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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings everyone.

I've had my 2008 RL RTL for a few months now. I just obtained a travel trailer (camper to some people) and have encountered a frustrating situation. I could very much use your insight since I'm not finding much helpful info via Google.

I read that the RTL trim came with pre-wiring for towing. I crawled up under the back bumper and saw a wiring harness there. I went to U-haul to get a hitch receiver installed (since the travel trailer I was buying came with a weight distribution hitch & sway control). When I got there I explained that I needed a receiver and wiring for a travel trailer with electric brakes and mentioned the pre-wiring. The guy at the counter explained that they don't have any parts listed for the stock pre-wiring to use as an adapter and that he'd have to run a new line from the battery to the hitch receiver. Two hours later I had a receiver and a new 4-pin connector installed. I once again asked if this is what I needed for a travel trailer with brakes and the guys said "oh yeah, the 4-pin is what all trailers use."

Smash cut to me picking up the new travel trailer. The trailer has a female 7-blade connector. After running around to three different tool/autoparts stores nearby, no one sells the combination of adapter that I need (seemingly a male 4-pin to male 7-blade connector).

My questions at this point are:

  • Does anyone know what type of connector was on the pre-wiring at the back bumper?
  • Does the '08 RTL need a brake controller if it's pre-wired for towing? If so, how does that work exactly?
  • Presuming I can find the correct 4-pin to 7-blade adapter, there will be no brake controls, right? (My understanding is that the 4 pin only handles ground, brake lights, right turn signal, left turn signal.)
  • Does U-Haul have any idea what they're doing? (I explicitly stated my needs before and after installation and I ended up unable to tow the travel trailer.)
When I crawled under the back bumper this evening to try and locate the factory pre-wiring I couldn't find it any longer. I saw where the U-Haul guy routed the new wire from the battery to the connector at the receiver as well as a small black box & associated wires that he shoved up above the bumper between the plastic bumper cover. I think I may have felt the factory wiring harness in that same area, but I can't see the same harness I saw prior to visiting U-Haul. My first thought is that he jammed it somewhere up and out of the way.

If anyone can provide *any* insight into any of my questions I would greatly appreciate it. Clearly, I'm new to towing and I can't seem to find any answers specific to my RL and these adaptors.


Thanks,


Stan
 

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U-haul trailers probably all have hydraulic surge brakes that don’t require any wiring. The action of the tongue pushing on the ball activates the hydraulic brakes. The guys who work at U-haul at probably not career employees. They know what they need to know to sell their items and rent their trailers. Hooking up trailers that aren’t theirs is probably foreign ground to them.

https://www.etrailer.com

That’s the site you should probably be seeking.

Electric trailer brakes require a brake controller that gets wired into your truck and has a box typically installed near the dash. It costs about $35 but takes several hours to install.


Sorry to say, but it sounds like the 4-pin connector was a waste of everyone’s time and your money.

I have been considering doing a brake controller install now that I have two electric brake trailers that I’ve used around town (
 

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Always go with seven pin truck wiring. For four pin trailers just get the adapter.
Most TT's have at least single axle electric brake. Hopefully your TT is under 4K pounds unladen. Filling the tanks and adding your gear will take the weight to 5k quickly.
Find the local cat scale at a truck stop and weigh/reweigh until you have the WDH adjusted correctly.
 

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2009 Ridgeline RTL (with nav) in Bali Blue Pearl
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@stantron5k, sorry to read about your troubles. Those of us that tow with our Ridgelines (RLs) are happy to help.

First, there are no 4-pin to 7-blade adaptors but there are 7-to-5 and 7-to-4 adaptors (you can go down in connections but not up). If your trailer requires an electric brake controller, you must use a 7-blade connector otherwise there will be no power and no control for your trailer's brakes and other systems.


All first generation (Gen1) RLs are pre-wired for towing, but only to a point. Except for the 2009-2014 RTS, RTL and 2014 SE trims, you must install a trailer wiring harness on the Gen1 RL. The RL has the necessary wires that have already been ran through the body, you just have to connect each end to the correct components using the correct connectors. Due to all the electrical goodies on the RL, I strongly recommend you get and install the Honda Trailer Harness Kit (part # 08L91-SJC-102); it's designed to finish the connections that Honda pre-wired in your RL. Due to the aforementioned electrical goodies, I also recommend you take your RL back to U-Haul and have them remove the wiring they installed. Leaving that wiring "hack job" connected to your RL's systems could create problems down the road; in other words, don't end up in trouble like "UVATubaMom" recently did.

Also, all Gen1 RLs are pre-wired for an electric trailer brake controller as well. However, Honda does not make the controllers themselves so you have to choose one from the aftermarket.

