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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Trailer Wiring Problems to Check
    Posted: 02/25/2012 at 2:30am
Working on a boat trailer today, it reminded me when things don't work according to plan, to find out why can be easily solved. Having a test probe that lights up will quicky point to the trouble. Having wired up my trailer lights, I found that the side marker lamps didn't work even though I spliced into the main harness so I knew the problem was either ground or (highly unlikely) both marker lamps were bad. I knew the trailer lights worked because the ground wire went all the way to the tail lights and that's why they worked when the side lights didn't as the side marker lamps required a frame ground (as they didn't have a white ground wire coming out of them).
 
Tested first by seeing if grounding to the hitch connector and it lights the test probe, so good ground there - BUT grounding to the trailer frame just past the hitch frame didn't lite the test probe so we knew no ground past the hitch ball connector. Easily solved just by drilling a pilot hole and putting in a self tapping long screw that went through both the hitch connector and the trailer frame. That immediately lite up the side marker lamps - problem solved. I could only assume that the hitch ball connector assembly bolts had sufficient rust on them to prevent grounding. Later I will remove those bolts and clean them up or just put new bolts in, but the trick here is to get a quick ground without a lot of manual labor and more money.
 
So just a reminder, check your GROUND first to make sure there is ground, this is true for boat wiring, vehicle wiring, anything. If no ground - no lights or gauges will work. Hope this will help jog the memory when the time comes.


Edited by Wildcat Dude - 02/25/2012 at 2:36am
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/25/2012 at 9:47am
Excellent advice. Many people assume it will get ground throught he ball. The new receiver type hitches on most vehicles with chrome plated pins make that even harder. Also on most LED lights I have seen (not sure on trailers) you have to have the ground connected to ground for them to work. Most incadescent types will burn if hooked backwards but LED's dont.
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