Tow Package Issue Ford Expedition

Hello everyone,

I have an 03 expedition. I have recently noticed that EVERY time I pull my 2500 lb tent trailer the electronic brakes on the trailer heat up so hot i cant touch them, however when i tow my tent trailer with a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer (which I have used 5 times now) i never overheat, and just barely get warm to the touch. I have taken the trailer to a auth deal and they ran some test on the truck and even swapped out a wiring pigtail and still works fine on the trailblazer, but the Ford still has the same issues. i took the Ford to the dealer and they say everything tests out fine after 2 hrs. What else could be causing this. Let me include these helpful notes.

1)Both vehicles run fine

2) weather does not play a part

3) trailer brakes do not overheat at all, anytime when pulled by trailblazer but overheat everytime behind expedition.

4) I must take Expedition as we have four babies and I need as much storage room as possible for clither, food etc

Please help :slight_smile:


Do they get hot when you are towing on level ground with minimal use of the brakes or is this on hilly or twisty-turney roads?

I only use the trailer maybe 8 times a year, so it is both straight aways and hilly terrains depending on where we are camping. they got hot a couple weeks back when we took a 20 minute drive on a straight away to test it after the shop said they fixed it :frowning:

I suspect the brake on your Ford is NOT fully releasing.

It’s possible the brake light switch needs adjustment to clear the brake pedal arm when the brakes are not in use.

For some reason they are dragging/activating enough to activate the trailer brakes.

It doesn’t take much to activate the electric brakes on a pop up trailer.

On another note: are you using a brake controller?

If your trailer has electric brakes then there is a “brake controller” on the tow vehicle. The brake controller can be set properly, or it can be set up for the wrong type of trailer. Your trailer is pretty light and the brake controller should be set to send a low current to the trailer brakes. Too much current and the brakes will be on too much.

I think the brake controller on the Ford is either defective or out of adjustment. It is sending current to the brakes all the time and the trailer brakes are getting hot as a result. You also must be getting terrible gas mileage when towing. Take the truck with the trailer hooked up to a good trailer service center.

Shooorrrttt. So far from finding it, and yes all tests are fine. Now we have to find the short. Short to body is easiest but you may have two wires melted together. Look where the wires are supported by wire ties on sheet metal. Look where they pass through holes.

I had apachetrailer in Tacoma,WA adjust the nrakes3 times. I do use a brake controller as well and we have swapped that out in the the ford because we thought that may have been the issue. It wasnt though

Its not that. We took it in swapped out the controller and I have the setting on the brake controller set to nothing and that is not fixing it either

I took it into the shop last week with the trailer attached and the trailer corp. tested the truck with a lit adapter you plug into the trucks adapter. That tested out 100% fine though

so i am a rookie, where would i start in looking at this. I dont believe anyone has looked at the wiring as of yet.

So, if everything tests out fine in the shop, the next question to be asked is- do you ride the brake pedal? By any chance, are you a two footed driver, braking with your left foot?

no double riding. as a matter of fact i try not to use the brakes and instead cruise when possible in the expedition

Like it or not, UncleTurbo is on the right track. If the brake controller is fine and all of its settings are set properly, then the electrical connection that applies the trailer brakes is getting power when it shouldn’t be. That might be an electrical issue unrelated to the brake controller.

There is more than one setting to check on a brake controller. There is the setting that tells it how much power to send to the brakes, and there is the setting that tells it the direction of the momentum that should make it activate the brakes. My old brake controller had two dials. One controlled the amount of power applied to the brakes. The other dial had an arrow on it that had to be pointed straight up. If either dial is out of adjustment, you will have problems.

Electrical problems can be hard to solve, so you might have to take this vehicle to another shop for a second opinion if the first one can’t find the problem.

The Expedition is a big vehicle. It should be easily able to tow the 2,500 lbs tent trailer without the need for trailer brakes. The brakes on the trailer are really helpful for folks trying to pull this trailer with a smaller car or smaller SUV like a CRV.

Have you considered disabling the trailer brakes when pulling it with the Expedition? That will be less of a safety issue than burning up the brakes, wheel bearings, and tires on the trailer by pulling it with overheated brakes and wheels.

Perhaps the Ford towing package is set up for larger loads and doesn’t handle this light load set up well.

The brakes on the trailer are really helpful for folks trying to pull this trailer with a smaller car or smaller SUV like a CRV.

Trailer brakes are REQUIRED for most mid-size SUVs (Explorers, Pathfinders, 4runners, Trailblazers) when trailer is over 2000lbs.

So do you think I can disable it and be ok since the tow max without brakes in Washington state is 3000 lbs?

I think you need to consider the weight of the trailer, the towing capacity of the Expedition, the total gross weight capacity of the Expedition, and how much stuff you load in both the trailer and Expedition for an outing. It is your call.

I said that the Expedition is a full size SUV and should be able to tow this weight without the need for brakes on the trailer. Perhaps you should hook up the trailer without brakes and take a test run and see how it works.

I picked up a 2,500lb 2 horse trailer about 300 miles from my home. The dealer couldn’t hook up the brake controller the same day. I drove the unloaded trailer home with an '01 Toyota Sequoia (full sized SUV) with no problems at all. There was plenty of braking power. I got the controller installed and then tested the brakes and learned how to set up the controller prior to loading in our 2,200lbs of horses and pulling the trailer loaded.

If you had a Honda CRV I’d never suggest pulling the trailer without hooking up the brakes. Your Expedition has a lot of towing capacity, far more than the 2,500lbs of camper trailer.

Where is the brake controller in the Expedition receiving it’s power signal FROM ?
If the Expedition has advance-trac traction control, and the brake control power line comes from a pressure switch or other anti-lock related circuit, it could be receiving a computer generated signal unknown by you.
Try wiring the old fashioned way. Splice ( generaly the red wire provinding signal coming into the brake controller ) in to a brake lamp wire that is either ON or OFF with your brake pedal.

Then pay close attention to the final mounted angle of the controller in relation to the bias ajustment. I’ve seen a few that you could not ajust the bias out of if the angle of the unit was too deep.

If this was my problem, I would step back and do some simple diagnostics to prove/disprove the shop’s diagnosis. Rig up a break out connector and run a lamp off the controller output line up to the rear window so I could see it while driving. Then take the trailer out for a spin and see for yourself if the line is activating and under what circumstances. Assuming it is activating, trace it back to the controller and make sure it’s not a wiring issue. Then troubleshoot the controller if necessary. Divide and conquer…

So do you think I can disable it and be ok since the tow max without brakes in Washington state is 3000 lbs?

If you were trapped somewhere and had to get home, I would say to do it. This is not a permanent solution to your problem. You need to get this fixed.

Towing capacity and braking power are not the same thing. There is a reason your trailer has brakes. Get the problem fixed and get them working right.