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Old 08-01-2021, 09:13 PM   #1
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1990 29' Excella
baltimore , Maryland
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 151
After towing RV with bad batteries, truck blinkers...

... brake lights doing weird stuff.

Turn signals act like a light is burned out. They blink real fast. Both sides.
Sometimes they blink a little slower, then pick up speed.

If blinker is on, and then you brake also, the blinker freezes up and stops blinking.

If you go behind the vehicle, the turn signal and brake lights can be seen, but are dim.
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:34 PM   #2
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1994 30' Excella
alexandria , Kentucky
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This is a strange one.
With the trailer disconnected I would unhook the tow vehicle battery(s) for a half hour.
You may want to get the tow vehicle battery(s) load tested. At a minimum check the charge level of the battery(s). Check the electrolyte if you have a tester. Many maintenance free car batteries have removeable tops where this can be checked.
Touch the car terminals together to complete the discharge. Hook up the battery(s) again and see if this changes anything.
Do you have a code reader? Check for any remaining codes in the tow vehicle ECU.
If nothing changes then start looking for bad ground wires on the tow vehicle or a bad umbilical cord outlet.

Trailer - Install new batteries. Check the umbilical cord end to see if it is good condition and is wired correctly.
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Old 08-02-2021, 01:06 PM   #3
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1990 29' Excella
baltimore , Maryland
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Yes. The problem remains after RV is disconnected.

Update on symptoms. My first post was relaying what my wife said as she was behind the vehicle.

So last night I went behind the vehicle and looked myself.

When you turn on full night lights, nothing. So when you are driving at night the tail is completely black.

When you put on blinkers, you get a faint fast blinking. The license plate lights will dim and bright together with the turn signal.

When you put on brakes, both back lights blink just like it's a hazard except dim.

Front lights seem unaffected except they blink more rapidly.
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Old 08-02-2021, 02:39 PM   #4
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Austin , Texas
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Open Ground Connection?

My Guess is you have an open ground connection between the truck and the lights in the trailer. The open could be to the truck connector or somewhere in the trailer.

The license plate light ground is connected to the tail light ground and the electricity going to the blinker is trying to complete a circuit back through the license plate lamp to the truck and through its lights to ground.
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Old 08-02-2021, 02:48 PM   #5
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Little falls , New York
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Is it a GM vehicle?
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Old 08-02-2021, 03:03 PM   #6
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My guess is somewhere in the trailer harness at the truck there is a cracked wire, ground issue. Blinkers blink based on the amount of resistance in the loop, including the bulb. If they blink too fast, you have a ground fault. Check the wires around the harness and frame/bumper for a cracked or wire with cut insulation. Otherwise, you may have to go circuit by circuit to find the fault. Pull the blinker fuse and check the other lights, pull the brake fuse and check the other lights, pull the headlight fuse and check. That can help narrow it down. Good luck. It is a hunt but my guess is a hot wire touching a poor ground somewhere, not enough to blow the fuse but enough to squirrel things up.
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Old 08-02-2021, 05:46 PM   #7
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1987 32' Excella
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I doubt if the "bad batteries" in the trailer had any effect. The light circuits are separate from the 12 volt supply to the trailer. Weak batteries could blow a fuse in that circuit, I guess, but that should not affect the light circuits. Maybe some shorts in the trailer lights that drew too much power? Maybe just a coincidental failure of the TV circuits. In the old days I sometimes had bad blinker modules. And one turn light out makes the other blink faster. Warning sign. I would try new bulbs before I did much else.
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:24 AM   #8
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Look for cracked covers on the lights. If water gets into the covers you can get a short thats acts as you describe. Doesnít take much moisture.
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:05 PM   #9
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1988 32' Excella
Robbinsville , New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I doubt if the "bad batteries" in the trailer had any effect. The light circuits are separate from the 12 volt supply to the trailer. Weak batteries could blow a fuse in that circuit, I guess, but that should not affect the light circuits. Maybe some shorts in the trailer lights that drew too much power? Maybe just a coincidental failure of the TV circuits. In the old days I sometimes had bad blinker modules. And one turn light out makes the other blink faster. Warning sign. I would try new bulbs before I did much else.
There is one way bad batteries could have caused this. It is possible that a heavy load on the 12v wire for an extended time could have melted a couple wires together.
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Old 08-03-2021, 10:41 PM   #10
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1990 29' Excella
baltimore , Maryland
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updated more accurate symptoms
-Blinkers.. both L/R blink
-Breaks... seem ok unless maybe dim?
-Running tail lights.. none in back
-Reverse lights .. none
-License light... ok but flickers with turns

-Blinker speed... Starts almost normal speed and speeds up like when a bulb is out.


I am capable of fixing this, but I need drawings and I am having a hell of a time finding Schematics or Assembly drawings showing component locations.
Still plodding away at this.
F-250 2003 7.3L

This seems to be a single point type of failure. Like one point that is common to each of these unrelated circuits has failed causing multiple failures.

