How to Replace Your Caravan or Trailer Lights

Author: Tahlia Maynard   Date Posted:30 October 2016 

Here's an easy guide to replacing your caravan or trailer lights.

A ‘lights-out’ sign from your caravan isn’t the best thing to happen while you’re on the road. Not only are properly functioning trailer lights and indicators a legal requirement in Australia, they’re also important in the interest of road safety, both for you and your fellow motorists. Besides, replacing the lights on your caravan or trailer is actually quite simple. Barring the odd chance that your trailer’s entire wiring is busted for some reason, or has developed a fault that can’t be diagnosed, a light replacement exercise can be easily carried out even by someone who hasn’t done it before.

Things you’ll need:

Replacement lights for trailers or caravans are available at all auto stores, and even convenience stores along major caravanning roads. These are usually sold as 12V kits that contain a pair of lights. Besides this light kit, you’ll need some basic mechanical tools (screw drivers, pliers, and so on), wire strippers, and a heat shrink tube to seal the joinery (or an electrical tape if that’s not available).

And things you’ll need to do:

The first step involves removing the old or broken lights from the body of your caravan or trailer. Unscrew them, and cut or disconnect their connecting wires.

Now use the wire strippers to remove the first couple of centimetres of insulation from the wires. Make sure that you thoroughly check the existing wiring first, and replace it if it seems faulty or corroded.

Connect the caravan to your tow car, and proceed to install the new lights. The first step involves mounting the new light fixtures in place of the old ones. If you’ve bought the kind that comes with a clear plastic surface on one side, mount each light such that this section faces the license plate. Bolt or screw the fixtures in place.

We’re now at the final step – connecting the wiring for your new trailer lights. If you’re using a heat seal tube for sealing purposes, slide a section over each existing wire first. Else, just proceed to match the new wires to existing wires of the same colour, and twist them together firmly. Correct colour matching is absolutely essential. If something doesn’t match, get an auto electrician to look at the connection and advise you on what to do next.

Tighten the housing to the body of the caravan or trailer, making sure that the earth connection is secure. Be careful when you do this; you want to be firm without breaking the housing.

And it’s time to wrap up:

Once your new trailer or caravan lights are installed and wired in place, it is absolutely essential to test them before hitting the road. To do this, connect the electrical lead of your caravan to the corresponding socket on your tow car. Now power on the indicators, brake lights, side lights and reverse lights, one at a time, to check that they’re all working (you’ll need someone to help you at this stage).

If everything looks good, seal the new wiring connections by sliding the heat seal tubes above them and applying heat to get them to work. If you’re not using a heat seal, now would be the time to cover the connection with electrical tape.

And that’s it! Basically, if you’ve ever changed a couple of lights at home, you’ll see that replacing the lights on your caravan or trailer is pretty much the same thing. However, in case of any doubt about what goes where, or why something doesn’t seem to be working even after a seemingly successful replacement, consult an auto-electrician right away.