Although today’s vehicle trailer brake controllers are more technologically advanced than ever, they tend to be finicky and hard to troubleshoot for both professional technicians and truck owners. As a result, there is often confusion surrounding the functionality of these systems and misunderstandings between service providers and their customers. Fortunately, there is a new diagnostic tool from IPA®, which will simulate trailer brakes, quickly troubleshoot faults, display exactly how the controllers are operating and also test the tow lighting functions.
A SHIFT IN THE INDUSTRY
A few years ago, there was a shift in the industry when new trucks started coming with factory-installed, dash-mounted Integrated Brake Controllers (ITBC), which work in unison with the vehicle’s speed and brake pressure sensors. Tied into the vehicles computer system, these controllers sense whether the trailer is connected or not. Along with the newer type, aftermarket controllers both systems must sense load from the trailer electric brakes upon hookup, or they simply will not put out power with brake pedal actuation to the brake magnets.
This can be a significant safety issue while driving down the road with a fully loaded trailer for obvious reasons. This also creates a common misconception for those familiar with the older aftermarket controllers, who may just assume their new system will actuate the brakes as their previous one did.
THE REAL PROBLEM
The problem is that most technicians do not have a trailer present to verify the vehicle is connecting and even if they have a trailer, they do not have the tools necessary to verify the brake controller output and timing are indeed functioning properly. The #9107A Brake Force Meter with towing Light Tester makes this diagnostic process incredibly simple, does not require a trailer and is the only tool on the market to address this issue. The patent pending technology automatically interprets the reference ping from the controller and provides the correct load for the ECU to determine a trailer is connected. Often a customer will bring in a truck with the complaint of consistent “Trailer Not Connected” warnings, and no brake power. The #9107A will easily allow techs to determine whether the problem is within the truck or with the trailer by hooking up the tool and utilizing the 25 ft. cord to sit in the cabin. Upon startup, a “Trailer Connected” or similar message/indicator should appear within the vehicle. If not, the controller is faulty or wiring/grounds are suspect and should be cleaned or replaced. Once a connection has been established with the computer, the tech can read brake force output while parked and while driving to ensure the gain settings reflect the actual output at the connector. During this process the tool displays real-time output from the vehicle. This is important because various truck makes and model years approach trailer braking differently. Therefore, one cannot assume that one truck should operate as another did.
THE MUST-HAVE TOOL
The #9107A is a must have tool for techs, fleets, and rental companies dealing with brake controller equipped vehicles. As a diagnostic tool, the #9107A greatly reduces troubleshooting time. As a complimentary inspection, or for companies that rent trailers and equipment, the tool promotes safety and is invaluable for limiting potential liabilities. Ultimately, the #9107A will lead to more satisfied customers and ensure safer towing down the road.
IPA® also manufactures tools for cleaning truck and trailer connections and remote controlled diagnostic equipment for testing trailers without the need for the truck. For more information on the Brake Force Meter #9107A and other IPA® products contact your professional tool distributor or visit www.ipatools.com.