In a forthcoming article, I will be discussing how to diagnose and repair common problems with trailer light wiring. Most of those problems are relatively simple to fix. Unfortunately, it can also be a very time consuming process in many cases. If you need to use the trailer and don’t have the time to do the job, there is still a simple and economical way to make the trailer useable, and that method is to use temporary lights. These lights are available at most auto part stores and RV dealers. The lights themselves attach to the trailer’s bumper with a strong magnet, and they plug into the connector on the tow vehicle where the trailer’s lights are normally connected.
These lights are quite inexpensive. Most trailer owners don’t think to use them, since they are actually designed for a slightly different application. They are most commonly used when towing another vehicle, since it is a difficult process to tap into the towed vehicle’s electrical system to use the existing brake lights. For towing a disabled vehicle, it is much simpler to use these magnetic lights. In the case of a “toad” (a car that is towed behind a motor home), it might be worth the trouble to tap into the toad’s electrical system. But even here, many RV’ers with a toad simply use the magnetic lights.
There is no reason why the magnetic lights can’t be used temporarily on a trailer with a disabled electrical system, just as they would be used on a disabled vehicle under tow.
If you are reading this, it is probably because you need to tow the trailer today, so ordering the lights online probably isn’t an option. But to give you an idea of what is available, here are some links to these lights on Amazon, which will show the current prices, where are updated continuously. For more product information, you can click on the links below:
If you want to avoid running wires to the back of the trailer, this wireless set is available. You plug the control unit into your vehicle, and it transmits wirelessly to the actual lights at the back of the trailer:
Obviously, if your trailer has electric brakes, the brakes won’t be working if they’re not plugged in. If you have electric brakes and they’re required for your size of trailer, then simply adding these lights won’t completely solve your problem. But for a trailer that doesn’t require brakes, or one with surge brakes, they’re a very convenient temporary fix that is often overlooked.
Both of these products (and probably most others that you find) have a “flat four” connector to hook to the tow vehicle. If you have a 7-pin round connector on your vehicle, then you will need one of these adapters:
Depending on the size of the trailer, most states also require side marker lights if the trailer is being towed at night. Obviously, this wouldn’t be a concern for daytime towing–you do have the required lights; they’re just turned off! One solution for nighttime towing would be to use magnetic battery powered lights such as these:
Most of these, including this one, can be set to be on continuously, although they usually have the option to flash. Most auto part stores will stock similar battery powered lights.
You’ll get those lights fixed soon. But in the meantime, you can still safely and legally use your trailer simply by taking a minute to place these lights on your bumper and plugging them in.
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