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The Chemist

Trailer Lights

20 posts in this topic

I just installed lights on a trailer and the side (yellow) lights don't work. It has one of those in-line connectors. Should I just cut the wire and tie the 3 wires together? Or won't this work?

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I don't know what kind of ground system you have but check that first and clean the connector. If you do cut the wires be sure to solder them together and use shrink tube or some other kind of sealer or the elements will corrode the wires within a few months?
Safe trailering!
"FISH" grin.gif

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Where are spots that I can ground the lights? I know directly to the trailer frame, but what about the chains? The hitch from the vehicle? I have the plug from the van on the inside and would like to keep it that way.

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If you used inline butt to butt connectors you did the right thing. If you used one of those blue 3m connectors were you have a piece of metal that you push down over the wire and then snap the plastic over the top you will always have problems. Check your grounding is it grounded through the light to the frame or is there a separate wire. Most likely has a screw that grounds it to the frame and then you need another wire ground from you frame that goes into your light pigtail. Sounds like you grounding is bad thought. Good luck trailers what a pain in the A@#.

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if you ground it like you just said you will always have problems. Don't ground through the hitch and chains are a terrible ground since the move all over. Hook it up to the frame of the trailer this is the best way.

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If all the other lights work it has to be either the connections for the side lights or the ground for them. May sound dumb but have you checked the bulbs in the ones that don't work? They could have gotten damaged? I hate wiring because it is so simple but a pain in the butt!
"FISH" grin.gif

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The in line connector is one that is supposed to cut through the sheath and make contact. That I believe is the problem. The instructions that I got in the package are terrible. So I will just do a normal splice. That way I know there is a connection being made.

Can the ground wire be spliced to make it longer?

How important are the center lights on the back of the trailer? Is there anything stating them as being a requirement?

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Chemist,
Tying the three wires together will not solve the problem, it may actually create a new dilemma when you have all the lights working together: brakes, signal and head/tail lights.

The ground wire is typically white. It originates from the vehicle’s frame, leads directly to the plug and from the plug to the trailer frame. As mentioned, make sure that all of the connections are clean and solid. It really doesn’t matter where you attach the ground on the trailer frame, as long as it is permanent. On one of my trailers, the ground wire connects to the bolt, that fastens the chains to the trailer.

In any case don’t rely on a ground through the hitch or the chains. This can result in flickering lights when you travel down the road, as the contact is momentarily broken.

<;))))><

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Johnny, you said that tying the 3 wires together wouldn't solve the problem, do you mean that if I cut the wire and tie the 2 ends in with the one from the side light it won't help? In the instructions they say to attach the connector to the brown wire and the wire from the light. Can't I just cut the brown and splice the 3 together?

By the way I really appreciate all of you guys help on this. Thanks Alot

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The side yellow lights are hooked up to the running lights wire. This will be the brown one. Like fish toys said, get a light tester, every garage should have one. You will be able to tell if you are getting juice to the light. Ground your tester to a good source, if the test light works, but your trailer light doesn't, then you've got a grounding problem. If the other trailer lights work, but the side ones don't, then your ground problem is with them. Typically trailer lights like you are describing are grounded by the screws that hold them to the trailer. Make sure there isn't plastic separating the metal from the screw to the trailer frame. (you didn't screw it onto something non-metallic did you?) Just make sure the circuit isn't broken and you should be able to figure it out. But do invest $5 and get a tester. Work every penny.
Good luck!

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BFG: I think you have pin-pointed the problem. I mounted them onto the plywood sides of the trailer. This should make a real easy fix.

Do I need to have them working to use the trailer? My tap set is up at the cabin and I won't be able to get it until tonight. Which is where I'm taking the trailer.

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There are two types of side-running lights: one-wire and two-wire.
It sounds like your new lights are the one-wire variety?
If so, of the three wires running down the frame of the trailer, you need to isolate the running lights (head/taillights). This wire will be the one that connects to your new side light. Then as Big Fish said this kind of light is grounded by the screws so you do not have to worry about an individual ground. I cannot necessarily go by colors: the two trailers that I just looked at are both different.

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Chemist,....Did you get em going yet? smile.gif trailer lights can be very frustrating. I hope you went and got a tester. That can solve many mysteries. You didn't mention if the other lights worked properly or not.

1) Are you splicing into the running lights wire?
2) do you have the side lights properly grounded?
These should be the only questions that need to be answered.
GET A TESTER!

It doesn't hurt to have a continuity tester by your side either. Those side lights are more than likely to be grounded by the nut and bolt holding it to the trailer. Make sure that the bolt or nut has contact with an unrusted un painted surface.

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Well I didn't get the side lights hooked up yet. Gonna ground them when I get to the cabin tonight.

I still have a slight grounding problem w/ the lights, right turn signal is weak.


How has everyone been installing the new lisence? I was thinking of putting it between 2 pieces of plexiglass and sealing w/ silicone. Then screwing onto the frame.

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is this a boat trailer? Actually, not sure if it matters. I just renewed my boat trailer and they didn't issue me tabs or plates, just a sticker that I put on the tongue and that’s it. They said I don't need license plates anymore. Don't know if its just boat trailers though.
as for grounding trailers, it is a pain. The best thing to do is just screw the mail end of a clip into your auto's frame and the female end on some 10 gauge wire that is attached securely to your trailer and then when you hook on the chains, clip on your ground wire too. I have found that the ground wire in the harness is not sufficient and you can't rely on the ground through the ball.
For testing purposes, use a set of jumper cables and attach one end (black and red) to your auto's frame, and the other end to the trailer tongue. That way you don't have to have the trailer actually hooked up, and you know you have a good ground. That's what I do.
Good luck!

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I have the sticker also. That is universal for all trailers I guess. I'm putting it between plex so keep it from damage/falling off. Trailer is in need of a paint job. I found this to be a good system for my ID on the fish house so I intend to use it on the trailer.

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From the Minnesota Vechile Registration Form.

Legislation Effective 7/01/01 requires all non-recreational trailers registered at 3000
pounds or less to have permanent registration by 2005.

Good Luck...

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shouldn't need a tap, just drill a hole and use self tapping screws. They'll hold a lot better too.
Glad we could help ya out!

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