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Old 08-28-2017, 08:55 AM   #1
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Help tracking down (another) running light issue ...

I'm having a problem with the taillights on my toad - they don't light up. The brake and turn lights seem to work ok, but not the taillights.

I'm not sure if the problem is in the toad itself, or in the Solera. The Solera's taillights work, but they're not very bright. The clearance lights work, and appear to be normal. So, in order to isolate the problem, I'm wondering if the Solera's taillights are working correctly or if they really should be brighter.

With the headlights on and the four way flashers going, the Solera's lamps alternate between fully bright and call it half bright. Is this what others see as well? If so, then the problem is probably in the toad. If not, then the problem may (again) be in the Hopkins taillight controller.

Everything else seems to be working correctly and a 7-pin tester shows the taillight lead working as expected - but the tester is a simple on/off and might show ok even if the voltage was low.

Thanks!

Dave
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Old 08-28-2017, 03:29 PM   #2
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Check the ground?

My limited experience with DC circuits on automobiles and the like usually point me in the direction of a bad or insufficient ground somewhere in the circuit.

I thought you had replaced the Hopkins controller at least once and so maybe there is an internal failure. I don't recall where FR grounded this system, but I would start there.
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Old 08-28-2017, 03:30 PM   #3
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[QUOTE=DaveJordan;1607077]I'm having a problem with the taillights on my toad - they don't light up. The brake and turn lights seem to work ok, but not the taillights.

I'm not sure if the problem is in the toad itself, or in the Solera. The Solera's taillights work, but they're not very bright. The clearance lights work, and appear to be normal. So, in order to isolate the problem, I'm wondering if the Solera's taillights are working correctly or if they really should be brighter.

With the headlights on and the four way flashers going, the Solera's lamps alternate between fully bright and call it half bright. Is this what others see as well? If so, then the problem is probably in the toad. If not, then the problem may (again) be in the Hopkins taillight controller.

Everything else seems to be working correctly and a 7-pin tester shows the taillight lead working as expected - but the tester is a simple on/off and might show ok even if the voltage was low.

Thanks!


A common symptom of poor grounding is dimming, so the first thing to do is check the ground wires in the toad's tail light wiring. I installed separate bulbs in my toad for towing, and only grounded the bulb on one side, thinking that was enough... wrong! I thing this caused the coach lights to dim as well, although I can't remember for sure.

But, if the tail lights are dim all the time on the Solera, whether the toad is connected or not, with alternating bright-dim when using the flashers... sorry, you have entered the Twilight Zone as far as I am concerned. Did you get the Hopkins controller via the recall, and if so, were the tail lights "full brightness" before the switch?

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Old 08-29-2017, 03:01 PM   #4
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But, if the tail lights are dim all the time on the Solera, whether the toad is connected or not, with alternating bright-dim when using the flashers... sorry, you have entered the Twilight Zone as far as I am concerned. Did you get the Hopkins controller via the recall, and if so, were the tail lights "full brightness" before the switch?
Well...there's the issue. The Solera taillights are dim all the time, except when another (flasher, turn, brake) signal is on...then they're bright.

The controller is a second Hopkins controller. The first was installed as part of the recall. The second was done a month or two ago after the first one failed. And, of course, I don't remember if either one of them was different from what I see now.

Dave
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:10 PM   #5
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Dave - in my experience in a case like this a digital voltmeter is your friend. I like to attach to the leads to an offending light with alligator clips and measure the voltage under various conditions - turn signals on / off, lights on / off, engine running or not running, etc. Usually points me towards the problem. Checking from the light lead to ground can also give useful information.
If you have LED lights, I believe the lights are internally wired so they are dimmer in the taillight function than in the stoplight or the turn signal functions. I believe the voltage to the light should be the same regardless of function - but on a different lead. Incandescent bulbs have different filaments to accomplish the brightness difference between the functions.
Good luck -
Jim
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Old 09-01-2017, 07:26 AM   #6
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I think I've tracked this down to a wiring issue in the toad. I've verified that the signal makes it across the cable from the Solera to the the toad. And the various lights share a ground so, with the other lights working, it appears the ground is solid. Now I'm in the process of tracing the wiring from the front socket to the back of the toad, checking connections as I find them. So far, just finding the wires is proving difficult.

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Old 09-01-2017, 11:39 PM   #7
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I think I've tracked this down to a wiring issue in the toad. I've verified that the signal makes it across the cable from the Solera to the the toad. And the various lights share a ground so, with the other lights working, it appears the ground is solid. Now I'm in the process of tracing the wiring from the front socket to the back of the toad, checking connections as I find them. So far, just finding the wires is proving difficult.

Dave


Hey Dave! We decided to install additional bulbs in the tail light assemblies of our Toad, not wanting to mess with the OEM wiring. We got a kit made by Blue Ox, and the installation was pretty easy on our Chevy Spark. My reading of the instructions led me to ground the lights on one side and carry the ground to the other side via a wire. We experienced dimming symptoms, so I went back through the install and grounded the sockets on both sides (sheet metal screws into the body). This solved the dimming problem.

Good luck!

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Old 09-03-2017, 05:53 PM   #8
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Late update / another detail

So...another detail...not that it makes much difference. My toad, a Honda HR-V, has LED taillights, so it needs diodes wired into the existing light wires, rather than independent bulbs. This does add some additional failure point possibilities.

Now for the late update. So first, the taillights started working but the left brake / turn indicator didn't work. And then everything started working. I hate these kinds of failures. Especially since the taillights and the brake / turn lights are wired completely independently. And now I'm away from the motorhome for 5 or 6 weeks, so I can't even play with it. Maybe that's a good thing.

Anyway, my current thought is that I can't really rely on any observations I've made to this point - seeing a signal along a wire somewhere may have been transient and testing it a different time might have resulted in a different result.

But I'm also thinking that perhaps there are intermittent problems in the two sockets (back of motorhome, front of toad) connecting to the plugs on either end of the wire between. So the next thing I plan to do (unless I forget by then) is to carefully clean all four sets of contacts in hopes that it will resolve things. I'll keep a careful eye on things and hope nothing else goes wrong.

Dave
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Old 09-16-2017, 12:48 AM   #9
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Hey DaveJordan! How are you towing a Honda HRV?? I thought they were all CVT transmissions?
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:36 PM   #10
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Hey DaveJordan! How are you towing a Honda HRV?? I thought they were all CVT transmissions?
Mine is a 2016 with the 6 speed manual.
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:17 PM   #11
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A follow up on this ...

The wiring for the toad taillights was installed by Blue Ox at their facility in Pender, NE. I happened to be passing that way so I stopped in and asked them to look at the situation.

They found TWO problems, both of which were INTERMITTENT.

First problem was a loose connection in the car-end plug on the motorhome to car cable. Second problem was one (or more) loose connections between the car-end plug and the socket on the toad. They fixed the first problem by tightening a screw inside the plug. The fixed the second problem(s) by spreading the prongs inside the toad socket so that they make more positive contact with the plug.

Anyway...tracking down an intermittent failure is a pain. Trying to figure out two intermittent failures, with even more odd interactions, is even more difficult. I'm pretty sure that the techs at Blue Ox had seen both of these problems before and knew just what to look for.

On a related note, I've been very happy with the service and support I've gotten from Blue Ox. They have a little campground - free for customers - and analyzed and fixed these problems with no charge despite (I'm sure) being out of warranty.

Dave

PS. Still hoping they got ALL of the intermittent problems!
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:33 PM   #12
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If it ain't broke, you can't fix it... just the nature of intermittent failures.
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