How To Connect Trailers for Turn Signals & Brake Lights

Not everyone gets to tow trailers in their lifetime. In most cases, you will need to be an experienced driver before you can pull off towing a trailer on a trip. Among laws and ordinances involving trailers, these are supposed to have their own working tail lamps and brake lights. This alerts drivers behind you that you are enables drivers following you to know when you are stopping.

Before you drive out with a trailer, it will be important to make sure you have properly connected the wirings. This is to ensure that the trailer’s brake lamps will work. Rewiring the lights is a DIY task that you can easily perform with a bit of knowledge and with the right tools.

  • Inspect your truck or van’s rear. Look for the trailer connector, which should appear either as a four- or five-pin connector. Sometimes, it’s even more.
  • Buy a trailer connector that will match the one on your truck. On most trailers and trailer kits, though, this will be available as a standard accessory.
  • Run the connector’s wiring along one side of the trailer’s frame. Be sure to give an allowance of four feet or so toward the front side of the trailer, as you will be connecting this to the truck.
  • Connect the wire at the trailer’s rear to both tail lamps. Use a solderless connector. This wire is usually colored brown.
  • If the trailer has marker lights on the side, use Scotchlok connectors to splice the wire and to connect the wire to each.
  • Locate the yellow wire and connect it with the left turn and stop signal lamp. Use a solderless butt connector.
  • Secure the wire and connectors with electrical tape. Alternatively, you can use electrical tape paint.
  • If your trailer has electric brakes, run a blue 14-gauge wire separately. Connect this to the trailer’s brake wires at the wheels.
  • If your trailer has an onboard battery, you will need to run another 14-gauge wire to the positive terminal of the battery.
  • Find an unpainted portion of the frame where you can ground the entire circuit to. Use a solderless ring connector.
  • Turn on your truck’s lights. Use a tester to determine which circuits are giving power. Connect the brown wire to the corresponding connection. Do this with the rest of the wirings. You will not need to do the same with the brake lamps, though, as they are wired along with the turn signals.
  • Secure your wiring with a nylon wire tie make sure the wiring will not fall off. Be sure to allow at least two feet of slack for the wire, so that it won’t get too stretched when the truck turns.
  • Plug in the connector to your truck. Test the lights with your brakes, turn signals, and headlamps.

Towing is safest when vehicles at your rear can see you. Visibility should be aided by your trailer’s lights, which should be in sync and connected properly. Do remember to check and inspect your wiring before you head on a trip.


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