Trailer light problems WITH Nissan wiring harness - Nissan Frontier Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Trailer light problems WITH Nissan wiring harness

Hello all,

I have an '08 Frontier, extended cab, 4X4 with auto transmission. I installed/plugged in the official Nissan trailer wiring harness complete with the relay switches in the passenger side kick panel. All brake, running and blinker lights on the trailer work exactly as they should. The problem that I'm about to describe has happened 4 or 5 times in the last 2 years with 2 different trailers, one with a 7-pin plug and one with a 4-pin plug connected via a 7-pin to 4-pin adapter. It does not happen every time I pull a trailer and when it does happen it's not related to any rain/weather issues.

OK, here goes. This ONLY happens when I'm pulling a trailer with the lights hooked up. The only times this has happened I have been towing the trailer for a while (30+ minutes) and then I'm in the process of backing the trailer or maneuvering it in a non-on-the-road situation. Things will be going just fine and then the dash warning lights, including the check engine light, start flickering and the engine cuts on and off and then the engine dies. This takes place in the span of 1 or 2 seconds. I turn the key completely off, restart the truck (it fires up as usual), it runs normally, but when I put it in gear (either forward or reverse) the whole flickering and dying routine begins again. Once it gets in this routine unhooking the trailer lights does not help. The solution to the problem is to turn the key completely off and let it sit for 15+ minutes. After that, I can both maneuver the trailer or drive on down the road with no problems. At the next location I can back and maneuver the trailer with no problems.

Any ideas on what may be going on and what I should do to fix the problem?

Thanks for the help,

Last edited by kyaggie88; 04-07-2010 at 04:39 PM.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 06:00 PM
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This is new to me. This "non-on-the-road" manuvering, what does that mean? How heavy is the trailer and what kind of incline is it going up?

I wonder if the ECU recognizes that you have a trailer in tow and it is reacting by cutting the power since it is sensing that you are in an unsafe situation?

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 09:06 PM
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Are/were you towing a heavy load for the trip? It does not sound like it's caused by the trailer lights, but possible engine/transmission issues like overheating. Did you tow with the overdrive engaged? Just a few more questions that once answered may be able to shed more light on your problem.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 10:42 PM
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There are two seperate relays for automatic or manual. Maybe yours is mixed up?

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 10:44 PM
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From the way I read it "non-on-the-road" use is your parking the trailer. Its not happening where this is a dangerous situation (so far).
Im going to go with the MOST common problem I have seen on trailers. You have a ground problem.
the ground on the trailer plug isn't making a good connection with the trailer frame so the trailer is grounding thru the ball. When your pulling, the receiver is being pulled out and making solid contact. when you back up, the ground loop is getting flaky and could be arcing and setting upsetting the system.
some inertia brake controllers will pick up reversing and the trailer pushing and will try to apply the brakes (so your fighting it). turn your controller down or disconnect the trailer before backing up.


Last edited by Mathster; 04-07-2010 at 11:17 PM.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. "Non-on-the-road" maneuvering is just backing up/parking the trailer on absolutely flat surfaces. The trailer that I usually tow, and the one where this has happened on the majority of the time, is a fairly lightweight 5' X 10', single axle trailer with ~600#'s on it and at least once it happened on a 6' X 14', double axle trailer that was empty so I don't think it it could be related to any overheating situation with the transmission. Also, since I tow the 5' X 10' trailer with a 4-pin connector 90% of the times that I tow a trailer, I don't have a brake controller installed on the truck. I will recheck the ground but the first time that this happened was after a fresh re-wire of the trailer with a new ground wire and a well sanded ground wire contact point. Also, I always check my lights as soon as I hook up and before I move the truck and the lights always work as expected. The fresh skim of rust that has coated the ball and trailer hitch since the last time I towed would prevent a ground through the ball and hitch and would suggest that my ground wire through the trailer frame is a good ground. "bwarren" mentioned that there is a different relay. Since the all trailer lights, including the running lights, work as expected could that really be the problem?

Thanks for the help,
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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A point of clarification, the re-wire of the trailer was done before I had towed with the Frontier and even before I installed the receiver hitch and wiring harness on the truck. So this isn't a situation where it didn't happen until I re-wired the trailer.

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