No brake lights on trailer towed by 2002 Ford Escape

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  #1  
Old 04-07-11, 11:19 AM
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No brake lights on trailer towed by 2002 Ford Escape

I have checked all the lights (running, left and right turn) on the trailer and they are all work correctly. I checked the 4 pin plug on the car side and am getting power to the plug. When all lights are off and brake pedal is depressed there is no power coming through the plug. What could this be? Escape did not come with a tow package and plug was installed several years ago and has worked correctly before. Read it could possibly be a fuse but can't find one for the brakes. Also read it could be the switch under the brake pedal but don't know how to check that. Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 04-07-11, 01:30 PM
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If the tow vehicle brake lights are working, its not the fuse or switch.

Check all of the connections to the vehicle wiring. Is this the kind of adapter that plugs into the factory harness..or the style that crimps on and cuts through the insulation to tap in?
 
  #3  
Old 04-07-11, 03:16 PM
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The brake lights on the tow vehicle are working. There was not a factory harness. The original plug was installed at uhaul and it looks like they spliced into the bundle of cords that run along under the rear of the vehicle. All the wires going into the plug at the plug itself are secure. In reading it seems the blinker and the brake wire are the same so it seems if one works the other should. The wires are completely wrapped in tape so I can't really see what they are hooked on to. I will unwrap them and trace them back to where they are spliced. Everything works good and all the lights on the trailer seem fine. It is just like the car isn't recognizing the brakes. The car hadn't pulled anything in a long time until I got this little trailer. There was some trouble getting power back to anything but a new ground solved that. Hadn't even pulled the trailer since the end of August when I got it and things worked then. Thanks, will chase down the wired and see what happens.
 
  #4  
Old 04-07-11, 03:33 PM
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Hmmm very odd....if the vehicle brake lights work...and the blinkers on the trailer work...the brake lights normally should work as well. I have a manual for a 2001 Tribute, should be the same....I'll take a look.

Hey...do the emergency flashers work on the trailer?
 
  #5  
Old 04-07-11, 03:40 PM
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Ahhh...I may have been real dumb.

How many bulbs on each side of the trailer? (not housings...but actual bulbs). May have to open it to verify.

On the Tribute/Escape (2001) the turn lamp is a separate bulb from the stop/running lamps. The turn has a single filament..the stop/running has two. Of course that makes sense...otherwise when you stepped on the brake, you lose your turn signal flash.

Could be as simple as bad bulbs or corroded sockets?

Of course...you can test the Escape connector plug by leaving lights off and trying the flashers or turn signals...you should see the voltage come on and go off in time with the flash.

Been a while since I had to mess with a trailer...just trying to help.
 
  #6  
Old 04-07-11, 10:29 PM
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Thanks for the help. I haven't tried the flashers yet to see what happens. I also haven't taken the lights apart. When I am looking at them from outside there appears to be two lights in the housing, one on top and one on the bottom. One lights for running lights and one for blinkers. I tried to take the housing apart and it is sealed and just didn't have the time this morning to take it apart. They burn brightly for running and turn signals. I tested the plug on the vehile side. Car light on, power to plug; car lights off, blinkers on, power to correct pin; blinkers off, car lights off, brakes on, no power. Tried a couple other combinations and everything seems to work correctly other than brakes. A friend is coming tomorrow with his vehicle and we are going to try it and see if it works correctly. Thought that would tell us if it is indeed, the Escape. If it is, further checking and testing it seems. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
  #7  
Old 04-08-11, 06:39 AM
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Trailer Lights and Brakes

You need to identify each pin on the tow vehicle connector socket and then test the pins one by one for proper function. If all of these tests are good, then the problem is on the trailer. If all problems are on the trailer, trace the wiring for the non-working item(s). Look for damaged wire, corroded connections (including bulb sockets), or bad bulbs.
 
  #8  
Old 04-08-11, 11:18 AM
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The wiring on the trailer plug should be wired so the White wire is ground, The Green wire is Right turn, Yellow is Left turn and brown is the tail and marker lights. The brake lights would work both the lights through the green and yellow wires.
I would get a battery and test the trailer by itself. Hook up a ground wire from the battery to the trailer. Then with another wire hooked to the battery positive touch each prong on the trailer to test that light. Touching the wire to the green wire prong for instance should light the right tail light ect. Be sure you also check the ground connections on the trailer to the parts of the frame they are screwed onto. Actually take off the connection and sand or file the spot until shiny then re-attach the wires. Afterward a small brush of touch-up paint will slow corrosion of the connection.
You might be able to even use a 9 volt transistor battery to do the testing. The light may not be very bright but it should burn.
 
