September 12, 2018
Trailer Lights – An Important Safety Accessory
Next to tires and axles, your trailer lights are your most important safety accessory. The failure of trailer tires, wheels, and axles can cause varying degrees of loss of control of your trailer, and potentially your vehicle. Improper lighting or malfunctioning lights can put you and your passengers in danger on the road as well, especially by increasing the likelihood of another driver misinterpreting your actions and colliding with your trailer or vehicle.
The basic purpose of trailer lights is essentially two-fold. One is to help others spot your trailer while in transit, whether in low light conditions or at night. The other is to indicate to other drivers your intended changes in direction or speed, such as turning, changing lanes, or braking. Most trailers are wide enough to partially or completely obscure the tail lights of the vehicle pulling them. Therefore, the trailer lights must convey the same information from the vehicle through the trailer lights to the drivers behind you.
Common issues related to trailer light problems include:
- Faulty wiring harnesses / adapters
- Criss crossed signal light wires
- Loose, worn, frayed wire connections
- Broken lenses
- Burnt out or missing bulbs
Any of these problems can lead to other drivers not noticing your trailer or not recognizing dangerous situations like breaking and turning. Doing the following will help to avoid hazardous situations.
At the start of each season, it is important to inspect the condition of your lights and do a full check of all light operations. This safety test should be done with two people. Simply pull your vehicle in position and connect the wiring harness from the trailer to the vehicle. Then have the driver run through a series of functions to test the various light operations including, brake lights, left turn signal, right turn signal, hazards flashing, and headlights on. If any of the light operations is not functioning properly, the lights, wires, and adapter connections should be checked by a mechanic. If required, changing light bulbs or lenses can usually be performed with little more than a screw driver and the proper replacement trailer parts.
Often a trailer is pulled by several different vehicles at different times. It is important to check that the light connection and the resulting light operation is correct when a new vehicle pulls a trailer for the first time. A different vehicle may have a different connection type or may require an adapter to properly connect to the vehicle. The full combination of light test, listed above, should be performed the first time any vehicle connects to a trailer.
Keep your trailer lights in good working to help other drivers see you for better protection of yourself and your passengers.
Categories: Trailer Tip