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Old 06-10-2018, 02:16 PM   #1
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Stuck in Gallup NM

So, we finally were able to get on the road after months of medical problems for the wife. Thank the Lord that seemed to have turned out ok! We leave Vegas, all's well. Then occasionally I get a dash board warning "check trailer wiring". Then another warning "trailer brake disconnected". We stop for the night in Gallup. The next morning we hookup, started out of the campground, did my brake check "trailer brake disconnected". (BTW...always do a brake check after you hook up before you get on the road just to make sure they are working.)
The trailer brakes weren't operating. Now what do I do? It's early Saturday morning. I find there is a Dodge Ram dealer in Gallup so I turn around, take the 5th wheel back to the site I was in the night before, tell the office I'm going to have to stay awhile longer and head off to the Dodge dealer. They are able to get me in and started troubleshooting right away. Later they asked me what after market device did I install on the Ram. They took me into the repair area and showed me what they were talking about. Immediately I recognized the KARR alarm system my dealer put in when I bought the truck. They told me that the alarm system had shorted causing the trailer brake module to fry because of the way it was installed. Also, since it was an after market installation, the repairs wouldn't be covered under the Dodge warranty. I said "Whoa, when I bought the truck the dealer put that in". I made many phone calls back to my dealer in Vegas, all ignored, for several hours trying to get someone back there where I bought the truck so they could get this taken care of. Finally a service technician called me, not a manager like I was asking for. He informed me that the alarm they sold was indeed after market.
Ok a little back story. When I bought the truck somehow I got talked into buying the KARR alarm system. "We put it in all our vehicles" I remember the sales guy tell me. I thought the thing was already installed in the truck. Turns out they had to install it a few weeks later. I'm such an idiot! Anyhow, I'm where I am right now.

So, I called the KARR dealer and of course "there's no way our alarm could cause damage to the trailer brake system" was his story.
I could see I wasn't getting anyplace. I'm stuck here in Gallup. I could leave the trailer in the RV park and drive back to Vegas to get the problem fixed through the dealer. Or I could just bite the bullet, suck it up, its on me and go ahead with the repairs here in Gallup. That's what I did. They had to order parts, I'm here till Thursday.

Still, I have to wonder, am I getting the real story from this repair shop? Who am I to believe? Maybe the alarm guy was right, his alarm didn't cause the short.
If this shop in Gallup can get it fixed, I mean completely I never have to worry about it again fixed, I'll take the hit, go on my way, lick my wounds, chalk it up to just another time I was taken!
Bill
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Old 06-10-2018, 02:55 PM   #2
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Those dealer added alarm systems are mostly just pure profit to the dealer. And yes, I could see how a sloppy install, not taking time to properly understand the wiring by the "low man on the totem pole" stuck installing those, could create problems when dealing with the additional more complex wiring on the truck. Could be the guy installing "thought he knew" all the appropriate wire color codes and just slapped it on.

When you get home, I'd be inclined to go back to the dealer and demand reimbursement for either the alarm or the repair cost. This is an example of why I avoid those things like the plague; any aftermarket messing around with wiring harnesses is problematic.

If you wanted to be on your way quickly, you might be able to just add an aftermarket brake controller (prodigy), but the trick would be to ensure there is no conflict with the factory one.
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Old 06-10-2018, 05:40 PM   #3
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Hopefully this repair facility will be able to get me going. I'd never have purchased that alarm system. The sales guy made it sound like it was already installed in the truck. Deceptive to say the least. I should have asked more questions about it, no one to blame but myself.
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Old 06-10-2018, 08:05 PM   #4
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Be aware that it may not be your truck, could be a short in your trailer wiring or your magnets, also I had this happen once where critters got into the wiring and chewed the wires near the back and caused the trailer controller module to burn up along with some relays under the hood so just to say, may not be any of the above or not. Good luck!
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Old 06-10-2018, 08:23 PM   #5
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Sorry to hear your tale.

Wiring done incorrectly can cause issues anywhere in your vehicle. Have you tested the trailer brakes by pulling out the safety breakaway to the ebrake? Doing this would bypass the truck system and determine if the trailer is at fault.
Do this test with the trailer connected to your tow vehicle. It should energize the magnets and lock the wheels. If not, then there is a wiring issue in the trailer system.
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Old 06-10-2018, 08:46 PM   #6
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Snipped from your original post:

They told me that the alarm system had shorted causing the trailer brake module to fry because of the way it was installed.

Make sure the repair facility includes this comment on their work order/invoice, hopefully expanding on it. Then take that document to the installing dealer's general manager/owner (no one else).

I would demand the greater of the original cost of installation or the repair bill, and go from there. You may not get anything but at that point the only thing you're out is your time.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:42 PM   #7
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You donít say the year of your truck, but let me tell you my experiences with my 2010 Ram. At the time we bought the truck, we had a TrailManor lightweight camper. We would constantly get the message youíre getting. I had the truck checked at the dealer many times (even had a new 7-pin receptacle installed); had the trailer checked many rimes for brake issues, ground problems, etc. Still no resolution to the problem. Gave up and didnít worry too much because the TrailManor weighed less than 4K loaded for a trip - a one ton dually will stop that load on its own, no sweat. Fast forward to our current full-timing rig (15k fifth wheel). Had the same issue coming across I-40 just west of Flagstaff, AZ. Houston, we have a problem. Limped to a shop - trailer brakes/magnets are fine, and no shorts/good ground in the wiring. This continued off and on until we reached our next destination where we would spend a few months. Bit the bullet and had an after-market brake controller installed. No problems since.

IMHO, the earlier factory brake controllers were junk. When it DID work, it always seemed weak, in that I would hate to do a Ďpanic stopí. Itís my understanding that the later models are better, but I have no experience with those.

