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Old 06-21-2016, 02:54 AM   #1
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Is this price for hitch/brake controller too high?

I've just purchased a 2016 Kia Sorento and now have to set it up for towing. The estimate I got today for a hitch receiver (Class III) and brake controller was $847 + GST (CDN). Is this in the ball park for what others have paid? The last time I had this done was in 2000 and it was about $400 including the WDH. Unfortunately, she didn't really give me any detail about what type or brand of brake controller. I've been looking at the hitches online and see prices of around $230 (parts only). Obviously, there's a significant install charge, but I'm wondering if I should shop around some more. Anyone recommend a hitch shop in Edmonton or surrounding area? Thanks for any input!
Brenda
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:06 AM   #2
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I've no local knowledge Brenda, but the Hitch House in Edmonton has some pretty excellent reviews:

http://www.hitchhouseedmonton.com/home-1.html


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Old 06-21-2016, 08:19 AM   #3
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Brenda, have you contacted the shop Reace uses in Chilliwack. A few folks have gotten their hitches there, and I believe have been quite happy.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:37 AM   #4
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Brenda, have you contacted the shop Reace uses in Chilliwack. A few folks have gotten their hitches there, and I believe have been quite happy.
Brenda, Good advice from Jim. ETI uses Trademasters, just 2 blocks away . We didn't need the receiver, but ETI sold us the controller and Trademasters installed it, a Tekonsha Primus IQ. In and out in 45 minutes, $106 cad.. Sarah made the appt. and got the quote for us and we had it installed 2 hours prior to our orientation. Worked out great. You have more work and will need more time:

Trademasters
44467 Yale Rd.
Chilliwack, BC V2R 4H2
Ph. 604-792-3132
Fax 604-795-7525
Toll Free 1-877-878-5869
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:53 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice. The Hitch House is actually where I got the quote from!

The problem with getting it done in Chilliwack is that I don't get my Escape until next April, but I need a hitch to pull my Aliner for the rest of this summer. I don't need the brake controller for the Aliner, but the lady at the Hitch House told me it would be cheaper to do it all at once. ??

Is the $106 for the brake controller installed?

Thanks again!
Brenda
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Old 06-21-2016, 01:26 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice. The Hitch House is actually where I got the quote from!

The problem with getting it done in Chilliwack is that I don't get my Escape until next April, but I need a hitch to pull my Aliner for the rest of this summer. I don't need the brake controller for the Aliner, but the lady at the Hitch House told me it would be cheaper to do it all at once.

Is the $106 for the brake controller installed?

Thanks again!
Brenda
Yes. We checked in with ETI the day before orientation and they gave us the controller at that time (it was on our build sheet). We brought the controller to Trademasters the next morning, and they installed for $106 cad.
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Old 06-21-2016, 04:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by blhvet View Post
I've just purchased a 2016 Kia Sorento and now have to set it up for towing. The estimate I got today for a hitch receiver (Class III) and brake controller was $847 + GST (CDN). Is this in the ball park for what others have paid? The last time I had this done was in 2000 and it was about $400 including the WDH. Unfortunately, she didn't really give me any detail about what type or brand of brake controller. I've been looking at the hitches online and see prices of around $230 (parts only). Obviously, there's a significant install charge, but I'm wondering if I should shop around some more.
Unfortunately, it could reasonably be that high, depending on how much work needs to be done in wiring.
The hitch receiver is CA$180 plus CA$50 for installation at U-Haul; I'm not suggesting U-Haul but their price is usually competitive. I agree that the installation is a very large part of the cost, but if nothing is done by Kia, it could take hours. I was quoted over CS$300 to do my Sienna a decade ago (but I didn't pay that because I did it myself instead).

The eTrailer wiring page for the 2016 Kia Sorrento suggests that there is a factory tow package which provides at least some wiring. I would pin down just what needs to be done for this specific vehicle before accepting any estimate of cost.

I can't recommend a specific shop, but I'll just add my usual U-Haul caution: some locations are good, but others are completely incompetent. Some are owned by U-Haul, and are more likely to be reasonable hitch shops; others are dealers or franchises and could be anything.

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The problem with getting it done in Chilliwack is that I don't get my Escape until next April, but I need a hitch to pull my Aliner for the rest of this summer. I don't need the brake controller for the Aliner, but the lady at the Hitch House told me it would be cheaper to do it all at once. ??
I would want to do it ahead of time just to make sure it is all done and sorted out rather than having one more substantial and critical item to be done right at trailer pickup time. With some vehicles installation is trivial so this wouldn't be a concern, but it doesn't sound like that's the case here.

