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Old 04-02-2016, 10:47 AM   #1
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Please help Trailer brakes (working??)

Picked up my new travel trailer yesterday. Here's the issue:

Bought a Hopkins Insight 47297 brake controller, wiring, and 7/4 pin connector for installation on my vehicle. Took to a local hitch installer who specializes in installing hitches. Shortly after the install I noticed that while NOT CONNECTED to a trailer, when I press on the flex brake controller manually it actually would cause "drag" on my vehicle (Honda Odyssey). I say drag because the hitch installer on the phone said it's impossible that it would be applying my vehicles brakes because it has no functionality when not connected to a trailer. However when I look at the tachometer on my car (at freeway speed, 65+mph) and I press the brake controller manual switch (hopkins calls it the "flex control"), the RPMs remain constant when this "drag" effect happens. I think it's actually activating my car brakes (when nothing is connected to my newly installed 7pin connector).

The hitch installer told me he thought it was in my head. When I finally pinned him down for actually taking an in-person look at it and made him drive it, his reaction was "wow." Yet he did nothing to fix it because he was "busy" and would need to have some time to check it out. I called Hopkins directly myself and they said they couldn't think of why it would be doing this, except if he tapped into a "hot wire" instead of the "cold one."

Anyway I figured since it wasn't doing anything while not in use I had some time to figure out what was going on. Except that my original hitch installer is a dirt bag who took well over 2 weeks to call me back. So yesterday my new Jayco 154bh is ready for pickup. Went, did PDI, and hooked up. While driving home it just didn't seem like the trailer brakes were doing anything. I adjusted the flex brake control to 65 and then while driving slowly manually applied the brake control switch. It seemed like nothing was happening. No pull on my vehicle. But when going down the last hill to my house I DID notice that same "drag" feeling as before when manually applying ONLY the flex brake controller slide switch, but it was NO WHERE near enough to even slow down my car - my car kept gaining speed until I applied my vehicle brakes with my foot.

So - with that information - what the heck is going on here? Any ideas? How can I RELIABLY & DEFINITIVELY test to see if the brake controller is indeed engaging the trailer brakes?

Thank you so much for your help!
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:10 AM   #2
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I've installed the same brake controller on our previous TV so I'm familiar with how it installs. I sat here and thought about it for a few minutes and I cannot image how someone would install it so does what you're saying it's doing. If someone challenged me to install a brake controller that slowed the vehicle when activated without a trailer connected I'm not even sure how I'd do it. The only thing I can think of is that the installer tapped into the wrong wiring for the controller. I'm not going to say it's impossible for this to happen but it would be incredibly unlikely.
As far as the feel of the brakes with the new trailer it may be that the trailer brakes aren't adjusted properly or they haven't had enough time to wear in to get full effectiveness. I noticed when mine was new I couldn't get the braking I felt I should be getting until I put a few miles on and adjusted the brakes.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:32 AM   #3
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I have no experience with this hopkins insight brake controller. So using the information you provided I did some searching and I still can find very little information to help your dilemma. What I can provide you is some possible recommendations and perhaps put your mind at ease for what is not the problem.

First off, your Honda Odyssey uses standard braking, and when I say that I mean that when you step on the brake pedal, it pushes a rod/linkage which pushes a piston in the master cylinder; i.e., not electronic. Since the Hopkins Insight only uses electrical connections (if it was installed properly) it is improbable it would be activating your Honda's brakes.
The Hopkins Insight uses a plug and play technology. However, according to Hopkins, there are no plug and play connectors for the Odyssey (Ridgeline and Pilot, yes). So it is possible, there were some wire splicing connections.
Theory: If the Hopkins was installed improperly, it could have been inadvertently tapped into the anitlock braking system, and instead of modulating the brakes, it is causing them to apply pressure. Or if your Honda Odyssey has an electronic modulator for applying the parking brake (emergency brake) or hill holding brake (I do not know if Honda's have this feature like Subaru's do. It could be activating that.

As for reliably testing the brake controller: it would be a two person job to do it say in the driveway. raise one wheel of the trailer off the ground, have someone start spinning it, with the vehicle hooked and running. Apply the brakes. If the free spinning wheel stops....

