The title says it all doesn’t it? So we got everything loaded, we got the truck hitched, and then… the lights wouldn’t work. Gasp… sigh… ugh… my heart sank. An electrical issue. This is something no one ever wants to troubleshoot unless you’re like, an electrician. But there we were locked and loaded for the weekend. And now, troubleshooting the weirdest set of circumstances.
When Big Booty Judy’s, that’s our truck, when her headlights were on, the running lights, brakes, and turn signals would not work. But, if we turned the headlights off the trailer lights would illuminate for the brakes and each turn signal. Wait. What?! Yes, that’s right. Things only worked if the truck headlights were off. It was the weirdest nuance. Of course this is a major issue for us as it was an overcast, dreary day and at any time, it could rain. We certainly could not drive an hour south without the headlights. There’s that sigh followed by the ugh again as my hopes and dreams for a fun weekend of camping crashed like Maverick in Top Gun.
After 20 minutes of second guessing our hookups, replugging everything and testing about 5 times just to be sure, we took our quest for a solution to the Internet. Thank God for the Internet! Amiright? I mean, seriously. What did we do back in the 80’s before cell phones and in the 90’s before the mass adoption of the world wide web?
A quick search yielded us to a few helpful forums of other nomads, like us, running into exactly the same scenario. This was reassuring. Each forum mentioned grounding. But what wasn’t grounded properly? The trailer or the truck? Aggh… we shake our fists in the air as we continue the journey to resolve.
What did we change to the setup? What was different than before with regards to the truck and the trailer. For the truck it was nothing. Absolutely nothing had changed with the truck since we last towed and the lights seemed to be operational. We moved onto the trailer. We just added a bike rack to the hitch of our fifth wheel. Could our metal bike rack somehow have ungrounded the frame of the trailer and it was somehow effecting the tailights? We removed the bike rack completely and tested with the same results as before. It was not the bike rack.
After assessing the cable from our fifth wheel to the truck we decided it might be time to call tech support. I laugh at this because it’s a natural move for me as I used to be ‘tech support’. For computer support, not RV and travel trailer support. However it would have been convenient had it been the other way around this day.
We bought new with the trailer, so pulling on the use of our warranty also seemed reassuring. We call it newb insurance and we aren’t afraid to use it. After 20 minutes on the phone and several steps of removing and reviewing the tailights and main electric box, it didn’t seem to be an obvious grounding issue we could identify. My heart sank. My fun camping weekend was now the death of Goose. Metaphorically speaking.
As the afternoon turned into evening, events started to turn in our favor as our dealership deemed us a ‘road hazard’ and we could be serviced immediately. I have to say the service at Lazy Days in Tampa was excellent. They provided a knowledgeable, friendly tech who ended up working late to help us.
Long story short, the dealer replaced our main plug. The cable from the trailer to the truck. As we hitched back up and started to pull out of the parking lot, we noticed the lights on the trailer flickering. On then off with every slight bump. There’s that sinking heart thing again and I’m sobbing like Meg Ryan looking at my husband thinking, I always loved flying with you, man. We stop the truck and we call it. Camping weekend is down for the count. It’s now an issue with the truck tow unit and we’ll have to tackle that issue at another dealership. For context, we bought a used F350 with tow/haul package already installed. Essentially this unit has become loose over time and will need to be replaced.
So, after 6 hours of troubleshooting, we are defeated and hungry. I hugged my husband and I kissed the bulldog and we headed back to park the rig. Weekend was cut too short much like the demise of the most beloved Top Gun character. RIP Nick “Goose” Bradshaw.
Update: After a few days at the dealership it was deemed a loose grounding in the tow/haul package of the truck. The dealership replaced the tow package and even kept the pony-tail second adapter intact. Our Ford warranty kicked in and we lucked out only walking away with the cost for the oil/filter change. Every day we count our blessings. #rvlife #guardiantravelers