For most trucks and some SUVs installation of the brake controller, wiring, and the connector on the back of the tug is a couple of minutes of plugging in... so it doesn't matter when you do it. If the wiring to connect the controller (on the dash) to the battery and the brake light switch and the connector at the back all needs to be custom-built, then you wouldn't want to do the wiring for the Aliner's lights, then go back and do wiring again for the controller.

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Is the $106 for the brake controller installed?
CA$106 doesn't even buy a decent brake controller at most places here; I think Steve is saying that was just the installation cost (with the cost of the controller itself bundled with the price of the trailer as an accessory).
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Old 06-21-2016, 04:33 PM   #8
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CA$106 doesn't even buy a decent brake controller at most places here;

Nor here! The "integrated" brake controller for my F150 (basically a Tekonsha and considered one of the best brake controllers available) was $325 USD plus another $75 USD to program the truck to accept it.


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Old 06-21-2016, 04:44 PM   #9
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Nor here! The "integrated" brake controller for my F150 (basically a Tekonsha and considered one of the best brake controllers available) was $325 USD plus another $75 USD to program the truck to accept it.
eTrailer sells proper proportional controllers for around US$100 (US$144 for the most expensive, the Prodigy P3), but that P3 here is probably well over CA$200 at any RV parts store. Of course the same thing as a Ford part will be much more.
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Old 06-21-2016, 04:59 PM   #10
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Brian, I'm completely at my wit's end trying to figure out what the "Kia Towing Package" is and which vehicles it would be on. The owner's manual says the 3.3 L engine will tow 2000 lbs or 5000 lbs and 500 lb tongue weight with the tow package". I looked at all of the models and none had a hitch. No idea about the transmission cooler. I know there is a wiring harness listed as an accessory on the Kia website. I can't remember where I saw it, but I think it comes with a 4 pin plug. Of course, the dealership was no help - just told me that it absolutely had a 5000 lb tow capacity. I've checked Kia forums, rv forums, and no one has an answer. I don't know where else to look!

Maybe the $900 isn't a bad price and they seem to have a good reputation. I should call a couple more places for estimates and see if they're at least close.

Thanks again for the help.
Brenda
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Old 06-21-2016, 05:05 PM   #11
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Brian, I'm completely at my wit's end trying to figure out what the "Kia Towing Package" is and which vehicles it would be on. The owner's manual says the 3.3 L engine will tow 2000 lbs or 5000 lbs and 500 lb tongue weight with the tow package". I looked at all of the models and none had a hitch. No idea about the transmission cooler. I know there is a wiring harness listed as an accessory on the Kia website. I can't remember where I saw it, but I think it comes with a 4 pin plug. Of course, the dealership was no help - just told me that it absolutely had a 5000 lb tow capacity.
A towing preparation package often does not include the hitch - only stuff that should be installed at the factory which helps it handle the work of towing (such as a larger transmission cooler). Even if the wiring only supports the trailer lights, that can be helpful... but that would leave lots of wiring work for the brake controller and trailer battery charging power line.

Dealerships are usually not much help.
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Old 06-21-2016, 05:21 PM   #12
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The owner's manual is available online and I had a look. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything useful about wiring provisions. The wiring harnesses listed as accessories by Kia Canada look like the ones available aftermarket... it doesn't look like anything provided by Kia would support the installation of a brake controller of trailer battery charge circuit.
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Old 06-21-2016, 05:48 PM   #13
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For my Murano I originally started towing our 17B with I purchased the wiring harness from the dealer, had them install it(had to remove headliner!) and took it to my hitch guy for a receiver. He said the Murano was tricky and with the OEM wiring harness he didn't recommend splicing into wiring for the brake controller. Said the one he would have used would have been easier and would have been safe to connect the brake controller to. So instead I bought a Prodigy RF that uses a bluetooth connection. Loved it, however it is $300 U.S. and $416 on Amazon.ca.

Besides a wiring harness, you will need a charge line run from the vehicle's battery with an isolater and fuse. So I wouldn't start buying parts before you nail down which way a competent shop advises you to go.

