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Discussion Starter #1
I am preparing my new-to-me '17 for a 7-pin trailer connection, and I had gotten as far as installing the bracket, thinking I could just plug the 4-pin adapter into the existing 4-pin connection on the Escape. Well, I should have tested voltages first, because I got an unpleasant surprise:

Whether the vehicle lights are on or not, the existing 4-pin plug (and the wires themselves, since I just cut off the corroded plug) is putting out slight under 12 volts on the brown wire and approximately 6 volts on each of the other hot wires.

The 40-amp trailer fuse in the cargo compartment is good. Removing it had no effect (power at the 4-pin remained present with all voltages the same - assuming that is not normal?). Also, apparently and inexplicably, the 40-amp fuse was swapped with the 25-amp fuse slot in the cargo compartment.

Finally, on one (and only one) drive recently I got the infamous trailer bulb fault. Whatever the cause (I assumed corrosion), it's just one more factor in the mix.

In another thread someone mentioned a "rear power relay" that may also affect the trailer connection. I haven't pursued that yet.

Can anyone think of any other fixes besides a game of "follow the wires"?
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
(SEE UPDATE farther down)

I might have answered my own question. It just dawned on me that maybe there is supposed to be a very low-current voltage always present, and this is how the vehicle "knows" whether a trailer is connected. So I used a test light instead of multimeter, and it only lit with the vehicle lights turned on, not when they were turned off. I haven't tested turn signals or brakes with it yet.

Of course another way to find out is to hook up the trailer itself, which I will try later today. If I am correct, this is a relief!
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EDIT:

The "fix" I thought I had found, alas, was not. When I hooked up the 4-pin to the 7-blade (Curt adapter outlet w/LED test lights) and connected the trailer, nothing. No lights on the trailer at all (with vehicle lights turned on), and none of the test LEDs on the 7-blade turned on, except the 12V light, which I assume is backfeed from the trailer battery.

This is very confusing. I thought my only real work would be wiring up the brake controller, and the lighting would be ready to go, but I guess the elusive "towing module" makes everything more complicated.

I have read quite a few threads in the towing forum, but still might be missing something obvious. If so, I would still really appreciate any insight!
 

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So I used a test light instead of multimeter, and it only lit with the vehicle lights turned on, not when they were turned off. I haven't tested turn signals or brakes with it yet.

Of course another way to find out is to hook up the trailer itself, which I will try later today.
Test the turn signals with 12V test light. That's is the easiest way to check for normal operation of your harness. Using the trailer to test can be tricky. You can have a fault like a bad ground on the trailer or short in the wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the suggestion. I did try the turn signals with a test light today and they worked, but I don't know what that tells me!

My next thought is maybe I should ground the seven blade outlet directly to vehicle, even though both ends of the four pin have a ground wire so I assumed separate ground wasn't need just for the lights. I am away for the weekend with my other vehicle but will try when I return.
 

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Thanks for the suggestion. I did try the turn signals with a test light today and they worked, but I don't know what that tells me!
It tells you if the problem is on the vehicle side or on the trailer. You can literally hold 12v bulb and a couple wires in your hand to test everything on the vehicle(you can make a big short too, so be careful you are only touching one pin at the time).

I assumed separate ground wasn't need just for the lights.
You need the ground wire from the vehicle side aligned with the ground wire on the trailer. Test with your multimeter if the ground on the trailer is on the proper pin, then make sure it aligns with the ground pin from your vehicle.

On a side note how are you charging your trailer battery? On proper 7 way plug there is dedicated 12v pin that's providing charging current to your battery. Our escapes don't have that wire stock, so you either need to run new 12v wire feed, or charge your battery with power from your tail lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It tells you if the problem is on the vehicle side or on the trailer. You can literally hold 12v bulb and a couple wires in your hand to test everything on the vehicle(you can make a big short too, so be careful you are only touching one pin at the time).
Well, I do know from my current TV, Honda Ridgeline (soon to be sold), that the lighting is working on the trailer. That came with 7-way preinstalled. (If only......)

You need the ground wire from the vehicle side aligned with the ground wire on the trailer. Test with your multimeter if the ground on the trailer is on the proper pin, then make sure it aligns with the ground pin from your vehicle.
OK, but this should be standardized, right?
On a side note how are you charging your trailer battery? On proper 7 way plug there is dedicated 12v pin that's providing charging current to your battery. Our escapes don't have that wire stock, so you either need to run new 12v wire feed, or charge your battery with power from your tail lights.
My plan has been to run the main 12V wire back from the battery, along with the brake controller wire, based on the eTrailer video on YouTube.
 

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OK, but this should be standardized, right?
Yes, but for the 5 sec it takes to check it is well worth it. Most the times I was fooled when working on something is when I made assumsions and didn't check.
Further if the ground on your trailer is miswired you would have the exact issue you described.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Great, will do. I really appreciate all of your help.

One more thing, just to confirm: Is the 12v and two 6v on the 4-pin out of the Escape proper behavior, or can it be under some circumstances?
 

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One more thing, just to confirm: Is the 12v and two 6v on the 4-pin out of the Escape proper behavior, or can it be under some circumstances?
I am away for the long weekend, but I can measure the voltages on my 4 pin stock wiring when I get back and will let you know for sure.
 

