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Old 03-20-2016, 10:42 AM   #1
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Advice for toad lights on 2013 Silverado

I am planning to make my 2013 Silverado 4x4 a toad. Chevy says it is OK and gives instructions for putting the transfer case in neutral.

Here are my questions and then some background information:

1. Will a plug in brake solution like Hopkins 56101 give me the correct action when I have the turn signal on and step on the brakes? Will it activate the upper brake light?

2. The hopkins solution just supplies a 4 blade flat plug, but my motor home has a 7 blade/pin connector. I do own an adaptor, but I would like to have the option of supplying 12 volts to the toad. Has anyone used a 7 blade receiver on the toad and built a cable with 7 pin ends on each end? I am aware that Roadmaster sells a 7 wire to 6 wire kit. It is quite a bit more expensive and requires the use of diodes (which I am not opposed to, but looking for the simplest approach).

3. Does anyone else have experience with wiring a 00-13 silverado/sierra as a toad?

Thank you
Montyhp '05 Discovery 39s

Background

I have ordered the blue ox baseplate(s) that replace the tow hooks.

I plan to order a readybrute elite tow bar with built in surge brake.

As for lighting, my Silverado has three bulbs in the taillights. The middle bulb is back up lights only so I won't worry about those.

The top and bottom bulb are redundant and each have two filaments, one for turn signals, emergency flashers, and brake lights and the other for the tail lights. Each bulb has three wires. (see attache photo for back of lighting assembly). I assume one is ground and one for each filament (one black wire, one yellow, one brown).

Chevrolet's instructions are to put the vehicle in Park and turn off the engine to tow. This means the brake lights will not work when the surge brake pulls the brake pedal. Therefore, I need to rely on the motorhome's brake light signal even though the brakes are being manually pushed.

I would really like to have the brake lights and turn signals work exactly like they do when the truck is on. I also don't like the thought of running a 4 blade flat connector (comes with the Hopkins kit) along the tow bar and through an adaptor every time I tow.
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:04 PM   #2
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montyhp-

I don't own a Silverado, so can't help on its particulars.

Don't assume that because the engine is off the brake lights won't illuminate when the surge brake mechanism pulls down on the brake pedal. On our Honda Fit, the brake lights go on whenever the pedal is depressed. You can easily test this on your truck.

Review the "Do You Need a Brake Light Relay?" section on the etrailer Web page for the Hopkins 56101. I had a TowDaddy harness similar to the Hopkins one, and determined that I didn't need a brake light relay.

I liked the plug-and-play (no splicing, diodes built in) nature of the TowDaddy harness. The biggest effort installing these is running the wires from aft to forward.

Many people install a six-wire connector on the front of their toad, as the 7th wire (backup lights) is usually found on a trailer, not a toad. You can install a 7-pin receptacle on the toad, and make up a 7-to-7 umbilical cable to match. That's what I did. Should I tow a trailer that has backup lights, I can use the same umbilical cable I use for the toad.

Here's a link to a Web page with diagrams and connector pinouts.
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:33 PM   #3
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When we towed a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee, we used a 7-blade Receptacle on the front of the Jeep. The 7-blade receptacle is quite more bulky than the 6/5/4 options. We prefer the 7-blade because the plug/receptacles have a better contact mechanism where the blades scrape across the contacts, a self cleaning operation.

I was using on four wires so I used a Hopkins 7-to-4 coiled cable and change the 4-flat end.

When we changed to a 2012 Equinox, we changed to a 4-flat connector because of the available space on the front. There is a 5-flat option too.

I do not like the 4/6 round options. The round pin in a round sleeve doesn't last well. The pin loses its spring in the split in the pin. The sleeves are prone to be pushed out of the receptacle body, starting with flaky contact to no contact.

In the Jeep, I added bulbs to the taillight housings because the Jeep had a light control module and would not deal with diodes. On the first Equinox, I added bulbs also but that was not a good solution. The bulb addition allowed condensation in the taillight housing and the bulbs did not stick far enough into the housing for good lighting.

