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Old 12-09-2016, 07:19 PM   #1
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Escape brakes

I have a 2016 Ford Explorer and am trying to find out if I need to install an additional braking control device to town our 15A. The Explorer has the tow package and Class all hitch. Kim
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:35 PM   #2
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As all Escape trailers have electric brakes you must install a brake controller to be on compliance with the vehicle code in most, if not all states.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kkinna View Post
I have a 2016 Ford Explorer and am trying to find out if I need to install an additional braking control device to town our 15A. The Explorer has the tow package and Class all hitch. Kim
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Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
As all Escape trailers have electric brakes you must install a brake controller to be on compliance with the vehicle code in most, if not all states.
To expand on Ross' answer:

You do need a brake controller. But, if your question is, does your vehicle already have one, it's pretty easy to find. If it's there (i sincerely doubt it) it will be in the dash and look something like the photo below.

Just because you have a tow package and hitch does not mean you have a factory brake controller. In most Ford models, the factory brake controller is still an option, even with a tow package.

As for your Ford Explorer, if it's a newer model, Ford makes a brake controller that mounts in the dash, integrates with your dash display, and can be controlled from the steering wheel buttons. If your Explorer is a late model with the option to do this, I highly recommend you get the Ford controller. It's one of the best out there. It's pricey, and it does require the dealer to install it since it has to be programmed to work, but in my humble opinion it's well worth the money.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:48 PM   #4
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Any Escape (even a 15') is heavy enough that most non-commercial vehicles require - according to the vehicle manufacturer - that the trailer has functional brakes... regardless of the hitch.

In this case (okay, I read the manual for a 2015 Explorer, but they're presumably the same) the owner's manual includes:
Quote:
Separate functioning brake systems are required for safe control of towed vehicles and trailers weighing more than 1500 pounds (680 kilograms) when loaded.
Any Escape 15' will weigh more than 1500 pounds - it's heavier than that dry and empty.

To explain part of the problem of towing without trailer brakes, Ford manuals generally contain a statement like this one from the Explorer owner's manual:
Quote:
The rating for the tow vehicle’s braking system operation is at the gross vehicle weight rating, not the gross combined weight rating.
In the case of an Explorer, the Explorer itself is over 4500 pounds and the total with an Escape 15 will certainly be more than the GVWR... and thus more vehicle to stop than the brakes are designed to stop, even if the tires attached to those brakes had enough traction (which they don't, because the trailer weight isn't on them).

There are also legal requirements as Ross mentioned: while they vary by jurisdiction (state or province), physical reality doesn't, so if one place requires them then they are obviously at least a good idea everywhere. Legal requirements are minimums, not good practice.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:00 PM   #5
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As for your Ford Explorer, if it's a newer model, Ford makes a brake controller that mounts in the dash, integrates with your dash display, and can be controlled from the steering wheel buttons. If your Explorer is a late model with the option to do this, I highly recommend you get the Ford controller. It's one of the best out there. It's pricey, and it does require the dealer to install it since it has to be programmed to work, but in my humble opinion it's well worth the money.
In a pickup, or even an Expedition, sure... but in an Explorer? An integrated controller in this model seems unlikely to me, and one isn't mentioned in the 2017 Explorer brochure (separately or in either of the towing packages), in the towing guide, or in the towing section of the (2015) manual. Well, it is mentioned in the towing guide, but only in a page of general information applicable to all vehicles.

Too bad... an integrated controller would be nice.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:48 PM   #6
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Okay, I guess the question was "what is needed to make the brakes work", rather "do I need to make the brakes work"! Sorry - the question about the need for brakes comes up so often the answer comes out automatically.

So, with no integrated controller available, the Explorer needs an aftermarket controller to run the trailer's brakes, plus the wiring to connect everything together. Only the optional Class II towing package is required to handle the weight of an Escape 15', but it only comes with a 4-pin connector on the back of the Explorer... and you need a 7-pin, plus at least five of the wires that go to it.
With any luck you meant that it has the "Class III" hitch, and hopefully that came as part of Ford's Class III Towing Package. If so, all the wiring is in place: all you need to buy is a controller and an adapter harness to plug it into the connector under the dash. Of course, you have to mount the controller somewhere; the controller comes with a mounting bracket.

eTrailer has a good roundup of available controllers for the 2016 Explorer with 7-pin, each shown with the corresponding adapter.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:05 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone. There is a 7-pin plug, a tow button, hill decent, etc. The manual says that electric brakes are safe to have installed on the trailer, but says nothing about a controller. Is the controller needed if there is a 7-pin connector already installed?
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:34 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone. There is a 7-pin plug, a tow button, hill decent, etc. The manual says that electric brakes are safe to have installed on the trailer, but says nothing about a controller. Is the controller needed if there is a 7-pin connector already installed?
The controller tells you that the brakes are working. You can also use it manually to slow the trailer if you have sway. You need the controller.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:38 PM   #9
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There is a 7-pin plug, a tow button, hill decent, etc.
If the 7-pin is the one installed by Ford, you have the full Class III towing package - good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kkinna View Post
The manual says that electric brakes are safe to have installed on the trailer, but says nothing about a controller. Is the controller needed if there is a 7-pin connector already installed?
Yes, it's needed. The manual doesn't describe it, because Ford does not offer one for this vehicle... it's the owner's responsibility to choose appropriate equipment. In models that offer Ford's integrated controller (not the Explorer), the manual shows it and describes its operation in detail.

The 7-pin connector is just the end of a bunch of wiring. You need something to provide an appropriate amount power for the brakes through that wiring, and that's what the controller does.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:47 PM   #10
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The controller tells you that the brakes are working.
...
You need the controller.
It doesn't just tell you they're working - it makes them work. It measures how rapidly you are decelerating (how hard you are braking), and provides power to the brakes.

And yes, it has a display which shows the voltage of power it is providing to the brakes, and allows manual application. It is needed.
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