Tow-Ready Factory Tow Package?

Not hardly!  As far as we can tell, after nine years of building and selling Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailers, there is no such thing. .  The problem, you see, is that manufacturers seem to be the only ones who realize that the words factory tow package don’t mean “tow-ready”.   If your new trailer has electric brakes and a breakaway battery, there are still one or two things that have to be done before you will be tow ready—even on vehicles with integrated brake controllers.

Apparently it is common practice for vehicle manufacturers to ship factory-tow-package  vehicles without activating either the trailer tow battery charge feature, the trailer brake controller feature or both.

Trailer Controller Issues

Ford apparently ships vehicles with factory tow packages, but not integrated brake controllers, with a “pig tail” which plugs into a receptacle under the dash.  But unless you buy a matching pigtail from your after-market trailer brake controller source, the plug on the controller has to be cut off and the controller hardwired to the four wires from the pigtail.  GM used to supply its factory-tow-package-equipped vehicles with a pigtail as well, but in its infinite wisdom stopped doing so in the mid-nineties.  Instead the four wires for the brake controller are blunt cut, wrapped with a label and taped in a bundle under the dash.

But that’s only half the battle to get your factory-tow-package vehicle ready to actually tow your motorcycle trailer.  One of the wires that hook to the controller has to “hot” before the controller will function.  Getting the wire to be hot may be as simple ( in a Ford) as locating, in your owners manual, the “addresses” for the “Trailer Tow Brake Controller” relay and fuse, checking to see whether the addresses are currently occupied, and if the address or “addresses” are vacant, acquiring and installing the necessary electronic component(s) if the addresses are empty.

On the other hand, getting the brake controller wire to be hot can be as complicated (late model GM) as finding the right wire under the hood, connecting it to the right stud on the fuse block, and acquiring and installing the necessary relay and fuses.  But where do you look for the right wire, which stud do you hook it to, where the hell is that stud, and what kind of relay and fuse do you need?  No problem—google has the answer—if you are persistent enough.  The answer, once again, is in the appropriate GM factory bulletin—which states among other things that doing this is well beyond the capabilities of mere mortals and is better left to GM certified technicians.

But what about vehicles equipped with factory integrated brake controllers?  Darned if I know—all I can say is that if you trailer brakes won’t respond to your brake controller when you first hook your new motorcycle trailer to your tow vehicle, follow the procedure just described, or get somebody at a GM dealership to do it for you.  But don’t be surprised if they don’t know what you are talking about.

Once you’ve got the brake controller problem licked, you and your new Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailer should be good to go—right?

Trailer Tow Battery Charge Issues

Is your Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailer equipped with a breakaway braking system?  How about an electronic security system? In the first case, there’s a small battery that needs to be recharged every time you use your trailer; in the second it’s a large marine battery.  And that can’t happen unless pin 4 in your trailer connector is hot.

So if you’ve got an external battery, check to see if the battery-recharge indicator lights up whey you hook your tow vehicle to your trailer.  If it doesn’t, or if you have an electronic security system, you need to make sure pin 4 on your seven pin connector is hot.  You can do that with a tester, but that’s another story, so let’s just concentrate on making it hot.

First, find the addresses of your “Trailer Tow Batter Charge” relay and fuse in your vehicle owners manual.  Then find those addresses in your fuse block and check to see whether they are occupied or not,  If either are both is empty, go back to the owners manual to see what should be in the empty address(s).  Buying an installing the right electronic component will typically turn pin 4 from cold to hot—on a Ford.  But what about GM vehicles?

If pin 4 is still cold on a GM vehicle you and your Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailer still are not good to go.  Once again, you need to use google to find the GM bulletin that tells you where the apparently unconnected “Trailer Tow Batter Charge” wire is under the hood of your vehicle and then what to do with it.  The good news is that once you’ve done it, you finally really are good to go.