Problems with signals on camper trailer - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-15-2021, 01:33 PM   #1
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Problems with signals on camper trailer

We we were traveling to Montana this year we noticed that the lights on the camper would sometimes go on when we jiggled the plug that goes behind our Ridgeline. The break lights always seemed to work and emergency flashers as well but the camper turn signals and side running lights would intermittently work.
Does this mean we need a new plug? My husband tightened a screw that he found on the plug, but it is still happening.
I told him just to roll down the windows and use hand turn signals but he was not amused. Heh heh.
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Old 05-15-2021, 02:46 PM   #2
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The various problems I have had with trailer lights almost always start with a bad ground. Get a VOM and test the female plug on the back of your truck first. Google will tell you which wire does what function.

As always clean electric conditions function best. But the male plug on your trailer should last ten years or more. Have you been careful with it?

Use a wire brush and some Emory cloth to polish up connection points.
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Old 05-16-2021, 10:21 AM   #3
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Cleaning the plug with a special spray for electrical connections did the trick when I had a problem.
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Old 05-16-2021, 11:44 AM   #4
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It's the ground. The spray is called DeOxit
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Old 05-16-2021, 12:40 PM   #5
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When you jiggled the plug and the lights worked, you pretty much proved it had something to do with the plug.

The prongs in the plug get bent and make poor, or intermittent contact. Bend them tighter with a small screwdriver

Use WD40 to rinse out the plug and the socket. It is excellent for cleaning, rinsing out debris, and protecting electrical plugs. Not just a spritz, rinse them out.
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Old 05-16-2021, 12:48 PM   #6
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Better than WD-40... the photo on the can says it all:

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Old 05-16-2021, 01:01 PM   #7
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Better than WD-40...
That's fine, unless they want to fix it now, with what they probably already have, or can get anywhere while on the road. Everyone should already be carrying a can of WD40, for this purpose and for lubing the hitch, door latches, locks, washing greasy hands, fishing, etc, etc.
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:09 PM   #8
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That's fine, unless they want to fix it now, with what they probably already have, or can get anywhere while on the road. Everyone should already be carrying a can of WD40, for this purpose and for lubing the hitch, door latches, locks, washing greasy hands, fishing, etc, etc.

WD40 is my third choice for those purposes. First of all, it stinks. Don't want it on my hands or fishing rod, flies.

It attracts dirt. I use graphite powder or spray on locks and latches.

I use white lithium grease for the hitch.
WD40 is an all-purpose fail.
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:22 PM   #9
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I thought we were talking about electrical connections?
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:29 PM   #10
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The Western Half of Delaware county a little ways north of us has a High School appropriately called West Delaware, they have a show choir that is pretty good every year.
There are twenty guys and twenty young ladies in the choir. And they call themselves,
You got it, WD40.
I use the CRC products myself, I like them. For fine long lasting lubrication I like a product called Tri Flow. Lithium grease on the ball. Regular old gun grease on the New Holland tractor.
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Check the grounds, clean the contacts. Spread the pins if slotted for a tight fit. The little steel brushes on the Dremel tool work well.
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:31 PM   #11
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Here is a great backup to tail light problems. Easy to connect in an emergency.
https://www.harborfreight.com/12v-ma...kit-64282.html
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:43 PM   #12
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Most contacts are plated. Abrasives can remove some of the plating. Once the steel is exposed, the plug needs to be replaced. If you must use abrasives, use 400 grit or 600 grit, nothing coarser.

