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Old 08-24-2018, 10:15 AM   #1
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Brake controller challenge with 2018 Highlander

Iíve just picked up a new 2018 Toyota Highlander LE Plus to tow my 2014 Escape 19. When installing the brake controller that I used for my Acadia, the installer is having a challenge. When he taps into the brake light switch, he gets a low brake power warning. The local Toyota service advisor told me ďyou canít tow with that vehicle!Ē (although Toyota advertises 5000 tow rating and brake controller needed for over 1000 lbs) Glad I didnít buy there! Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:31 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by kstock11 View Post
I’ve just picked up a new 2018 Toyota Highlander LE Plus to tow my 2014 Escape 19. When installing the brake controller that I used for my Acadia, the installer is having a challenge. When he taps into the brake light switch, he gets a low brake power warning. The local Toyota service advisor told me “you can’t tow with that vehicle!” (although Toyota advertises 5000 tow rating and brake controller needed for over 1000 lbs) Glad I didn’t buy there! Any advice would be appreciated!
I'm not sure what you mean by, "... taps into the brake light switch, ...", so I'm talking beyond my knowledge here (of your situation and for basic brake controller wiring), but just to be clear, did the installer run a dedicated large gauge, high voltage wire directly from the tow vehicle battery, under the chassis, to the rear receptacle? A high voltage wire that actually carries enough current to activate the trailer brakes? I'm still trying to understand your situation. Also, just curious, did your new new Highlander have a "plug and play" electrical socket up under the dash to simply plug your controller into (using an appropriate wiring harness to match your controller with your car)? If so, that seems to be more confirmation that your new tow vehicle was, indeed, intended to be able to tow a trailer of significant weight to require trailer brakes.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:32 AM   #3
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Not to be critical but could it be a voltage requirement of the controller is higher than what is coming off the switch circuit? When they wired up our 2018 controller (a Tekshonka P3) it came out working properly. The tech did a very neat and complete job but it did take him considerably longer than the flat rate to fish the wires and figure out how it all went together. I was supposed to get it back late on a Friday and it took him 6 hours on Monday to finish. But it was right. Some folks give up or make excuses. We are just back from N.E Iowa where it’s pretty hilly. I had the Telshonka set on 4.0 at highway speeds and 2.8 on lesser traveled blacktops. My salesman suggested that the Highlander might not be meant for towing till I showed him the 2ft by 3 ft poster of a Highlander in the customer waiting room towing a huge boat on a tandem axle trailer with the caption “Highlander for the big towing jobs” or something like that. Then we went to see the service manager who was better informed and very helpful. I do have a ten gauge wire fished through the body ( not
Underneath) protected with circuit breakers coming off the battery. Hope this helps a little.
Iowa Dave
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:49 AM   #4
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... I do have a ten gauge wire fished through the body ( not Underneath) protected with circuit breakers coming off the battery. Hope this helps a little. Iowa Dave
An experienced, conscientious installer is worth the extra time and money to avoid problems down the road. Without me asking (or even knowing about them at the time), our installer included in-line auto-reset circuit breakers to protect our tow vehicle and brake controller just in case I or someone else did something stupid (Murphy's Law) with the trailer wiring in the future. He was very polite explaining it, and I was very thankful for his wisdom.
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Old 08-24-2018, 12:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Iowa Dave View Post
Not to be critical but could it be a voltage requirement of the controller is higher than what is coming off the switch circuit? When they wired up our 2018 controller (a Tekshonka P3) it came out working properly. The tech did a very neat and complete job but it did take him considerably longer than the flat rate to fish the wires and figure out how it all went together. I was supposed to get it back late on a Friday and it took him 6 hours on Monday to finish. But it was right. Some folks give up or make excuses. We are just back from N.E Iowa where itís pretty hilly. I had the Telshonka set on 4.0 at highway speeds and 2.8 on lesser traveled blacktops. My salesman suggested that the Highlander might not be meant for towing till I showed him the 2ft by 3 ft poster of a Highlander in the customer waiting room towing a huge boat on a tandem axle trailer with the caption ďHighlander for the big towing jobsĒ or something like that. Then we went to see the service manager who was better informed and very helpful. I do have a ten gauge wire fished through the body ( not
Underneath) protected with circuit breakers coming off the battery. Hope this helps a little.
Iowa Dave
So you change your brake setting's while towing? I only change mine when I'm with a new trailer ( I know, that maybe more often that when Dave tows but still) and have never changed the setting unless it is a different trailer. Why the changes??
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Old 08-24-2018, 01:34 PM   #6
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About your 2018 Highlander brk ctrl setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by kstock11 View Post
Iíve just picked up a new 2018 Toyota Highlander LE Plus to tow my 2014 Escape 19. When installing the brake controller that I used for my Acadia, the installer is having a challenge. When he taps into the brake light switch, he gets a low brake power warning. The local Toyota service advisor told me ďyou canít tow with that vehicle!Ē (although Toyota advertises 5000 tow rating and brake controller needed for over 1000 lbs) Glad I didnít buy there! Any advice would be appreciated!
Hi,
I have wired my controller to 2 previous different vehicles myself. And this year I wired the controller to my 2018 Highlander LE AWD.

The most difficult part is to get access to the wire harness coming out of the brake pedal switch. Once you uncover the wires, you'll see a larger gauge green wire than the rest of those in the bundle.