Page 222 of the 2008 Honda Ridgeline Owner's Manual

Page 222 of 08 Manual.jpg

When time comes for me to get a controller, I'm installing one of these: https://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/33-racks-hitches-towing/2325-brake-controller-7.html

Given you are new to towing, here is a good video that covers some of the basics:
The advise I would add to this video is to practice backing up your trailer, it's not intuitive at first. Here is a post where I cover that issue: http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/33-racks-hitches-towing/118890-possible-first-time-tow-2.html?118890=#post1740666

If you want to know more about towing with the Gen1 RL, here are some posts I've written on the subject that my help you:
 

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@McChizzle
Are you saying that the gen1 ridgeline has a brake controller built in, and we just need to wire up a 7-pin plug? The $137 for the Honda plug seems steep, but if it allows us to bypass the $30 brake controller and all the time to wire everything together front of the “truck”, plus includes the plug (unlike the $30 rake controller), then it is well worth the money.

^^ it doesn’t appear that a 7-pin plug is included with that brake controller.




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Discussion Starter #6
@Rockwood, yeah my TT is 3,600 pounds empty. I don't plan on boondocking, so no plans to fill water tank. My intent is to use electric & water hookups at camp sites and empty black & gray tanks before leaving. That way water weight shouldn't be a towing factor. Our plan is to keep it as light as possible w/ gear. Store some in TT and some in bed of truck. Passengers will be in another vehicle so I'll be solo in the RL w/ the gear.
 

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2009 Ridgeline RTL (with nav) in Bali Blue Pearl
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@McChizzle
Are you saying that the gen1 ridgeline has a brake controller built in, and we just need to wire up a 7-pin plug? The $137 for the Honda plug seems steep, but if it allows us to bypass the $30 brake controller and all the time to wire everything together front of the “truck”, plus includes the plug (unlike the $30 rake controller), then it is well worth the money....

^^ it doesn’t appear that a 7-pin plug is included with that brake controller.
What I said was, "...all Gen1 RLs are pre-wired for an electric trailer brake controller as well. However, Honda does not make the controllers themselves so you have to choose one from the aftermarket" then just plug it in and mount it in a good spot.

In other words, you still have to purchase the controller (what you have pictured) but all you have to do is connect that four-wire plug on the end into the existing pre-wire under the left-side of your dash, using the right adapter, because the rest of the wiring and fuse layout has already been taken care of, given you are using the OEM Trailer Harness (pictured below) so everything can communicate with one another. To say it a different way, you have to connect the ends up to the correct devices, you just don't have to run the wires in between things because that part is already done.


Checkout the installation instructions for the Honda OEM hitch and harness as well as this installation video for a 2006-2008 RL; it should help give you a picture of what needs to be connected.

 

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Thanks!

So maybe with an early ridgeline I should make sure I have that 10-pin connector that the Honda 7-pin plug set connects to before I go out and buy one. Eh?




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I just went for a look, and can’t find tat 10-pin plug on my 2006 RL, which I purchased December 2005. My 4-pin connector is plugged into my left tail light with the 8-pin plug adapter.





The only plug that looks anything like that 10-pin on my truck is up on the driver side of the trunk, and I though get maybe I’d be able to access it via the tail light, but was wrong.



So maybe I need to follow the etrailer instructions for the 2006.

Thoughts? Opinions?




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Thanks!

So maybe with an early ridgeline I should make sure I have that 10-pin connector that the Honda 7-pin plug set connects to before I go out and buy one. Eh? ...
It never hurts to look but it should be there, unless the previous owner did something strange.

Since you have a 2006 model year RL, take a look at the last two pages of the installation instructions I linked you to previously. Early runs of the 2006 are missing a connection for the trailer backup signal. So if you have a 2006 that was assembled prior to 24 August 2005, you should take it to your Honda dealer to get that wiring issue resolved, if it has not been taken care of already. If not, when you put your truck in reverse the trailer braking system may not know it and the system could apply the trailer brakes as you attempt to backup (i.e. it could work against you as you're maneuvering).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@McChizzle Thank you so much for the reply. I watched that installation video and the Honda Wire Harness install looks pretty straightforward. It looks like I'm in it for the Honda Wiring Harness and a brake controller. Another $200 should get the job done. Hopefully I can get my wire harness & install costs refunded by U-Haul to offset the cost of new stuff I need.

To add insult to injury I realized that my back left brake light is no longer working after visiting U-Haul. I'm guessing that U-Haul tapped into the brake light wire and screwed it up. It's going to be a real fun time when I go back by there on Monday to discuss the situation.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I saw your 2008 RTL towing thread that I plan on spending some time reading through later.
 