Grounds seem to be distributed at each bulb, so the chance of a bunch of grounds lifting at once is small it seems to me.

Maybe a supply voltage wire might be common to all of these circuits?

Or yes, maybe a wire got hot?

Or a wire was already corroded from age and opened up with high current?

So, I have discovered that the truck batteries and the trailer batteries are connected together directly it seems when you plug in. So the truck was probably heavily charging the trailer batteries during the towing.

Like.. the back up lights and also the night time tail lights are both out.
They should have NOTHING to do with each other. SHould be totally different wires and circuits...

Front lights all good. Look fine.
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Old 08-04-2021, 04:59 AM   #11
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There is one place where all those wires come together as well. The steering wheel. Behind the wheel is a rotating switch. I had to replace a few over the years, lastly on my 91 Ford. I hope it isn’t there. Not difficult, but tedious and I haven’t replaced one on a truck with airbags.
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Old 08-04-2021, 01:50 PM   #12
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1988 32' Excella
Robbinsville , New Jersey
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Some vehicles have an electronic towing module for the trailer wiring, I don't know if Ford does.
My cousin had one, I think it had separate turn and break lights on TV.
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:36 AM   #13
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1990 29' Excella
baltimore , Maryland
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Brake controller removal did not change anything.

CLUE: So I pulled the tail light and had the bulb out to observe.

It is a dual filament bulb. Top filament for blinkers and stop. Bottom filament for nighttime tail lights.

When you turn on the turn signal the blinker speed is normal, you correctly see the top filament blinking.
But then you see the bottom filament start to light up . And the blink speed goes up.
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:37 AM   #14
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1990 29' Excella
baltimore , Maryland
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Higher blink speed means more current is going through the blink relay as I understand.
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Old 08-10-2021, 11:08 AM   #15
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1990 29' Excella
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OP: Yes I'm still here. Thanks for the additional comments and thoughts.

On the grounds... The schematics i found show the lights grounded individually, but upon disassembling light fixtures, i found this not to be the case. I heard mention of a single ground causing similar problems.
F-250 2003. You lower the spare tire. THe ground is directly to port side of the spare tire winch on the inside of the frame. I cleaned it and it did nothing. But it was badly corroded.

The last couple days I have been trying to get the spare off. Ford has a security key on the spare winch to prevent theft. I didn't have the key (like a lug nut key), so I ended up using my dremmel to cut the wire rope that holds up the tire.

The flasher might be an easy one to try.
There seems to be a heating angle to this problem as if everything is cool, the flasher starts off correct speed, but increases with time.

I think next i will start with the night running lights and just get the voltmeter and do it the old fashioned way. Point by point working my way along the wire.

Here is another weird clue..
So looking at the schematic, there is the light switch that in running light position, allows 12vdc to flow to front running lights, rear running lights, and license plate lights.

Front running lights... fine.
License plate lights... fine (but dim and bright with blinkers).
Rear running lights.... off

If i can get some running lights, I will feel safer (from police) to drive at night. Right now the truck is completely black at night and I stick out like a sore thumb.
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Old 08-12-2021, 03:50 PM   #16
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1990 29' Excella
baltimore , Maryland
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OP Update:
I think I have mostly figured this problem out. 2003 F-250

It looks as if all of the back light grounds are routed to the one point. From the actual light bulbs, the ground wires pass through a connector, combine at a splice in the wire harnass, and one large ground wire emerges from the harnass and is bolted to the frame.

All three of these were getting old and were somewhat compromised but still worked before the towing incident. It looks as if the batteries of the TV and RV are directly connected upon plug-in. The bad batteries in the RV stressed this ground connection.

I was getting all kinds of 12 volts at the back lights.
I stuck a pin in one of the ground wires of a light bulb and touched the pin to the frame and the light came on.

I cleaned up the ground terminal and bolt, but the problem persisted.

Then I got the ohm meter out and found the splice. The splice was not working.
So I peeled off the tape and saw shrink tubing with weather goop around the splice. I cut all of this off.

This exposed one of these "modern" solutions. SOmehow they had four wires and they interleaved all of the strands together. Then they did a giant crimp action smashing it all into a little brick of wires. No solder or anything.

I have a 1949 Sylvania TV. Still works. All soldered.

So I heated that brick up and doused it with solder. Fixed.

Then the lights came on. But then the next day they went off again.
So I jiggled the connector and saw a light flicker.

Upon inspection, the ground pin of this connector was cooked. I cut it and it now temporarily has a wire nut on it.

I may just clip out this connector and solder all of the wires together.
This may also be the problem with the blinkers and back up light functions.

I saw evidence of heat damage to other pins as well.
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Old 08-13-2021, 07:27 AM   #17
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1988 32' Excella
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Glad you found the problems. Thanks for updating, always good to see a conclusion.
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