Many times I have traveled down the road and come up on a car or truck pulling a boat and there would be no lights on the trailer. Law Enforcement could spendhours issuing
citations for these violations and the fines could be rather substantial,
so lets see what we can do to prevent this from happening.
Through the years I have found that a bad ground is often the culprit, but lets start at the beginning and fix everything. First, start with the vehicle. Many vehicles today have a simple plug that either comes with it or you purchase after market that simply plugs into your vehicles system giving you access to the lighting system and ground. This is absolutely the best way to go.
After market would cost any where from $10.00 - $25.00.Money well spent.
I remember the old days when you had to splice into the wiring , figure out what was what, run a ground wire and then hope that it worked. Fortunately those days are gone.
Next we move to the trailer. First we want to insure that all the wiring is in good working order.
All the connections to each light are connected, no corrosion or rust. Then check the bulbs, make sure that they are blown or corroded, and most of all make sure that the trailer is grounded to the vehicle . The coupler hooked to the ball on the hitch is not a good ground. You must be grounded to the vehicle. As mentioned before the ground is often the trouble. Some examples of a bad ground are:
1. Lights come on but are dim
2. All lights blink when a turn signal is used
3. Lights don't work at all.
Any time you have a problem first check the ground. A quick way is to use a jumper wire and go from the frame of the vehicle to the frame of the trailer. This will give a good ground.
Lets use an example that the lights don't work at all and you do the jumper wire test and they still don't work ,what do you do now? Well first you make sure that the vehicles lights are working .
You can use a test light and check each prong on the vehicles plug or you can purchase a test plug that plugs into you vehicles plug and it will tell you if you have problem with the vehicle. These test plugs cost about $4.00 and can be purchased at discount stores. We have determined that the vehicle is ok, so now check the plug from the trailer to the vehicle. Plug it in and wiggle it back and forth.
Many times corrosion will cause it not to connect properly. I recommend that if you find anything wrong with the plug, replace it. Usually if your ground is good and the vehicle checks out ok and you still have no lights at all 9 times out of 10 it's the trailer plug. But it could be a broken wire and the most common place is right where it comes out of the tong of the trailer.
Backing up to the boat and bumping the trailer with the vehicle, thus sometimes breaking the wire.
Maintenance is the key to having a good day on the water. Your trailer lights needs maintenance also. Keep check on your lights and when something is not working have it checked.
Let other motorist see your boat.
If not other motorist remember there is a guy with a ticket book looking also.
Good Fishing and Remember to put'um back alive!!
Mack "YW" Cramer