As for your installer, based on your description, there is very little confidence inspired. Perhaps have the installation of the hitch, 7-pin connector, and brake controller checked by another installer or the dealership. It sounds like something is wired improperly. Just because someone does things all the time doesn't mean they do them right.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:48 AM   #4
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Your Odyssey obviously has the collision mitigating braking system like my Accura does.
So it's not only brake pressure that activates the brake, it's electrical too.
Your installer has gone into the wrong wire.
IMHO that radar braking system is nothing to be messing with. The last think you want is your brakes activating themselves when they aren't suppose to.
I think you should take your Honda to a Honda dealer and let them check to make sure the installer hasn't compromise anything, get them to install the controller and send the bill to your original installer for being incompetent.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NVGun40 View Post
I have no experience with this hopkins insight brake controller. So using the information you provided I did some searching and I still can find very little information to help your dilemma. What I can provide you is some possible recommendations and perhaps put your mind at ease for what is not the problem.

First off, your Honda Odyssey uses standard braking, and when I say that I mean that when you step on the brake pedal, it pushes a rod/linkage which pushes a piston in the master cylinder; i.e., not electronic. Since the Hopkins Insight only uses electrical connections (if it was installed properly) it is improbable it would be activating your Honda's brakes.
The Hopkins Insight uses a plug and play technology. However, according to Hopkins, there are no plug and play connectors for the Odyssey (Ridgeline and Pilot, yes). So it is possible, there were some wire splicing connections.
Theory: If the Hopkins was installed improperly, it could have been inadvertently tapped into the anitlock braking system, and instead of modulating the brakes, it is causing them to apply pressure. Or if your Honda Odyssey has an electronic modulator for applying the parking brake (emergency brake) or hill holding brake (I do not know if Honda's have this feature like Subaru's do. It could be activating that.

As for reliably testing the brake controller: it would be a two person job to do it say in the driveway. raise one wheel of the trailer off the ground, have someone start spinning it, with the vehicle hooked and running. Apply the brakes. If the free spinning wheel stops....

As for your installer, based on your description, there is very little confidence inspired. Perhaps have the installation of the hitch, 7-pin connector, and brake controller checked by another installer or the dealership. It sounds like something is wired improperly. Just because someone does things all the time doesn't mean they do them right.
It could also be interfering with some kind of electronic traction control function. TC uses various methods to control the vehicle including throttle modulation and brake activation. Just a thought; very interesting problem.

I would take it to a different (reputable) shop and have them check it out or reinstall it from scratch. Brake controllers don't have that many wires, so it's not like you're chasing down a huge rat's nest of a wiring harness. Finding the right wires on the vehicle's harness is the hard part.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:03 PM   #6
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I have no problem telling you that it's impossible that your electric brake controller is operating your vehicle's hydraulic brake. Unless it grew a foot it's not happening.
( I just read above posts. I never thought of the automatic braking vehicles out there today. That shop really messed up if that's what's happening)

It could be a number of reasons why the brakes aren't working in the trailer.

1. I'd start by making sure the 7 pin connector is providing power for the brakes.

2. If it is, I'd make sure the trailer plug/cord has power for the brakes in the junction box on the trailer at the end of the cord.
3. If it does, I'd make sure you have power all the way to the brake actuator under the brake drum.
4. If it does, you may have a bad actuator, or more. Or if they are working your brakes could be way out of adjustment.

The list could go on... But I'd start ruling out electrical problems first. The connectors are easy to corrode or get cruded up.

Welcome to JOF. I hope this helps. Good luck!

PS. Tell us about what trailer you have and what you're pulling it with (or better, include it in your signature).
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:22 PM   #7
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Okay, put one tire up with the stabilizer jacks and found that trailer brakes are indeed working. In fact when I depress the manual brake control the tire stops dead. However when I do this going down a hill it does not, I feel the entire rig slow down, but it's not a jolt. I guess I'm expecting to feel too much?

Anyway, after verifying and adjusting the sensitivity setting up to 7 and the +/- setting to 70-ish I took it for a drive around town. Felt better. I felt more confident knowing that I visually saw the brakes work. I did notice that the suspension for the actual travel trailer squeaks a hell of a lot. Any way to quiet that up that you know of?

Thx for the help guys.
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:37 PM   #8
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The brakes will work better as time goes on once they bed in and seat properly, as to the noisy suspension they make a lube for leafsprings I believe
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:31 PM   #9
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I believe the manual will say to adjust brakes after xxx miles. Makes a lot of differance after break in and proper adjustment.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I believe the manual will say to adjust brakes after xxx miles. Makes a lot of differance after break in and proper adjustment.
+1

Another good idea is to have the wheel bearings adjusted/tightened at the same time.
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