Yes, I admit that we have been doing some towing with the F-150 without a trailer brake controller, but we had been towing loads that were light enough that there was never any concern about safety. However, if we plan on doing any more substantial towing, closer to the vehicle's limits, we would have to get a trailer brake installed first. While the truck's brakes were doing the job as-is, the staff agreed that it would be wiser to have more safety -- sending power to a trailer's brakes when needed- - and not necessarily try it than to not have it and regret it after the fact.
So why didn't our truck already have the trailer brake controller? To be honest, when we ordered our truck with the Lariat package and it came with the Trailer Tow package, we presumed that the trailer brake controller came with it. But that was our mistake. It doesn't come with the trailer brake controller, because people that tow frequently may have a controller that they prefer. So Ford keeps this option up to the truck owner. We decided to stick with the Ford option, and had a local dealer install it.
When we chose Ford's trailer brake controller, that option cost $230 for our 2012 truck; it's possible that the price has gone up for 2013, but we doubt the price differential is all that much. What's nice is that Ford knows that F-150 owners like to tow, so there is a convenient space in the dash for the controller. The installation took about an hour. As we watched, the installer unbolted the bottom of the center stack, which he unbolted and removed. He set it out of the way as he continued on with the process. He unbolted the dash, and that would make it easier to connect the wiring. He removed the cover that protected the controller wiring, and plugged the controller wiring in place. The driver interface -- that part of the unit, anyway -- slid right into place on the center stack. The installer then put everything back in place in the cabin, and the truck was just as nice as when we brought it in, with one pleasant addition. But there was one more step: programming the electronics. The installer connected a computer to the OBD II connector under the dash, found the right program on the computer, and set it to run. We saw the gauge needles blip from left to right (0 to max) and back, twice, and then rested in the right places. The trailer brake controller installation was complete. He doubled-checked that the controller was correctly set up, saw that the right options were available in the driver information menu (that adjusting the gain was now an option), and his job was done. Thanks to a small amount of money and time, our long-termer now is ready for towing heavy loads.
| Our Cars |
| Service life || 8 months/21,476 miles |
| Average fuel economy || 14.2 mpg |
| CO2 emissions || 1.37 lb/mile |
| Energy consumption || 237 kW-hr/100miles |
| Unresolved problems || None |
| Maintenance cost || $107.58 (2 x oil change, tire rotation, inspection) |
| Normal-wear cost || $0 |