Dealer Installed brake controller

cory1848

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I just got home from having the dealer install the Ford brake controller. Charged me $339 plus tax which included the part and install. Thought it was a good deal from what others have been posting. Essentially no labor charge?

Tech was detailed with the write up with what he removed for trim panels to do the install and wiring it into the "car factory trailer brake harness in rear". I hope that means the 3rd center brake lamp. I want to make sure this works with the AEB and meets all safety issues.

Stated they are unable to test the switch without a trailer being hooked up. I dont have a trailer currently. Any way to test to make sure this works without having a trailer? Couldnt a meter test it?

The install looks very clean and I wouldn't even know he did anything which makes me wonder if it actually works. I want to trust their work but I have learned not too.

Also, should this fall under Ford's 2 year warranty as well?
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I just got home from having the dealer install the Ford brake controller. Charged me $339 plus tax which included the part and install. Thought it was a good deal from what others have been posting. Essentially no labor charge?

Tech was detailed with the write up with what he removed for trim panels to do the install and wiring it into the "car factory trailer brake harness in rear". I hope that means the 3rd center brake lamp. I want to make sure this works with the AEB and meets all safety issues.

Stated they are unable to test the switch without a trailer being hooked up. I dont have a trailer currently. Any way to test to make sure this works without having a trailer? Couldnt a meter test it?

The install looks very clean and I wouldn't even know he did anything which makes me wonder if it actually works. I want to trust their work but I have learned not too.

Also, should this fall under Ford's 2 year warranty as well?
You should be able to visually verify that they put in the ford PN VKB3Z-2C006-A by dropping your kick panel under the steering wheel by pulling it downward and visually verifying that you have both modules first being the redarc controller and the second being the lumen ECU that talks to the brake signal all the way back at the CHMSL.

Redarc published instructions in 2016 that state you can use a 5-21 watt test light to verify function of the trailer brake controller that will put enough load on the circuit to wake up the unit... noting that you should not try and use an LED test light, multimeter, or test light over 21 watts. I cannot personally confirm this works as I do not own a test light maybe someone else can chime in.

Were you provided with the instructions from the kit? The kit also came with a single page that pretty much sums up the steps to switch modes and adjust sensitivity.. If so you're probably fine to just hook up your trailer and move along!

I am not 100% sure about warranty coverage, if they did install the ford accesory TBC kit and it was installed by a dealership I would assume you are good to go for atleast a year or two after installation though.

Where did they place the dial in your installation? If you didn't pay labor because it was part of a purchase that's pretty awesome of your dealership.. or they charged you elsewhere in the deal :p
 

ranger

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Yes we have done one install at our dealer and it was awful. Ford says it only pays a half hour but yet you have to take the trim under the steering wheel out and the left lower door sill to wire everything in. Not a fun install
 
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cory1848

cory1848

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You should be able to visually verify that they put in the ford PN VKB3Z-2C006-A by dropping your kick panel under the steering wheel by pulling it downward and visually verifying that you have both modules first being the redarc controller and the second being the lumen ECU that talks to the brake signal all the way back at the CHMSL.

Redarc published instructions in 2016 that state you can use a 5-21 watt test light to verify function of the trailer brake controller that will put enough load on the circuit to wake up the unit... noting that you should not try and use an LED test light, multimeter, or test light over 21 watts. I cannot personally confirm this works as I do not own a test light maybe someone else can chime in.

Were you provided with the instructions from the kit? The kit also came with a single page that pretty much sums up the steps to switch modes and adjust sensitivity.. If so you're probably fine to just hook up your trailer and move along!

I am not 100% sure about warranty coverage, if they did install the ford accesory TBC kit and it was installed by a dealership I would assume you are good to go for atleast a year or two after installation though.

Where did they place the dial in your installation? If you didn't pay labor because it was part of a purchase that's pretty awesome of your dealership.. or they charged you elsewhere in the deal :p
I was provided with the instructions, the single page. Still have yet to go through it. Service manager confirmed the 2 year parts and labor warranty with me, so that is good. Dial was placed left side of steering wheel where instructions say to place it. I am fine with it there.

