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Old 07-18-2018, 10:37 PM   #1
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Brake communication issue

I would get an error once in a while when I had my trailer hooked up to my 2001 tahoe with an after market brake controller. I still could brake manually on the controller even with the error. Would happen randomly. Some summers never had an issue other it would happen during part of trips. I have a newer suburban 2016 now with a built in controller and Iím getting a check trailer connection randomly now as well, more often. No rhythm or reason that I can figure out. Most time it resets and works perfectly fine. I feel it has to to be in camper system. Any advise on where to start my probing??? Thanks
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:18 AM   #2
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First thing I would check would be the ground. Then check break wires going into axle tube for chafing. At this point wires are getting old and insulation brittle so an intermittent contact with axle tube or each other is possible.

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Old 07-19-2018, 07:37 AM   #3
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The modern brake controllers are very sensitive they read resistance of the brake magnets, open/poor connections etc. it can be frustrating trying to pin it down. My aftermarket controller would throw intermittent codes and it wasn't until one magnet completely failed that I was able to find it. I would suggest getting all the wheel off the ground and have someone operate the brake controller and see if one wheel does not hold or is weaker than the others.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:38 AM   #4
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It could be a ground issue, it could be a wiring issue at the axles, or it could be the plug. Make sure the contact is clean inside the plug, and bend the contact a little if you need to, so that it contacts the vehicle plug tighter. It might be something as simple as it loses the connection momentarily when you go over a bump.

I've begun using large rubber bands on my plugs, to hold the lid to the cord. Even though the tab will prevent the plug from backing out, it won't stop it from wiggling around some, which can cause it to lose connection. It's especially apparent on newer trailers with LED running lights. The fat rubber bands that hold broccoli together work really well for this, and if you keep them inside when not in use, they'll last you a couple years.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:25 PM   #5
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If it was trailer connection ground issue the lighting would be affected all so. That does not mean an individual brake ground might be bad they are parallel wired so any of the connectnections could cause issues and not affect the others even the + side because the controller looks at resistance so if one of 4 wheels was not working that's a 25% error.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:53 PM   #6
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Thank you all for quick response. Great ideas. When I get home from yankee springs state park in Michigan I will check all those ideas. Nice camp ground for those who like kayaking and fishing. Bunch of smaller lakes within vicinity. Happy camping!
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:12 AM   #7
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What year and model Sunline?
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:54 PM   #8
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What year and model Sunline?
Did Sunline ever have disk brakes? There were issues with GM controllers not recognizing disk brake systems but if they are magnetic brakes they are all the same. It just flat did not recognized that the brakes were connected. I fixed one with a 50 ohm resistor between the brake pin and ground inside the 7 pin female on a friends 5th wheel.
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Old 07-20-2018, 11:42 PM   #9
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Did Sunline ever have disk brakes? There were issues with GM controllers not recognizing disk brake systems but if they are magnetic brakes they are all the same. It just flat did not recognized that the brakes were connected. I fixed one with a 50 ohm resistor between the brake pin and ground inside the 7 pin female on a friends 5th wheel.
Unless it was custom ordered, I donít know of any.
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Old 07-21-2018, 08:48 AM   #10
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Yeah I didn't think so. My point being until the advent of disk brakes every electric brake worked exactly the same, the disks had a relayed electric pump in the trailer and the controllers were looking for resistance of the magnets so the controllers thought it wasn't hooked up.
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Old 07-21-2018, 09:25 AM   #11
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Yeah I didn't think so. My point being until the advent of disk brakes every electric brake worked exactly the same, the disks had a relayed electric pump in the trailer and the controllers were looking for resistance of the magnets so the controllers thought it wasn't hooked up.
My parents have a setup like that in their fifth wheel, electronically controlled hydraulic disk brakes. It’s a cool system and performs much differently than normal electric drums. Fords had an issue with it working too, with the Tow Command system. Luckily after about 2009, they made it all work happily and no modifications were needed.
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:20 AM   #12
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:59 PM   #13
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If your GM integrated controller can tell the difference between a "disconnected trailer" and a "trailer brake fault" then I would say this. My 2005 Ford integrated controller can tell the difference between the 2.

1. A disconnected trailer would have higher odds of being a loss of ground issue at the brakes, or even the entire camper on the 7 wire plug. Or a loose 7 wire plug losing the hot brake wire too.

2. My thinking unless I missed something the other folks can see, a trailer brake fault would have higher odds of a short in the wiring (hot or gnd side) or in a brake coil.

If the brakes are not activated, the axle tube is a classic place for brittle insulation inside the tube to crack off and then the brake ground wire touches the tube (DC ground) and sends back the wrong resistance as it is supposed to be reading brake coil resistance. But... it could be the brake hot wire too. The controller sensing circuit "might" be sending a millivolt amount of power out the brake hot wire to do a resistance check. And if that hot wire in the tube grounds out then it too can send a fault.

If this fault only shows up when the brakes are applied, then this more points to the hot wire grounding itself out in the axle tube or a bad coil. The hot wire has no large power present until the truck sends it.

You most likely will have to back into this as, what you know for sure works and then what else is left? A basic search and destroy mission....

I can say this, the ground lug on the brakes is a bolt to the frame in the axle area. Odds are high that connection is bad. Sometimes the front axle and the rear axle have their own frame ground and both may be bad. That is just a plain bad setup. The ground wire should run from the 7 wire plug all the way to the brake coils and not use a frame ground. This frame ground concept all works good when the camper is new, but not when the camper is older. Rust and corrosion is your enemy on this. I had to change mine this spring after the camper ground at the header broke off.

The axle tube wire issue it up on the high odds too. You can abandon the axle tube wiring all together if needed. Either run a seperate brake hot and ground down each side of the camper and pick up the brake coils OR strap a 2 wire cable to the "back" side of the outside axle tube. I say back side as if you run over heavy weeds, brush etc the wire does not take the full brunt of the hit on the back side.

Good hunting and let us know how you make out.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:39 AM   #14
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I chased this same problem and it turned out to be the wires inside the axle tube that where shorting. I ran a new 2 wire cable strapped to the outside of the tube and ran all new wiring including ground all the way up to the plug, as JohnB mentioned.
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