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Author Topic:   Trailers: Tail Light Convertors
Phil Tyson posted 07-20-2004 05:07 PM ET (US)   Profile for Phil Tyson   Send Email to Phil Tyson  
I tow my Montauk with a 1999 4-Runner.

I noticed that when I replaced my trailer lights with LED's I had no running, license plate, or left signal. After checking all conections, I went to U-Haul and they tested the harness on the hitch (factory installed).

The tech said I had a blown converter. He said they blow every 4-6 years. This is inside the truck. To replace it one must lift the trim on the tailgate floor and pull out the side trim under the rear side window.

Have any of you heard of this?

jimh posted 07-20-2004 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Well designed solid-state electronics will last for decades. Poorly designed solid-state electronics lasts until the first overload.

The "european" tail light configuration using separate lamps for turn signals and brake signals makes use of a convertor necessary. I would imagine you could build a convertor with four diodes that would last until the end of time for about $10.

gnr posted 07-21-2004 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     

Last night I talked to a buddy who had just had his trailer light set up looked at. He had bought the truck used and the lights had never worked right. He had essentially the same symptoms as you describe.

The hitch installer he took it to pointed out this little black box behind the bumper that appeared to be somewhat melted. The hitch guy called it "the transverter".

He cut it out of the circuit and wired in a new receptacle (no new transverter) and all is well now.

This was on a Chevy 1/2 ton.

I had never heard of such a thing before this.

Dick posted 07-21-2004 11:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
The site below gives some very good information on vehicle wiring for a trailer.


Marlin posted 07-21-2004 12:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
Jim, many newer vehicles require a converter box for towing not only because of the separate brake/directional, but because the lighting wiring won't support the extra load of trailer lighting. Many newer vehicles also seem to use some sort of low-voltage diagnostic to test for bad bulbs, and this is confused by direct trailer wiring.

The converter for these vehicles takes an independent +12VDC feed to power the trailer lights, and uses the hook-in to the vehicle lighting only for signalling (by that I mean telling the converter box what to light up).

The first converter in my Volvo V70 lasted 1 1/2 seasons, then the output for the left directional/brake got intermittant. If I tapped or squeezed the box in just the right place, it would work all the time. Otherwise, it would work whenever it felt like it.

I put in a new 4-channel converter, then used one of the working channels on the old one to handle the back-up light on the 5th pin that disables the trailer brakes.


quickfarms posted 07-21-2004 01:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for quickfarms  Send Email to quickfarms     
I have had the same problem on my Ford truck.

I use the Drawtite converter.

The first time it blew, after 1 year, I bought a new one.

The second time it blew I took it to a local trailer place and they replace it under warranty. They also gave me a little tube of grease to put onto the connecters. That replacement has been under the truck for about 8 years without a problem.

If you have that annoying clunk in your reciever from the slop of the ball mount in the receiver, Reese makes a locking pin that has an end shaped like a J. You have to drill an extra hole in the reciever for the J to apply pressure on the mount but it stops that clunk.

On a third note I leave my combo mount pintle jook/ball locked in the reciever all of the time. This was good when I was rearended by a small car last year. The only damage to my truck was a bent pin in the pintle hook. But it acted like a can opener on the car.

where2 posted 07-22-2004 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Having installed the Class III hitch, and the converter to my wife's '98 4Runner, I can say that YES, you need to remove the lower trim, and the side trims on either side of the rear tailgate. However, it's not rocket science. I even went to the trouble to route the wiring through the rear Unibody rather than just stuffing it under the lower trim.

I think I spent 45 minutes installing the converter... And you have to understand, I don't cut corners and don't use electrical tape or wire taps... It's soldered in!!

Chuck Tribolet posted 07-26-2004 12:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Another solution to the clunk is a plastic covered hitch pin.
I got one from west. No drilling involved.

The clunk seemes to vary from unit to unit. The hitch on
my first two Pathfinders was quiet (don't remember the first
brand, second brand was a Nissan hitch (got a deal on it)).
The DrawTite on the current PathPuppy was clunky from day
one, but the plastic covered pin cured that.


jimh posted 07-26-2004 05:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't own any cars new enough or fancy enough to need a convertor, I guess.

The way things are going, I imagine it is only a matter of time before Congress passes legislation requiring all auto makers to include circuitry to detect blown bulbs in the car lighting, then we will all need a convertor for our trailers

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