I am still surprised I wasn't charged install. I think they realize the screw up in not providing this as part of the tow package so he didnt push back on it. Did say it took longer than expected but it was because the tech wanted to be thorough. Not because it was difficult. Think it was the first one they did and they have been getting calls about it. Maybe I lucked out?
 

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'm a bit disappointed that a truck with a 7,500# tow rating is this time consuming to wire for a simple brake controller. It seems to me Ford has done a poor job of engineering on this part of their build. It should be a 5 minute plug & play installation...
 


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cory1848

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Yes we have done one install at our dealer and it was awful. Ford says it only pays a half hour but yet you have to take the trim under the steering wheel out and the left lower door sill to wire everything in. Not a fun install
Was it awful because it was the first one and it was a learning experience? After doing a few do you think techs will get it down to that half hour?
 
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cory1848

cory1848

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'm a bit disappointed that a truck with a 7,500# tow rating is this time consuming to wire for a simple brake controller. It seems to me Ford has done a poor job of engineering on this part of their build. It should be a 5 minute plug & play installation...
100% agree. At least should have been included in the tow package. This is the second time I have been burned with dealer advertised tow allowances only to find out after I can't tow what I intended.

I just cant believe they even started selling the truck without that part even available, while advertising that tow rating... I do kind of feel I shouldn't have had to pay for this part but it wasn't worth the argument with ford.
 

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100% agree. At least should have been included in the tow package. This is the second time I have been burned with dealer advertised tow allowances only to find out after I can't tow what I intended.

I just cant believe they even started selling the truck without that part even available, while advertising that tow rating... I do kind of feel I shouldn't have had to pay for this part but it wasn't worth the argument with ford.
Hi Cory,

Yep, Ford missed the boat and likely the blame is in the Marketing arena. They set a price point for packages and take rates for these options. Having the Redarc installed and ready to go would increase the price point and the take rate would be reduced on paper to become non profitable. This is just speculation on my point but has Marketing so written all over it....

I was burned by them on our Ranger Class 3 receiver hitch bumper at the time. Market take rate was determined to be 4%. They really blew it as the take rate was more like 25%..... Forced me to spend another $7m on plant facilitation for this option thanks to this mistake.

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired
 
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cory1848

cory1848

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Hi Cory,

Yep, Ford missed the boat and likely the blame is in the Marketing arena. They set a price point for packages and take rates for these options. Having the Redarc installed and ready to go would increase the price point and the take rate would be reduced on paper to become non profitable. This is just speculation on my point but has Marketing so written all over it....

I was burned by them on our Ranger Class 3 receiver hitch bumper at the time. Market take rate was determined to be 4%. They really blew it as the take rate was more like 25%..... Forced me to spend another $7m on plant facilitation for this option thanks to this mistake.

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired

So why not just tack on another $300 to the tow package to include the controller? I dont mind paying for it but if I am being charged for a tow package and sold a vehicle with a 7500lb rating, include the controller.... Marketing may have missed this but engineering/design dropped the ball as well by thinking a truck didnt need this to safely tow that weight. Someone had to sign off on it... Either way, as long as this controller does what it states, I am good to go. I didn't pay labor so my dealer made it right. I hope Ford makes the dealers right.
 

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So why not just tack on another $300 to the tow package to include the controller? I dont mind paying for it but if I am being charged for a tow package and sold a vehicle with a 7500lb rating, include the controller.... Marketing may have missed this but engineering/design dropped the ball as well by thinking a truck didnt need this to safely tow that weight. Someone had to sign off on it... Either way, as long as this controller does what it states, I am good to go. I didn't pay labor so my dealer made it right. I hope Ford makes the dealers right.
I think you missed the price point of Marketing.
 

