Light issues with horse trailer
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    Stablenickers's Avatar
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    Light issues with horse trailer

    This past year we purchased a new Sundowner horse trailer. Over the last few months, we have had a few occasions to trailer at night. I checked all of the lights when we got the trailer and they worked perfectly. The first time we used it at night, there were no issues. Since then, we have lights randomly not working. Once it was the little clearance lights that ran around the trailer but the interior lights were working. Once when we left one location, the clearance lights were working but the interior lights were not working but when we got home, I flipped the interior lights on and they worked just fine. Then, last night, no interior lights once again and they never "magically" started working. Checked my truck fuses (2016 Silverado) and they all seem to be fine. I'm really frustrated. Nothing like trying to load a young, inexperienced horse in a trailer late at night when you can't see!
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    Jen

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    Sounds like a electrical ground issue.
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    Does your trailer have a battery other than the brake away one for emergency stopping?

    The trailer light plug is another thing that can cause trouble. Make sure all are clean and tight.
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    Stablenickers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEWT View Post
    Sounds like a electrical ground issue.
    Ok. Electrical is not my thing. So, a ground issue in the trailer wiring itself or in the plug that connects to my truck?
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    Jen

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    Quote Originally Posted by H-D dealer dude View Post
    Does your trailer have a battery other than the brake away one for emergency stopping?

    The trailer light plug is another thing that can cause trouble. Make sure all are clean and tight.
    Nope. No extra battery. I’ll have to look at the plug to make sure it’s clean.
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    Jen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stablenickers View Post
    Ok. Electrical is not my thing. So, a ground issue in the trailer wiring itself or in the plug that connects to my truck?
    Ground from truck to trailer. Your trailer probably grounds through the trailer ball/trailer hitch. The best ground connection is the truck plug grounded to the truck, and the trailer plug grounded to the trailer. There are 7 points on your electrical plug. One of them is a ground. If grounded this way, you should be able to hook up just the electrical plug only, completely unhooked otherwise and the lights should work.

    It also could be the truck end or trailer end of the plug that could be the issue like H-D said.

    Light issues with trailers are a headache, you have to start somewhere and trial and error till you find the issue. Plug and grounds are the first place to start.

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    Thanks guys. I’ll start digging around this weekend based on your direction.
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    Jen

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    I'm not claiming any real expertise, but I have maintained and had to sort out electrical problems with my own horse trailers for a few decades. And I've done all of it myself, from changing light bulbs to replacing wheel bearings and brakes. Every horse trailer I've had used a connector like the one pictured above, and had the trailer wiring routed pretty much the same. What you have described is an intermittent problem with the trailer interior lights, and with the clearance lights.

    I'm assuming that what you mean by clearance lights are the front amber lights and the rear red lights mounted on the roof of the trailer, and also the side marker lights - the amber and the red lights on the sides of the trailer. And by interior lights you mean any tack/dressing room lights, plus overhead light over the horse space, and a switched loading light over the ramp or step-up. Correct so far?

    I'm also assuming that all your other lights are working properly; the turn signal lights, brake lights, tail lights, and the back up or reverse lights. All these have a dedicated power wire source coming from the connector between truck and trailer. I would look in particular at the trailer tail lights, since the trailer's clearance lights share power with them. If the tail lights are not working together with the clearance lights, there may be some corrosion in the trailer plug or socket around pin 3. As a starting point, you could spray some contact cleaner on the truck to trailer connector parts. Spray electrical contact cleaner can be found at Walmart, any auto store, Tractor Supply, and such.

    That would not explain the interior lights, as they usually draw their power via pin 4. So the next question is whether your trailer interior lights work with the truck engine running, but not with the truck engine shut off? At some point in the Chevy truck model years, power to pin 4 was only supplied to the trailer when the truck was on. I've had two Chevy towing trucks where this was the case. It was a pain loading at night, since you had to crank up the truck to turn on the trailer interior lights. My 2017 truck has power to pin 4 always on, so the interior lights work without the truck switched on.

    The wiring to the individual side marker and roof lights, and to the trailer interior lights usually runs in the metal channel between the trailer roof and the lower part of the trailer. These wires are typically laid along an open channel you can feel, and look down into if you stand on a mounting block inside your trailer. There are a lot of wire splices in there where connections can be potentially loose or oxidized so as to make intermittent contact. You will notice when you look that there is only a single wire going into each light fixture or marker light. That is the power wire to the light bulb. The return circuit or ground uses the frame and skin of the trailer rather than individual wires to finally complete the electrical circuit through pin 1 on the connector.

    If you'll post whether my assumptions are true so far, I'll be happy to help trouble-shoot further.
    Last edited by RetiredDoc; 11-16-2017 at 10:44 PM.
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