Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller problem

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 17:32
ThreadID: 80217 Views:15146 Replies:7 FollowUps:8
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I have a Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller installed in my LandCruiser. I have had the Cruiser two years and I believe that the controller was installed not long after the vehicle was built three years ago.

Recently I returned from holiday and found that the Cruiser battery was flat. Following a call to the friendly RAVC I was back on the road. I noticed then that the rear brake lights were permanently on. This was also the case with no key in the ignition. I drove the Cruiser and the brakes operated normally. Except that the cruise control would not engage. Following a check of all fuses and a bit of head scratching I realised that the only common component was the Prodigy controller. I disconnected it and the lights turned off and cruise control worked as well. The unit is still desconnected and I have had no problems since.

I have sent an email to Tekonsha asking for advice (the units have a limited lifetime warranty) not sure what that actually means or if my unit is covered.

I am posting because I know these units are very reliable and I have had two trouble free years towing our van around the country. If anyone has a contact number for an Australian company representative that would be appreciated. I could only locate an American website.

Many thanks,

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Reply By: Dust-Devil - Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 18:18

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 18:18

The istallation of this item is virtually foolproof.

(1) Power direct from Prodigy unit to the battery via circuit breaker. (Black wire)

(2) Power from Prodigy unit to Trailer plug )Blue)

(3) Earth (White)

(4) Brake light activator (RED)

If 1,2 & 3 are correct (usually so, as 5yr old could do it) it only leaves No. 4 which is where 99% of the problems occur.

This one should be connected to the brake light activation wire inthe loom either at the brake activation plug above the brake pedal or at a brake light where you can get access to.

The trick is to identify the correct wire by its colour code if you know it or by trial and eror using a test light.

What tends to happen is that the installer either fails to (a) identify the correct wire or (b) Finds it too difficult to' splice' into the correct wire under the dash so picks something eassier which in you case is probably the Cruise Control Brake activator wire or (c) can't be bothered running a wire back to the stop light loom.

Myself personaly - I would be goiung for (b) and checking which wire the brake activation wire from the unit (red) has been spliced into above the brake pedal switch.

I have installed these in three vehicles I own - JEEP, Toyota troopy and the Brand new 200 series I picked up 8 days ago - and towed with all three working perfectly.

Thats the best I can do for you.


AnswerID: 424775

Follow Up By: phil300 - Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 18:49

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 18:49
If it all worked fine for 3 years and now a problem I would think the unit was wired in correctly.
Cruise control always disengages when you touch brakes, sounds like a fault were a power leak from battery to brake circuit through the unit.
FollowupID: 695235

Follow Up By: Dust-Devil - Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 17:00

Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 17:00

I couldn't agree more with your 'thoughts' on this matter.

If that lunatic DD had taken a bit more time to read the initial post properly, I am sure he might have thought the same as yourself or myself now that I have read it in 'depth'.

This problem can only be in a very few places and can be identified by inspecting and eliminating them one by one until the culprit is identified.

FollowupID: 695357

Reply By: Member - Stuart P (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 19:41

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 19:41
disconnect the power to the brake unit at the circiut breaker, if the brake lights are still on then it may be your brake light switch itself . it may also in the tralier plug where a wire from constant power has come loose and is shorting aginst either pin 5 or pin 6.the brake light switch has a plastic grommet on the pedal ,this rests on the switch lever, and if missing or broken will cause the brake lights to stay on.
AnswerID: 424792

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 20:14

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 20:14
Very interesting as I had exactly the same problem last week.

Dont know what caused it but I thought I had a short or a bad earth.

The first thing I did was disconnect the Prodigy from its loom and the lights went out so thats what made me think that the red had shorted.

What I then did was tidy up all the shonky wiring I had under the dash.
I have also been having troubles with my EGT gauge oscillating madly when it rained.

Solution from 4x4 forum was to tighten nut holding sensor to exhaust.

Did that and resoldered all the earths and checked that the red wire connected above brake pedal wasnt shorting.

Tidied up all the power wires and heatshrinked everything again.
Put it all back together and problem has gone.

There is another thread on here about similar problems.

Maybe not much help to you but thats how I fixed mine.

