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Old 12-17-2008, 07:07 PM   #1
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I've got a 2000 Flair/Workhorse and have recently set up my Pontiac Vibe as a Toad. I went with the magnetic lights from Harbor Freight. The first trip out I realized that while the tail lights work great, and the brake and turn signals worked great during the day without the tail lights on, that the brake/TS lights didn't seem to work when the tail lights were on. I figured it was the cheap, and very long, wires going from the coach to the magnetic lights. I then connected my friend's CRV toad to our coach and all the lights worked perfectly. So I took that to mean that my round-4 connector and coach wiring are good.

My next step was to remove the lenses from the Magnetic lights and see what was going on. The weird thing was that the the lights actually all work, it was simply that when the tail lights are on they dim when the brake filament came on, which basically neutralizes the added light from the brake filament coming on, the same happens when the turn signals are applied when the tail lights are on. But again the brake and TS's work fine when the tail lights are off. I then thought that the lights were defective and exchanged them for a new set at Harbor Freight. But the next set does exactly the same thing.

I then decided to try removing all the excess wire in my Magnetic lights, I removed about 8' from the main wiring, and nearly 3' from the the cross-over going from the right to left side. I thought this might get more current to the lights. When I plugged the new shortened wires to the coach and neither the coach nor the toad had brake lights!! I double checked that I hadn't crossed the wires in the splice job, but I hadn't still no brake lights on either. When I unplugged the lights from the coach, I found that the coach no longer had any brake lights. I checked the fuses in the coach, which were fine, however the coach brake lights then worked again. I retried the magnetic lights, and then the coach and toad only brake lights on one side!!! WHAT? I removed the magnetic lights and the coach still had only one brake light. I checked the fuses again, still only one brake light, I went back the fuses again, and tried pulling the fuse that controls the all of the parking brake stuff, it was fine but after reinstalling it the coach brake lights work again.

I'M frustrated and at a complete loss... If it matters I'm using a Roadmaster Sterling tow bar with a round four connector, I've run a short wire from that up into the engine bay of the Vibe and have a flat-4 connector that goes to the magnetic lights.

Anyone have any thoughts? I'm ready to throw the magnetic lights in the trash, but I'll first have my buddy bring his CRV and it's professionally installed light system using diodes and all that, and plug it into the plug on my tow bar to confirm everything still works.
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Old 12-17-2008, 07:07 PM   #2
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I've got a 2000 Flair/Workhorse and have recently set up my Pontiac Vibe as a Toad. I went with the magnetic lights from Harbor Freight. The first trip out I realized that while the tail lights work great, and the brake and turn signals worked great during the day without the tail lights on, that the brake/TS lights didn't seem to work when the tail lights were on. I figured it was the cheap, and very long, wires going from the coach to the magnetic lights. I then connected my friend's CRV toad to our coach and all the lights worked perfectly. So I took that to mean that my round-4 connector and coach wiring are good.

My next step was to remove the lenses from the Magnetic lights and see what was going on. The weird thing was that the the lights actually all work, it was simply that when the tail lights are on they dim when the brake filament came on, which basically neutralizes the added light from the brake filament coming on, the same happens when the turn signals are applied when the tail lights are on. But again the brake and TS's work fine when the tail lights are off. I then thought that the lights were defective and exchanged them for a new set at Harbor Freight. But the next set does exactly the same thing.

I then decided to try removing all the excess wire in my Magnetic lights, I removed about 8' from the main wiring, and nearly 3' from the the cross-over going from the right to left side. I thought this might get more current to the lights. When I plugged the new shortened wires to the coach and neither the coach nor the toad had brake lights!! I double checked that I hadn't crossed the wires in the splice job, but I hadn't still no brake lights on either. When I unplugged the lights from the coach, I found that the coach no longer had any brake lights. I checked the fuses in the coach, which were fine, however the coach brake lights then worked again. I retried the magnetic lights, and then the coach and toad only brake lights on one side!!! WHAT? I removed the magnetic lights and the coach still had only one brake light. I checked the fuses again, still only one brake light, I went back the fuses again, and tried pulling the fuse that controls the all of the parking brake stuff, it was fine but after reinstalling it the coach brake lights work again.

