View Full Version : Trailer lights always a problem!!! Anyone else?

10-28-2005, 09:58 PM
Driving down the road getting ready to make a left turn and the person behind lays on the horn and hand signals the finger. Throughout the day, periodically hear a horn-"who was that for?". I Finish the day and back in and notice no reverse lights on trailer. Upon further inspection, my left turn signal isn't working. Thats when the finger and horns made sense to me. I am sick and tired of trailer lights,turn signals constantly not working. I noticed today that I am not the only one with this problem. I swear the majority of landscape trailers I notice today had some sort of lighting problem-No turn signals, break lights etc...I have 2 open trailers and they are constantly having electrical problems. Same story with my 16' boat trailer and the same story with my buddies two boat trailers. It just pizzes me off and was wondering who deals with the same bs with trailers? Misery loves company.


Az Gardener
10-28-2005, 10:19 PM
Always. My son a converted electrician says its almost always the ground.LoL

10-28-2005, 10:19 PM
Been a battle all summer brother!! Thank the good Lord the season will be coming to an end so I can stop what ends up being temporary fixes and fix them for good.

10-28-2005, 10:54 PM
I carry a set of the magnetic type, like the tow trucks have. If we have a trailer problem, we use these till we can get the trailer in the shop to get fixed. Cost me maybe 50 bucks, and used them many times. Will use them tomorrow I'm sure, as I need to buy a snowmobile trailer. When I rebuild the trailers, I enclose all wires, and this seems to help a lot.

10-29-2005, 12:01 AM
I have 3 Big Tex trailers and all of them have had light problems at one time or another. One time it was a ground but the majority its the sockets loosen up and the bulb comes loose. My new 18' trailer sometimes you have to kick the taillight to make it come on, I suspect the socket on that one too. Also, the 3 light bar on the back of the trailer(not sure what you call them) are always breaking bulbs for the rear of the trailer dragging on steep driveways. The best fix is to buy LED lights.

10-29-2005, 12:40 AM
I just change the whole lite assemblies each winter so I don't have the problems in the summer. Cheap and easy and sure beats being pulled over or causing an accident.

10-29-2005, 12:54 AM
Driving down the road getting ready to make a left turn and the person behind lays on the horn and hand signals the finger. Throughout the day, periodically hear a horn-"who was that for?".
Have you seen those bumper stickers that say, "Keep Honking, I'm Reloading"?

10-29-2005, 02:25 AM
I swapped over to LED lights this year. I love 'em, people actually see the lights now cause they're so damn bright. I also have my wires enclosed, which helps reduce snagging.

Re: Boat trailer lights... Disconnect the wiring harness to the trailer before you plunk the trailer in the lake. chances are high that your lights don't seal well and that cold water will pop a hot light easily. Or switch to LED.

Richard Martin
10-29-2005, 05:45 AM
I agree with the LED lights. I got my clearence and ID light (the light bar with 3 bulbs that goes between the brake lights) from www.vehiclelight.com. I got my S/T/T from my local lawn equipment dealer and I have not been able to find that particular style on the web.

I just received my ID and clearence lights so I haven't installed them yet. I am hooking everything up with bullet connectors so the lights are easier to change out should the need arise. I picked up 100 male/female bullet connectors off of eBay for 10 bucks.

10-29-2005, 07:51 AM
Trailer lights -- one of the most frustrating repair tasks I encounter!

I have a Big Tex, plus an older Viking. I rewired the Viking last Spring, but still had a problem a couple of weeks ago -- bad ground through a hinge bolt for the tilt bed. I hard wired around the hinge for sure ground.

The LED lights sound like the way to do to eliminate bulb failures. I checked out the site mentioned above. The pictures only show the lens, not the entire fixture. Does the body of the fixture have the same two-bolt configuration as other bulb-equipped fixtures?

Like Richard, I started mounting the fixtures with bullet connectors. This was a simple acknowledgment the fixture would have to be changed and to make the change simpler. Cutting and splicing wires makes for wires that are eventually too short to use!

10-29-2005, 07:58 AM
Yea we always have trailer light problems. They only seem to occur when i unhook the trailer and hook up to another truck. This time of year you really need the lights cuz it's normally dark when we leave. Sometimes dark on the way home.

Richard Martin
10-29-2005, 08:42 AM
I checked out the site mentioned above. The pictures only show the lens, not the entire fixture. Does the body of the fixture have the same two-bolt configuration as other bulb-equipped fixtures?

They've added the boat trailer S/T/T since the last time I looked at their website. It should have a 2 studs out the back on a 2 inch center spacing (standard open trailer mounting). http://www.vehiclelight.com/28044001.html

Now you can now get all of your LEDs from those people.

Richard Martin
10-29-2005, 09:03 AM
If you need a smaller side marker light then vehicle light has (4") this website has 2-1/2 inch amber and red side markers. http://www.iboats.com/mall/index.cgi?prod_id=37973

10-29-2005, 10:34 AM
I am constantly having problems with my left side light, somtimes its fine, others never comes on. I will convert to led at the end of the season.

