Trailer light problem

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Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:51 am

Hi all, I'm hoping for some advice.
I installed new trailer lights. The original ones I installed had a short (I think) on the left side. They had been working and I'm not sure what happened but the left turn and break signal wouldn't go on but the running light remained on even after I turned off the tow vehicle.
So I took those off and got a new kit.
The new lights aren't working at all. I have a four pin flat connector. Because I built the teardrop frame wider and longer than the trailer frame the lights have to be installed on to the wood. To ground the lights I ran a ground wire from each light to the ground connection on the trailer tongue.
Do you have any advice or ideas about what is going on?
Many thanks,
Mariann
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby troubleScottie » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:04 am

You are in test - eliminate problems.

Use a battery to connect to the various wires on the trailer and make sure each light is lighting when powered.

Then test using a voltmeter or test light that the Towing Vehicle (TV) is generating a signal.

4 wire connector is running/tail lights, right/stop/brake and left turn/stop/brake and common/ground. Remember position is important NOT color.

Typically for a 4 wire flat connector
White: ground wire single pin on TV side single female connector on trailer side
Brown: tail lights next to single pin
Yellow: left turn/brake light middle of the 3 female
Green: right turn/brake light farthest from single pin
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby swoody126 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:44 am

1st point to check is the TV plug which can be done w/ a circuit tester that can be had from TSC for $4 or the infamous HF

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/produc ... _vc=-10005

clip the alligator clip to the ground post on the TV plug and stick the pointed end of the tester against the side wall in each hole to assure your TV is providing electjuicity for each function as you select them from the dash area

one note, in most cases using the emergency flashers on the dash should light/flash both the green & yellow wire/terminals at the same time which indicates the turn, brake & EF lighting systems are functioning

here is a simple chart for reference

Image

once you have chased the colored wires you will have to make sure you have a COMMON GROUND wire to each light fixture. all of these ground wires should be soldered together at the tongue end NOT JUST TWISTED

the situation described in the OP is typical of a GROUND FAULT/FAULTY GROUND and could be nothing more than a poor/improper connection where the ground wire comes to the light fixture

interestingly enuff a faulty bulb can produce similar conditions

when some bulbs are installed in a fixture the internal wires can get crossed/shorted if the bulb is twisted in too tight breaking the seal and rotating the glass bubble in the metal housing(this is true for all incandescent bulbs)

i hope this gives you what you need

GOOD LUCK

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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby Dale M. » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:38 am

Quick and dirty (not really ) tow vehicle light tester.

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For you seven pinners...

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And yes get the probe electrical tester with lamp inside, it can be your best friend when doing 12 volt DC testing... Less complicated then trying to use a meter for most work,,, If lamp lights you have voltage and ground if lamp does not light you are missing voltage or ground or both...

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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:22 pm

**I am updating this post from the below as it turns out that the problem was with the tow vehicle...this can be seen by reading the end of the thread.


Thankns you all!
I bought the electrical probe tester. i determined that the issue is not in the tow vehicle side. I haven't gotten to testing the line on the trailer side. I am thinkign that the idea would be to test from one point in the overall connection to the next...so next i should see if I have pwer and ground at the trailer side plug in, and if yes i should test if i have power and ground on the lights individually. sound right?
Question how do I knwo if the problem is the ground 9and i understand this is most likely the problem) or the power?
thanks as always!
mariann
Last edited by mariannf on Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby Dale M. » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:18 pm

mariannf wrote:Thankns you all!
I bought the electrical probe tester. i determined that the issue is not in the tow vehicle side. I haven't gotten to testing the line on the trailer side. I am thinkign that the idea would be to test from one point in the overall connection to the next...so next i should see if I have pwer and ground at the trailer side plug in, and if yes i should test if i have power and ground on the lights individually. sound right?
Question how do I knwo if the problem is the ground 9and i understand this is most likely the problem) or the power?
thanks as always!
mariann


You start with test probe at known good point (trailer plugged into TV and lights on) and move back to point where problem becomes apparent... Its a "step by step" process...

For instance, you know ground is good on TV but you can not find the ground on trailer side of plug, then it would be a really good indicator plug on trailer is bad or broken wire somewhere alongthe way...... And so on... Also a "tool" the may help is something like safety pin (open) pushed into wire to contact conductor at various places... This is how you get access to the conductor at various points...

Dale
Last edited by Dale M. on Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby Andrew Herrick » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:09 am

You mentioned that the trailer lights are connected to the wooden subframe rather than the metal trailer, and that you grounded them by means of a common wire. I'm assuming you have three-wire or push-in stop/turn/taillights and properly grounded those with the hire. Just curious - and certainly not trying to insult your intelligence! - but how did you ground the sidemarker lights? I think those usually ground through the mounting stud or there's a little metal clip on the backside through which you screw one of the mounting screws.

Of course, that doesn't explain why NONE of the lights are working ... if only the side marker lights were improperly grounded, the rear lights should still work :thinking:

Wait a minute ... did you run a common ground wire and just splice jumper wires to each light, or did you run a separate ground wire for each light? So a total of four wires rather than one?
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:58 am

Andrew Herrick wrote:You mentioned that the trailer lights are connected to the wooden subframe rather than the metal trailer, and that you grounded them by means of a common wire. I'm assuming you have three-wire or push-in stop/turn/taillights and properly grounded those with the hire. Just curious - and certainly not trying to insult your intelligence! - but how did you ground the sidemarker lights? I think those usually ground through the mounting stud or there's a little metal clip on the backside through which you screw one of the mounting screws.

