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Old 12-09-2016, 11:20 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Charge Circuit Fail

Last weekend, I pulled a float in a Christmas parade, and blew the fuse in my Nissan Titan that gives tail light power to the trailer connector. I was using a 7-pin to 4-pin (flat) adapter, so the only circuits used were tail, and left/right turn/brake. Getting to the fuse was the hard part, but once I did, replacement was easy.
Modern trucks use fuses, links, and relays to supply circuits to the trailer connector. They do that to isolate the vehicle. Remember when adding a trailer would cause turn signals to flash faster?
While checking everything out, I noticed the battery status didn't change much after I disconnected shore power, and plugged in the truck outlet. Verified with a voltmeter, it seems the relay that gives 12V+ to the trailer, to keep the trailer battery charged while driving, had died. I now have one on order. But here's the key point: When did it die? I don't know! The last several trips have been 100 miles away, about a two hour drive. The battery probably discharged some, but got charged back up when I plugged into the campsite and later, when I returned home.
But what if this was a long trip across several states? Where I depended on battery power for overnight stops?
I think I'm going to install a 12 volt voltmeter somewhere, where I can see battery voltage, which should rise when either the converter is on or tow vehicle is connected and running.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:27 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by MartyG View Post
Last weekend, I pulled a float in a Christmas parade, and blew the fuse in my Nissan Titan that gives tail light power to the trailer connector. I was using a 7-pin to 4-pin (flat) adapter, so the only circuits used were tail, and left/right turn/brake. Getting to the fuse was the hard part, but once I did, replacement was easy.
Modern trucks use fuses, links, and relays to supply circuits to the trailer connector. They do that to isolate the vehicle. Remember when adding a trailer would cause turn signals to flash faster?
While checking everything out, I noticed the battery status didn't change much after I disconnected shore power, and plugged in the truck outlet. Verified with a voltmeter, it seems the relay that gives 12V+ to the trailer, to keep the trailer battery charged while driving, had died. I now have one on order. But here's the key point: When did it die? I don't know! The last several trips have been 100 miles away, about a two hour drive. The battery probably discharged some, but got charged back up when I plugged into the campsite and later, when I returned home.
But what if this was a long trip across several states? Where I depended on battery power for overnight stops?
I think I'm going to install a 12 volt voltmeter somewhere, where I can see battery voltage, which should rise when either the converter is on or tow vehicle is connected and running.
Ebay has a slew of seven segment LED voltage displays that would work. You wouldn't actually need a voltmeter, just the display to monitor battery voltage.
Some read the voltage of the battery without the need of an external power source.
A few bucks and a little install time to tell you what you want to know.
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:15 PM   #3
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Having a true voltage reading via a voltmeter is indeed a good thing. But your camper probably already has the dummy light voltmeter which you can check when you're plugged into your truck with it running to see if the battery is being charged.
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
Having a true voltage reading via a voltmeter is indeed a good thing. But your camper probably already has the dummy light voltmeter which you can check when you're plugged into your truck with it running to see if the battery is being charged.
Yes, that is exactly what tipped me that something was wrong. Subsequent troubleshooting with a voltmeter showed me nothing was coming out of the back of my truck. As a "dummy light voltmeter," it did it's job well!
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:43 PM   #5
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Maybe you could mount a small LED light on the front of the camper, tied into the truck 12v circuit? Then you could see at a glance if you had 12v power going that way or not. Might have to shove a diode in the circuit to keep the battery from feeding the light though.

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