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I am a 28 year veteran of long haul tractor trailer experience. I have never used electric brakes before, and have purchased a 2018 Atlas. I will be mainly pulling a travel trailer around BC, so it will be mountainous conditions. As I am used to air brakes, what are the differing factors when using electric brakes. With the 8 speed transmission, will I get any or much hold back in lower gears from the V6?
 

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We’ve completed over 6500 k this summer with our Atlas and a 3300 lbs travel trailer.

The transmission does a great job of breaking the trailer when necessary.

Towing with electric brakes was new to me this year so I’ll outline a few things I learnt with the Atlas.

- There Atlas doesn’t come with a break controller. You will need to buy one but the wiring is in the Atlas already. The wiring harness is hidden under the plastic door plate to the left of the driver. Don’t fall for a wireless break controller you don’t need one.

- When using electric brakes there’s really not much to then once they are properly calibrated.

- This changes with each trip based on weight etc.

- The best tip for calibrating them goes as follows. Once hooked up and showing continuity - let your foot off the gas and let the Car coast - then apply the manual trailer break switch slowly until you reach max trailer brake settings. At this point the trailer should stop and hold the car’s forward motion. If it doesn’t or stops the car before you are at max braking adjust - rinse and repeat. I usually dial this back slightly once I’ve found the sweet spot.

- if you experience any trailer sway gently applying the trailer brakes manually (never the car brakes) will sort this out. This is important for us Atlas owners as sway control is out according to VW.

Cheers and enjoy!

Andrew






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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
- if you experience any trailer sway gently applying the trailer brakes manually (never the car brakes) will sort this out. This is important for us Atlas owners as sway control is out according to VW.
Thanks for the feedback. With 5th wheel tractor/trailers, sway isn't an issue, but I have had to use the "Spike" as we call the trailer only brakes, when I had a steering tire go down, and help hold back as I regained control.

Weight distribution loading also helps a long way in sway control. I am going to go with either a sway control or a weight distribution set up, if I am going to go close to maxing out the GVWR. My other idea is a lighter pop up for off road Forest Service Roads. We like to get up into the small fishing lakes in our area. We already have the full tent camping set up for our family of 4.
 

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I am a 28 year veteran of long haul tractor trailer experience. I have never used electric brakes before, and have purchased a 2018 Atlas. I will be mainly pulling a travel trailer around BC, so it will be mountainous conditions. As I am used to air brakes, what are the differing factors when using electric brakes. With the 8 speed transmission, will I get any or much hold back in lower gears from the V6?
Do you not have access to Google Search of the vehicle's OM?
 

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Something to keep in mind - both sway control and weight distribution are forbidden by Volkswagen - seems the car was not built to take that kind of stress on the frame (we’ve had tons of discussions on why this is - but the service department and the manual agree).

Better to not overdo the weight.

Andrew



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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I didn't realize that. I went over all the other stuff, in the owners manual, just to see what was different from my Jetta and SportWagen. Thanks for pointing out out.
 

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- There Atlas doesn’t come with a break controller. You will need to buy one but the wiring is in the Atlas already. The wiring harness is hidden under the plastic door plate to the left of the driver. Don’t fall for a wireless break controller you don’t need one.
Bumping this from the dead. I'm about to purchase a 14'x7' trailer for my kids' karting stuff and will need a brake controller. I checked with the dealer today and there are no OEM parts to do a brake controller but interesting that you say there's a hidden harness already there. We have a 2019 SEL 4-Motion which came with the tow package but that's obviously only the hitch receiver and the plug for brake lights. I will need to get under the back of the car and look but I don't remember seeing the 4-pin connector for brakes. Is it there or does it need extended out of the car to the rear bumper area? As for the harness up front, do we need an adapter to go from a brake controller to that harness? I saw where people were using the Tekonsha Primus IQ brake controller but how does that hook up to it?
 

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Bumping this from the dead. I'm about to purchase a 14'x7' trailer for my kids' karting stuff and will need a brake controller. I checked with the dealer today and there are no OEM parts to do a brake controller but interesting that you say there's a hidden harness already there. We have a 2019 SEL 4-Motion which came with the tow package but that's obviously only the hitch receiver and the plug for brake lights. I will need to get under the back of the car and look but I don't remember seeing the 4-pin connector for brakes. Is it there or does it need extended out of the car to the rear bumper area? As for the harness up front, do we need an adapter to go from a brake controller to that harness? I saw where people were using the Tekonsha Primus IQ brake controller but how does that hook up to it?
The harness is hidden under the lower A-pillar panel. You have to remove the hood release lever and the side sill panel to remove the lower A-pillar panel.
This harness plugs in between the vehicle harness under the panel and the Tekonsha controller.
This socket is the same one that you would purchase from the dealer for a hefty markup. Just unscrew the panel that covers the hole for the socket, plug the harness behind the cover into this socket, and you should be good to go.
 

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Bumping this from the dead. I'm about to purchase a 14'x7' trailer for my kids' karting stuff and will need a brake controller. I checked with the dealer today and there are no OEM parts to do a brake controller but interesting that you say there's a hidden harness already there. We have a 2019 SEL 4-Motion which came with the tow package but that's obviously only the hitch receiver and the plug for brake lights. I will need to get under the back of the car and look but I don't remember seeing the 4-pin connector for brakes. Is it there or does it need extended out of the car to the rear bumper area? As for the harness up front, do we need an adapter to go from a brake controller to that harness? I saw where people were using the Tekonsha Primus IQ brake controller but how does that hook up to it?
I’ve been using the Curt Echo for 2+ years now. No need for a wiring harness or permanent install. Works great and doesn’t need your phone on to function (phone can act as the manual brake button).

I did modify the coding using VCDS to have 12v power at the 7-pin when the car is on vs when trailer is detected. This helps avoid a quirk that popped up sometimes with how the braking was applied.

For context, I pull a 2019 Airstream Sport (4500 lbs) with my 2019 SEL-P


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The harness is hidden under the lower A-pillar panel. You have to remove the hood release lever and the side sill panel to remove the lower A-pillar panel.
This harness plugs in between the vehicle harness under the panel and the Tekonsha controller.
This socket is the same one that you would purchase from the dealer for a hefty markup. Just unscrew the panel that covers the hole for the socket, plug the harness behind the cover into this socket, and you should be good to go.
See photo below. I have this socket already on the car. But I thought all this did was when plugged an adapter in, it would signal for the brake lights to come on.

 

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See photo below. I have this socket already on the car. But I thought all this did was when plugged an adapter in, it would signal for the brake lights to come on.

That's the standard 7-pin trailer socket that supplies light and brake signals and is used pretty universally on all trucks and SUVs in the U.S. If you look at the cover, it shows which pin is for which signal. One will say for brakes (lower right, I think). That's all you need at the back of the vehicle.
 

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That's the standard 7-pin trailer socket that supplies light and brake signals and is used pretty universally on all trucks and SUVs in the U.S. If you look at the cover, it shows which pin is for which signal. One will say for brakes (lower right, I think). That's all you need at the back of the vehicle.
Ok so then is all I need the adapter cable for connecting to the harness in the lower A pillar?
 

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Ok so then is all I need the adapter cable for connecting to the harness in the lower A pillar?
You would need the adapter harness and a trailer brake controller of your choice. If you don’t use a Tekonsha, you would have to get/make a different harness that plugs between the factory plug and controller.

Factory harness—>adapter harness—>brake controller
 
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