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 Post subject: Trailer Wiring Problem
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:48 pm 
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This may be a long shot but I was hoping someone might have some useful advice, I'm dying to get back on the water!

So here's the story... I set up my Mazda 3 to tow a small utility trailer with the TI and everything was great for a few weeks. Last week as I was driving out to the pond it started to rain. I checked the trailer's lights midway through the day and everything was working fine. A couple of days later, I discovered that the tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals no longer work. The side running lights still work, and the Mazda's lights are all normal. I took this to mean that it probably wasn't a fuse issue. The trailer's factory lighting was non-submersible so I decided that the rain must have seeped into the lights and shorted them. I went out and picked up some new submersible lights for the trailer (replaced the wiring while I was at it) and the same problem still exists: running lights work fine, nothing in the back works.

Now I am thinking maybe the converter in my lighting harness shorted out, but why would the running lights still work? Here's some more information:

Car: 2011 Mazda 3 Hatch
Trailer: Harbor Freight 8x4 utility trailer
New Lights for trailer: Navigator LED lights from Pep Boys
Wiring Harness: Tow Ready Custom Fit harness
Tow Ready Custom Fit Vehicle Wiring for Mazda 3 2011

Any ideas?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:23 pm 
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Location: Maui, Hawaii
Check the grounds for the lights that are not working. I've had some problems with the ground connection (white wire?) corrosion where it connects to the trailer body.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:42 pm 
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KB has a good point. In fact, I had trouble getting my lights grounded when connecting the white wire directly to the trailer and ended up running a separate grounding wire from the lights directly to the grounding wire at the connector plug, i.e., the plug which attaches to the car.

Keith

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:46 pm 
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Chekika wrote:
In fact, I had trouble getting my lights grounded when connecting the white wire directly to the trailer and ended up running a separate grounding wire from the lights directly to the grounding wire at the connector plug, i.e., the plug which attaches to the car.Keith

That is my next step, when the problem returns (which I'm sure it will).

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:20 pm 
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Let's say, theoretically of course heh heh, that I had forgotten to connect the car-side ground this whole time. And after connecting it things still aren't working. What kind of damage may have theoretically been caused?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:28 pm 
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Location: Cape Coral, FL
None. No ground means no circuit.


Check all your fuses, you may have a fuse solely for the trailer lights. Check all your wire connections and if you used wire nuts, replace them with silicon filled wire nuts. They are normally used for low voltage lighting and irrigation. Check for continuity in the wiring harness. Test the lights directly with a 12v power supply.

That's all I can think of now.

J

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am 
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kayakman7 wrote:
None. No ground means no circuit.


Check all your fuses, you may have a fuse solely for the trailer lights. Check all your wire connections and if you used wire nuts, replace them with silicon filled wire nuts. They are normally used for low voltage lighting and irrigation. Check for continuity in the wiring harness. Test the lights directly with a 12v power supply.

That's all I can think of now.

J


Thank you, I'll try all of that before work tomorrow. That first thing you said though, how could that be true? The lights worked fine for the first week and the car-side ground was just floating around in my trunk, disconnected.

The tail lights do have individual grounding wires and I was unsure about how to secure them. They are mounted out on a 4x4 piece of wood on a small piece of aluminum. I originally had them grounded to the aluminum bracket via the light's own mounting hardware, but maybe I need a more substantial ground, like a wire leading all the way back to the metal trailer frame?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:50 am 
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I know that on Nissans they don't even put a fuse in the slot inside the fusebox that's meant for the trailer lights. I remember once having to pull a fuse out of the radio slot and move it over inside the fusebox - that made for a long trip home with no tunes.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:16 am 
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Well good news! It was a grounding issue. I rerouted the individual grounds from the tail lights to the factory ground point at the front of the trailer, and it worked! I don't know how my old lights were working without a ground, even if it was short lived...


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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:06 am 
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Location: Muskoka, Ontario, CA
DaytonaJoe wrote:
Well good news! It was a grounding issue. I rerouted the individual grounds from the tail lights to the factory ground point at the front of the trailer, and it worked! I don't know how my old lights were working without a ground, even if it was short lived...


Glad you found the problem. 9 times out of 10 it will be a grounding issue, atleast with my experience. Since your working on the trailer you might as well double check all connections and bulbs for clean contacts. Once you are happy with those cover them with dielectric grease to keep them trouble free. Preventative maintenance can go a long way.
Cheers
Adam


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