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  1. #1
    DrivingZiggy's Avatar
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    Electrical Boost

    Okay, so I normally tow the skis with the Camaro. But it seems like the car's electrical system doesn't work the blinkers and brake lights as well as it should. I don't have any problems towing with my friend's F250 nor with my other friend's Escalade--and I have to use 7-4 pin adapter on both of those vehicles.

    So obviously the problem is with the car. Is there anything I can do?


  2. #2
    mattydipps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrivingZiggy View Post
    Okay, so I normally tow the skis with the Camaro. But it seems like the car's electrical system doesn't work the blinkers and brake lights as well as it should. I don't have any problems towing with my friend's F250 nor with my other friend's Escalade--and I have to use 7-4 pin adapter on both of those vehicles.

    So obviously the problem is with the car. Is there anything I can do?
    what kind of wiring do you have on the car?

    do you have the wiring harness that splices into the tail lights? or the harness that there is a power wire that runs to the battery?

  3. #3
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    What kind of lights on the trailer? LED or traditional incandescent bulbs?

    Do the trailer and car brake lights reach full/normal brightness when you press the brake pedal? If not, there is something wrong.

    Any warning message on the car dash?

    Do the trailer and car turn lights blink too slow, too fast, or not blink at all?

  4. #4
    DrivingZiggy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattydipps View Post
    what kind of wiring do you have on the car?

    do you have the wiring harness that splices into the tail lights? or the harness that there is a power wire that runs to the battery?
    I had it installed at the local place that installs these a lot and does other types of installations. But from what I saw, it looked like they were just gonna splice it into the wires at the rear of the car.

    Quote Originally Posted by K447 View Post
    What kind of lights on the trailer? LED or traditional incandescent bulbs?

    Do the trailer and car brake lights reach full/normal brightness when you press the brake pedal? If not, there is something wrong.

    Any warning message on the car dash?

    Do the trailer and car turn lights blink too slow, too fast, or not blink at all?
    No dash warnings. I think the brakes produce normal brightness during daylight, but I'm not sure. Things are more pronounced when driving with the lights on, but when I put on the turn signals the dash indicator is going much faster than normal. One night a friend was behind me and said that the turn signal barely produced a flicker, but didn't tell me about the brake lights.

  5. #5
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrivingZiggy View Post
    ... I think the brakes produce normal brightness during daylight, but I'm not sure.

    Things are more pronounced when driving with the lights on, but when I put on the turn signals the dash indicator is going much faster than normal.

    One night a friend was behind me and said that the turn signal barely produced a flicker, but didn't tell me about the brake lights.
    Have someone hold the brake pedal firmly with the engine running, car in neutral. Stand behind the car.

    Keep your eye on the car brake lamp (left or right rear brake lamp, not the center brake light) while you plug in the trailer connector. When the connector to the trailer connects there should be only a very modest or not even noticeable change in car brake light brightness. Unplug and replug the trailer connector a few times to be sure.

    If the car brake lamp changes brightness in a significant manner then there is a problem with the car + trailer wiring (typically too many lights on the trailer for the car system to handle, or poorly done wire connections in the car).

    It is entirely possible your car needs (or would be better off with) a trailer light control module. These connect to all the same turn and brake wires in the rear of the car plus a separate wire to feed the module with direct power from the battery or somewhere in the main electrical harness. And of course a ground connection for the module (usually a mounting screw in the steel body somewhere).

    The trailer module isolates the car brake and turn lights from the trailer lights, so the car does not know whether the trailer is even connected. The trailer lights are then controlled by the module, which gets its power from the main electrical system, not the wires to the rear lights.

    An alternative is to change all the trailer lights to sealed LED. LED lights use much less electrical power and the reduction may be enough to allow the regular car turn signals to work properly without adding the control module. The LED trailer lights will of course also work with a module.

  6. #6
    DrivingZiggy's Avatar
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    Thanks! First I'll check the brake lights as you describe. If that's the problem, I'll try the module first. I found some on Amazon for $35-$45. That's a lot cheaper than replacing all the lights with LEDs!

  7. #7
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrivingZiggy View Post
    Thanks! First I'll check the brake lights as you describe. If that's the problem, I'll try the module first. I found some on Amazon for $35-$45. That's a lot cheaper than replacing all the lights with LEDs!
    Make sure the aftermarket module is compatible with your particular model of car.

    Some cars use unusual control methods for bulb brightness and/or turn signals. The better modules can handle PWM lighting (for example) in addition to the more common on-off-blink light controller in the car.

  8. #8
    DrivingZiggy's Avatar
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    Thanks! It'll be a while before I can let you know the outcome. I'm really broke right now. Shewwwwwwwwwww!

  9. #9
    Check the ground on the trailer before you start ripping into the car. Many times the one little screw is either corroded or trying to ground through paint or both. Sometimes the wiring harness doesn't even have a ground wire and the trailer tries to ground via the ball...good luck getting that to work reliably.

    I've added a new four way and tapped a new hole for a ground on a couple of trailers in the past that had "weak" lights. It can also be a bad ground in the light itself.

    I love wiring trailers. Not.

  10. #10
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChirpOnYou View Post
    Check the ground on the trailer before you start ripping into the car. Many times the one little screw is either corroded or trying to ground through paint or both...
    This is why I suggested watching the car lights for brightness changes. The car lights should not be affected by a poor ground to the trailer.

    If the car tail or brake lights are going dim when the trailer is plugged in then the OEM car wiring is not happy.

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