If you're buying a standard brake controller, the Tehonsha P3 for $162 on Amazon.ca should be considered as it is a great unit for not that much more than others on the market.
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Old 06-21-2016, 06:48 PM   #14
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I called another hitch shop and was quoted $992, so I guess the Hitch House is in the ballpark (and a little cheaper). I asked about the brake controller and the quote included a Curt time-delayed controller that she said will do the job very well. I asked about the Tekonsha Prodigy and she thinks this product will work just as well. Hope I ain't gettin' screwed! From my very limited reading, it appears the proportional controllers are better if you're going to be towing a lot I booked for Thursday.
Brenda
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:15 PM   #15
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I asked about the brake controller and the quote included a Curt time-delayed controller that she said will do the job very well.
No, not time-based!
No time-based controller is suitable, or will do the job very well. They "work" by turning on the trailer brakes when you touch the brake pedal and then ramping them up higher and higher completely without regard to how hard you are actually braking. I wouldn't use one if I were given it free of charge, since proportional controllers are readily available and affordable.

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I asked about the Tekonsha Prodigy and she thinks this product will work just as well.
...
From my very limited reading, it appears the proportional controllers are better if you're going to be towing a lot
Regardless of how much you're towing, a proportional controller works better.

I can only think of two reasons for a hitch shop to sell a time-delay controller:
  1. they are cheaper, so either customers are more likely to accept the price, or the markup for the shop is higher (depending on how they price the two types of controller)
  2. proportional controllers must be mounted within a specified angle of parallel to the direction of motion, but time-delay controllers can be mounted in any orientation - this allows more mounting locations and makes the installation job easier

The wiring is the same for both types of controller.
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:19 PM   #16
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I asked about the brake controller and the quote included...
Brenda, did you get an itemized quote? You can make sure that you are comfortable with each of the parts - including the cost - if you know specifically what they are. It should just be the hitch receiver, possibly a ball mount and ball, the controller, the connector that goes at the back, some sort of wiring kit, labour, and probably a supplies charge for the wire and bits for the custom work.
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:20 PM   #17
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Is this price for hitch/brake controller too high?

I would not tow an RV with a timed delayed brake controller. You'll get braking pulse, more wear, and less sure stops. The Curt Timed Delayed controllers can be had for under $30, and I assume that's why their price "includes" it.

I'm sorry for mentioning that business earlier, if they actually believe a timed delayed controller can do as good a job as a proportional controller can.


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Old 06-21-2016, 07:23 PM   #18
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The girl on the phone said that you really only needed a proportional brake controller if you were hauling livestock, which didn't make sense to me from what I read. Maybe I should call the second place back - I think they said the brake controller was a Valley? Should've asked what type it was - hadn't done my reading yet!
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:24 PM   #19
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Is this price for hitch/brake controller too high?

More proof she has no idea what she's talking about.

I can only assume that asinine statement has something to do with the trailer braking more evenly and therefore the animals aren't knocked off their feet?

At a minimum, get an inertia activated controller. That will work much better than a timed delayed type. I like the 3rd kind, proportional controllers, because they're as close to hassle free as you can get.

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Old 06-21-2016, 07:42 PM   #20
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The girl on the phone said that you really only needed a proportional brake controller if you were hauling livestock...
Seriously, I think this is the reasoning:
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I can only assume that asinine statement has something to do with the trailer braking more evenly and therefore the animals aren't knocked off their feet?
The standards for towing with livestock - and especially treasured pet and competition horses - seem to be different from those for towing in general. It has to be tough to ride in a trailer while standing, with no hands to hang on to anything. A local major trailer suspension supplier told me that the UCF Flexiride suspension as more expensive then Dexter Torflex or the AL-KO equivalent, and so Flexiride was usually purchased only by horse trailer owners (not for cargo or travel trailers).

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Maybe I should call the second place back - I think they said the brake controller was a Valley? Should've asked what type it was - hadn't done my reading yet!
Perhaps this subject is a good test of a hitch shop... or at least the person who happens to answer the phone. Customer service people in almost any automotive business are commonly less knowledgeable than a well-informed customer, so the standards of knowledge and ability are pretty low.

Like other manufacturers, Valley offers (or at least has offered) a range from pointless junk to full-featured and state-of-the-art. They have struggled and dropped much of their product line, so I would check to make sure any Valley controller is a current product rather than discontinued stock (just in case of support issues). This brings me back to an itemized quote which specifies the model of controller.
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