On the second 2014 Equinox, I used a diode harness and found it a very acceptable solution. I had been concerned about voltage drop through the diodes but that doesn't appear to be a problem. The harness was easy as it had connectors that fit between the body harness and the taillight assembly connectors.

We needed a stop light indicator to indicate when the Apollo (BrakeBuddy like) auxiliary brake was applied. I tapped the Center High Mounted Stop Light (CHMST) for that indicator. On these newer cars, you cannot rely on the brake switch as it doesn't switch voltage.
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Old 03-20-2016, 01:29 PM   #4
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Montyhp,
Well Sir, we tow an '11 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended Cab 4x4 so, we're basically in the same category as you. Now, first off, let me give you a hint on some thing that will make your lift A WHOLE LOT EASIER forever, when towing.

We used the NSA Ready Brake for quite a few years in multiple toads. It worked and, worked well. I modified the total install so that it was seriously cleaner and more effecient than the way R/B wants or, instructs you to install. I won't go into it unless you ask.

But, what I'm getting at here is this. Not long ago, I started reading about the M & G Braking system. Well, after only a day or so of investigating, I ordered one up. It took me a day to install it, in both sides, the toad and the coach.

I don't know why I didn't go with this system DECADES ago!!!! You see, with the Ready Brute or, Ready Brake system, you need the cables and housing and all that, which includes tying them to the brake pedal arm with all that hideous mechanism. As stated earlier, mine was seriously cleaner than that.

But, with the M & G Braking system, there is NOTHING attached to the brake arm or pedal, inside the toad. In fact, there's NOTHING inside the toad at all.
It's all done with a unit that's installed between the master cylinder and power brake unit. The install is ultra simple and, once done, there's no adjustments, no cables, no electrical connection, etc.

And, since you're sporting a Diesel coach, the install of the coach side of the M & G is also a cake walk. M & G has detailed instructions on just exactly how to do it and, if there's any confusion at all, they're there, waiting for a phone call to answer any questions.

But, in the end, all you see is a short, curly que air hose between the coach and the toad. Another good point is, unlike the Ready Brake and or the Ready Brute, you don't get brakes applied when you're using your exhaust brake. So, there's some brake life extension on your toad. Below are some pics of the install. I'd surely recommend it for your application. You'll really like it.

As for the lighting. I'm one of those that believes EXACTLY what you believe in. And that is, I want the toads tail lights to act EXACTLY the same way when towing it, as they do when driving it. That way, when someone is following me towing our truck, there's no confusion 'cause those tail lights are doing exactly what they're supposed to.

And, I've done it the same way, for 11 toads now, with absolutely ZERO electrical issues what so ever. I've done it with and, without amber turn signals on the toad. And even with them, I still had the amber turn signals working as they should.

Now, I can't speak for your third brake light. Heck, I can't even remember if our third one works while towing it. I do know that I had our previous toads third brake light working, on an '11 Honda CRV EXL 4WD.

I do things the hard way, well, not hard for me 'cause I'm used to it but, hard for most others. First, I build my own pig tails. I use a 7-pin on the coach end and, a 6-pin on the toad end. For basic lighting, all that's needed is 4 wires. Rt turn/brake, Left turn/Brake, Tail/marker and ground.

For other types, as in amber turn signals, things change just a bit. Anyway, from the plug on the front of the toad, I run all the wires all the way back, along the frame, tying them up as I string them along, to the left rear of the bed of the truck, behind the left rear tail light housing.

There, I make all my connections. I won't go into how I do it, unless you ask. It's actually very easy.

One more thing. You asked about the situation with the toads brake lights being activated with the brakes being applied in the toad, via the toads brake light switch. Well, as has been stated, many cars/trucks etc. WILL activate the brake lights with the application of the brake pedal, even with the key completely out of the vehicle.

I hope this helps some in your quest. I'd be very happy to help here since our toads are almost identical. PM me if you'd like to know more.
Scott

P.S. Below are some pics of the install. The first are of the unit that is installed in the truck. The second is it, installed. The third and fourth are where I tied into the coaches air brake system.
The last set are showing the connections on both the truck and the coach. Good luck.







