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New truck has wimpy wiring


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The new Ford Escape is supposed to replace the pickup and the sedan. It's a "cross-over" vehicle, they say. [:)]

The premise is that it will tow a little utility trailer, and I'm a utility kinda guy. We are lucky old George's XLT came with a factory hitch, bonus. Under the back bumper, a factory installed wiring harness, bonus? Wrong. The plug is installed and all taped up but there's no power to it.

The manual warns that installing trailer lights can blow the electronics. Hokum, I thought, we do this all the time, tap into the tailight harness and drive away.

What are they saying? Well here's what. The wiring in the 2009 Ford Escape is so flimsy and light gauge, it can't handle the load of an additional bulb. Saving $$ and reducing weight, I suppose. No kidding, the wire bundle to 3 tialight bulbs looks like the thinnest of speaker wire, black tape included.

In the big fuse box are slots for trailer lights as follows, a 20 amp fuse, a 15 amp fuse, and no less than 3 relays, one for each signal and one for running lights. Installing the 3 relays at $30 apiece should do the trick, except ..... The slots for the 3 relays are duds. There are no contacts in there nor any wiring installed. Sheesh, what a hassle.

I now have 3 options, solder leads to 3 relays and try to hook them up in the fuse box somehow. I've got the fuses to start from and can search for the trailer wiring.

Buy an after market module with built-in relays that takes 12 v from the battery and micro-signals from the tailight wiring,

Or, install 12v LED bulbs in my trailer lights, and just, old school, tap them into the tailight harness?

Sheesh, what a hassle.

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So the factory trailer harness is present at the hitch but has no juice?

Stay out of the fuse panel. You'll only spread the legs and cause more problems. You should have a high current at the column for the ignition switch, or run a 10 gauge wire from the battery.

Do not pay $30 bucks for a relay. You are getting hosed..http://www.amazon.com/Absolute-RLS125-1 ... hrow+relay

I can get you a wiring diagram of the major stuff if you need it. Column, parking lights, brakes, etc...

If it were me, I'd buy these and be done....http://www.amazon.com/Maxxtow-Towing-Pr ... 9076767148

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Thanks, Ben. $30 each is the Ford price and I agree that is hosiery.

LED tailights are cool, but that means if someone plugs normal tailights in, they could fry the the vehicle wiring harness.

Here's what I've come up with, option 4. I could tap the trailer lights wiring in to the vehicle turn signal relays. Surely the relays are robust enough to power one more bulb. ?

The running lights come on when you lock, unlock and everytime you say boo. Trailer running lights can be done some other way, like a little battery pack or 2 cheap flashlights.

And I agree, spreading legs certainly could cause problems. [:)]

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Just to be safe I would run a 10 gauge wires (prob overkill) fused at the battery to the rear hatch, and install my relays back there.

I may not be understanding, but if there is a factory harness at the read of the vehicle for a simple old trailer hookup (not the round kind for use with a booster) then there is no reason it shouldn't be strong enough. If it has no power, triple check the factory relay location. I bet it's missing. My 07 truck came with a relay in the glove box to install when I needed to use the trailer hookup.

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Yes I think the trailer wiring, separate filament (cause it is no more than a filament of wire in diameter) is factory installed, so I have enough there to run light bulbs.

The after market kit requires that new feeder from the battery. Good idea if I was going for electric brakes.

I am thinking to add jumpers up front so each trailer turn signal is tapped to a vehicle turn signal relay.

How many relays do I have already? 10 or 15 at least. [:)]

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Thanks Jim. Flickering Xmas lights I can do, no problem. It is that left turn signal I need.

I may wind up with a remote turn signal control in my lap for the garbage run 3 times a year. That I can power with the 12 v socket on the dash.

Maybe 2 push buttons in a box by my left foot. [:)]

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Thanks Jim. Flickering Xmas lights I can do, no problem. It is that left turn signal I need.

I may wind up with a remote turn signal control in my lap for the garbage run 3 times a year. That I can power with the 12 v socket on the dash.

Maybe 2 push buttons in a box by my left foot. [:)]

Don't they allow hand signals in BC?

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Thanks Jim. Flickering Xmas lights I can do, no problem. It is that left turn signal I need.

I may wind up with a remote turn signal control in my lap for the garbage run 3 times a year. That I can power with the 12 v socket on the dash.

Maybe 2 push buttons in a box by my left foot. [:)]

Don't they allow hand signals in BC?

Yes, they used to anyway. But the cops are all too young now to remember that.

You could maybe drive up here on your 9N and try signaling lane changes with your arm. Might work. [:)]

Apparently up to 2008, Ford was still installing the sockets for the relays, and sometimes the relays too, but in 2009, they chose not to, saving themselves from bankruptcy, I suppose.

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Wiring my KIA was just as fun. The tail light harness is as fine as telephone cable. I had to run a 12v power cable and a bake wire front to back. The brake light switch has 7 leads on it, so I also had to run a brake signal lead back to front for the controller.

I'm kicking myself to not trading it for the 56 Buick wagon I found last summer.

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I'm not a car guy. I've got a '14 Xterra and when I put the hitch on and hooked up the wiring....it was all #16 or thereabouts.

When did this stuff with the wiring start?

At least a couple of years ago. My last vehicle (2011 KIA Sportage) stated in the owners manual, that you shouldn't try to raise all 4 door windows at the same time, or you could cause electrical damage.

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There could be a 30 amp fuse on the power windows. They are warning you that drawing 30 amps of 12 volts can overheat the wiring.

My fear beside frying the wiring is smoking the black boxes, IC's and modules on everything that moves. How did the Oldsmobiles and Lincolns of our youth operate without 3 computers on board? [:)]

I seem to be SOL for a simple trailer light hookup. The turn signals are in the 'Smart' junction box, a non-servicable computer chip. Seesh again.

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I took mine to Uhaul. A friendly young man getting his degree in automotive engineering works summers at a local office. He said something about having to run something back to the battery.

Maybe that's what he was doing.

Cost about $250. Seemed fair.

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The Yankees here will know Canadian Tire. They used to advertise on TV here.

As far south in NY as I am, Canada is still to the west.

It was an Ontario tire store in the 50's. They must have been good at selling cheap tires to Yankees. They now have department stores in every major city in the country.
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Get used to it.

If you've got L.E.D. lights in everything there wasn't any need for wiring that would carry the same ampacity as the wiring needed for L.E.D. circuitry. They saved some money by going with lighter gauge wiring and thus were able to keep the price down a little more - and pad their profits a little more too.

Figure out what size wiring it is and then figure out what the imposed in amperage will be on the circuit you want to tap into when you add the trailer electrics. If it doesn't exceed the ampacity for that wiring, I'd just install L.E.D. lights on the trailer and put a Dymo sticker on every trailer lens that says, "Use L.E.D. bulbs only."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Beside the light gauge wiring, the turn and stop lights are controlled by an integrated circuit, computer chip if you like.

If you ordered the factory trailer tow package, they would install 3 relays that took a small amount of power from the chip and 12 volts from the power box. So yes, LED's would be fine.

What if the wiring on the trailer got pinched and shorted to ground? That would blow the fuse we hope before it blew the controller chip in the vehicle.

Anyway, the kit Santa will bring me contains a similar chip and is fed by a new 12 v power lead from the battery. Costs about the same as LED tail lights.

I think Ford's cost cutting measures like this helped to kept them solvent thru a tough time for auto manufacturers, so like you say, we should get used to it. Happy Holidays!

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My dream sled in Xmas colors.

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