Project: Wiring the New Car for Towing
When we returned from Pittsburgh after Christmas, Paul ordered and installed the base plate on the new car. A few days after that, our registration transfer came through from South Dakota. We had a temporary tag from Pennsylvania mounted on the rear of the car, but now it was time to mount the front license plate holder because, while Pennsylvania only uses one plate on the back of the vehicle, South Dakota, where we are domiciled and where our vehicles are registered, uses plates on both the front and rear.
We ordered a nice, contoured front license plate holder specifically for the Equinox from Chevrolet when we ordered the car. The front license plate holder came uninstalled sitting on the floor in the back of the vehicle, and the dealer didn't install the holder because we were using the temporary license that was on the rear only. Paul couldn't bring himself to drill holes in the front fascia to install the holder when it came time to in put on our South Dakota plates. Not only that, but the base plate has two studs to mount a plug for the wiring connections, and the standard front license plate holder really interfered with the location of the plug. The plug and wiring are necessary because the car's turn signals, brake lights and tail lights need to be connected to the motor home so the car's lights work in concert with the lights on the motor home when the car is being towed.
Paul decided to use a universal, flat license plate holder mounted to the studs on the base plate originally intended for the wiring connector. If we still have this car someday when we are no longer South Dakota residents, Paul will be able to remove the front license plate holder and maintain the nice, clean appearance of the front of the Equinox without having any holes in the fascia. He also decided to use a flat, 4-wire connector for the wiring instead of the larger, round, 6-pin connector he used for the old Saturn. The old car needed a larger wiring connector because it had separate tail lights and brake lights whereas the Equinox can get by with fewer wires because it has combined turn signals and brake lights.
The first order of business was to mount the breakaway switch. The auxiliary brake we use when towing the car has a safety feature that will apply the car's brakes to stop the car in the event it becomes detached from the motor home. Paul found a rubber grommet in the firewall that he could run the breakaway wires through. The photo below shows the breakaway switch (with silver ring) mounted beside the license plate holder, which is mounted to the two studs originally intended for the electrical plug.
The next hurdle was to find a place to mount the wire connector. Paul experimented with several locations and ended up mounting it to the back of the license plate holder flush with the edge of the license plate. Fortunately, the holder has a bunch of recesses and slots, and two of them were spaced just right for the plug Paul bought. The next photo shows the plug just sticking out from behind the left side of the license plate holder. Note the dust cap for the plug hanging near the bottom of the holder.
In order to make sure this was a convenient location for the plug, Paul tried plugging and unplugging the umbilical that will will be used to connect the car to the motor home.
With the location of the plug finalized, it was time to run the wires from the plug to the lights at the back of the car. Paul ran the wiring up through the engine compartment then down under the car using cable ties to make sure the wires were secure and wouldn't move around or sag.
At the rear of the car, Paul removed the taillights and ran the wires up behind the lights. At this point, the wires tap into the car's electrical system. In order to keep signals from the car's electrical system from cross-feeding into the motor home's electrical system and vice versa, diodes are used. Diodes are electronic components that allow electricity to pass in one direction only. The square, blue objects with yellow labels in the next photo are the diodes.
The next step was to test to see if the lights worked when connected to the motor home. Until recently, the site behind us was empty, and Paul had hoped to pull the car through that site up to the back of the motor home to test the lights. However, we got new neighbors behind us a few days before Paul started the wiring project, so he had to pull the car beside the motor home to test the lights. Everything worked as it should, so except for a few more details, we will be ready to head out in the spring.
With Paul's cold and the wiring project, we have been sticking around the campground way too much. We will be definitely getting out and about in the near future. Stay tuned.