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How to Troubleshoot a Tow-Vehicle Electrical Circuits for Towing

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How to Troubleshoot a Tow-Vehicle’s Electrical Circuits for Towing

Is it possible that you have experienced a problem with the electric brake or lighting systems of a trailer and were unable to determine where the problem originated? It could be caused by a faulty electronic brake controller, electrical wiring, or plug on the truck, or it could be caused by a faulty component on the trailer.

Lighting problems can be caused by a variety of different factors and causes. Any electrical problem can be difficult to diagnose, especially when it is unclear if the problem is on the trailer or the truck. Checking the output of a brake controller with standard hand tools is nearly impossible to achieve. That’s where the Electric Brake Force Meter from Innovative Products of America, complete with dynamic load simulation and circuit testing, comes in.

Aftermarket and integrated trailer brake controllers are tested using a dynamic load-simulation program and the truck’s towing circuits, which are controlled by the handheld device. This set comes complete with a 25-foot cable that can be used to connect to the trailer plug receptacles that are usually found on most trucks and have seven spade pins. When the meter is engaged via the plug, it is powered by the 12-volt auxiliary circuit of the vehicle or by the taillights of the truck.

A microprocessor embedded within the meter simulates the normal stresses that are applied to a trailer’s brakes, allowing the controller to receive real-time gain and timing data from the sensor. The readings are displayed on the meter’s LED display, which is located at the top. An adaptive (speed-/load-sensitive) brake controller can also be tested using the simulator to ensure that it is functioning properly.

Using the handheld gadget, the user may swiftly test and troubleshoot electrical circuits, including the chassis ground, without the need for a computer. A yellow LED indicates the presence of the ECM, while a green bulb indicates the presence of a ground. A succession of red LEDs indicates which circuit (brake, turn signal, taillight, reverse, and 12-volt auxiliary) has been triggered or is present on the vehicle. If a light turns on, it shows that a specific function is in operation. Alternatively, if the meter does not glow when it is enabled, there may be an issue with the vehicle’s electrical system.

A tow vehicle’s ability to quickly examine and test each trailer circuit makes it much easier to determine where the problem is: on the truck itself or on the trailer itself. As part of our Truck Trend Network support van installation, we added a new electronic trailer brake controller, and we wanted to verify sure everything worked properly before we pulled a trailer. Please follow along as we use the IPA’s Electric Brake Force Meter to confirm that all circuits are in working order and make any required modifications to the controller.

Step 1

The carrying case for the system contains a meter, a 25-foot wire with a connector, and an instruction manual. The cable was unwound and plugged into the bottom of the meter at the bottom of the meter.

Step 2

Cord tester for tow truck electrical circuits in a travel case

Step 3

The wiring diagram for the tow vehicle’s electrical circuits and controller cord

Step 4

The meter is fitted with a seven-way spade-pin plug that is compatible with the majority of female plug receptacles found on trailers equipped with electronic braking systems, according to the manufacturer.

Step 5

Once the seven-pin plug has been connected, it is critical to ensure that the wire does not become tangled so that it may be readily stretched to the front of the vehicle, as shown in the illustration.

Step 6

The “Run” position on the ignition key with the engine off allows us to continue testing the remaining circuits without having to restart the vehicle.

Step 7

An example of how the Brake Force Meter’s display indicates that the auxiliary 12-volt circuit is fully operational is shown below.

Step 8

When the brake pedal is depressed, all of the LED indicators are illuminated.

Step 9

The operation of each turn signal is certified by the presence of red LEDs that correspond to the left and right signals, respectively.

Step 10

Tow vehicle electrical circuits meter ECU 12v tail left ground LEDs tow vehicle electrical circuits.

Step 11

When we put the gearbox in Reverse, the matching LED on the meter illuminates, indicating that the plug is wired for trailers that have reverse lights, which we can confirm.

Step 12

Hand-actuating the electronic brake controller enables us to quickly and simply test the unit’s output and make adjustments to its settings. The microprocessor in the Brake Force Meter replicates trailer-brake loads and displays the amount of gain and timing that the brake controller is giving out in real-time using blue LEDs on the front of the instrument. This enables us to evaluate how our adjustments alter the sensitivity of the trailer brakes as a result of our adjustments.

Christian Edet is a movie and gaming freak. An experienced writer whose interests include games, cars, insurance, and tech provides relevant information to all interested. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, United Kingdom, and studied Business Information Systems (BSc.)