This is where you splice in the brake signal wire from the controller. Check that when you press the brake pedal the signal shows +12V. It should show 0V otherwise.

Then you'll need larger gauge wires (I used 10 gauge) to connect the positive side of the battery (+12V) through a circuit breaker (~30A) onto the brake power line onto the controller. Also use the larger gauge wire to connect the controller brake (output) wire to the trailer 7 pin connector. You'll also want another wire from the battery through another breaker to supply +12V to the trailer connector.

Here is some info about how I recommend you setup the Highlander on board CPU via the steering wheel controls. First disable the Line Departure feature along with the auto correction as recommended in the Toyota manual. I also disable the PCS (Pre-Collision System).

Important Note:
When you activate the manual brake control on the controller you will get a flashing message stating that the PCS system has failed and to go see a dealer. IGNORE this message as nothing is broken. You can clear this message by turning off/on the engine when appropriate. Some have gone around this "problem" by inserting a diode into the brake signal line going to the brake controller. A caveat to this mod is you may prevent the brake lights from coming on.

If you depress lightly (or not) the brake pedal and activate the controller manual brake, the failure message will not appear.

This "failure" message appears because other secondary lines from the brake switch must be activated simultaneously with the main brake signal, which doesn't happen with manual activation.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-24-2018, 02:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
So you change your brake setting's while towing? I only change mine when I'm with a new trailer ( I know, that maybe more often that when Dave tows but still) and have never changed the setting unless it is a different trailer. Why the changes??
I've bumped mine up a point or so a few times coming down some of the long wining hills out west when I wanted the trailer to do a little more of the braking. Once at the bottom I've returned it.
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Old 08-24-2018, 03:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kstock11 View Post
Iíve just picked up a new 2018 Toyota Highlander LE Plus to tow my 2014 Escape 19. When installing the brake controller that I used for my Acadia, the installer is having a challenge. When he taps into the brake light switch, he gets a low brake power warning.
The brake light signal is needed to trigger the controller, but very little current is needed from this circuit, so it is not a wire gauge issue. In addition to the Highlander-specific quirks described above, there are multiple wires on a typical brake pedal switch (of any model or brand of vehicle) and it is easy to pick the wrong one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kstock11 View Post
The local Toyota service advisor told me ďyou canít tow with that vehicle!Ē (although Toyota advertises 5000 tow rating and brake controller needed for over 1000 lbs) Glad I didnít buy there!
I would talk to the new vehicle sales manager (or general manager) at the dealership, tell them that this service advisor is driving customers away by lying about the capability of their products, and see how far they bend over backwards to make me happy.
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Old 08-24-2018, 03:19 PM   #9
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Thatís right

Quote:
Originally Posted by bitsnbytes13 View Post
Hi,
I have wired my controller to 2 previous different vehicles myself. And this year I wired the controller to my 2018 Highlander LE AWD.

The most difficult part is to get access to the wire harness coming out of the brake pedal switch. Once you uncover the wires, you'll see a larger gauge green wire than the rest of those in the bundle.

This is where you splice in the brake signal wire from the controller. Check that when you press the brake pedal the signal shows +12V. It should show 0V otherwise.

Then you'll need larger gauge wires (I used 10 gauge) to connect the positive side of the battery (+12V) through a circuit breaker (~30A) onto the brake power line onto the controller. Also use the larger gauge wire to connect the controller brake (output) wire to the trailer 7 pin connector. You'll also want another wire from the battery through another breaker to supply +12V to the trailer connector.

Here is some info about how I recommend you setup the Highlander on board CPU via the steering wheel controls. First disable the Line Departure feature along with the auto correction as recommended in the Toyota manual. I also disable the PCS (Pre-Collision System).

Important Note:
When you activate the manual brake control on the controller you will get a flashing message stating that the PCS system has failed and to go see a dealer. IGNORE this message as nothing is broken. You can clear this message by turning off/on the engine when appropriate. Some have gone around this "problem" by inserting a diode into the brake signal line going to the brake controller. A caveat to this mod is you may prevent the brake lights from coming on.

If you depress lightly (or not) the brake pedal and activate the controller manual brake, the failure message will not appear.

This "failure" message appears because other secondary lines from the brake switch must be activated simultaneously with the main brake signal, which doesn't happen with manual activation.

Hope this helps.
The circuit breakers (2) on our Highlander are installed exactly as described in this post. I did not disable the lane drift feature as I let the correction happen numerous times on purpose and the 21 tracks so tight that I do not get any sway and itís rare that I experience the correction. When I start out on a trip I manually activate the brakes in the asphalt driveway and they stop the whole rig quickly. The failure message comes up, I shut off the Highlander, restart and message goes away and I proceed up the driveway. Yes Jim, I change the setting with regard to speed, steepness of hills encountered, road surface and road conditions. Iíve been doing this since pulling a 7,000 pound tree spade with a 3/4 ton pickup in 1972. I know of at least one experienced towing team that regularly uses the manual override, co-pilot on the controller, driver on the brake pedal. Thatís teamwork. Hope all is going well for you and all other fall escapees.
Iowa Dave
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Old 08-24-2018, 03:26 PM   #10
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I wanted to thank everyone who responded! You guys are great. I printed out the instructions, showed the installer and he’ll take care of this for me.
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