I prefer chemical cleaners. The CRC cleaner that Gordon referenced is good and available at most hardware and auto parts stores. The best I found is Deoxit but it's hard to find and expensive. Amazon sells it. As for WD 40, there's nothing on the can I have that suggests it's use for cleaning contacts. Then there's nothing on the can that suggests it won't clean contacts. It can't be worse than dielectric grease. People insist on putting that stuff on there contacts and while it's true, it will prevent corrosion, it has the conduction properties of glass.
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:45 PM   #13
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I thought we were talking about electrical connections?
Who said this then?
"Everyone should already be carrying a can of WD40, for this purpose and for lubing the hitch, door latches, locks, washing greasy hands, fishing, etc, etc."
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Old 05-16-2021, 02:50 PM   #14
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It can't be worse than dielectric grease. People insist on putting that stuff on there contacts and while it's true, it will prevent corrosion, it has the conduction properties of glass.
Ford Motor Company sells dielectric grease for putting on the electrical plugs in their vehicles. They put it in the plugs and want it in the plugs. It seems that grease does not affect the resistance of the connections, at least not enough to matter. And the benefits far outweigh the problems with corrosion or moisture.

But grease also attracts dirt. Which eventually gums up the works and has to be cleaned out in non-sealed plugs, like the trailer pigtail.

While traveling so much in Nevada and Utah, dust is a problem with plugs and hitches.

There is always some product that is arguably a bit better than anything else on the planet. But often, the miracle product is not readily available. So, one can wait, and order it, or go look for it.

Or one can use an excellent product that they already have, and one that is good for a number of other uses too. This is what I prefer to do, especially if I'm out in the desert somewhere. At home, my shop has many products on the shelf for various uses, but while camping, I leave all of that at home and take the minimum.

It's a matter of practicality. I guess I could just drive home at night with intermittent tail lights, because I was not sure WD 40 was the absolute best product on the planet, but I'm more inclined to use what I have and what has been working for a long time on my electrical plugs. It's not just me, as it is well proven and widely accepted for use on electrical connections.

There are a number of reasons why contacts fail. Loose, dirty, or corroded.

Here's a link to the Ford grease. It's good stuff.

https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Ford-.../dp/B000NUBB28

And one to a study of dielectric grease and resistance:

https://www.nyelubricants.com/myth-g...h-conductivity
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Old 05-16-2021, 03:21 PM   #15
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Do a Google search and numerous sites will tell you that dielectric grease is an insulator and should not be used on electrical contacts. Believe what you wish.
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Old 05-16-2021, 03:44 PM   #16
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Ford Motor Company sells dielectric grease for putting on the electrical plugs in their vehicles. They put it in the plugs and want it in the plugs.

Dielectric grease is an insulator. It is used on the rubber portion of spark plug connection, but is not to be applied to the electrical contacts.
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Old 05-16-2021, 04:09 PM   #17
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The Ford product you suggested is not dielectric grease. Dielectric grease is a silicone based product and as I said earlier, has the conductivity of glass. I would have no trouble using this stuff though your point of attracting dirt is a good one.

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Old 05-16-2021, 04:25 PM   #18
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Dielectric grease is an insulator. It is used on the rubber portion of spark plug connection, but is not to be applied to the electrical contacts.
I'm not talking about spark plugs, I don't know about that application, but low voltage electrical plugs and switches. You can do some research if you'd like to. Dielectric grease is designed to be directly on the contacts, as well as the seals around the contacts. And when the contacts are in contact with each other, resistance from the grease is not an issue.

I was confused about this too, so I looked into it a while back. It seems counter-intuitive to put an insulator on a conductor, but............

Here are some links if you are interested:

https://www.w8ji.com/dielectric_grea...ive_grease.htm

https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1...cro-files.html

https://www.motorcraft.com/us/en_us/...l-greases.html
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Old 05-16-2021, 08:21 PM   #19
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I could search the net, but I know that once I removed the dielectric grease that my buddy had slathered on the contacts, I was able to get my lights working.
I presume that if the contacts have enough pressure on them to displace the grease, then it works just fine, but in my experience, I'd avoid slathering it on lights and 7-pins.
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Old 05-16-2021, 08:32 PM   #20
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As always, start with the simplest solution first, which is cleaning the contacts. After that if you are having problems, I'd get out the VOM.

A VOM is a handy tool to keep in your camping tool kit.
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