Trailer Lights

Sunday’s project was to try and fix 3 issues with car – all related to tail lights.

  • Replace broken left tail light on my Element
  • Replace crappy old lights on my trailer
  • Troubleshoot the right turn light on the trailer

The first two went pretty smoothly. Kristy here on youtube had a pretty nice walk through on changing the Honda Element tail light, and it seemed easy enough. Ran into a small snag, but nothing a little electrical tape couldn’t fix. And there was an added bonus – when I opened up the tail light area, I found this little guy:

Trailer tail light converter
Trailer tail light converter

That is the trailer light converter, that takes the 5 wires for the tail lights ( GROUND, STOP, TAIL LIGHTS, LEFT TURN, RIGHT TURN ) , and converts them to the 4 wires needed for the trailer lights.  ( STOP and TURN ) are merged into the same light on the trailer.

I was glad to find this converter, because I didn’t know where it was going to be hidden in the car, and I needed to find it to troubleshoot the non-blinking right trailer light.

So armed with my knowledge of the converter box location, I took the Honda Element left tail light back off, and started testing wires.

You can see here how 4 of the 5 wires on the converter box are spliced into the left tail light of the element. That includes the Ground, Tail light, Stop, and Left Turn.

converter connected

I found this video from e-trailer helpful for learning how these convertors work:

Not attached here is the green wire – that is the Right Turn light. You can see it snaking down under the bumper, and I assume it will go across to the right side of the car and splice with the Right tail light…

Or maybe it doesn’t! …It isn’t actually connected to anything.

no joy

This is good news, because I had assumed the converter box was broken… instead I might just need to connect this wire to the right turn signal.

I remove the Right Tail light of the Honda, and find the other half of the green wire. It is spliced to a brown wire, which is in turn spliced into the Right turn Light. So maybe the green wire WAS installed at some point.. but was torn out ?


So now I just need to find a way to re-connect the greenwire to isself, and <hopefully> the right turn light on the trailer will be working again.

I start by stringing this red wire ( no green , sorry ) down the right side of the bumper, and run it under the car to the left, and attach it to the green wire that goes into the converter.

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I temporarily attach the red wire to the Right Turn light


And then test it out. I flip on the right turn signal in the car, and use a this tester to see if voltage is coming out of the trailer plug.


huzzah. it blinks. So at this point, everything “works”. It is just a matter of tying my red wire down under the car, splicing it nicely into the right turn light, and snapping everything back into place.


I leave some extra wire ( just in case ) and use a cable tie to hold it all together.


I run into this problem often. The wires seem to drift back in front of the bolt holes…


Here, the left tail light is back in place. Underneath the car, I’m busting out cable ties as I attach the red wire from the left side..



… up to the right side. I trim the extra wire and splice it into the right turn signal.

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I screw the side of the bumper and tail light back into place, and..


All done!

Just a quick test of the right turn light, and… nothing.

The tester shows no voltage coming out of the trailer plug. This is pretty frustrating, because 1) I just put all this sht back together and 2) I have no idea why it isn’t working.

So.. Troubleshooting.. Part 2!

I start back at the converter box . I remove the Left tail light, and using my voltage tester, see if current is coming from the Right tail light. Surprisingly, it is.


This means I have power coming from the Right Tail light into the converter box.. and it is stopping there. Why the converter box was working 10 minutes ago, but not now, I do not know.

I have a replacement converter box I can use, but I’m going to try and be clever instead. I decide to bypass the converter, and connect the car’s right turn light directly to the Trailers right turn light.

I’m not sure what happens, but when I  test out the right turn signal in the car, it does not work. Additionally, NONE of my turn signals are working now.

Looks like I blew a fuse.

Frustrated, it is Late and I’m tired, and I’ll take it up tomorrow.






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