Boat trailer light problem

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Panfisher
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2017/10/26 15:10:51 (permalink)

Boat trailer light problem

On my boat trailer, the turn signals work without the headlights on.   However, when I turn on the headlights the right side turn signal does not blink(well the side light blinks but not the tail light).  The left side works fine.  I googled this and it says to check the wiring for shorts and check the ground wire.  There are no bulbs to check since I have LED tail lights.  I recently rewired the whole trailer including new led tail lights and new side lights.  Maybe I did something when I put the side lights on.   Don't know.   I redid the ground wire on both sides and even ground down the metal license plate holder to get a better ground.   It is not the tow vehicle wiring because it does the same on 2 different tow vehicles.
 
I don't know what to try next.   Did any one else have this problem?  It only happens on the right side when a load is put on it.
 
What can I try next?

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#1

18 Replies Related Threads

    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 16:28:04 (permalink)
    Panfisher this is a shot in the dark.  Are the connectors for the lights, the snap-on or pinch on type that pokes through the wire insulation?  I'm thinking there just may not be enough contact at that location for both lights to work efficiently.  I'm assuming both tail and turn have the same ground contact. 
    post edited by BeenThereDoneThat. - 2017/10/26 16:30:19

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
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    #2
    Erie Mako
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 18:32:40 (permalink)
    Did the rewire job include a new vehicle connector?
    Yellow - left turn
    Green - right turn
    Brown - marker
    White - ground
    Best practice is to ground the white wire near the hitch and run a ground wire back each side to the side markers and tail lights.
     
    To me, from experience, the condition you describe indicates a poor ground connection.
     
    Out of curiosity, does the tow vehicle(s) have seperate brake & turn signals on the rear?
     
    I have seen the ground pin on the trailer end of the 4 pin flat connectors that were spread open too far and actually not make a connection, even new ones out of the box.
     
    Don't rely on the crimpy-squeezy connectors that come with the light kits - better to cut, splice with heat shrinkable butt splices then coat with liquid tape.

    On the internet, EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion!
    #3
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 20:06:41 (permalink)
    There's always the possibility the problem is at the "push in" connections where ya strip the end of the wire and push it in the connector and boy oh boy now I'm thinkin that could be the location of your problem.

    Hope ya can get inside the light housing and check those connections.


    I'm thinking the tail light is grounding back through the turn signal preventing enough ground for the "dinker-dink" (flasher) to operate.
    post edited by BeenThereDoneThat. - 2017/10/26 20:13:01

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
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    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 20:26:48 (permalink)
    Wait.....? What, the side marker flashes? Are your side markers combination flash/marker using separate LEDs? If not, you either wired the right side wrong (at the main vehicle connector) or your problem is with the tail light feeding back through the turn circuit seeking the ground.
    post edited by BeenThereDoneThat. - 2017/10/26 20:30:56

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
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    #5
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 20:29:51 (permalink)
    Dam I hate trailer lights!!! I'll be wiring boat trailers in my stupid dreams, thank you very much.

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
    #6
    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 21:25:02 (permalink)
    BeenThereDoneThat.
    Panfisher this is a shot in the dark.  Are the connectors for the lights, the snap-on or pinch on type that pokes through the wire insulation?  I'm thinking there just may not be enough contact at that location for both lights to work efficiently.  I'm assuming both tail and turn have the same ground contact. 




    I stripped the tail light and trailer wires and connected them with the heat shrink connectors.  The ground wire was too short from the tail light to ground to any thing, so I added an extra piece of wire and bolted onto the tail light bolt.  
    I had trouble with the trailer lights before so that is the reason I rewired the whole trailer.  Their is a side light on the tail light which blinks but not the tail light itself.  
    Probably is the ground giving me trouble.
    post edited by Panfisher - 2017/10/26 21:35:59

    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
    #7
    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 21:31:26 (permalink)
    BeenThereDoneThat.
    Wait.....? What, the side marker flashes? Are your side markers combination flash/marker using separate LEDs? If not, you either wired the right side wrong (at the main vehicle connector) or your problem is with the tail light feeding back through the turn circuit seeking the ground.



    The side marker that is flashing when head light is on is part of the tail light and does have separate LED's.   Being that the turn signal blinks when the headlights are off must mean something is wrong with the ground.  Have to check that out I guess.  Stupid trailer lights.

    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
    #8
    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 21:34:57 (permalink)
    Erie Mako
    Did the rewire job include a new vehicle connector?
    Yes
    Yellow - left turn
    Green - right turn
    Brown - marker
    White - ground
    Best practice is to ground the white wire near the hitch and run a ground wire back each side to the side markers and tail lights.
    Maybe my connection to the side marker is not good.   Will check that out.
     
    To me, from experience, the condition you describe indicates a poor ground connection.
     
    Out of curiosity, does the tow vehicle(s) have seperate brake & turn signals on the rear?
    Yes
     
    I have seen the ground pin on the trailer end of the 4 pin flat connectors that were spread open too far and actually not make a connection, even new ones out of the box.
     
    Don't rely on the crimpy-squeezy connectors that come with the light kits - better to cut, splice with heat shrinkable butt splices then coat with liquid tape.





    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
    #9
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 21:38:20 (permalink)
    I'm thinking that may be your problem spot. I'm not sure the tail side marker is suppose to flash. Does it with the headlights off?