  #9  
Old 04-08-11, 02:19 PM
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The mystery continues. My friend brought his truck over today and we plugged in the trailer. Guess what?? All lights functioned as they should. Called another friend and took the Escape over to another friends house, hooked it up to his trailer, all lights worked as they should except the brake lights. Again, when the brakes are depressed the tow vehicle's brake lights come on but the plug does not recognize the brakes are on. We have spent all day chasing down the wires, made sure the ground is right, and tested each wire for juice. All is well except the brake lights. We are lost about what to do next. I guess it is going to be a costly call to a mechanic or someone and let them try to discover what this problem could be. Thanks all so much for the help. I assume there must be a short in the Escape's electrical system but still cannot understand how it would work. Thank again.
 
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Old 04-08-11, 03:45 PM
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Forgot in my last post. No the emergency hazards do not work.
 
  #11  
Old 04-08-11, 03:54 PM
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You keep saying "except the brake lights", but what is happening on that pin of the connector when the brake pedal is depressed without the trailer connected AND with the trailer connected? If there is voltage on the brake light pin without the trailer and there is none (or very minimal) with the trailer then what you have is a connection that has come loose. Actually, one that was never made properly. I bet they used the kinds of taps shown below which are notorious for cutting most of the wire strands in the conductors among other problems. If the butt end of the wire from the connector wasn't fully inserted before the clamp was closed - another common problem - that would also cause this failure. Dollars to donuts the brake light tap is where you'll find what needs to be fixed.

 
  #12  
Old 04-08-11, 04:27 PM
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Well, I guess I am showing my ignorance here. I am using a circuit tester with the point on the end, not a voltage meter. I don't have one of those. When I insert the needle end into the the connector and turn on the running lights of the Escape I get light in the tester and lights on the trailer when it is plugged in. Without the trailer plugged in and the turn signal on the tester light comes on and when plugged in the turn signals on the trailer work correctly. When the brake pedal is depressed and I use the tester the light on the tester does not come on and when the trailer is plugged in and the brake pedal is depressed the Escape brake lights are on but not on the trailer. So going across the plug without the trailer plugged in, the bulb on the circuit tester glows for running lights, turn signals, but not brakes. Maybe I am doing this completely wrong. I have wired a few cars in the past but it has been a long time and have never seen this problem. Thanks
 
  #13  
Old 04-08-11, 08:49 PM
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There is a module in the trailer wire kit that was installed in the vehicle to convert the amber turn signal & seperate brake light to the single trailer light.. This is burned out & not sending the signal.. You need another trailer wire kit with the converter... Roger
 
  #14  
Old 04-09-11, 01:26 PM
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Roger is correct you need a new converter for the brake lights. It is probably easier to buy the wiring kit than trying to get just the converter plus it comes with the wiring instructions.
 
  #15  
Old 04-10-11, 11:27 AM
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Thanks, got online and ordered the kit because couldn't find one locally. There was even a video showing how to do it. Doesn't look hard at all. Thanks again.
 
  #16  
Old 04-23-11, 11:08 AM
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new issues

Ok, got the new trailer wiring kit in and ready to install. When I took the tail light off hoping to just be able to unplug and plug the new one in I discovered a kit was not used with the first plug installation. They spliced into the plugs of the tail light. I did find the converter that I assume is bad. I think I should take the old wiring assembly off, splice all the wired back together as it was originally and then install the new wiring kit. Would that be advisable? I really want to do it right and not have this problem come up again. Thanks
 
  #17  
Old 04-25-11, 01:59 PM
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Finally brakes lights!!!!!

Thanks for all the help. Instead of trying to take the old plug and wiring off and splicing the wires back to how they were originally I just cut off the old plug and taped the ends off. Installing the wiring kit was so simple and worked like a charm. I now have lights where I should have lights, even brake lights.. Thank for all who tried to help me resolve this issue.
 
  #18  
Old 04-25-11, 03:56 PM
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Thank you very much for coming back and telling us the solution. Not many do that any more. It is always nice to hear the end of a story!!
 
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