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Author Topic:   Trailer lights - I'm messed up
PeteB88 posted 04-24-2006 09:13 PM ET (US)   Profile for PeteB88   Send Email to PeteB88  
I picked up a used Karavan galvanized trailer for either my 11.5 or the 13. The wires were all messed up so I bought a set of brand new lights w/ harness. I pulled off the old lights, fished the new wires correctly to L and R side but all I get are steady tail lights - turn signals stay lit - steady, same with brake lights and 4 way flashers. I spliced in the side marker amber lights into the brown wire on both sides, which I thought might be the culprit but I disconnected the markers, ran straight to the rear and same problem. I hooked up my old trailer to the same tow vehicle and those lights worked correctly. Double checked the wire runs, colors, all done correctly, and used the Dremel tool to scrub up the grounds for both lights and white lead on hitch. Still steady red, both sides, no blinkers, no brake pedal, no four way.

Any ideas?


Brand new lights and wiring harness too.

cmarques posted 04-24-2006 09:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
I had something similar one time borrowing a family member's utility trailer that was brand new. It had all the lights come on when I depressed the brakes and even lit up my dash lights on the truck. After checking over the harness and even my truck for a fault I pulled the taillamps apart and found they were stamped brass sockets and there was a sliver of brass (looked like the sprue holding parts together in a plastic model kit)between the tail/brake circuits backfeeding power from the brake lamps through the parking lamps and back into the truck. I split the sliver and all worked fine.

Hope this helps.


PeteB88 posted 04-24-2006 11:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Thanks - I'll give it a try tomorrow morning - there is no reason why these lights are acting weird.

keep suggestions coming.

st posted 04-25-2006 01:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for st  Send Email to st     
Here's a typical trailer wiring diagram: Trailerwiring.gif

Hope that help!

PeteB88 posted 04-29-2006 01:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Here's what I found so far. I use my 99 Camry to pull the 13. Toyotas require a converter device for trailer lights which I got with the Drawtite hitch. I bought the Karavan galvanized tilt trailer used, hooked it up, plugged in the lights and drove it 20 miles home. When I inspected it thoroughly I relized that mice had lived in the tubes of the trailer and stripped most of the wires to bare copper. I bought a new light kit, mounted the tail lights, ran the new wiring and hooked everything up. When I tested the lights I could not get turn or brake lights.

I tested the converter and confirmed the green wire had no power downstream from the converter but power from vehicle wiring harness. Trailer man told me something shorted and burned out a diode in the converter - replacement $22 bucks.

My trailer man Hitches and More, Lansing MI, made it clear if wires short or you do not disconnect lights before launching it is likely diodes will burn out again.

He recommended that I use a battery charger to test the trailer lights which I think is great advice. Simply clip the ground lead to the trailer and use the positive wire to energize each wire to test the lights individually. This protecs the vehicle wiring and main power bus.

I tested everything on the trailer and all seems good. Short likely caused by stripped old wires.

I will install converter tomorrow and report back.


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