Safe Towing: A Guide to Towing Equipment Wiring and Lighting Systems

September 26, 2023

Safety is always the highest priority in the towing industry. As the autumn days get shorter and visibility dims, it's important to have properly functioning wiring and lighting systems so that your wrecker and disabled vehicle can be seen by other drivers on the road. Zacklift International provides the highest quality wire and lighting systems on all of our equipment, but monitoring and maintaining your system to ensure total safety is up to you.

Properly functioning lights make your wrecker and cargo visible to others, especially during low-light conditions or inclement weather. They help you comply with strict highway regulations, verifying that your setup is road-legal so you can avoid fines. Functional lights and wiring systems make towing safer and more convenient, allowing you to signal turns, brake, and reverse with ease.

If you have owned your Zacklift detachable towing equipment for a long period of time, you may discover your light system could use some maintenance. We provide replacement parts as needed, and when repairing and replacing the wiring be sure to make a plan and stick to it through the process.

First, you'll need a circuit tester, and basic hand tools like wire strippers and wire cutters. Electrical tape and wire connectors may also be needed if you find corroded or broken wires. You will need the vehicle's battery connected during this procedure so make sure you have at least 12 volts coming from your battery. 

A good way to start is with a simple walk around your Zacklift FIFTHWHEELER detachable equipment. Make sure your auxiliary switch is on. Look for frayed, broken, and/or exposed wires. Check the lights to verify you have right and left turn lights, brake lights, running lights, and a backup light if applicable. Make sure your wired or wireless remotes are working.

During this walk around, if you notice your lights are not coming or your remotes are not working it most likely is a plug or wiring issue.

Worn out plug

For example, we just finished an install recently and found the wired remote didn’t work. We traced the problem back to a worn-out plug. We noted the pin sleeve had been pushed deep into the body and couldn’t make connection with the pin. Pin socket damage is a common problem and they should be inspected regularly.

First, you'll need a wiring harness kit designed for your vehicle and the Zacklift detachable equipment, professional wire connectors, a circuit tester, and basic hand tools. Begin by disconnecting the vehicle's battery to avoid electrical mishaps.

Once you have verified the plug is good and is making contact with all pins in the socket, test the lights and remotes again. The remotes, toolbox lights, and valve solenoids run on the Auxiliary wire (see diagram) so double check the cab switch is on.

If lights are not working and you have verified the plug has all 7 pins connected, make sure none are broken and all mechanical connections are clean and secure. We at Zacklift International only use LED lights so bulbs should not be a problem. You may need your tester to zero in on the disconnect.

The wireless light bar transmitter is plugged in at the rear of your Zacklift FIFTHWHEELER beam. The best way to troubleshoot this is to call our tech support team. The most common problems we see include the light bar battery not being charged or the transmitter not fully locked into the trailer socket. 

If all wiring checks out the battery is next. Your vehicle should have designated wiring ports for connecting the wiring harness. These are usually located near the rear bumper. Plug the vehicle's wiring harness into the designated ports. These connectors often match in shape and color coding. Ensure all connections are secure and protected from the elements.

Keep in mind a little preventative maintenance will go a long way here. Safely tuck and secure the wiring to prevent it from dragging on the ground or getting caught on objects. Make sure the wire terminals are protected and secure. A little dielectric grease will help keep these connections corrosion free.

Finally, test the lights. Reconnect the vehicle's battery and use a circuit tester to verify that all lights (turn signals, brake lights, and taillights) on both the vehicle and towing equipment are functioning correctly. Safely tuck and secure the wiring to prevent it from dragging on the ground or getting caught on objects.

Even with a proper installation and maintenance, you may experience an uncooperative bulb from time to time. You might want to check for a blown fuse in your vehicle's fuse box. Clean connectors with electrical contact cleaner to make sure it is connected securely. It might even be that the bulb is burnt out. Be sure to test and replace if it is.

If nothing else is working you might need to inspect the wiring for cuts, frays or exposed wires. Ensure the grounding connections are clean and secure. But whatever you do, don’t give up until your entire wrecker and towing equipment is completely lit from bumper to bumper.

Zacklift International's towing equipment offers several advantages for lighting and wiring. Detachable harnesses simplify troubleshooting and maintenance by allowing you to easily disconnect and inspect wiring components. They can be transferred between vehicles with compatible towing setups, reducing the need for multiple harnesses. And they allow you to remove the wiring harness when not in use to protect it from wear and the elements, extending its lifespan.

Wiring and lighting systems, especially on Zacklift International's detachable towing equipment, are fundamental to safe and legal towing. Proper installation, routine maintenance, and troubleshooting can ensure that your setup is reliable and secure. By prioritizing the integrity of the wiring and lighting on your detachable towing equipment, you can enjoy worry-free towing experiences while keeping yourself and others safe on the road.

Contact our technical support team with any questions about wiring or other issues

Hero Photo by Rudolf Kirchner


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