Monday, July 11, 2005


Hooking up the Saturn for our upcoming trip...

Yesterday I spent all day working on the electrical system for the brake lights on the Saturn that we tow with our RV. This was the first time we have used this car and the hitch is all new and the connections for the electrical cable are sort of unknown. Since I built the cable for the other car, I was somewhat unsure about the use of it on the new car.

Dixie and I hooked everything up and got out the FRS radios and changed the batteries on the dead one (put away still on probably...) then we went through the routine light checking on the RV and the car when it is hooked up. We always do this so we are sure the lights work properly. The tail lights and the running lights and headlights on the RV worked and the tail lights on the Saturn worked. Checking the turn signals found that they worked on both vehicles, too. Then we tested the brakes......... RV: fine; Saturn: none!!!!! Time to check the cable connections.

I took the cable apart and looked at the connections at both ends. Nothing broken, but no wire connected to the brake light connection on the RV, the red wire. Well, this worked on the other Saturn that we sold, so what was different?

I got on the web and found several sites that gave information about hooking up trailers (but not towed cars) and found information about the 7 connector and the 4 connector fittings that I was using. The RV has seven connectors and separates the brakes from the turn signals and the Saturn has a connector that uses only 4 wires, and one of them is ground.

I opened up the back of the Saturn and looked at the connections from the wireing to the light assemblies on the rear lamps. There were diodes in place to permit the two vehicles to share the lights without damage. Fine. The brown wire was for the tail lights, just as in the book. The green and yellow wires were for the left and right turn signals, and the white wire was for the ground. No brake light connection!

I went back to the connecting cable and futsed around with it some more, and read the RV book and the notes I had made and it was 4 p.m. I started at 10:30.

Then it dawned on me. I use a Brake Buddy braking system to stop the Saturn and it presses on the brake pedal of the car when we slow down. Voila! The Saturn brake lights come on when the pedal is pushed, not when the RV lights come on. I felt stupid and relieved. The problem was solved and now I know that to test the brake lights on the Saturn, I have to use the test button on the Brake Buddy. Now I feel better.

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