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Old 03-20-2016, 03:03 PM   #5
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Mark and Dale and Mark, thanks for the insights. I know the brake lights and turn signals do not turn on when the ignition is off as I checked that this morning. So it looks like I can just use the hopkins kit and wire my own connectors and umbilical.

However, I am intrigued by Scott's experiences (I will be PMing). Yes, it is basically the same truck. My original goal was to be as noninvasive as possible (especially with the coach). However, I don't shy away from a challenge. One of the reasons I want to do it all myself is if I do it, I know how to work on it, fix it, or undo it if necessary. I have never really worked with hydraulic systems so I am leery about cutting into the coach air brake hoses.

Now I have to reevaluate the costs.
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Old 03-20-2016, 03:39 PM   #6
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montyhp-

I modified my toad for the reasons you state.

You and Scott should get along well.

If you want any info on the 7-pin parts I used/made, just send me a private message.
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Old 03-20-2016, 05:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montyhp View Post
Mark and Dale and Mark, thanks for the insights. I know the brake lights and turn signals do not turn on when the ignition is off as I checked that this morning. So it looks like I can just use the hopkins kit and wire my own connectors and umbilical.

However, I am intrigued by Scott's experiences (I will be PMing). Yes, it is basically the same truck. My original goal was to be as noninvasive as possible (especially with the coach). However, I don't shy away from a challenge. One of the reasons I want to do it all myself is if I do it, I know how to work on it, fix it, or undo it if necessary. I have never really worked with hydraulic systems so I am leery about cutting into the coach air brake hoses.

Now I have to reevaluate the costs.
of course I meant pneumatic systems (but have not worked with either hydraulic or pneumatic systems)
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Old 03-20-2016, 06:51 PM   #8
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Essentially the same truck, same 7 pin. I just ran the 7 pin to a receptacle on the toad. The + pole ran to the toad battery as a charge line. We never have a dead battery. The tail, brake and L/R signal lights were run to the rear of the truck inside the box frame member. At this point they were attached to each tail and brake light assembly with diodes. Done. In addition, you still have spare pins on the plug to use if you want to signal back to your RV for any reason. On mine I use it to show when the Air Force One brake applies the toad brakes. Since the brake wire in the 7 pin is already wired to the underdash area of your coach, no additional wiring is needed.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montyhp View Post
of course I meant pneumatic systems (but have not worked with either hydraulic or pneumatic systems)
montyhp,
I sympathize with your feeling about tapping into the coaches air brake system. I've been working "outside the box" for decades and, have always been willing to take a chance. I'd heard of the M & G through various friends, RV forums and more. So, I figured that, since I've not ready any reports of anyone dying due to tapping into the coaches air brake system, to operate the M & G component in the toad, it must be working.

So, I read the instructions, SEVERAL times and, to be 110% assured it's a viable solution and ACTUALLY DOES WORK, I called M &G. The tech is not all that talkative but, he did reassure me that how you attach the system to the coaches air brakes, is 1000% safe and that it is 100% proportional. The more you stand on those air brakes, the more the brakes are applied in the toad. If you do things lightly, the toads brakes are lightly applied.

To me, after the initial "should I or, shouldn't I" dilemma was over, I dove into the install and, in a matter of a only a few hours, it was done. I'm so happy with it that, I ordered up another brake unit for our Jeep Rubicon. So, now I can tow our GMC truck or our 2003 Jeep and, use the same braking system, the same little curly que hose etc.

And, like stated, that system has absolutely zero effect on the toads brake lights via its brake pedal 'cause it doesn't move. Your choice.
Scott
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:40 PM   #10
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Advice for toad lights on 2013 Silverado

I installed the M&G braking system to our 2013 Escalade. It was fairly simple. The only thing they don't supply are the fittings to tap into your brake line on the motorhome. I appreciate the simplicity of the system.

I also installed a drive line disconnect as ours is 2WD.