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
    #10
    Erie Mako
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/26 22:45:42 (permalink)
    Have these tests been done with the trailer hitched to the ball?
    How does it behave not on the ball with just the plug connected?

    On the internet, EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion!
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    pikepredator2
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/27 08:09:15 (permalink)
    The first thing I do when I experience problems like this is to take sandpaper to the ball and up inside the female hitch on the trailer.  Takes care of the problem 99% of the time.
    #12
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/27 08:46:21 (permalink)
    OK, short of checking into a HolidayInn last night or placing a fresh pulled tooth under my pillow as collateral for betting my bottom dollar. The problem is with getting the tail/stop light properly grounded.

    At first I thought the tail light was trying to "ground" back through the turn signal circuit but such is not. The opposite is taking place. The flasher circuit is following the tail circuit in finding a ground until such time the tail circuit is turned on and carries current.

    The problem is with the proper grounding of the turn signal light and may be inside the fixture with those dam push connectors.

    That's my story aaaaaand, I'm sticking to it!

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
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    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/27 19:18:11 (permalink)
    Well, I figured it out.  I rewired the right side tail light.  I connected the red wire to the green wire and the green wire to the red wire.   Doesn't seem logical.  But it works.  When I originally wired the boat trailer lights everything worked.  However, I didn't test them with the headlights on.  Seems like the hitch connector was not wired properly at the factory.  What do you all think?
     
    To quote BTDT stupid tail lights.

    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
    #14
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/27 20:04:40 (permalink)
    Great news, congratulations. Would of bet my bottom teeth it was a ground issue.

    Hope I have the same luck with these stupid Christmas decorations. 🎄

    They have red and green wires too.😧

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
    #15
    EMitch
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/28 10:31:27 (permalink)
    Everybody has good input here, but Erie Mako has hit the nail precisely on the head. When you get a new trailer harness, the white ground wire is usually less than two feet long. First thing, check the vehicle wiring. Go into the connector for the ground on the vehicle with the ground end of a test light, turn on parking lights and probe the connector for the brown wire. The test light must light brightly. (in automotive work, I actually use a headlight bulb for my test light, which helps identify high resistance in a wire). At the end of the trailer harness ground wire, I solder an eyelet to it and drill a hole near the tongue of the trailer, then with a 25' roll of white 18ga. wire from the auto parts, I solder and eyelet to the end of that and run it through the main center frame tube. The eyelets of both ground wires get bolted together through the trailer frame. I cut off enough of the wire to reach from the right tail light, to the side marker, and across the frame to the left frame rail. I then take a 1 1/2" piece of shrink tubing, (I use the type that has the meltable sealing glue inside), slide it all the way up the remaining main wire, past where I'm going to make a connection, strip the main wire 1/2" (without cutting the main wire), strip the right side wire, connect to the main ground, solder and shrink tube, then proceed to the lights. Same thing for the right side marker, strip the ground without cutting through, and with a tag wire with an eyelet, slide the shrink tube past where the splice will be, solder the tag to the right side ground, shrink tube, and then connect the eyelet to the marker ground. That's the way it goes for every light. The self sealing shrink tubing can be covered it you prefer, but is not necessary. Now you know that each and every light is not relying on ground through the ball, (although it is present through that bolt in the eylets in front of the trailer). Brown wire to lights on both sides are tail lights, yellow left turn, green right turn. If a turn signal flashes dimly, generally what's happening is it is only getting ground through the filament of the tail light. When everything is right, you should be good and worry free for years. (Except for rodent damage when parked or stored. Chipmonks, squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs; they love to eat wiring, for some reason).
    post edited by EMitch - 2017/10/28 10:34:44

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    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2017/10/29 17:22:38 (permalink)
    EMitch
    EAt the end of the trailer harness ground wire, I solder an eyelet to it and drill a hole near the tongue of the trailer, then with a 25' roll of white 18ga. wire from the auto parts, I solder and eyelet to the end of that and run it through the main center frame tube. The eyelets of both ground wires get bolted together through the trailer frame. I cut off enough of the wire to reach from the right tail light, to the side marker, and across the frame to the left frame rail. I then take a 1 1/2" piece of shrink tubing, (I use the type that has the meltable sealing glue inside), slide it all the way up the remaining main wire, past where I'm going to make a connection, strip the main wire 1/2" (without cutting the main wire), strip the right side wire, connect to the main ground, solder and shrink tube, then proceed to the lights. Same thing for the right side marker, strip the ground without cutting through, and with a tag wire with an eyelet, slide the shrink tube past where the splice will be, solder the tag to the right side ground, shrink tube, and then connect the eyelet to the marker ground. That's the way it goes for every light. The self sealing shrink tubing can be covered it you prefer, but is not necessary. 




    Good info there.   Will keep in mind.

    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
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    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2018/05/17 10:09:48 (permalink)
    Got another issue.   Brake and turn signals work but not the running lights.  This happens on 3 different vehicles so I know it is the trailer wiring issue.  The ground cam off after a recent fishing trip so I redid it.   Must not be getting good contact so I will have to redo it.   Wish I could run a wire threw the trailer frame and ground everything to one wire as stated in Emitches post.  

    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
    #18
    Panfisher
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    Re: Boat trailer light problem 2018/05/17 16:28:07 (permalink)
    Redid ground wire connection and everything is good to go.  

    The only thing better than 1 day of fishing is 2 days of fishing.
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