Saga of a new truck Part 2

Sunset in Atlanta State Park Atlanta TX

Captain's Log: Atlanta State Park, Texas

Our first trip in the new truck went flawlessly, right up to when we arrived at Atlanta State Park, still in Texas thankfully, about a hundred miles north of Tyler. The trailer had followed along behind the truck and had stopped when it was supposed to. The truck had plenty of power and it was an easy tow, so I wasn't expecting any surprises, but I got one anyway . As I exited the truck, I could smell the trailer brakes. Never a good sign. I could also hear the trailer's brake actuator humming when it should have been quietly off. I felt each wheel to confirm all four trailer brakes were hot. Good thing we were going to be here awhile.

So back to Tyler to visit the Dodge dealer. I explained the problem and hoped for the best. What I got instead was a report that the truck's computer declared everything was fine. The guy I spoke to said since nothing was broken, there was nothing to fix. But what about the hot trailer brakes? Well, since it wasn't the truck, it must be something wrong with the trailer. Hard to fault that logic, since the computer couldn't be wrong. Back to the park to think about this.

I thought and thought and after Janie found my digital volt meter (in like two minutes, after I had looked everywhere), I measured and measured. There was no doubt: the truck had a residual voltage on the brake line to the trailer that caused minimal braking when there should have been no braking. I could swap the truck's integrated brake controller with an after market brake controller that I knew worked (because I've been using it for the last four years) but first I was going to make another run at getting Dodge to fix this. This time I would come armed with all my evidence and reason would prevail. This time I would take it to a different Dodge dealer, the closest one being in Texarcana.

Voltage from Ram's controller
I get in the next day and explain the problem with the brake controller, complete with voltages and unassailable logic. They consulted the truck's computer and arrived at their decision: everything is fine, nothing to fix. But look, I say, at the brake signal to the trailer. Even without a trailer attached, it's over a volt when it should clearly be zero volts. A tech was standing right there and even had a DVM with him. So he measured it and agreed that looked suspicious. So they putz around some more and pretty soon I noticed a couple of techs heading out to check other trucks in their inventory. The verdict: all the trucks they tested bug out the same as mine, so that's how Ram is building them and if you have a problem it must be your trailer. 
Hard to argue with that. I could reasonably expect the dealer to bring the truck up to factory specs, but I can't expect them to redesign the truck.

I had an after market brake controller installed the same afternoon. I used the Prodigy P3, the same brake controller I was towing with before. Finally got back to Atlanta State Park and confirmed the brake line voltage from the truck with no braking was zero volts, as it had to be. With the trailer connected, the trailer's brake actuator was silent, the trailer's brakes were off. All good.
Voltage from the P3 controller
The next morning we packed up and headed to Lake Catherine near Hot Spring Arkansas. Calibrated the new brake controller on the way out of the park and it worked great. The new truck is so quiet. I don't even have to turn the radio up, but I do anyway.

Happy trails.
- John


  1. Safe travels with you new truck. I am glad your brake problem wasn't more serious than a new controller. We are back in Iowa for the week and then to Omaha. Happy Trails.

  2. Glad you got things fixed. I stayed at Atlanta back in 07 when I had my shorter rig. I seem to remember hard to get into sites. Are there any big rig sites?

    1. There are some sites in the FHU area that will fit the big rigs but most of the water/electric sites would be hard to get into. We really liked the park. We were in site 16. It would definitely be large enough and I think it is the best site in the park.

  3. Jim thinks you should contact Dodge's customer relations on this issue. If this is true, Dodge could be opening themselves up to lawsuits from folks who don't know this and burn up their brakes or have a problem. At least customer's should be advised if this is how they are building the trucks now.

    1. That's a great idea. John just go on their web site to do that. He already posted on the TDR forum that a lot of the Ram guys are on. Several commented that they would be checking out their brakes.

  4. So glad everything is finally working correctly!

  5. Yes Texas is the home of big ass trucks, we learned that too. Congrats on the new truck, hope this is the only issue you have with it.

  6. Nice new truck! We're going through new truck withdrawal. Our Chevy is a 2006 and has had a few ($2,000) repairs lately. Can't afford the payment quite yet :-)


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