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Old 04-03-2006, 08:05 AM   #1
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I installed my Prodigy controller in my 01 Windstar this weekend. I don't have the trailer towing package so I did the complete running of the wires. Everything looked good. Last connection was to the stoplight switch. Found the lead that was the low side...depressed brake...the voltage goes to 12 when depressed...This is what I need. Made the splice and things look good.....

Here is the problem. The Windstar has some voltage on the low side of the stoplight switch while the car is running. I think this is for the management of the light bulbs...Anyway the voltage sits at around +3 volts while the car is running and goes to +12 when braking. The +3 volts is enough cause the prodigy to think I am braking.

Does anyone know of a way to get rid of this +3 volts...A diode or resistor maybe....Or another splice point for this function.

Hope someone else has been able to work this out. Teknosha support says that this controller will not work but I hope I can work this out. This was an ebay buy and since I already intalled and cut wires the retailer may not take it back....I also like this controller because of the high praise it seems to get.

HELP>

JC
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:05 AM   #2
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I installed my Prodigy controller in my 01 Windstar this weekend. I don't have the trailer towing package so I did the complete running of the wires. Everything looked good. Last connection was to the stoplight switch. Found the lead that was the low side...depressed brake...the voltage goes to 12 when depressed...This is what I need. Made the splice and things look good.....

Here is the problem. The Windstar has some voltage on the low side of the stoplight switch while the car is running. I think this is for the management of the light bulbs...Anyway the voltage sits at around +3 volts while the car is running and goes to +12 when braking. The +3 volts is enough cause the prodigy to think I am braking.

Does anyone know of a way to get rid of this +3 volts...A diode or resistor maybe....Or another splice point for this function.

Hope someone else has been able to work this out. Teknosha support says that this controller will not work but I hope I can work this out. This was an ebay buy and since I already intalled and cut wires the retailer may not take it back....I also like this controller because of the high praise it seems to get.

HELP>

JC
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:43 AM   #3
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Possibly a relay that won't react to 3 but will react to 12 volts.
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:44 AM   #4
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You sure you have 3 volts? It's not just a ghost reading? What kind of managment would be in place for bulbs?
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:38 PM   #5
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I think it uses this to tell if a bulb is out or maybe if the switch is bad.
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Old 04-03-2006, 04:29 PM   #6
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Sounds like you did everything correct. I would contact the dealer and ask them if the voltage is right, maybe even if they have another wire you can use if the voltage is right right.
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Old 04-04-2006, 06:34 PM   #7
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Well I went over this with Tekonsha and the dealer that I bought the controler from and even they went back to Tekonsha to confirm. Everyone double checked everything and it seems that this is an issue with the 01 windstar and it is in the design. I think the floting ground is part of the system that detects when a brake light bulb is out. It is not in all windstars just the 01 year i guess. Tekonsha has another model that has the same sensing circuitry as the Prodigy and is not troubled by this voltage. The dealer has no problem taking it back and exchanging it. I guess I could have done some form of relay as suggested but I don't want to make this too complex so i think I will go to the other controller as Tekonsha suggested.

I bought the thing thru rvsupplywarehouse and they are part of Brock's RV Center in Celina OH and they went above and beyond the call to help me. They were as puzzeled as I was and followed up with Tekonsha 2 times to make sure of this. Their installers have never run into this either. It is good to see people still giveing good service today. You don't run into it much any more.

Thanks everyone for your help.

JC
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Old 04-20-2006, 05:12 AM   #8
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Hi! New to this forum, but have learned many things about popup towing from other forums.

I discovered the same problem when installing a brake controller on my 2000 Windstar: The voltages on
the brake pedal switch wires don't work in the "traditional" manner.

I believe this change happened in '99, when the Windstar went to low-side switching for (at least) the lighting. The means the *ground* side of the bulb is switched, not the 12V side. I suspect this change also affected how things like brake switches worked.

Thankfully, Ford didn't leave RV owners out in the cold: The correct signal (at least for 2000 Windstars) is found in a connector that's taped to a wiring harness just above the brake pedal area (it's *way* up there; you'll have to reach just above and to the left of the brake pedal arm pivot point). Mine was *well* taped in place; I had to work at it to gain access space.

