Friday, July 31, 2020

2014 Dodge Ram Integrated Trailer Brake Controller

I like factory looks on things.  I love adding accessories, but only if they have that original feel.  Case in point, all of my lathes.  The anomaly is the corvette.  Anyway, I needed to be able to haul my in-laws trailer after their truck experienced issues, and wanted a trailer brake controller.  One (factory look) plus one (wanted brake controller) equates to pay-a-way-over-priced-dealer-or-partially-overpriced-parts-and-do-it-yourself.  Add in the third variable - I'm cheap - and it just happened.  $400 later, and I saved $200.  Can I tell my wife that it was on sale, so it should be okay?

You absolutely HAVE to have the two connectors in the wiring harness for this to work.  For a picture of those, scroll down to the bracket photograph - they are the ones covered in a foam protector.  Anyway, here are the parts :
  • Three screws to attach the bracket to the dashboard frame - DO NOT USE PHILLIPS, SLOTTED, OR TORQX screws - you won't get a screwdriver on them (or a ratchet)
  • Switch itself (part # 68105206AC for a 2014 ram 1500)[the big switch bank [with the tow-haul button] is part # P56054468AA, in case you break that - don't ask me how I know.
  • Control module (part # 68092738AD)
  • Bracket (not sure of a part number, but a tag with a handwritten note had 68160146 if I read that right, see below)
Tools :
  • 7mm combination wrench (if you h]ave one that ratchets, use that)
  • 10mm socket and wrench (for the battery cable)
  • Phillips screwdriver (for the switch bank removal)
  • Small slotted screwdriver (to disconnect tabs)
  • #20 torqx bit (either screwdriver or ratchet wrench/socket, for the small tray at the top)
  • Tiny hands
  • A good vocabulary (see previous tool)
Here are pictures of the parts to the kit :

It's a 2014 Ram 5.7l (everyone says "Hemi", but I don't think it is) 1500.  I ordered the parts, and set to work.  There are a number of videos out there on the installation.  I liked the briansmobile1 video up to the point he used electrical tape instead of the third screw - and he had a dealer make the configuration change.  Another video seemed great, including the configuration change using AlphaOBD ( - that's what I chose (because I didn't want to spend $200 and wait for 2 hours).

Briansmobile1 indeed skipped that top forward screw - and with good reason.  It is painful. I don't want to show my hands after that.  Brian shows running the screws in before any installation to get the bracket threaded.  This is a MUST!  It will allow you to get the screws started using fingers.

After the preparations (threading and disconnecting the negative battery cable using the 10mm), I began.  I pulled the dashboard apart.  Yes, that's my stereo - I had a short and wanted to see if I could solve that problem while I was in there.  Turns out, you find a lot of stuff.  My radio connector on the back wasn't completely connected.  It snapped in.  I found a Camel cigarette wrapper buried in the dash.  I was missing two screws.  I found three wires just hanging out (those were under the steering column).  It looks like this had been in an accident, and had a new wiring harness that had some unused wires.  Oh, well.

With the dash taken apart, I swapped out the switch.  It's an easy change, just four screws, pull the whole switch bank panel, and then pop out the old and pop in the new.  Then re-insert the panel and screw it back in.  Don't re-install the whole center dash panel yet, though, as you will need to put the bracket in.

Next, the bracket.  This shows that I have those two connectors for this to even work, and where that bracket goes.  It's in the drivers foot well (under the steering column, yes, you need to remove that, too).

I started the bracket using that forward/top screw.  It's the painful one that everyone seems to skip.  I had to use the open end 7mm wrench to make it work, and it was very much a contortionist experience.  My hand came out raw and scraped, but once that screw is in, I did the others with less stress.  Expect that bracket to take the longest time.

After getting the module bracket installed, peel off the foam from the connectors, and install the controller module and the two connectors.  Re-install the lower dash panel.  And then plug those center console connectors in.  Make sure they clip all the way in.

With that, you can snap the center console back together, and re-install the top "coin tray" screws.  I was missing those, so i had to go to my hardware bin.  You can take a moment to step back and gaze in amazement that you didn't shoot the truck and leave it for dead with that painful bracket screw from earlier.

Yes, that looks dark.  When doing this on a black truck when the outside temperature is 102.8 degrees Fahrenheit, you start going indoors to cool back off.  It takes longer.

Next is the AlfaOBD install. I used an OBDLink MX+ bluetooth (don't do the wifi version).  Also, thinking I could use the demo version as it claimed to have all the functionality, I ended up paying the $50 for the app because it will not do a car configuration change in demo mode.  There are four changes to make, and when you are done, it should be fully functional.
  • CustSetMenu 2-Trailer selected CSM
  • CustSetMenu 2-Trailer name CSM
  • CustSetMenu 2-Trailer type CSM
  • P/T Chassis Net-ITBM/HWM Integrated Trailer Brake Module
So, after all of that, I kept seeing the check engine light (I hadn't started the truck yet), and grabbed the codes.  I was getting a U113B (lost connection to switch bank module), and I have a random yellow wire hanging out :

It turned out the switch bank (next to the brake switch) had a broken connector lock, so it came loose.  That's what the U113B was telling me.  I made a quick repair (I didn't want to spend another $60 on that module, so I used a soldering iron to melt the clip back together and then used electrical tape to ensure a solid connection).  That part number (for my own future reference if the "fix" doesn't hold up) is listed in the following picture :

Looks good, and it triggers properly!

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