You can safely tow and haul with your F-150 with a reliable electric brake controller. But the question is, how can you install this electronic assembly on your pickup truck? We researched this concern for your convenience and consulted with different industry experts to give you the following answer.
First, ensure that the electric brake controller you’re about to buy fits your F-150 and your specific needs. Next, prepare your workspace by ensuring the location has safety protocols in place. Once the preparations are complete, follow these steps to install the module to the truck:
- Secure the vehicle
- Remove the panels
- Install the electric brake controller
- Replace the removed parts
- Program the electric brake controller
- Test the electric brake controller
It’s important not to miss the details regarding this procedure for you to avoid expensive mistakes. So continue reading as we talk about this installation job in greater detail.
What Should I Look For When Buying A Brake Controller For A Ford F-150?
Before installing an electric or trailer brake controller for your Ford F-150, it’s best to ensure that you have the right model for your needs. Some of the things to think about as you’re finalizing your purchasing decision are:
Ask yourself the following question—are you going to haul a light or heavy load with your Ford F-150? Your answer to this question should coincide with the maximum load capacity of your electric brake controller.
Don’t select a brake controller that doesn’t fit your load’s weight. Otherwise, randomly selecting a model might make you buy a unit that won’t have the necessary sturdiness to carry the towed weight.
Electric brake controllers often fall under three main types of installation procedures:
- Bracket mount
Take note that each category will have its unique pros and cons. For instance, a non-invasive electric brake controller can be ideal for automotive DIY beginners with its straightforward setup procedure. But its wireless features might not be as quick as hardwired models.
On the other hand, a fully-integrated Ford F-150 brake controller may have a faster reaction time than its non-invasive counterpart. However, the steps to install an integrated model are often more laborious and time-consuming than a non-invasive controller.
Although it’s important to purchase and install an electric brake controller for your Ford F-150, it might not be ideal to go over your budget.
You can find relatively inexpensive options that require you to spend about $90. But prepare to spend approximately $700 if you want an electric brake controller with high-quality features.
What Precautions Do You Need To Take When Installing An Electric Brake Controller On An F-150?
After buying the ideal electric brake controller for your Ford F-150, remember to practice proper safety protocols before starting the installation job. Some of the preventive measures you need to follow are:
- Keep your workplace as clean and as tidy as possible. Accidents and injuries can happen if you slip and fall because of the tools placed along your path.
- Wear protective clothing. Gloves, goggles, and other safety gear can help in preventing bruises, cuts, and other wounds while working with your vehicle.
- Announce your plan. Let nearby people know that you’re working on your pickup truck to prevent them from messing with your workspace, particularly if you’re under the vehicle.
- Don't wear unnecessary accessories and pieces of jewelry. Worn knick-knacks might harm the pickup truck or mess up the electric brake controller installation.
- Always keep a first aid kit nearby. It’s best to remain prepared since accidents and injuries can still happen even if you have other safety precautions in place.
How Do You Install A Ford F-150 Electric Brake Controller?
Warning: Certain Ford F-150 electric brake controller models on the market typically require sufficient know-how and skill in installing aftermarket vehicle assemblies and parts.
Check the instruction manual before starting this task to verify if you can complete the setup without the risk of making significant mistakes or not.
What You’ll Need
- Wheel chocks
- Socket wrench set
- Ratchet wrench
- Panel remover
- Electric brake controller kit
- ELM327 Cable
1. Secure The Vehicle
Turn off the F-150’s engine and engage its hand or parking brake. Then, chock the wheels so the truck doesn’t roll or move while you’re installing the brake controller module.
2. Remove The Panels
Use the appropriate socket and ratchet wrenches to remove the fasteners securing the panel underneath the dashboard at the driver’s side. Next, use your hands or the panel-removing tool to remove the cover behind the steering wheel. Remove the newly exposed bolts afterward, and set them aside temporarily.
Use the panel remover again, but this time, use it to remove the tray on top of the center console. Take note that you shouldn’t pull out the tray from its mount. Instead, prop it up slightly to expose some bolts.
Unscrew the bolts, which should allow you to pull and remove the center console’s outer housing. Next, remove the AC knob and vent to the left of the center console panel. Make sure to disconnect the wires attached to the AC knob assembly before you pull it out.
Note: Ensure that the ignition isn't in the on position before you disconnect the wires from the AC knob assembly. One of those wires might be for the 4x4 or four-wheel-drive mode for your F-150. Removing that wire with the ignition in the on the position may generate an error or fault code.
3. Install The Electric Brake Controller
Unplug the connector to the trailer brake controller. Then, remove the little cubby to the opposite of that connector.
Place the electric brake controller into the newly exposed opening. Ensure that the installed assembly is flush. Next, attach the trailer brake connector to the controller.
4. Replace The Removed Parts
At this point, go through this procedure in reverse order after installing the electric brake controller. So start returning the parts to their original locations, starting with the AC knob assembly. Then, return the center console panel cover, the tray, and the panels by the driver’s side.
5. Program The Electric Brake Controller
Download the Ford Forscan program to your laptop computer. Then, connect the laptop to the Ford F-150 with the help of an ELM327 cable. Insert one end of the cable into the F-150's T2 port and the other end into your computer's USB port.
Click the button on the lower right of the Ford Forscan’s window to allow the software to read the vehicle’s diagnostics and specifications. Answer the questions that pop up as the program attempts to read the F-150’s properties. Don’t forget to save the profile once the reading is complete.
Next, click on the chip icon on the program's left sidebar. Click the menu item that says “IPC module configuration.” Press play afterward. Then, find the menu item on the new window that says “Trailer Brake Controller Gain Setting” and set it to “Enabled.”
Then, click the “Write” button at the bottom of the window. Confirm these settings by clicking on the button with the check mark on it.
6. Test The Electric Brake Controller
Turn on the ignition of your Ford F-150. Fiddle with the settings on your new electric brake controller, which should allow you to see menu items on your dashboard. At this point, you can also set the trailer brake’s power through the module.
You can also watch the video below for a visual guide to the steps mentioned above:
At this point, you might also want to install a brush guard on a Ford F-150. If so, read our post on that topic to know the steps to complete that task.
How Much Does It Cost To Install F-150 Brake Controller?
You might need to spend about $350 to install a Ford F-150 brake controller if you take advantage of professional automotive services to complete the job. However, you may be able to reduce the overhead if you finish some of the setup procedures before you turn over the task to the experts.
Also, you may be looking to upgrade your Ford F-150’s speakers. Check out our post highlighting that topic to know your options.
Remember, take the time to prepare for the installation of your Ford F-150’s electric brake controller. That way, you can prevent costly mishaps before, during, and after the setup. If done correctly, you should be able to use the trailer brake controller with peace of mind.