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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I told myself I wasn’t going to do this, but there are still too many out there trying to do things the hard way…so here goes:

I’ve pulled trailers behind every vehicle I’ve owned, and since I’ve owned mostly foreign cars with separate turn signal and brake light circuits since 1972, I decided long ago that the simplest and safest solution was to wire my trailers to comply with the cars; not the other way around. It’s far easier to run two extra wires on any trailer (most have readily accessible wiring as opposed to cars) to two of the classic bullet-style clearance lights which are available with either red or amber lenses. The lenses pop off with a flat bladed screwdriver so that you can interchange the lenses in 20 seconds or less. Replace the bulbs with the next higher wattage ones since brake and turn signals should be brighter than ordinary taillights or clearance lights. The cost so far is at most $10-15.00 for the two lights, two bulbs, some wire (and for the indulgent), two spare lenses in whichever color didn’t come with the lights in the first place.

Let’s not forget that now you’ll need to use a six-pin pigtail connector, since four isn’t enough, and I don’t think they make a five pin version. I’m always promising myself I’ll use the sixth circuit to add backup lights to my trailers, but since I’m basically lazy, I’ve never gotten around to it. Again, if you’re indulgent, buy two pigtail connector sets and you’ve still only spent about $15.00 (why buy two near the end of this saga).

On the Element, I was bemoaning the prospect of tearing nearly half the interior of the vehicle apart, but luckily, common sense came to the rescue. Someone here mentioned accessing the lighting wires directly from the taillight fixtures, and sure enough, remove two bolts on each taillight and there they are at your disposal. And you haven’t even touched (and never will) an interior panel. And don’t disconnect the battery either – your worst mistake will cost 99¢ for a fuse or burned out light bulb. You won’t be killed or burn your Element to the ground.

Using whatever method you prefer to tap into the exposed wires, I suggest tail and a turn circuit from one side, and brake and the other turn circuit from the other side. These wire pairs run down from the taillight fixtures, behind the rear outer corner moldings, under the tailgate cover flap to a gap between the steel bumper bar and the body itself. Actually, I used the long flat five-wire ribbon from the kit intended for the trailer (the sixth wire is for the ground, and typically shorter – not molded into the long set) and fished it up from underneath to the light fixtures; not the other way around. Peel off the fifth wire because you don’t need it (wait…see next paragraph), and then split the remaining four in half right where it goes into the body and bumper gap.

Since I was thinking as I went on my install, I ended up going through one of the rubber hole plugs into the spare tire well for the ground circuit, but I think in hindsight I’d just use one of the taillight mounting bolts. It’s been about two weeks now, and I can’t remember if they thread into the metal body. Or simpler yet, use the fifth wire and tap the ground circuit from one of the taillight housings. I made the mistake of removing the three screws and removing the tailgate cover flap to see things better. It’s a bear to remove because it’s quite stuck to the rubber molding underneath it, and resetting the molding lip over the bottom edge to put it back properly is just more fiddling than lazy me likes to do.

Continued...
 

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it took me less than 2 hours (i took my time but the interior is a snap to open up and put back together) to wire my e with the hidden hitch wires and i keep them under the back floor and take the cable out when i use the trailer. very easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Part 2. Where the wires come out between the bumper bar and body shell leave however much length suits to match your particular trailer connection. As you’re going along you need to write down which wire color is for each of your four circuits because they aren’t likely going to match the way things come. I used butt connectors and then wrapped the living daylights out of each with 3M electrical tape, and then covered the whole exposed pigtail with tape and that flexible wire cover plastic and with tape again. Again, use your favorite products and brands, but since this is potentially exposed to all the elements (pardon the pun) you want to do the job right the first time. I live in Minnesota, where we have the maximum weather and road hazards at each end of the extreme, and using these methods, I’ve never had a bad or corroded connection in thirty year plus of doing it this way!

So now we’re only left with the question of why buy two connectors sets? I confess, I couldn’t find the pigtail I removed from one of my precious vehicles, so I had to go out and buy a new set. And there I was with the “spare” trailer end of the connection. I wrapped the individual wire ends to prevent any shorting, wrapped the whole thing in tape and plastic wire cover and tape, just like the other half, and now just keep it plugged into the car end. Perfect match (obviously) but it also keeps every single metal connection completely covered and unavailable to the elements (again, sorry) for any corrosion. The whole thing just tucks neatly into one of the open tube ends on my Hidden Hitch. Nothing dangling, nothing showing, and you don’t even need to use bungees or tie wraps to hold stuff up out of the way!

I’m sorry this was so long-winded, but I have no means currently to provide illustration, so I rely on logic and thorough verbal explanation. By even providing the converter plug behind the right rear quarter panel, Honda (and lots of other manufacturers) make it easy to dumb things down for the American market. Even the owner’s manual has a wiring illustration of the good side of the converter plug for us obsessive-compulsive types. My simple point is, why dumb down and do it the hard way (in the process removing half the interior of your car), when you can smart up your trailer far easier in far less than half the time and end up being more visible and safer on the road?

For the terminally suspicious and “what-if” types out there…so how does all this jive if you also tow the same trailer behind a dumb American car without separate amber turn signals? That’s why you buy the spare lenses for the little bullet lights. You pop the red lenses on, and if you’ve used the same wiring “logic” on your American car, the bullets are now your combination brake and turn signal lights. It’s just too easy, and no more expensive than anybody’s “conversion harness” designed for the Element.
 

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You bring up a good point, 3M electrical tape. Use the good stuff, it really is that much better. 3M Super 33+ is the tape to use.
 
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