Towing a trailer comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of the most important being able to stop the additional weight you are hauling. That is where trailer brake controllers come in handy. Many Ford trucks come equipped with an electric trailer brake controller to help apply braking force to a trailer’s brakes.
Properly setting up and using your Ford trailer brake controller ensures smooth, safe stops when towing. This guide will walk through the steps to activate and adjust your trailer brakes for optimal performance.
Activating the Trailer Brake Controller
The first step is making sure your trailer brake controller is activated. This is done right from your Ford truck’s cabin:
- Locate the controller module. It is often found on the center console to the right of the steering wheel.
- Press the button or switch to turn the trailer brake controller on. An indicator light will illuminate showing it is activated.
- On the productivity screen, navigate to
Truck Apps > Trailer Display. This will show connection status and power settings.
Once powered on, the brake controller will automatically apply braking force to a connected trailer when you press the brake pedal. But further adjustments can optimize performance.
Adjusting Trailer Brake Controller Settings
The brake controller should be adjusted based on trailer load weight, weather, and road conditions:
- Heavier Loads: Increase brake controller power for more braking force.
- Slippery Roads: Reduce power to avoid trailer wheels locking up.
- Light Loads: Lower power so trailer brakes aren’t overapplied.
Use the power lever on the brake controller to adjust the voltage sent to the trailer brakes. This is shown on-screen as the “gain setting”. Start low and increase until braking is firm but not harsh.
|Gain Setting||Braking Force|
|0% – 20%||Light Braking|
|20% – 40%||Moderate Braking|
|40% – 60%||Firm Braking|
Test braking in a safe area away from traffic to dial in the optimal setting. Adjust in small increments for best control.
Properly Connecting the Trailer
The trailer brake controller is useless if the trailer is not properly connected to your Ford truck both electrically and mechanically.
Use the on-screen
Connection Checklist for guidance on all the steps needed to securely attach a trailer:
- Align hitch over ball and lower into place
- Attach safety chains in a crossing pattern
- Plug in trailer lighting connector
- Plug in trailer brake controller connector
- Fully raise trailer jack stands
- Test trailer lighting system
- Adjust side mirrors
Following all the instructions ensures you don’t miss any critical connection steps.
Trailer Brake Controller Mistakes to Avoid
While Ford’s trailer brake controllers are designed for ease of use, there are still some mistakes that should be avoided:
- Not activating the controller – Forgetting this first obvious step means no trailer braking at all.
- Improper gain setting – Too little braking force can lead to loss of control, while too much causes premature wear.
- Not testing brakes before driving – Always test trailer braking in a safe area first.
- Forgetting to adjust for load changes – Increase force for heavy loads and reduce for lighter ones.
- Assuming the trailer is properly connected – Skipping steps in the Connection Checklist can lead to dangerous detachments.
Following Ford’s instructions and recommendations will ensure you safely get the most out of your trailer brake controller system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the trailer brake controller located in my Ford truck?
The most common location is on the center console near the driver, often to the right of the steering wheel. But placement can vary across Ford models. Check your owner’s manual if unsure.
What is the difference between proportional and time-delayed controllers?
Most new Ford trucks have proportional controllers that apply brake force proportionally to how much pressure you apply to the brake pedal. Time-delayed controllers apply a preset amount of brake force to the trailer each time.
Should I install a brake controller myself?
Due to the importance of proper installation for safety, it is highly recommended to have a professional handle brake controller installation and wiring.
How do I know if my trailer brakes need adjustment?
Signs your trailer brake force needs adjustment include too much trailer sway when braking, the trailer feeling too lightweight, or hearing squealing brakes from overheating.
Can I adjust trailer brake force on the fly while driving?
Yes, the power lever on the brake controller can be adjusted at any time to dial in the proper amount of voltage sent to the trailer brakes. Start low and increase as needed.
Using your Ford trailer brake controller properly ensures you and your payload stay safe on the road. Follow the steps here to activate, adjust, and optimize your trailer brake system. Safe travels!