I made a diode based plug-in harness for the brake and turn signals only because I did not realize Hopkins made a plug and play kit for my vehicle. If I had it to do over, I would likely use the Hopkins kit. On ours the center brake light does not illuminate.

These are the 10A diodes I used.

Toolmall 20pcs 10amp Diode Axial Schottky Blocking Diodes for Solar Cells Panel,15SQ045 Schottky https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M4T6WWK..._sR27wbD3RMB3A

An alternative I later thought would also work and not require touching the toad wiring is to install one of the row of led kits under the tailgate and just wire to them.

Generic 60" Red/white Waterproof Tailgate LED Strip Light Bar Truck Reverse Brake Turn Signal Tail Light for Ford GMC Chevy Chevrolet Dodge Ram Toyota Nissan Honda Truck SUV 4x4 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017VVIVN8..._wU27wb3X9Z5RX

I used a 7-pin on the motorhome and a 6-pin on the Toad with the Blue Ox cable.

The 6-pin socket I mounted on the front had a 4-pin, a ground, a power and a brake line coming out. I used the 4-pin to connect the tail light harness. I was able to pass it inside the frame most of the way to the rear, only exiting it for about 12" in the middle where there was no continuous path through.

CURT 57626 6 Way Round To 4 Way Flat With Intergrated Test Lamps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001EOV41A..._-K27wbH9DZ5Z1

Be sure to check the connections for the separate wires, as they did not match the pins on th sockets where I thought they would be. Also the ground wire on the 4-wire pigtail was loose and not connected to the plug or the heavy duty ground.

I mounted the socket through the front license plate and used a hole saw to cut through the front bumper. If I sell the car, I can just buy a new front bumper mount, or even just a new license plate to cover the hole.

I also made up up a charge cable using 4 of the same diodes I used for the taillight in series. It is fused on both the motorhome end and the toad end. I connected it to a stud on the fuse panel on the toad.

Paul
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:46 AM   #11
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Just to close up the thread, I went with the Hopkins custom light adapter system for the Silverado. Very easy install with one plug in at the rear of the truck (just left of the spare tire) and run three wires up to the front. Then I installed a 7 blade connector in the front bumper of the truck and built a cable out of a 7 blade cable and a 7 blade connector. Tested and the light all work.

I have decided (on the advice of my installer) to have the SMI Air Force one installed next Monday. He said the problem with the M&G brake (which they also install) is if you have a broken air line between the coach and the truck, you lose brake air pressure. On the AF1, there is a small surge tank that isolates the truck from the coach's braking system.

Also will go with the Blue Ox Aventa (10,000lb) tow bar.
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Old 04-01-2016, 11:02 PM   #12
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Do you have StabilTrak on your Silverado?

I have added two things to my pre-flight list with our 2013 Escalade.

After I turn the ignition key to the position where the ignition is off, but the steering is still unlocked, I turn off the headlights so they do not come on when it gets dark.

Then I disable StabilTrak because if I don't it feels like it is applying the brakes in long sweeping corners.

That key position has a pretty high current draw so I had to add a charge line from the MH.

Paul
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwhittle View Post
Do you have StabilTrak on your Silverado?

I have added two things to my pre-flight list with our 2013 Escalade.

After I turn the ignition key to the position where the ignition is off, but the steering is still unlocked, I turn off the headlights so they do not come on when it gets dark.

Then I disable StabilTrak because if I don't it feels like it is applying the brakes in long sweeping corners.

That key position has a pretty high current draw so I had to add a charge line from the MH.

Paul
I don't think I have stabilitrak, it is 4x4 and I don't recall any kind of a traction control button. I'll check on that.

Also, the instructions for dinghy towing say to turn the ignition completely off after putting the transfer case in neutral, so there shouldn't be any power draws.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:36 AM   #14
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The line from the mh to the toad with M&G would only lose air when brakes are applied and the line isnt big enough to cause that much air loss to cause brake loss. I had an M&G on my 2015 GMC and its sitting in a box at home because i bought a Jeep which will also get an M&G.
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