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Looking to rent a trailer for a road trip? You need to be mindful of … – The Globe and Mail

A friend and her husband were planning a getaway with their kids and were looking to rent a small travel trailer. As we were chatting one night, she said they found a small trailer advertised online from someone renting his personal trailer. They drive a 2019 Subaru Ascent, which is rated to easily pull this rental trailer, but their Ascent didn’t have the required seven-pin wiring connector. It only had a standard four-pin connector. They were confused as to the difference between the two styles of electrical connectors.
While we were eating dinner, I suggested she message the owner. I immediately asked about the trailer’s gross weight and if it came with any auxiliary braking system such as surge style or electric brakes. Surprisingly, it had neither, which confused me too as to why this trailer had the larger seven-pin style connector. As we continued messaging, he kept insisting my friends get a four-to-seven pin adapter. This is where the confusion for my friends began as they couldn’t find that adapter. All they could find was a seven-to-four pin adapter because the adapter he was describing doesn’t really exist.
A four-pin/wire trailer electrical connector is what most people know and recognize. The four wires carry the signals for turn signals, brake lights, running lights and a ground wire. The seven-pin connector has all these connections and adds a 12-volt charging circuit from the tow vehicle and, most importantly, can also provide electric brake control operation for vehicles equipped with an electric brake controller. The final wire can be used for back up lights or other uses. While the trailer in question didn’t have electric brakes it did have a deep cycle auxiliary battery and thus required a seven-pin connector to charge that battery while in transit.
I explained to both parties that you cannot simply purchase a one-piece plug-in adapter unit that goes from four to seven pins. This would be a huge liability for any trailer accessory manufacturer. It would allow anyone to tow a trailer that has electric brakes without actually having the ability to control the braking functionality of that trailer. A sure-fire way to lose control of that trailer.
Yes, you can purchase a four-to-seven pin conversion kit, but it is not as simple as the owner of the trailer was leading them to believe. This kit requires supplemental wiring to be added to the tow vehicle. While I was texting the owner of the trailer, I suggested to him that he should consider foregoing the auxiliary battery and simplify the trailers wiring back to a four-pin arrangement. Considering that the trailer did not come equipped with electric brakes, the seven-pin connector was overkill and probably causing him to lose rentals. I gave up quickly though, I could tell he wasn’t listening, and my delicious steak was getting cold.
In the end, my friends decided to pass on this specific trailer and keep looking as they didn’t want the hassle.
My son’s car keeps wearing out its tires even though he has had several alignments. He has changed the suspension and it is really low now. Is there a way to fix the tire issue while keeping the car the way he likes it?
Marion – Windsor, Ont.
Lowering the car has altered most, if not all of the factory alignment settings. Most contemporary cars no longer have adjustments built in from the factory to be able to adjust all the settings that have been altered. Historically, vehicles commonly had three built-in adjusters for all three major angles: toe, caster and camber. However, manufacture cost cutting has seen the removal of built-in camber and caster adjusters, leaving only a toe adjustment on all but high-end sports cars. I don’t know what kind of car he has but I am going to assume the alignments that were done only dealt with one of the three angles that may have changed, toe only.
Camber changes dramatically when any vehicle is modified by raising or lowering it. Camber is the angle between the vertical axis of the wheel in relationship to the car as viewed from the front or back. For simplicity’s sake, when the car was lowered, the suspension angles changed and the top of the tire moved inward. This angle change placed more stress on the inside of the tires, which I suspect is causing the premature tire wear.
As a parent there are several things you need to know. One: if the car is aggressively lowered it probably handles poorly and is a menace for him to manage on the road. Two: it will keep wearing tires until the suspension is modified to make it adjustable, which could be quite costly. Three: if your son’s car is on your insurance policy you should know that by modifying the suspension and not telling your insurance company, he has likely voided your insurance policy.
Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.
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