" when the trailer is connected.

Now to your question.
(a) I would check that the brakes on each wheel of the trailer are adjusted correctly. There are lots of videos on YouTube showing how to do this.
(b) Use some electrical contact cleaner (not WD-40) and clean the female and male contacts of the 7-pin connectors.
(c) Inspect the ground connection of the 7-pin trailer cable where it attaches to the frame. Must be a solid, rust-free connection. Clean as needed.

Bob
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