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Old 06-11-2018, 09:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Btipton View Post
You donít say the year of your truck, but let me tell you my experiences with my 2010 Ram. At the time we bought the truck, we had a TrailManor lightweight camper. We would constantly get the message youíre getting. I had the truck checked at the dealer many times (even had a new 7-pin receptacle installed); had the trailer checked many rimes for brake issues, ground problems, etc. Still no resolution to the problem. Gave up and didnít worry too much because the TrailManor weighed less than 4K loaded for a trip - a one ton dually will stop that load on its own, no sweat. Fast forward to our current full-timing rig (15k fifth wheel). Had the same issue coming across I-40 just west of Flagstaff, AZ. Houston, we have a problem. Limped to a shop - trailer brakes/magnets are fine, and no shorts/good ground in the wiring. This continued off and on until we reached our next destination where we would spend a few months. Bit the bullet and had an after-market brake controller installed. No problems since.

IMHO, the earlier factory brake controllers were junk. When it DID work, it always seemed weak, in that I would hate to do a Ďpanic stopí. Itís my understanding that the later models are better, but I have no experience with those.

Bob
My Ram is a 2017 bought new March last year. Have only 18k miles on it. This is the first time we have towed with it, other than bringing the 5Th wheel home from the dealer.
I will try your suggestion using the breakaway to check the trailer brakes. Will the brakes reset after you release the breakaway chain? I've never engaged it so I don't know how that works.
I still think the problem is with the truck because I've seen this message come up on the dash before. The first time I washed the truck, when I sprayed water on the mirrors, the lights would flash. Then when I drive away I'd get that message to check trailer brake wiring. I took it back to the dealer twice concerning the problem. They ended up replacing the drivers side mirror. Obviously, there is more to the problem than the mirrors.
Like you, I have noticed when I did my brake check before getting on the road that I thought the trailer brakes were weak. I could tell the brakes came on, but even in the highest setting, they didn't grab very hard. Thanks for the info it really helps.

Man I love this IRV site!! You connect with people who have had similar experiences and learn from them.
Bill
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:04 AM   #9
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Ours was a metric nut on a non metric screw at the connector. The connection was not tight and caused the same issue. 2017 GMC one ton pulling a FR Wildcat.
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bill98116 View Post
I will try your suggestion using the breakaway to check the trailer brakes. Will the brakes reset after you release the breakaway chain? I've never engaged it so I don't know how that works.Bill
The Breakaway/emergency brakes for the trailer is actuated by the breakaway switch. Cord pulled out of switch? Brakes engaged. Cord plugged back into switch? Brakes disengaged. There is no reset proceedure or anything else.

As for how I know: When I first bought my 5er the lanyard was too short for where I was connecting it and I pulled it several times pulling into gas stations LOL! Quite the shock when you suddenly stop like that.

I'm really sorry for your wiring situation - that stinks.

I will tell you nearly every time I have been let down by modern vehicle (last 10 years) its because some idiot has messed with the wiring - its a requirement for me now to buy vehicles that haven't been touched. Could be the nicest used vehicle in the world, and the second I see an aftermarket alarm or similar I walk away. The Aftermarket crap is usually poorly wired, and the devices themselves never has the actual reliability of OEM due to cheap manufacturing and testing.

For some reason the aftermarket seems to think its ok to use Spade and crimp connectors whereas the OEM uses sealed locking positive engagement connectors for everything.
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Old 06-11-2018, 12:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill98116 View Post
My Ram is a 2017 bought new March last year. Have only 18k miles on it. This is the first time we have towed with it, other than bringing the 5Th wheel home from the dealer.
I will try your suggestion using the breakaway to check the trailer brakes. Will the brakes reset after you release the breakaway chain? I've never engaged it so I don't know how that works.
I still think the problem is with the truck because I've seen this message come up on the dash before. The first time I washed the truck, when I sprayed water on the mirrors, the lights would flash. Then when I drive away I'd get that message to check trailer brake wiring. I took it back to the dealer twice concerning the problem. They ended up replacing the drivers side mirror. Obviously, there is more to the problem than the mirrors.
Like you, I have noticed when I did my brake check before getting on the road that I thought the trailer brakes were weak. I could tell the brakes came on, but even in the highest setting, they didn't grab very hard. Thanks for the info it really helps.

Man I love this IRV site!! You connect with people who have had similar experiences and learn from them.
Bill
Yes, they will reset when you reinsert the pull probe into the safety.
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Old 06-11-2018, 12:33 PM   #12
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At least they found the problem with yours. I hope this repair shop will be able to get it fixed. The older I get, the less confidence I have in mechanics. My wife says I'm just getting cranky!!
Bill
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Old 06-11-2018, 10:56 PM   #13
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I think the problem lies in the truck as well. I know that since I installed the aftermarket controller, I have not had another issue with the trailer brakes working. The only minor annoyance is, at startup, I get the chime and the message on the EVIC to ĎService Trailer Brakesí. I just press what passes for the OK button on the steering wheel and it goes away. I could take it to a dealer and have them electronically remove the factory controller from the ECM, but Iím deleted and I donít care to have the dealer re-flash the ECM.

Bob
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Btipton View Post
I think the problem lies in the truck as well. I know that since I installed the aftermarket controller, I have not had another issue with the trailer brakes working. The only minor annoyance is, at startup, I get the chime and the message on the EVIC to ĎService Trailer Brakesí. I just press what passes for the OK button on the steering wheel and it goes away. I could take it to a dealer and have them electronically remove the factory controller from the ECM, but Iím deleted and I donít care to have the dealer re-flash the ECM.

Bob
I hope I don't have to resort to putting in a new brake system. I bought this truck new with it already rigged up for towing. Would really upset me if I had to put in a new brake system!!
Bill
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