As always, a picture helps a lot - so I just ran out to the garage and took a picture of the connector and added it to my webshots album, along with some more text:

Windstar - brake controller signal connector

Note that there are connectors available that will mate with the Ford connector. I already had my soldering iron out, so I just hooked it up manually. You'll see one such connector on this page, in the "Universal Brake Controller Harness Adaptors" section. Note that the connector is only for '99 through '01 models (which supports my theory that this change happened as part of the low-side switching change).

http://www.accessconnect.com/brake_c...dden_hitch.htm
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Old 04-20-2006, 08:18 AM   #9
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Did your windstar have the trailer towing package and was the connector the dash connector for that? Mine did not so I had to wire the entire car for this. After calling tekonsha they said the answer was that the prodigy will not work with the windstar. Not sure if they meant all windstars or just the ones without the tow package. They had another model of controller that would work just like th prodigy called the Primus. This has the same sensing technology as the prodigy but a little less expensive. I exchanged and installed and the unit worked great. I went camping down to VA last weekend over easter and this was the 1st trip with a brake controller and I was happy with the way the car stopped. I was crazy to not have done this sooner. Anyway thanks all for the help. I am goint to take a look to see if my windstart does have that connector anyway.

JC
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Old 04-20-2006, 10:25 AM   #10
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JC -

My 2000 Windstar LX does *not* have the factory towing package. While I haven't checked other '99 through '01 Windstars, I have no reason to believe mine is somehow different. Hmmm... I have friends with an '01; I'll have to ask them if I can poke around under their dash.

I have been using the Tekonsha Prodigy (well, it's actually the "Draw-Tite Intella-Stop Ultra", which is just a rebadged Prodigy; only the name stenciled on the front is different) on my Windstar without problem. I did the installation late last year for a January trip from Maryland to Florida, so I've got about 1900 miles of towing on it. Works great!

I haven't heard the Primus vs. Prodigy discussion before. As I understand it, as long as the controller gets a 12V signal when the brake pedal is pushed, it will do what it's supposed to do. The wires at the brake pedal switch will not create a clean 12V-when-on-0V-when-off signal. The green wire in the connector I described on my van *does* create a clean signal; I checked this with a voltmeter before completing my connections.


I did a number of other things to prep my Windstar for towing, including a transmission cooler, numerous wiring upgrades, in-spring airbags and a full-size spare. Some pictures here:

http://community.webshots.com/album/548741257AJALLi

http://community.webshots.com/album/549196858rbUAlb

And some pictures of adding brakes to my popup camper:

http://community.webshots.com/album/548339571fnHjzQ
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Old 04-27-2006, 02:37 AM   #11
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Nice work! I was headed down the same path with my last camper. It was a 96 Colemen Sun Valley. It needed the brakes added. I also wanted to add Air and Heat. At that point I thought it would be better to sell it and buy another one with all these already in place but I did get to the point of having all the part numbers for the brake kit. Would have been fun but I have trouble getting the time to complete these projects.

I like the airbags you have in the springs. How has this addition helped you? Do they stay in all the time or do you put them in only when you tow? Do they change the ride when not towing? Where do you get them and about how much? Great all around job. I did the tranny cooler and the brake controller as you did. I have been happy with the primus but I still need to get under the dash to see about that connector.
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Old 04-27-2006, 06:09 AM   #12
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camperjohn -

The airbags don't make a huge difference, but they firm up the rear of the van.

The airbags stay in the van all the time - but you can vary the pressure. The manufacturer recommends a minimum of 5 psi (just enough to keep the bag in place and ensure it doesn't get pinched by the spring) and a maximum of 35 psi.

I tend to put about 25 psi in them when towing. If I think of it, I drop them down to about 15 psi when not towing. The van handles better with the bags, even when not towing (but I've always felt the rear end of the Windstar was too soft).

I purchased my AirLift 1000 airbags here:

http://www.rjays.com/Air_Lift/airlift-1000-01.htm

Cost was $80 + shipping. I travel with a portable 12V air compressor so I can adjust the pressure, if needed.

Please let us know if you find the connector in your van. I still want to check a friend's 2001 Windstar, but haven't gotten to it yet.
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