How to Troubleshoot a Tekonsha Brake Controller

If you have a trailer with electric brakes, then you know how important it is to have a reliable brake controller. The Tekonsha brake controller is one of the most popular choices for controlling the electric brakes on trailers. However, like all electronic devices, it can experience problems from time to time.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of troubleshooting a Tekonsha brake controller so that you can quickly identify and fix any issues you may encounter.

1. Introduction to Tekonsha Brake Controller

The Tekonsha brake controller is an electronic device that connects to your vehicle’s electrical system and controls the electric brakes on your trailer. It ensures that your trailer brakes are applied smoothly and evenly, allowing for safe and controlled braking while towing. The brake controller receives signals from your vehicle’s braking system and sends the appropriate amount of power to the electric brakes on your trailer.

2. Common Problems with Tekonsha Brake Controller

Before we dive into troubleshooting, let’s look at some common problems you might encounter with your Tekonsha brake controller:

  1. No Power: The brake controller is not receiving power, and therefore, does not function at all.
  2. No Display: The display on the brake controller is not working or is too dim to read.
  3. No Brakes: The trailer brakes are not engaging when you apply the brakes in your vehicle.
  4. Incorrect Braking: The trailer brakes are either too sensitive or not sensitive enough.

Now that we have identified these common problems let’s go through each step-by-step troubleshooting process.

3. Check the Power

The first thing to do when encountering any issue with your Tekonsha brake controller is to check its power source:

  • Verify Grounding: Make sure that the ground wire from the brake controller is properly grounded. Check for any loose connections or corrosion.
  • Check Power Supply: Ensure that the brake controller is receiving power from the vehicle’s electrical system. Inspect the fuses and circuit breakers to make sure they are not blown or tripped.

4. Check the Display

If the display on your Tekonsha brake controller is not working or is too dim, follow these steps:

  • Secure Wiring Connections: Verify that all wiring connections to the brake controller are secure. Sometimes, loose connections can cause display issues.
  • Inspect Display: Carefully examine the display itself for any signs of damage or failure. If the display is damaged, it may need to be replaced.
  • Brightness Settings: Check the brightness settings on the brake controller and adjust if necessary. It’s possible that the display is simply too dim to read properly.

5. Check the Brakes

When your trailer brakes are not engaging properly, it’s crucial to inspect and adjust them correctly:

  • Brake Adjustment: Verify that your trailer brakes are properly adjusted. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the brakes to ensure they are set correctly.
  • Inspect Brake Magnets: Examine the brake magnets on your trailer’s axles. Look for signs of wear or damage such as excessive heat discoloration or frayed wiring. Replace any worn-out magnets.
  • Check Brake Wiring: Inspect the wiring connecting your brake controller with the trailer’s electric brakes. Look for loose, disconnected, or damaged wires. Replace or repair any faulty wiring as needed.

6. Check Brake Controller Settings

It is essential to ensure that your Tekonsha brake controller is correctly set up for your specific trailer:

  • Reference User Manual: Consult the user manual provided by Tekonsha for instructions on how to adjust the brake controller settings correctly.
  • Boost Mode: If your trailer does not have electric over hydraulic brakes, make sure the brake controller is not set to “boost” mode. Adjust the settings accordingly.

7. Check Brake Controller Wiring

Verify that all wiring connections between your vehicle and the brake controller are properly installed:

  • Connection Verification: Inspect all wiring connections for any loose or disconnected wires. Ensure that each connection is secure and free from damage.
  • Look for Damage or Wear: Examine all the wiring for any signs of damage or wear, such as fraying or exposed wires. Replace any damaged or worn-out wiring.
  • Avoid Pinching or Crimping: Ensure that no wiring is pinched or crimped by any other components in your vehicle. These obstructions can interrupt the electrical signal flow, resulting in malfunctioning brakes.

8. Check Brake Controller Ground

Proper grounding is crucial for the optimal performance of your Tekonsha brake controller:

  • Ground Wire Connection: Ensure that the ground wire from the brake controller is securely connected to a suitable ground location on your vehicle.
  • Inspect Ground Wire: Look for any signs of damage or wear on the ground wire itself. Replace it if necessary.
  • Prevent Corrosion: Regularly inspect the ground connection for corrosion and clean it if required. A corroded ground connection can cause electrical issues.

9. Check Brake Controller Sensor

The sensor plays a vital role in providing accurate information to your Tekonsha brake controller:

  • Sensor Examination: Carefully inspect the sensor for any physical damage or signs of wear. Replace the sensor if there are significant issues.
  • Calibration Verification: Verify that the sensor is properly calibrated according to the manufacturer’s instructions in the user manual. An improperly calibrated sensor can affect braking performance.

10. Check Brake Controller Software

Occasionally, software updates may be available to enhance the functionality of your Tekonsha brake controller:

  • Update Check: Visit Tekonsha’s official website or contact their support to check for any available software updates for your specific brake controller model.
  • Compatibility Confirmation: Ensure that the brake controller software is compatible with both your vehicle and trailer. Incompatibility can cause issues with the functionality of the brake controller.

11. Contact Tekonsha Support

If you have gone through all the troubleshooting steps and are still unable to resolve the issue with your Tekonsha brake controller, it’s time to reach out to Tekonsha support. They have knowledgeable representatives who can assist you in identifying and resolving any problems you may encounter with your brake controller. Additionally, they can provide information on warranty coverage and repair options if necessary.


Troubleshooting a Tekonsha brake controller may seem daunting at first, but by following these step-by-step guidelines, you can quickly identify and resolve common issues. Remember to check the power, display, brakes, settings, wiring, ground, sensor, software, and seek assistance when needed. By ensuring that your Tekonsha brake controller is functioning correctly, you can tow your trailer with peace of mind and maintain safe braking performance throughout your journeys.

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