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Ok, with the escape parked and ignition key off I have 0.068v on the pin closest to the ground. The other 2 pins I measured 0.034v. Turned the key to on and measured again, voltages didn't change. Now before you assume there is something wrong with your module because your voltages are quite higher, I am still gonna say you need to go over the trailer wiring being your easiest recourse. What we confirmed so far is there is always power to the 4 pin connector. My pins are heavily packed with grease so that might affect the voltage measurement as the current there is so small.

It's still possible the ground on your trailer was never hooked to the proper pin on your Honda, but it worked as it was getting ground through the hitch ball. While you are there check the charge on your trailer battery. Maybe it's hard wired to take charge from the tail lights circuit fooling the trailer module something is wrong and shutting it down.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay. Not the answer I wanted but I guess I was expecting it! I will check the trailer ground, but it has worked with two other vehicles and I have never had battery issues (I dry camp a lot and it charges significantly while traveling).

Assuming it IS the module, I am assuming it is a dealer-only (or salvage) part, but any idea where in the vehicle it is located? I have seen little info about this on the board, either.

Thought I'd be free of repairs for awhile with this purchase - the trailer wiring is something I did not think about testing beforehand!
 

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Assuming it IS the module, I am assuming it is a dealer-only (or salvage) part, but any idea where in the vehicle it is located? I have seen little info about this on the board, either.
I have no idea of its location. Again I don't want you to assume it is the module fault. Do all your other easy checks first. From what I understand everything works when you test with 12v light. If that's the case then there is no reason to suspect anything wrong with the module.

If you get desperate you can even disconnect the trailer battery, to see if it changes anything. Or you can pig tail a couple wires and use your battery as independent power supply to test your trailer lights without hooking on to the vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes but either way there seems to be a significant vehicle-side problem. Even if there were a grounding issue on the trailer, based on your own 4-pin readings I can't think of any reason there should be 12V and 6V on mine continuously independent of the trailer. But I will leave it there until I take one more look at everything to confirm there is no easy fix.

Thanks.
 

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I am preparing my new-to-me '17 for a 7-pin trailer connection, and I had gotten as far as installing the bracket, thinking I could just plug the 4-pin adapter into the existing 4-pin connection on the Escape. Well, I should have tested voltages first, because I got an unpleasant surprise:

Whether the vehicle lights are on or not, the existing 4-pin plug (and the wires themselves, since I just cut off the corroded plug) is putting out slight under 12 volts on the brown wire and approximately 6 volts on each of the other hot wires.

The 40-amp trailer fuse in the cargo compartment is good. Removing it had no effect (power at the 4-pin remained present with all voltages the same - assuming that is not normal?). Also, apparently and inexplicably, the 40-amp fuse was swapped with the 25-amp fuse slot in the cargo compartment.

Finally, on one (and only one) drive recently I got the infamous trailer bulb fault. Whatever the cause (I assumed corrosion), it's just one more factor in the mix.

In another thread someone mentioned a "rear power relay" that may also affect the trailer connection. I haven't pursued that yet.

Can anyone think of any other fixes besides a game of "follow the wires"?
Also, you can read more about led tail lights at Best Jeep Wrangler Led Tail Lights: HOT🔥 List of Top-Selling Models 2020
To test the conventional type of flasher unit, use a circuit tester between the terminal marked B on the unit and the earth. Turn on the ignition . If the supply side of the unit is working, the bulb should light. If it does not, look for a break in the wiring between the unit and the fuse box.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So here is an important point for the vehicle-side issue, and kind of a "duh" moment for me. I actually had never tested with multimeter OR with test light with the vehicle parked, doors closed, and thus ALL lights off. The "always" in my "always on" actually meant whenever vehicle lights were on, even if they were just on because a door had been opened. I guess I subconsciously assumed that the quirk of all lights turning on whenever a door was opened was not intended to transfer to the trailer wiring, so I didn't even think about it.

Bobby2, did you happen to check whether 6 volts were present on your yellow and green pins when exterior vehicle lights were on? If not, would you, please, when you have a chance? It doesn't seem like that would be normal anyway, but it would help to know.
 

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To test the conventional type of flasher unit, use a circuit tester between the terminal marked B on the unit and the earth. Turn on the ignition . If the supply side of the unit is working, the bulb should light. If it does not, look for a break in the wiring between the unit and the fuse box.
Thanks, but at this point my issue is having power when it shouldn't be there, not the other way around - turn signals work correctly. Unless I'm missing your point?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, after alllll that:

Apparently the issue was not having the vehicle side 7-way properly grounded. I assumed the preexisting ground wires on both ends of the 4-pin would suffice for lighting. Nope, not good enough! Once I wired up the heavy duty dedicated ground from the 7-way, trailer lights went on.

(I didn't originally hook up the dedicated ground from the 7-way because I'm only doing a temporary installation this fall, which will be removed and permanently wired in when spring comes around.

The 6-volt readings from the vehicle-side 4-pin were just a distraction.

So if anyone takes anything away from this thread, it is this: Two pins delivering six volts each on the 4-pin connector apparently is not abnormal for this vehicle, or at least it does not (so far) impede trailer lighting operation. (It would have been so easy if that were in writing somewhere!)
 
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