Of course, that doesn't explain why NONE of the lights are working ... if only the side marker lights were improperly grounded, the rear lights should still work :thinking:

Wait a minute ... did you run a common ground wire and just splice jumper wires to each light, or did you run a separate ground wire for each light? So a total of four wires rather than one?


Hi Andrew...I cam looking for help so no insults taken!
Each tail light grounds from the mounting stud, so I have a ground wire connected by a terminal connector. From the tail light I run the ground wire to the side marker and splice in its ground wire. The side marker has a push in for the ground wire. The splice then is connected by ring terminal to the common ground point on the tongue where the ground from the trailer side connector goes. As a note I tired running an indivual ground from each light separately to the ground point and nothing.

I am going to start testing up the line and see what I can figure out.
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:37 pm

Hi all I'm looking forward to your advice.
I tested the whole right side line using the electrical probe. I'm including pics in a series below of where I end up with the problem....the pics are in reverse order so start at the bottom. In the first pic you will see that the probe is clipped to the ground wire and green right turn wire that connect to the tail light. the probe light is on so I believe this means the ground and power work.
In the next pic you will see that the ground wire is connected to the taillight ground bolt. I clipped the probe negative to the bolt itself and not the attached ground wire. The probe went to the green turn wire. Again the probe light went on so both ground and power working. Finally I twisted together the green wire from the harness to the green wire coming out of the taillight. I kept the probe negative clipped to the ground bolt and touched the probe to the twisted green wires and nothing....the probe light didn't go on and the taillight did not work when I tried the right turn signal.
Because I have two sets of tail lights I did the same test on another right taillight with the same result.
Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated. This is really frustrating!
Mariann
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby pchast » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:05 pm

Sorry but that's not enough information to comment with....
You bought a test light not a meter right?

Your wires have an open in them somewhere. I would check any junctions.
Especially where you installed the light itself. Pull the light and check at
that location for power, before the light, to the trailer as a ground.

PS...
A wire could have scraped against something and grounded itself to the frame Or
It can also be bad wire.
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:04 am

pchast wrote:Sorry but that's not enough information to comment with....
You bought a test light not a meter right?

Your wires have an open in them somewhere. I would check any junctions.
Especially where you installed the light itself. Pull the light and check at
that location for power, before the light, to the trailer as a ground.

PS...
A wire could have scraped against something and grounded itself to the frame Or
It can also be bad wire.

Pete right I used a test light. In the pics I show the test at the end of the wire pulled from the taillight and tested that location. Is this what you suggest? If yes the test light lit up when testing that point (the wire that is to be connected direct to the taillight).
Any other thoughts from you and others appreciated.
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby Dale M. » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:32 am

If you have power and ground at the ends of the wire with light fixture disconnected, and then you connect the wires to fixture and you loose power to the probe... There are two possible scenarios,... One, bring there is problem with fixture... Two, there is problem with power from tow vehicle, meaning if the power to light trailer lamps comes through a "converter" the converter may be bad because it can not supply enough voltage (power) to light the actual fixture lamps ( probe takes very little power to light lamp) ... Since Both side have same result with the testing I would be suspicious of there being bad converter in tow vehicle if there is one or there is some confusion on how lamp fixture is wired.... Are by chance new lamps LED, if the are they are very specific how they are wired or they do not work....

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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:48 am

Dale M. wrote:If you have power and ground at the ends of the wire with light fixture disconnected, and then you connect the wires to fixture and you loose power to the probe... There are two possible scenarios,... One, bring there is problem with fixture... Two, there is problem with power from tow vehicle, meaning if the power to light trailer lamps comes through a "converter" the converter may be bad because it can not supply enough voltage (power) to light the actual fixture lamps ( probe takes very little power to light lamp) ... Since Both side have same result with the testing I would be suspicious of there being bad converter in tow vehicle if there is one or there is some confusion on how lamp fixture is wired.... Are by chance new lamps LED, if the are they are very specific how they are wired or they do not work....

Dale


Good to hear from you Dale and thanks.
The new lights aren't LED. I was wondering myself if I had a voltage problem.
Do you have any guidance (or links to resources) about how to identify 1) if i have a converter, and 2) if it is not working properly?
I was thinking that next I should test the voltage coming out of the tow vehicle side of the connector. I have a mulitmeter (honestly i haven;t used it before...got it free at HF). I foudn this video..does it look about right to you for how to proceed?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H5_g2lyOcs

Many thanks in advance!
mariann
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby bobhenry » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:06 pm

I know ! I know ! Well maybe anyway. The cheaper fixtures will allow you to twist in the bulb but the pins are misaligned. Well at least that's what happened to me. It had me scratching my head for a while.
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Re: Trailer light problem

Postby mariannf » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:31 pm

bobhenry wrote:I know ! I know ! Well maybe anyway. The cheaper fixtures will allow you to twist in the bulb but the pins are misaligned. Well at least that's what happened to me. It had me scratching my head for a while.

Hi Bob, and thanks.
when you say the pins were misaligned what do you mean exactly...what do I needto look for?
Thanks!
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