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It never hurts to look but it should be there, unless the previous owner did something strange.



Since you have a 2006 model year RL, take a look at the last two pages of the installation instructions I linked you to previously. Early runs of the 2006 did not get wired correctly and were missing the connection for the trailer backup signal. So if you have a 2006 that was assembled prior to 24 August 2005, you should take it to your Honda dealer to get that wiring issue resolved, if it has not been taken care of already. If not, when you put your truck in reverse, the trailer braking system will not know it and the system could apply the trailer brakes as you attempt to backup (i.e. it could work against you as you're maneuvering).


I am the original owner of my RL, and apparently it was built in April of 2005.


So I can probably stop looking for the 10-pin plug and follow the etrailer instructions. Their plug is slightly cheaper. So the extra work can be offset by the cup of coffee I can drink while doing the work.

Thanks for all the help!

Sincerely,
Mike


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I just went for a look, and can’t find tat 10-pin plug on my 2006 RL, which I purchased December 2005. My 4-pin connector is plugged into my left tail light with the 8-pin plug adapter.

The only plug that looks anything like that 10-pin on my truck is up on the driver side of the trunk, and I though get maybe I’d be able to access it via the tail light, but was wrong.

So maybe I need to follow the etrailer instructions for the 2006.

Thoughts? Opinions?
I am the original owner of my RL, and apparently it was built in April of 2005.

So I can probably stop looking for the 10-pin plug and follow the etrailer instructions. Their plug is slightly cheaper. So the extra work can be offset by the cup of coffee I can drink while doing the work.

Thanks for all the help!

Sincerely,
Mike
I understand the desire to go cheap and the eTrailer stuff is usually good for older vehicles, but not the RL. Our RLs have a lot of electrical safety goodies that you will be bypassing by not using the RL's pre-wire setup. The eTrailer connection you show is what we call a "hack job"--even though it uses proper connectors--because it's bypassing the electrical layout and design that was specifically established for trailering with the RL (i.e. you're taking a risk and towing is inherently dangerous, so...). There are other ways to get to the 10-pin connector, so don't give up on it just yet.

Don't be hesitant to take your RL to the dealer and let them connect things up for you. Most Honda dealers have the same labor rates as your local mechanic shop. Where they get you is in the parts department. So purchase your OEM harness, etc. online and just have your dealer install it.
 

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@McChizzle Thank you so much for the reply. I watched that installation video and the Honda Wire Harness install looks pretty straightforward. It looks like I'm in it for the Honda Wiring Harness and a brake controller. Another $200 should get the job done. Hopefully I can get my wire harness & install costs refunded by U-Haul to offset the cost of new stuff I need.

To add insult to injury I realized that my back left brake light is no longer working after visiting U-Haul. I'm guessing that U-Haul tapped into the brake light wire and screwed it up. It's going to be a real fun time when I go back by there on Monday to discuss the situation.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I saw your 2008 RTL towing thread that I plan on spending some time reading through later.
You're very welcome @stan! Good luck with U-Haul. Their not a bad company for quickly grabbing a trailer for a job but I often stay away from U-Haul's vehicle rentals and most of the accessories they sell. Don't get me wrong, U-Haul's aftermarket hitches are pretty good, but can be a bit bulky on some vehicles; their electrical stuff is bad news, in my opinion.

I also have a thread on one of my bigger towing adventures with my 2009 RTL that may interest you as well: https://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/20-dear-honda-feedback-forum/62922-my-trip-lake-cumberland.html
 

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Since the etrailer video in post 2 seems to have some ambiguity as to what really needs to be purchased, I am analyzing it a bit more for any other 2006 owners like me (or perhaps anyone who wants to bypass the OEM harness and use the 4-pin that’s already Bem install however it may be.)

0:00-0:45
Showing products needed:
- $30.95 brake controller 39523

- $??.?? Wiring kit ETBC7 includes 7-please n plug and 4-pin plug.

- $??.?? Wiring harness TM75127 for brake controller?? Product doesn’t show on their search.

It kind of looks like that is included with the brake controller. So WTF? Old video?

0:45- 3:45:
Rear wiring and install of 7-pin plug. Feed plug with old 4-pin connector (includes a ground), and leaves 4 other wires:
- additional ground
- reverse lockout (they cut and don’t use)
- two wires that need to get run to the engine bay

3:45-4:40:
Run wire to engine at.

4:40-7:50:
Install (fusable?) junction in engine bay and do some wiring.

