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 Redneck Trailer Supplies

RTS 101: Lighting & Electrical

RTS 101 provides basic trailer parts information for the DIYer or for the business owner. For more information, please call Redneck Trailer Supplies toll free at (877) 9 REDNECK (973-3632)

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Is there an electrical tester available that will verify if the tow vehicle’s wiring is working properly?

Yes. The 6565 Tekonsha Current Monitor is designed to assist in determining whether the tow vehicle’s wiring is working properly.

What Tekonsha tester is available to test a brake control installation when a trailer is not available?

What Tekonsha tester is available to test a brake control installation when a trailer is not available?

The 6565 Tekonsha Current Monitor will assist in the installation, setup, and troubleshooting of an electronic trailer brake controller. 

The Tekonsha 6562 7-way RV Trailer Emulator is also a valuable tool to have for brake controller installation. However, it does not feature as many testing features as the Tekonsha 6565.

The Tekonsha 6565 tester has verified that my vehicle’s trailer connector is not working properly. What are some of the possible causes?

  • Improper vehicle wiring
  • Defective or improper wiring of the vehicle end connector
  • Broken, dirty, or corroded vehicle end connector pins

When improper vehicle wiring is suspected, what wiring items needs to be checked?

  • Vehicle lighting function connections and connectors (left and right stop/turn, tail, and backup)
  • Check pertinent vehicle fuses
  • Check for any wire chafing, shorts, or open/exposed wire
  • Check your power source, as well as the in-line fuse and battery terminal connections
  • Check your ground source and connection  

What items should be checked when the vehicle connector is suspected to be faulty?

  • Check all wiring connections as well as your connectors; also check any splices to the lighting circuits.
  • Check for any wire chafing, shorts, and open or exposed wire
  • Check your ground source and connection

What should I do when any of my plug pins are broken, dirty, or corroded on the vehicle end connector?

  • Double check and confirm the brake controller is properly connected to the power and ground
  • Check pertinent vehicle fuses and circuit breakers
  • Check wire for any chafing, shorts, and open or exposed wire
  • Adjust the gain/voltage output
  • Check the brake wire at the vehicle end connector
  • Consider testing the brake controller with the Tekonsha 7585 bench tester

When testing a brake controller with the Tekonsha 6565 tester, what should the brake controller current output be?

The current should be 6 amps for one axle, 12 amps for two axles and 18 amps for three axles.

What if the brake controller I am checking will not register 18 amps for 3 axles?

You should first confirm your brake controller is factory designed for 3-axle operation. After doing so, also confirm that the controller is properly leveled. If both of these areas check out, then it is possible you may have a faulty or defective controller.

What are the primary functions of the Tekonsha 6562 7-way RV Trailer Emulator?

The 6562 Tekonsha emulator will simulate electric trailer brakes on a trailer and will also check the electrical continuity of the 7-way RV connector. This affordable tester allows for quick and easy testing of both the brake controller and the vehicle end connector.

How does the Tekonsha 6562 simulate electric trailer brakes?

The 6562 has a built in “load module” that is specially designed to accurately simulate the electric trailer brakes.

What is the main function of the Tekonsha 7585 Brake Controller and Bench Tester?

The feature function of the 7585 is that it will check to see if the brake controller is functioning properly independent of the vehicle wiring.

When testing the brake controller with the Tekonsha 7585, how many volts should the output always read at max power?

12 volts

What is the primary design feature of the Tekonsha 8010 Trailer Tester?

The 8010 is specifically designed to quickly aid identifying problems with trailer wiring.

What potential problems can the 8010 help you identify?

The 8010 is excellent for helping you identify opens, shorts, and incorrect wiring. It also does a great job of testing right and left turn, tail marker, brake, and back-up lights. The 8010 also has the capability to test the trailers battery voltage.

What is the purpose of the auto-test function on the 8010?

The auto-test function of the 8010 will toggle through each test option and test the complete wiring circuit.

Does the Tekonsha 8010 also have a manual option feature?

Yes. The 8010 allows for manual testing of the circuits. After pushing any of the manual buttons the circuit will flash 11 times to allow the tester enough time to walk around the trailer and confirm all lights that are functioning properly and identify those that are not.

What does FMVSS stand for?

FMVSS stands for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

What FMVSS regulation primarily governs the vehicle and trailer industries?

FMVSS 108 regulates all automotive lighting, signaling, and reflective devices in the United States.

What are the benefits of LED lights over incandescent lights?

There are many benefits of LED lights including the following:

  • LED lights illuminate faster. At 65 mph LED lights will illuminate a full car length faster.
  • LED lights are more resistant to shock and vibrations, which are the most prevalent destroyers of incandescent lights.
  • LED lights are sonically sealed and thus provide greatest moisture protection.
  • LED lights have an extended life span when compared to incandescent lights.
  • LED lights generate less heat and are less dangerous to work with.

What are the different types of lights that may be required for your trailer?

Required trailer lights may include marker/clearance lights, identification bars, stop/turn/tail lights, reflectors, license plate lights, and backup lights.

What is the purpose of clearance lights and where should they be located?

Clearance lights are used to indicate the width and height of the vehicle; these lamps must be mounted on the front and rear of the vehicle, as close to the top and sides of the vehicle as is practical and possible.

What is the purpose of side marker lights and where should they be located?

Side marker lights are used to identify the length of the vehicle. They must be mounted as close to the front and rear of the vehicle as is practical and possible.

When are identification bars (ID bars) needed and how do they differ from marker or clearance lights?

According to FMVSS 108, ID bars are needed when a trailer is over 80” wide in the United States. These ID bars incorporate the same lights as typical marker/clearance lights, but must be centered at the top of the trailer and spaced 6” to 12” apart.

What is the meaning of “P2” when talking about marker/clearance lights?

P2 refers to the minimum standard for marker/clearance lights. This P2 standard requires that the light has a spread of 45° from the centerline of the light on each side.

What is the meaning of “PC” when talking about marker/clearance lights?

The PC standard requires that the light has a spread of 90° on each side.

When mounted on the corner of the vehicle at a 45° angle, this allows pointing of the light to the same angles as would be with separate side marker and clearance lamps. The PC standard reduces the amount of lights on a vehicle, which creates a reduction in the cost to build the trailer, as well as lessens the potential for future maintenance and repair.

Does FMVSS 108 recognize any other standards for trailer marker and clearance lights?

No. Currently only P2 and PC are recognized under FMVSS 108.  

What is the purpose of the stop/turn/tail lights and where should they be located?

Stop/turn and tail lights keep motorists informed, making sure the traffic behind you is aware of your vehicle and trailer. Stop/turn/tail lights must always be mounted on the rear of your trailer and in working condition.

Where should reflectors be positioned on the trailer?

The amber reflectors must be positioned toward the front on each side of your trailer and as far forward as practical. They must face sideward and range between 15” to 60” high.

The red reflectors must be positioned toward the rear on each side of your trailer facing sideward and range between 15” to 60” high. 

If no permanent structure on your trailer exists to allow installation at the above range of heights, the height shall be as close as feasible to the indicated heights listed above.

Can any white light be used as a license plate light?

No. There are specific requirements for approved license plate lights. In order to illuminate the tag properly, most license plate lamps have specific designated requirements and are typically not installed more than a few inches from the tag.

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