I'M frustrated and at a complete loss... If it matters I'm using a Roadmaster Sterling tow bar with a round four connector, I've run a short wire from that up into the engine bay of the Vibe and have a flat-4 connector that goes to the magnetic lights.

Anyone have any thoughts? I'm ready to throw the magnetic lights in the trash, but I'll first have my buddy bring his CRV and it's professionally installed light system using diodes and all that, and plug it into the plug on my tow bar to confirm everything still works.
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Old 12-18-2008, 12:47 AM   #3
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radsdad, welcome to our website and forums. We are glad to have you join us here and we look forward to not only helping where we can but reading of your adventures and experiences too!
You will find we are a group of fun loving RVers and more like a family than strangers. We like to keep our forum content with this in mind.
I would recommend you at least check if not add a good ground to your electrical circuit. I have found many times an intermittent ground will drive you nuts. One other question, do you have amber turn signals on the coach; I can't remember if that model does or not?
Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:15 AM   #4
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The plug on the lights is not wired the same as the CR-V. You will find that the ground to the lights is through the tail light filaments and brake light. The ground connection is missing. You need to determine the connections at your 4 wire from the coach, and re-wire the magnetic to match the coach.

When you turn on the tail lights, you are removing the ground for the other lights.

4 wires, one is ground, left turn & brake, right turn & brake, and taillights. Just make the plug on the magnetic match the coach connector.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:21 AM   #5
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Definitely a bad ground connection (or no ground), as the others have said.
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:31 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. My RV has red turn signals. As far as possible wiring differences between the magnetic lights and the CRV, I don't think that's the case because when I installed the Roadmaster bracket on the Vibe I installed the round-4 connector on the bracket using Roadmaster's instructions. The CRV lit up fine in every way. I then used those same instructions and those that came with the mag lights to wire the flat-4 connector.

MikeT, you said that when I turn the tail lights I'm removing the ground from the other lights. That sort of make sense, but I don't understand how that would be happening. In the wiring there is a white ground wire, a tail light wire, and one wire for each side's brake/TS. How would activating one light remove the other's ground?

Another thing, how would any of this be affecting the coach's brake lights????

Thanks guys, I really appreciate your help!!
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Old 12-19-2008, 01:01 AM   #7
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I think that what MikeT is saying is that one circuit is dependent on another circuit to find or complete a path to ground. When a circuit is energized that path to ground is negated by the positive voltage on the circuit it once used to find a ground.
Check the grounds on both the coach and the toad.
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:17 AM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">In the wiring there is a white ground wire, a tail light wire, and one wire for each side's brake/TS. How would activating one light remove the other's ground? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

There is a defect somewhere in that white ground wire, most likely at the plug or where the lights themselves connect to it. In the absence of a good white ground circuit, the stop & turn signals ground through the tail light filament - it's pretty much inherent in the design of these lights that it works that way. When you turn on the tail lights, the tail light circuit can no longer serve as a ground for the others, giving the symptoms you reported. Search out why the white ground is working as it should and your problem will be solved.
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Old 12-19-2008, 06:05 AM   #9
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You guys got it right, ground seems to be supplied by the other light circuit until power is applied, and without isolation diodes there is feedback into the coach.

The fix is to verify that the mag lights are wired correctly, that when power is applied to the tail light circuit power is on the proper wire on the mag lights and ground.

If two sets of mag lights did the same thing, it has to be a wiring issue.
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Old 12-19-2008, 06:13 AM   #10
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Thanks, I'm going to get out the tester and check out all the plugs and the wiring inside the lights themselves later today.

I'm still confused as to how this would affect the brake lights on the RV. Can anyone explain that??
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Old 12-19-2008, 12:17 PM   #11
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I learned the hard way that a volt-ohm tester can show continuity, but still not allow enough current to pass to have lights actually light-up. I will always double check now by having a 12 volt bulb in a a test light. I spent/wasted a whole day rewiring when all I needed was one new ground wire. Use a test light if you really want to know. Good luck, HarveyP
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