For every trailer sold in America, (We’re talking dump trailers, cargo trailers and landscape trailers, that kind of thing.) approximately 4.3 wiring kits leap off retailer’s shelves. What does this tell you about trailers in general? That’s right! Sooner or later, your trailer lights are going to die. And, that means that whether you’ve got an RV trailer, utility trailer or the like, you’d better get ready. When it comes to trailer maintenance, electrical problems come second only to wheel bearing problems.
If you’re not familiar with aftermarket, trailer light kits, it’s time to start learning. Water is the enemy of your electrical connections, just ask any trailer owner. “There’s always water, just dying for the chance to corrode your connector crimps,” is a popular refrain amongst trailer owners. So, you’ve got the mighty task of keeping your electrical wiring as free and clear of water as you possibly can. And, that’s no mean feat.
Dedicated attention to repair and maintenance can certainly curtail major electrical issues for a while. Vigilant tow dolly inspections for grounding problems and broken wires may help postpone that huge rewiring effort. But, be forewarned, your lighting system will ultimately need replacement, regardless of how good a patchwork repairman you are. Schedule a complete overhaul when all the warning signs are there and you’ll save yourself the intense grief of a poorly timed, last minute overhaul.
RV Trailer Wiring For Dummies
Most of your standard landscape trailer, dump trailer and tow dolly trailer types feature three circuits. Circuit 1, gets current to the running lights, while circuits 2 & 3 are there to feed current to the left & right braking lights. What all this means is that you’re going to end up with 4 wires, the 3 we’ve already mentioned and a ground wire. You’re also going to need a connector equipped with at least 4 contacts.
Much as you’d expect, a standard, flat style trailer’s electrical connector utilizes 4 pins. The ground wire’s male pin is enshrouded and found on the vehicle end of the connector. Scrutinize a variety of 4 way connectors and you’ll see, they come with 4 color coded wire leads (White, Brown, Yellow & Green.) that do the following: A. The white lead wire is the ground wire. B. The brown lead wires, which exit through one pin and extend from the flat connectors, feed current to the running lights. They split power to the trailer’s left & right sides as well as the tail, license plate and clearance lights. C. Next comes the yellow wire, the primary power feed for the taillight’s left turning and stop functionality. D. Finally, there’s the green wire, which is responsible for the current running to the taillight’s right turning and stop functionality.
To determine a trailer’s right and left side, always stand at the trailer’s rear. Once you’re there, if you find a five way flat with a blue wire, you’re looking at your back-up light’s power source. This activates the back-up solenoid on disc brake equipped trailers (Now considered standard practice.) Understand that this 5 way connector and blue wire is utilized in trailers equipped with electric brakes; heavy duty trailers, landscape trailers and dump trailers being perfect examples. It’s also commonly used with trailers that sport back-up lights.
In doing this kind of maintenance, you’re going to come across connectors featuring six & seven way round connectors with round pin, blade or oblong terminals. The seven way round blade style is the most popular, being favored for factory tow packages by the major, tow vehicle manufacturers. Be it landscape trailer, dump trailer or cargo trailer, roughly 90% of these kinds of trailers sport the seven way round, RV Blade style connector.
With the vast majority of tow dolly and heavy duty trailers being outfitted with 12 volt powered features, (i.e., electric brakes.) it’s important to understand the sixth pin, the power conduit to your trailer’s internal fixtures, like interior lighting. You’ll see that the wiring code colors for six and seven, way round connectors are identical for the trailer’s running, stopping and turning lights. Green controls the right turn and stop light, yellow, the left turn and stoplight, brown is the running wire and white is for the ground. The blue wire is normally the default for your electric braking circuit, no matter whether you’ve got a toy hauler, utility or RV trailer. Color-coding does not come into play with your trailer’s interior twelve-volt fixtures or secondary power.
Any tow vehicle sporting left and right amber signals that work independent of the turn and stop lights, could call for a converter for your taillight. Given that almost all trailer wiring, (Dump trailers, cargo, heavy duty trailer and RV trailers included,) is built around a two wire configuration, how then to address the 3 wire set-up, called for on vehicles featuring separate turn and stop lights? The answer is a ” tail light converter.” This component allows you to turn your 3-wire feed into two wires.
Your running, turn and stop lighting system wiring is not tough to work on. Just approach your light rewiring project, one circuit at-a-time and you’ll never have to concern yourself with head spinning schematics.
No matter what kind of trailer you’ve got, be it an RV trailer or toy hauler, it’s critical to remember that the wiring for the interior lighting and your trailer’s wiring system operate completely independently of each other. You should leave the interior lighting to a qualified professional, like an electrician, who specializes specifically in trailer electrical work.