How To Troubleshoot a Tow-Vehicle’s Electrical Circuits for Towing
Using the Force
Have you ever had a trailer’s electric brake or lighting systems not operate properly and weren’t sure where the problem originated? It could be the result of an electronic brake controller, electrical wiring, or plug malfunction on the truck, or maybe something is faulty on the trailer. Lighting issues can originate from many of the same sources. Diagnosing any electrical problem can be difficult, especially when it is not known whether the problem is on the trailer or the truck, and checking a brake controller’s output with regular handtools is almost impossible to accomplish. That’s where Innovative Products of America’s Electric Brake Force Meter with dynamic load simulation and circuit testing comes into play.
The handheld device uses a dynamic load-simulation program and a truck’s towing circuits to test aftermarket and integrated trailer brake controllers. It includes a 25-foot cable that plugs into the seven-way, spade-pin, trailer-plug receptacles that are commonly found on most trucks. The meter is powered by a truck’s 12-volt auxiliary circuit or the taillights when it’s activated via the plug.
A microprocessor inside the meter simulates the typical loads that are imposed on a trailer’s brakes to provide real-time gain and timing data from the controller. These readings are visible via an LED display at the top of the meter. The simulator can also verify that an adaptive (speed-/load-sensitive) brake controller is operating properly.
The handheld device allows the user to quickly test and troubleshoot electrical circuits, including the chassis ground. A yellow LED confirms the ECM is present, while a green bulb verifies there is a ground. A series of red LEDs indicate which circuit (brake, turn signal, taillight, reverse, and 12-volt auxiliary) has been actuated or is present. When a light comes on, it indicates a specific function is working. However, if nothing illuminates when the meter is activated, a problem with the vehicle’s electrical system may be present.
Being able to easily see and test each trailer circuit on a tow vehicle makes it much easier to diagnose where a problem exists: on the truck itself or the trailer. We installed a new electronic trailer brake controller in the Truck Trend Network support van and wanted to make sure everything works correctly before we pull a trailer. Follow along, as we use IPA’s Electric Brake Force Meter to ensure all circuits are good to go and make necessary adjustments to the controller.
Innovative Products of America845-679-4500