10-29-2005, 10:35 AM
We eliminated light issues, well the bulk of them by installing two junction boxes, one at the rear, and the other on the tongue. they are completely sealed from the elements, and we use loop connecters that bolt onto the connecting block. The main harness is a piece of flexible cased 6 strand 12 guage wire, the same used for semi trailers. So, the only open ended outside connections are inside the tail lights, and inside the plug. We use two junction boxes so when some select genious under our employ decides to drive off without disconnecting the plug, the only thing we replce is a 6' hunk of 6 strand at the tongue.

It is the same type of system Wells Cargo uses in their enclosed trailers, the only difference being we use water tight junction boxes available at any semi truck parts supplier, and those are mounted outside.

It will cost you about $150.00 to covert the trailer over, and once you dial the system in, it will be the last time during season you are messing around with lights. After that all you need to do is open the covers during the off season, usually when you repack wheel bearings or change brakes, check for corrosion, (never any) and put the covers back on.

I rate this system with my highly acclaimed SAS rating, for those who are unfamiliar, that is Slick As Snot. The system is not perfect, but it works very well for our applications, so well that the next flat deck trailer we order will have the system installed by the factory as per my request.

Dirty Water
10-29-2005, 04:03 PM
Its frusterating how often trailers have light problems...If auto manufactures had this many problems, they would be in serious trouble.

10-29-2005, 11:30 PM
My trailers have the same type of wire that UNISCAPER mentioned, with LED lights. The only problem I ever have is a bullet conector coming off the LED, just clean it off, slap on some dielectric and away we go.

11-05-2005, 01:50 AM
Whenever my lights start to give me problems, I go to discount auto, pick up a new set for $25 and wire them up in a few hours. They I don't have to worry about them for 2 or 3 yrs.:)

Richard Martin
11-05-2005, 02:38 AM
Whenever my lights start to give me problems, I go to discount auto, pick up a new set for $25 and wire them up in a few hours. They I don't have to worry about them for 2 or 3 yrs.:)

Buy the LEDs and you won't have to keep buying lights.

11-05-2005, 10:28 AM
My trailers all came with the rear lights grounded to the steel frame. I do not rely on the trailer hitch ball for a ground to the TRUCK. I use a pin on the 6 pole plugs that I use and run a heavy ground wire from the trailer frame through the plug to a corresponding pin on the truck side of the connection that runs to the truck frame. Wires coming from the trailer lights are routed DOWNWARDS for 3-4 inches, then back up to the frame of the trailer. This wicks any moisture away from corroding the trailer lights. Hope this helps, it works for me!

11-06-2005, 12:08 AM
When I used to have open trailers, I just rewired them every year. Being an open trailer, it was simple to do. With my new enclosed I dont know, lol. My driverside brake and blinker doesnt work, but the running light part of it does work. Its weird, and I think its on the truck side because I used a dump trailer a few weeks ago and had the same exact problem. However I dont know how to go about fixing it on the truck side, all the terminals are clean as a whistle and well greased.

11-06-2005, 10:27 AM

That's why the junction boxes are so easy. If you think your problem is on the truck side, test the prongs at the plug and write them down if you need to.

Then connect the trailer, and check at the junction boxes on the tongue and inside. Very highly unlikely your problems are inside the wires in the trailer frame.

That's why we did the juntion box/ and fully cased 6 strand wire system.

Back to the truck. The harnesses used for trailer wires are so much easier than old school, where you cut wires than tapped into them for a trailer plug. You just snap in your trailer plug and you're rocking. So, if you don't want to diagnose the problem, get a recepticle at the auto parts or dealer, snap it in place, and your off. The harness will run you from $25, and up to $45 bucks, unless your prices are alot different than these parts. It's as easy as unplugging the trailer from the truck.

11-06-2005, 01:46 PM
I used to repair a lot of trailer lights and the problems were almost always related to a bad ground somewhere. Once I started running the ground wires from the lights all the way to the battery the problems pretty much went away. On the truck plug, I'd run a seperate ground wire to the negative battery terminal so I always had a good ground. No more grounding to the frame. On the trailer side, I'd run all the light grounds to the ground lug on the trailer plug. Again, no more grounding to the frame. Also keep wires away from sharp edges and protect it from vibration and movement so the insulation doesn't wear off. Always use quality connectors and dielectric grease or the newer water proof connectors.

I also found I had less problems when I got away from splicing into the tow vehicles wiring system for the light plug. Now I buy the ready made adapters that plug right into the tow vehicles lighting. It's faster, cleaner and not near the hassle in the long run.

11-09-2005, 12:04 PM
Richard, my problems are rarely in the light unit itself, usually the problem lies in the wiring on the way to the light. A few times I've had the power wire wear through and blow fuses by touching the frame.