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It was just a fuck up. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper/easier to install before the trim was on. (Or, really, if had been designed in there wouldn't be an extra module.) I think this is less about marketing and more about the fact that they didn't start working on the extra module until too late. My main reason for not wanting the Ford solution is that I don't trust the dealer to rip that much off the interior of the truck and then actually get it back on properly with no rattles.

If they weren't coming out with a redesign soon I'd expect the module to just start showing up in the tow package. As it is I think they'll just kick the can down the road rather than going through the trouble of making a change for such a limited time. A normal brake controller isn't hard if you just don't care about AEB.
 
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cory1848

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I think you missed the price point of Marketing.
Or maybe there was nothing there to market because design forgot to include it? All I know is someone missed this and someone else signed off on it. Legal should be in on this too.

A simple addendum in the manual stating: "*Towing capacity achieved with dealer installed brake controller not included with tow package required..." Would have solved the issue.
 
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It was just a fuck up. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper/easier to install before the trim was on. (Or, really, if had been designed in there wouldn't be an extra module.) I think this is less about marketing and more about the fact that they didn't start working on the extra module until too late. My main reason for not wanting the Ford solution is that I don't trust the dealer to rip that much off the interior of the truck and then actually get it back on properly with no rattles.

If they weren't coming out with a redesign soon I'd expect the module to just start showing up in the tow package. As it is I think they'll just kick the can down the road rather than going through the trouble of making a change for such a limited time. A normal brake controller isn't hard if you just don't care about AEB.
I would think the AEB would be a CYA from a legal perspective. Dealer wouldn't be allowed to install it without it due to liabilities and installing a third party on ones own, would open the owner up to liability. I wanted that bit on Ford in case something happened.

I was concerned about the dealer ripping it apart too but I can't even tell they did it. They did a good job with it. Its just all plastic and if something broke, its on them to replace it. No rattles so far.
 

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A simple addendum in the manual stating: "*Towing capacity achieved with dealer installed brake controller not included with tow package required..." Would have solved the issue.
1) I guess it needs to be repeated again: you do not need any electronic brake controller to achieve the rated towing capacity. There are other braking systems that properly brake the trailer without an EBC even if your particular trailer needs one.
2) This is all already covered in manual. It's also pretty common in the industry so it really shouldn't be a surprise. The only unusual thing about the ranger is that the OEM EBC is particularly obnoxious to install and wasn't even available for most of a year after release.
 

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I would think the AEB would be a CYA from a legal perspective.
Yes, that's at the heart of all of this. Ford was quite clearly driving rangers around with redarc controllers before the lumen module was available, and it wasn't a problem until (presumably) someone in legal freaked.

Dealer wouldn't be allowed to install it without it due to liabilities and installing a third party on ones own, would open the owner up to liability. I wanted that bit on Ford in case something happened.
At a certain point "liability" is just FUD. Ford almost certainly would have liability if they advertise that the truck has AEB but don't make it clear that it doesn't work with a trailer except in a specific configuration. But for an end user, who isn't required to have AEB in the first place? I don't see it. This isn't a situation where you'd sue Ford claiming that you wouldn't have had an accident if AEB was working, this is a case where you have an accident and you're already liable--how does any of the agonizing over brake controllers change anything? If you want to avoid liability for an accident with your trailer, load it properly, keep your speed down, and leave plenty of space. If AEB doesn't come on none of this matters, and if it does come on while towing you were probably screwed anyway (and based on general observations, nothing personal, if AEB comes on while towing the guy pulling the trailer was probably driving like an asshat.)

I was concerned about the dealer ripping it apart too but I can't even tell they did it. They did a good job with it. Its just all plastic and if something broke, its on them to replace it. No rattles so far.
My last new car just barely avoided being totalled after being hit from behind and slammed into something else. Over the years, long after there was any chance of getting the body shop to admit it was their fault, all sorts of things cropped up. Nothing ever goes back as well as it came from the factory. If I planned to dump it a year or two it wouldn't matter, but no way any dealer I've ever delt with would fix a broken clip years after they pulled on it but sometimes things can fail prematurely even if not immediately. Or the half-assessed tape that papered over the issue wears out.
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