If it helps the wire colour to connect the red to is Green with a thin white strip and has silver bands about every 150mm Use a meter it only has power when the ign is on and you push the pedal

AnswerID: 424798

Reply By: Lucko - Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 13:13

Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 13:13
Dave, I had exactly the same problem. It started after I had disconnected the battery then later reconnected. Neighbor knocked on the door 8.00pm to tell me that truck tail lights are on. I cannot explain why but I fixed it by momentarily disconnecting, then reconnecting the battery. The problem reoccurred sometime later when the battery was replaced, fixed the same way. As I said, can't explain why, but it worked, at least for me.
AnswerID: 424888

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 18:21

Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 18:21
Lucko you just jogged my memory I disconnected some wires to remove a relay and I think they included the brake controller.

Had this post been here last week I might have saved a mornings work.
I would have thought though, that by disconnecting the Prodigy it would give the same result but didnt.

FollowupID: 695366

Follow Up By: Lucko - Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 09:10

Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 09:10
Graham, I should correct my first post .... it was the brake lights that came on, not the tail lights.
I had the Voyager for quite a while, it had this problem which happened all too often so tossed it. The Prodigy is excellent IMO and worked perfectly for several years before this issue came up.
For chasing parasitic power loss I bought a gizmo from Jaycar that plugs into any auto fuse holder and reads the current flowing through it - brilliant little piece of kit. With everything switched off move the meter from one fuse holder to the next, it will quickly tell you where the drain(s) is occurring. Hope this is of use.
FollowupID: 695428

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 09:28

Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 09:28
Yeah was my brake lights also.

FollowupID: 695431

Reply By: Harrow - Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 19:47

Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 19:47
Hi David

Had a similar issue a few months back

Linked with a whole heap of issues, starting with a burnt out rectifier on the Genuine Alt then cheap Alternator that burnt out completely
(Dual batteries flat at the airport, and a long drive home, (Travel away often and long)

Have a parasitic drain from all the gizmo's,
Thought I had it all fixed then noticed the prodigy playing up.

Could have been the source of my drain.

Anyhow the Auto lecy said they are best installed with a diode (" as prodigy's do that sometimes" Quote)

I think the diode was put on the activation wire (to the stop light)

Anyhow fixed the problem
AnswerID: 424925

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 20:42

Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 20:42
It was the Voyager that needed the diode and the earlier ones at that.

Have never heard of the Prodigy needing one till now.

FollowupID: 695383

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 16:20

Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 16:20
That modification for the Voyagers is not an approved modification. The modification prevents the stop lights from being illuminated when you use the manual control to activates. One of the requirements with brake controllers is to be able to do that. Putting the diode in circuit makes your vehicle unroadworthy in the eyes of the law.

Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
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FollowupID: 695464

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 16:50

Friday, Jul 23, 2010 at 16:50
Was not advocating it be done.

Was merely pointing out that they were referring to the wrong model.

Would be a b****dy stupid thing to do Putting the brakes on and no lights.

Nearly as bad as the idiots who drive around with their foot on the brake pedal with all lights blazing.

How the hell are you supposed to know what they are going to do.

FollowupID: 695466

Reply By: Member - David K (VIC) - Saturday, Jul 24, 2010 at 10:13

Saturday, Jul 24, 2010 at 10:13
Thank you all for your replies. I will investigate over the weekend and let you know what I find to be the problem. With your suggestions and experience I now have a start point.

Many thanks,

AnswerID: 425064

Reply By: Thermoguard Instruments - Saturday, Jul 24, 2010 at 16:14

Saturday, Jul 24, 2010 at 16:14
Hi David,

As mentioned by others, the early Tekonsha Voyagers were notorious for this problem of lighting-up the brake lights all during the night. I, and I believe many others, have had our early black/grey label Voyagers replaced free of charge with upgraded purple label ones. (So far, so good!)

Also as mentioned, this is the first time I've heard of a similar problem with the Prodigy. Did however see a bloke in a caravan park at Innisfail a few weeks ago who had the RACQ out two mornings in a row with a flattened battery. After the second visit the prime suspect by the RACQ mechanic was the owner's Prodigy...

If you wish, please send me a PM and I can give you a useful contact in Aust.

AnswerID: 425088

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