7:00-7:56:
Run wires into cabin (with a box cutter??? Via a grommet)

7:45-9:25:
Finish engine bay wiring

9:25-10:45
Cabin: setup 4-wire harness for brake controller:
- 12 v constant
- ground
- wire to feed brake power to back of vehicle
- find a 12v source that gets power when pedals are hit (interesting... there’s no sensitivity? Just brakes on or off... hmm.)


10:55-11:00:
Determine the white wire with black stripe is the wire that gets 12-v when brake pedal is pressed.

11-13:33
Finish up the install.

Interesting... does the brake controller figure the acceleration / deceleration rate and power the brakes accordingly? Or is it a constant level of brake power to the brakes?

Seeing all this, I am interested to see if my early 2006 has a wiring connection up front, or if I must follow that full install video. Tapping into a wire that gets 12v when the brake pedal is pressed seems hokey, but I guess that’s how it works. It sure is nice tat some later models have the wiring done for them.





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Those seem to be all about door unlock functions. Is there stuff In those threads on towing?


Edit: oh. The last link shows as “pre-production images”. I now see its about dash wiring.
Edit2: but it’s still about door unlock. Not concerned with that.
 

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I understand the desire to go cheap and the eTrailer stuff is usually good for older vehicles, but not the RL. Our RLs have a lot of electrical safety goodies that you will be bypassing by not using the RL's pre-wire setup. The eTrailer connection you show is what we call a "hack job"--even though it uses proper connectors--because it's bypassing the electrical layout and design that was specifically established for trailering with the RL (i.e. you're taking a risk and towing is inherently dangerous, so...). There are other ways to get to the 10-pin connector, so don't give up on it just yet.

Don't be so hesitant to take your RL to the dealer and let them connect things up for you. Most Honda dealers have the same labor rates as your local mechanic shops. Where they get you is in the parts department. So purchase your OEM harness, etc. online and just have your dealer install it.


It sounds like a big job to retrofit a later wiring harness into an early RL tat doesn’t have the wiring. It sounds like a high amp wire needs to get a signal from a brake controller to power the electric brakes. I fully agree that the etrailer setup is totally generic based on any old 12v pedal signal and power from the battery.

What safety features would I be bypassing going with a fully generic setup?

My truck is now nearly 13 years old, has 120,000 miles, and sure, it may last many more decades, but she ain’t no garage queen. Rust seems to be what will ultimately kill this truck, and spending some time underneath might not be a bad thing to help ID and prevent rust. I’ve already installed bigger tires and ground down the welds. I’m keeping a spare set of wheels to go back to stock when desired, but I’m not afraid of some Non-oem wiring, especially if done by me.

I also despise my dealer service department after a single incident of paying for a suspension inspection where they found nothing wrong, and all I had to do was grab the front seat at link and shake to ID the problem myself. I complained, and they offered to schedule the sway bar replacement for me, but no refund. No apology. I’ve never been back.
 

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Since the etrailer video in post 2 seems to have some ambiguity as to what really needs to be purchased, I am analyzing it a bit more for any other 2006 owners like me (or perhaps anyone who wants to bypass the OEM harness and use the 4-pin that’s already Bem install however it may be.) ...
Don't blame anyone but yourself when your Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), and/or Variable Torque Management Four-Wheel Drive System (VTM-4) warning lights illuminate on your dash (i.e. they stop working) because you used that Universal Installation Kit. If your VTM-4 stops working, you will have turned your RL into a front-wheel drive only vehicle and towing a heavy load with only those gears dealing with the stresses means something in the drivetrain is going to brake.

The brake controller you're looking at is a good one, from what I've read. I think the connector you are referring to comes with the controller; you just need to get the adapter for the Ridgeline, given you use the OEM connections, which it does not sound like you plan on doing.
 

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Don't blame anyone but yourself when your Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and/or Variable Torque Management Four-Wheel Drive System (VTM-4) warning lights illuminate on your dash (i.e. they stop working) because you used that Universal Installation Kit (i.e. it's a known problem). If your VTM-4 stops working, you will have turned your RL into a front-wheel drive only vehicle and towing a heavy load with only those gears dealing with the stresses means something in the drivetrain is going to brake. You've been warned.



The bake controller you're looking at is a good one, from what I've read. Some, but not all, brake controllers come with the wiring adaptor you highlight, but I don't know of the Tekonsha comes with it or not.


Ahh... VTM and VSA failure sounds like a bad thing. I hadn’t realized they’d fail.

I was reviewing that video and hadn’t read the comments that were coming in while I was reviewing / documenting it. I was trying to understand the etrailer method.

So is the wiring harness from later years something I could DIY install?


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