One tail light is too bright! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-11-2006, 09:45 PM   #1
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I've been working on the Burro (1978 model) we recently purchased and I notice that the left tail light is much brighter than the right one and nothing lights up when the brakes and turn signals are used. It seems that both filaments are turned on all the time, rather than activating when necessary. I check in the housing and that is clean. Does this mean it has a bad ground or a wire hooked up to the wrong feed wire? Any thoughts would be appreciated before I have to start diving into the storage holes to trace the wiring.

Kevin
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:23 PM   #2
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The top three causes of lighting problems with odd symptoms are:

1. Bad grounding

2. Bad grounding

3. Bad grounding

One way to troubleshoot for bad grounding is to get a long piece of wire, attach it to a ground point on the tow vehicle and put a spring clip on the other end to ground the various light fixtures.
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:25 PM   #3
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I dunno Pete.

I am thinking it's more related to Bad Grounding.......

off to my room
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
The top three causes of lighting problems with odd symptoms are:

1. Bad grounding

2. Bad grounding

3. Bad grounding

One way to troubleshoot for bad grounding is to get a long piece of wire, attach it to a ground point on the tow vehicle and put a spring clip on the other end to ground the various light fixtures.

I keep hearing this, so I must ask the questions.
What is ground?
How does ground (electrical) relate to a fiberglass trailer?
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:19 AM   #5
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The only thing that can cause both filiments to light up when just the lights are on is there is a connection to the brake filiment someplace.

The first thing to look at is the lamp bulb fully seated in the socket. If it's not turned all the way so the locking pins are in the proper place it's possible to make connection to both filiments.

Check the wiring around the socket and the socket.

There should be two connections in the back of the socket for the two connections on the bottom of the bulb. Any piece of metal between the two connections will cause both filiments to light.
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:35 AM   #6
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Not having the bulb in the socket properly as Byron stated is very common and I won`t tell anyone how I know this.. ...now back to Ground....the best I could find out on Ground is that..... Ground is a common term for the return path in an electrical circuit.... which I assume to be correct whether that circuit is physically connected to earth or is a floating ground situation, and not connected to earth, but serves the same purpose of a return path.....Benny
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
I keep hearing this, so I must ask the questions.
What is ground?
How does ground (electrical) relate to a fiberglass trailer?
I have experienced this when initially installing "other-than-4-pin-flat" connectors on tow vehicles. In a standard "4-pin-flat" harness of the "plug-and-play" variety, the white "ground" wire comes from the ground circuit path already in the wiring harness. In the adapter recepticles for 5, 6, and 7 pin round arrangements, the white wire from the 4-pin-flat input [b]is not connected! They expect you to find a separate frame grounding point near the mounting location of the round recepticle! I would always experience Kevin A's symptoms until I would splice in a ground connection back to the original 4-pin-flat wiring harness' ground wire! They assume that the frame is ground, but it is not always the same ground as the original harness ground.
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:56 AM   #8
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I'm sure you've done this, but if one bulb is brighter than the other, the first thing that I would do is make sure they are the same size bulbs. When doing so, make sure that they are the correct bulb (i.e., two filament). If you haven't checked that, I'd certainly start there. If they appear to be correct, then swap sides with the bulbs and see what happens.

Next part I'm a little confused on. You said they are on all the time, but then they don't light up? Do you mean it is like when you have your headlights on and they stay on, but get brighter when you put your foot on the brake?

I recently had some light malfunctions on a trip. First thing I did was to check my bulbs. Then I started checking for a bad ground. Thought I found it, but that wasn't it. I then had a clue as to the culprit, but it didn't seem to be it so I started tearing into the wiring on the inside. Long story short my instinct was correct, it's just that I had not verified it correctly the first time.

Although it wasn't the same problem as yours, I can tell you that I found that it is usually something very simple and I'd sure start with those things before I started tearing into the trailer like I did.
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:06 AM   #9
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What I can't seem to understand is why there would be any lights at all if there was a bad ground. I don't really understand this stuff all that well, but I thought that if you had no ground, then you'd have no lights at all. Like when the lights flicker, you could have a loose wire or loose ground. Like I said, I don't know much so I'm really asking and not telling.

I kept thinking about the grounding issue on mine, but I had one tail light that worked perfectly, but no running lights or right rear light.

Mine was a fuse. Which was also one of the first things I checked. Unfortunately I have two fuses boxes (which I knew) and a poorly laid out owner's manual. It was easier identifying the source that was blowing it, once I had that down.
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:26 AM   #10
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Thanks to everyone for their thoughts thus far. Yes, it's a new bulb and I checked it in the other tail light. It works fine there. The wiring is hooked together to ground and all the other lights work fine. I'll take the housing off later this week and see if there are any metal parts touching that shouldn't, but at first glance I cannot see any.

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Old 06-12-2006, 09:51 AM   #11
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There are only two things. Remember this!!! That can cause electrical problems.

Something is connected where it shouldn't be.

or

Something is not connected where it should be.


There's nothing else period. No matter whether the convention of calling the negative common connection "ground" or not.

The cause of both filiments on when the tail lights are on, something connected that shouldn't be.

If with the tail lights off and the brakes applied no brake lights, something is not connected that should be.

Sounds simple don't it.
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Old 06-12-2006, 10:02 AM   #12
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Just add an additional wire from the metal plate on the lite frame to the metal frame of the trailer and that is a ground.

Add an additional ground wire from the Tug to the White wire receptacle and make sure the white wire on the trailer plug is attached to the frame of the trailer. Both must be connected to bare metal on both the tug and egg frames.

The last ground: Put a ground strap on the tong of the trailer with an alagator clip on the other end and attach the clip to the Tug trailer hitch where it will make contact with bare metal. I use a clip from an old set of jumper cable.

Now, that is total grounding.

You can not rely on the trailer tong hitch making contact with the ball for a good ground.
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Old 06-12-2006, 10:14 AM   #13
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I actually had a similar problem with one of my Pop Ups.

The trailer lights all worked as they should have for months.. then, one trip out.. turn on the running lights and turns and brakes didn't work anymore. Nothing had been rewired. No changes were ever made. It wasn't broke, I didn't fix it.

Took it to a friend that does auto electric. He immediately checked all the grounds.. finding a corroded crimp in the lug that connected directly to the trailer frame. Replaced crimp and lug with solder and shrink tube, new lug, reconnect.. all worked well.

There was a weak connection, so it passed continuity.. but .. lots of corrosion makes things squirelly.
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:04 PM   #14
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The white wire of my 4-to-7-pin adapter was deliberately not connected to the white (ground) pin of the 4-pin, because that ground wire may be of inadequate size to service the charge and brake lines. The 7-pin connector's 10-gauge white wire was separate, and I connected it to a wire I ran direct to the battery negative terminal. I also tied it to the hitch receiver as a frame ground, but the frame is not required to provide a return path for any circuit to the trailer.

If only lighting was to be operated, then using the ground of the 4-pin connector would work, but it would not be adequate for my application, which includes brakes and charging.
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