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Old 05-03-2011, 04:42 PM   #1
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Red face Brake Controller (GM Built-in)

I have a 2008 Chevy 2500HD with a built-in brake controller for trailer towing. When I am hooked up, I do not get any reading from the "Output" side of the controller, which must mean the trailer brakes are not engaging. They worked with my old 2006 Chevy 1/2 ton with an aftermarket brake controller. Where do I begin and how do I troubleshoot this problem?
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Old 05-03-2011, 05:17 PM   #2
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I had a 2008 silverado 1500 with the built in brake controler. I think there was a mention in the owners manual about a fuse that may need to be installed. It turned out mine was installed. I no longer have the truck and the memory is not what it use to be. Best of luck.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:03 AM   #3
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Your should get a message "Trailer Connected" after you plug in - this means that the controller senses the brake circuit. When you activate the brakes by hand (move the lever) you should get a readout that shows the gain setting and a bargraph showing the amount of braking being applied. There are also diags built into the computer system that will tell you if something is wrong with the controller and if the trailer becomes disconnected - after being connected. As for getting actual voltage to the rear plug, I am not sure if the computer puts out any signal unless the trailer is connected. The computer is located in the frame behind the rear wheel on the drivers side.
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:22 AM   #4
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Check fuse 6 in the underhood circuit breaker box.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:34 AM   #5
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Question REF: Trailer Brake Controller (GM Built-in)

Thanks to all for the input(s). I checked the fuse and it is ok, also should note:

1) With the trailer connected, I do get the message "Trailer Connected"

2) I get whatever i"Input" reading based on the controller setting

3) I get nothing on the "Output" side

4) Last year, my safety cable pulled out because I didn't allow for proper clearance in extreme turns and it pulled out when I left my driveway. Needless to say, the brakes became quite hot, as they were doing what they were supposed to do, I was just too stupid to recognize the problem. In any event, I plugged it back in and we went on our way. No doubt this is where the damage/problem occurred, although I can safely say that I don't remember getting an output readout even before this occurred. In any event......!

5) The problem appears to be on the trailer side and that is what I need help in troubleshooting. I believe I will have to replace the brakes and maybe the issue is related to the electromagnets in each wheel?

6) How do I determine if I have the proper voltage/current at each wheel?

7) How do I determine if I have proper continuity at the trailer plug and the vehicle socket?
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:32 AM   #6
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I doubt that activating your emergency brakes caused any problem. An easy way to check the brake magnets is pull the safety cable and see if your brakes engage.
If you have 12vdc input to the controller I'd then check the output from the brakes to determine if they are telling the controller to activate. I think that signal originates at the brake light circuit although GM also used a vacuum back-up which cancelled the cruise control in the event the brake light circuit failed.
Most controllers now incorporate diagnostics that will display fault codes like "no ground to controller", "shorted brake wire", etc.
Some controllers also activate by sensing slow down of the tow vehicle. These require the controller to be mounted reasonably flat to operate properly. I'm not familiar with yours so can only offer generic ideas.
Since you have no output from the controller yet it senses the trailer is present it's most likely the fault is in the controller or the signal that tells it to activate and not in the plug or trailer.
What happens if you manually activate the controller?
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:29 PM   #7
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In the case of the GM controller, it does not like to be back feed and that is what happens when the break away switch is activated. It is assumed that the main plug is already pulled out when that cable is pulled out. There could be damage to the controller - the dic should have read check brake controller - however that message goes away if you turn off the truck and turn it back on again.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:50 AM   #8
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REF: Trailer Brake Controller (GM Built-in)

Again, thanks for the input(s) to all who responded. Additional comments:

1) I do not get an output reading or bar graph, even when operating the slide lever on the built-in controller.

2) The trailer connection appears on the in-dash readout even after the trailer has been disconnected and the 7-pin plug removed from the truck. It acts like the trailer is still connected, even the back-up assist lights remain "inactive" for several days after disconnecting the trailer.

3) Manually activating the controller does not seem to do anything, there is no braking action when this is done on the road.
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Old 05-05-2011, 10:03 AM   #9
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I think you need to take the rig to a dealer and have them check out the brake controller. Mine shows the bargraph even if the trailer is not connected. As for the back up detector they are disabled due to the hitch being in close proximity to them. It has nothing to do with the trailer electrical connection.
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:42 PM   #10
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If you are getting underscores instead of boxes then it isn't making a good connection or isn't compatible with the trailer brakes...the GM brake controller will only work with electric only brakes unless you fake it out.

Re the parking assist, if you leave your hitch attached it may detect it which is why it won't function. For us the hitch (3" drop) will cause the parking assist to not function until we remove it.
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:05 PM   #11
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Smile REF: Trailer Brake Controller (GM Built-in)

Techie: Underscores is exactly what I am getting. I believe I will take the whole rig to a GM dealer and start from there. Thanks for the input.
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:41 PM   #12
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Question REF: Trailer Brake Controller (GM Built-in)

Techie-
I discovered a bent pin on the truck side of the connector - I straightened it out and am now getting bars on the output side. Now, it doesn't seem to make a difference if I have it set on 1.0 or 10.0 - when I manually activate the controller to "brake" the trailer, it definitely doesn't lock up the brakes, but only seems to slightly slow down the vehicle, which in reality may be more likely from the transmission than actual "braking". In other words, it says it works, but doesn't seem to be doing much of anything. With my old aftermarket controller I could actually lock up the brakes if it was set too high. what gives?
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Old 05-09-2011, 07:32 AM   #13
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When you brake are the bars increasing indicating the the trailer brakes are being applied? If so, that would indicate that at least the GM controller and the trailer brakes are talking.

Are you using the GM procedure for setting the gain? That is, while driving between 20-25 MPH applying the brakes via the controller only?

You should be able to adjust the gain so that the brakes will lock up using that procedure without the transmission affecting the procedure. For us that was at 6.5.

If you're trying to see if your brakes will lock up under "normal" driving that may not happen as (at least on ours) the brake controller works in conjunction with the trans and trailer bakes and truck brakes and stability control to keep everything under control and reduce sway. Works quite well from our limited experience. The only way to force a lock up - other than a true panic stop - is to use the manual override.

If the manual override does not allow you to set the trailer brakes properly then it is probably somethign else and may be that the trailer does not have compatible brakes (not likely if you're now getting bars).

What type of brakes do you have on the trailer -- electric only or electric over hydraulic? The GM brake controller will only work with electric unless it is "fooled"...the Duramx forum has postings from some folks who have fooled it by wiring in some brake magnets.
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:16 AM   #14
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Unhappy REF: Trailer Brake Controller (GM Built-in)

Techie:

1) Yes, I am getting bars and they are progressive based on the force applied to the brake pedal.
2) Yes, I tried using the GM procedure to apply the brakes, but no matter the setting, we do not reach any point where there appears to be any difference in slowing down the vehicle at 25-30mph. We cannot lock-up the brakes, even with the manual override.
3) Our trailer has strictly electric brakes.
4) With the old aftermarket controller I was definitely able to lock-up the brakes, but not with this one.
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