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Old 05-25-2011, 04:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
I'm guessing that the "adapters" mentioned that are out of stock are nothing more than an appropriately-sized resistor.

It sounds like the same behavior that modern cars exhibit when a lamp burns out, but applied to the running lamps instead of the turn lamps. I'd assumed it was an intentional design for turn signals, so that you're alerted that a lamp is out. I wonder if it's an inadvertent "feature" that's triggered for the running lights as well, since many modern high-tech cars don't have mechanical flashers anymore, it's done by one of the onboard computer modules.
I've been told by MB Tech that the one of the computer modules is getting the wrong reading. MB is slow in adapting technology, but when they do, they do it well, but at this juncture, I really can't point the finger at MB or Airstream because of my lack of electrical understanding.

But, both entities are well aware of the issue.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:04 PM   #16
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Murrey, I got my adapter from VW because back then that was the only source. It works well and gives me the added length needed for a Hensley hitch. This is a problem with most European cars, VW, MB, Porsche, Land Rover and Audi. You'll have to call and order one from whatever source you can find. Or as others said, wire in a bulb or resistor if you're handy with electronics. Your lights should work in the meantime, but they may start flashing even when parked with the ignition off.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:39 PM   #17
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Change your flasher, get one that blinks based on time, not heat.
Most all auto parts stores will have them... about $10
If you change to LEDs thats the way to go.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by murreywalker View Post
It not only applies to MB. Audi, VW and Porsche Cayenne seem to be having the same issue.

Lot's of good feedback from many of you, but so far I'm of the opinion that installing incandescent sockets with bulbs at the right location in the trailer, seems to be the best approach.

Of course, as LED technology becomes more prolific, the solutions will rush to the marketplace.
True, but again, these vehicles aren't marketed for towing, so I think that's why they are all slow to react.

I'm guessing the big tow vehicles - pick ups, Suburbans etc.- don't have leds lights yet.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:37 PM   #19
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I have that issue with my Cayenne and use that adapter from Etrailer sometimes for larger trips. As I understand it, the computer module in BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and some other euro cars sends a low level pulse throughout the brake system that checks for burned out trailer or brake lights. If I don't have the harness plugged in I get a check trailer light error message even though they work fine and the flashing that you see isn't readily apparent in the day light but is at night. It's related to the same issue that many of these suvs have trouble with certain brake controllers. By putting the incandesant bulb inline it increases the load on the system and the SUVs computer thinks all the bulbs are fine. This really isn't an Airstream issue in my opionion. The engineers of these cars set the system up to check the trailer lights. There are so many variations of trailers that this is hard to do. Id rather my car not check the lights and I would continue to do the pre trip walkaround.
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:16 PM   #20
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You might want to check out the load resistors available here: Load Resistor Kits
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:16 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by murreywalker View Post
I talked with them and they suggested the incandescent method.

The harness is located under the bed and splicing in sockets to hold bayonet style bulbs in three wires would be a solution to the issue.

What I don't understand is, why didn't Airstream address this issue when they knew it (I talked with them earlier this morning, and they acknowledged it was an issue)?
Just a reminder that a incandescent light bulb without protection can be a fire hazard. I knocked leans off my storage compartment light with a water hose while getting my wheel ramps out and the bulb melted a water hose in about 10 minutes.

It would be cheaper to go to Radio Shack and getting some resistors to put in-line.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:54 AM   #22
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You might want to check out the load resistors available here: Load Resistor Kits
I like the idea of a load resistor kit, but haven't the foggiest idea of how or where to install in my trailer/vehicle.

Thoughts or suggestions would be most welcomed.

Thanks!
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:59 AM   #23
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I like the idea of a load resistor kit, but haven't the foggiest idea of how or where to install in my trailer/vehicle.

Thoughts or suggestions would be most welcomed.

Thanks!
They generally install in-line with the tail/turn lights at the rear of the trailer or vehicle being towed......inside the tail light assembly if there is sufficient space.
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:13 PM   #24
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Hi All, it's 6/18/2012 and I would like some follow-up on your discussion.
Murreywalker mentioned that etrailer.com had a 7-pin adaptor on backorder in May 2011. I've just done a simple search and browse and they've got a 7-pin to 7-pin adaptor on special price under $25. Do you know the model that was referred to last year?

We have a 2008 MB GL550 that we want to attach to a new 2012 25FB Flying Cloud. Didn't know the LED to suv issue until after we purchased and the RV rep hooked up the suv and said, "Guess what..." Came across your discussion and it's been very consoling to know we're not alone with this. I agree with all comments and intend to write to Airstream and Mercedes to let them know the problem STILL exists and isn't new... It seems that the two world-class manufacturers could make some money on an elegant package they could sell us now and in the future.
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Old 09-10-2012, 03:28 PM   #25
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I posted the information below on a less popular LED trailer thread by accident - will repost here since more people are likely to be following this thread.

The net is the problem is entirely with the tow vehicle, and not with the airstream.

I just upgraded my Safari to LED taillights and ran into the same problem with my Mercedes GL 350. Pretty frustrating for a TV that has LED lighting to not know how to talk to a trailer that also has LED lighting.

The symptoms: Things are fine during the day, but whenever the headlights go on, all of the running lights and the tail lights on the trailer flash rapidly. The brake lights do come on and stay on when pressing the brake pedal.

I spoke with a factory tech as my local dealer is clueless in all things towing related. The problem is that up to and through the 2012 model year, the Mercedes GL computer simply doesn't know about LED trailer lights. They know about the problem and acknowledge it and have a workaround as I'll describe below.

What is going on is when the truck senses the trailer umbilical is plugged in, and then when the headlights go on, it sends a series of diagnostic pulses to make sure the trailer tail lights are ok. It is expecting to see the resistance profile of incandescent bulbs only in the tail light circuit.

Since the LED bulbs look very different electrically, the computer thinks that there is a fault in the trailer's tail light / brake light system.

And to make sure you know about it, the GL rapidly and continuously flashes all of the trailer lamps - the running lamps, the tail lamps, etc - and even the collision avoidance triangles in the GL mirrors, as a warning that something is wrong.

According to MB USA, the fix is to install two 220 Ohm, minimum 1.5 Watt resistor - one each in parallel with both the left turn/stop and right turn stop circuits. You can do this anywhere in the circuit - using an adapter at the trailer plug, in your taillight fixtures, or anywhere in between. Mercedes actually makes an trailer plug adapter - but only for four and five pin trailers - and get this - they want to charge more than $200 for it. For what nets out to two 75 cent resistors.

They say this will be fixed in the 2013 model year and the new generation GL will understand LED trailer lights.

Attached is PDF Mercedes sends out on this... Pretty obviously hacked together by somebody here as opposed to a formal data sheet out of Germany.

All of this (and their silence on weight distribution, and their wimpy tongue weight specs) together do not give a ton of confidence the Germans are spending time to really understand the towing market here in the USA, beyond marketing that their vehicles have a 7,500 pound towing capacity.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Trailer Modification for LED lighting 164.pdf (10.4 KB, 97 views)
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:42 PM   #26
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I have completely forgotten about this thread. My bad!!!!!

VW sells a short (about 3 feet) cable that attaches to the trailer's, which in turn will plug into your tug's 7 pin connector. It costs (give or take) $40.00. This takes care of the problem.

AND the 2013 GLs will have the problem solved with a built in resistance.
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