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Pete48

no indicator lamp failure warning with westfalia towing electrics

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Apologies if this topic has been covered elsewhere but I have not been able to find the answer to my query so far so here goes>>

I have just replaced my tow car with a BMW X3 and had a Westfalia removable towbar with dedicated wiring kit fitted to it.

Everything seemed to work as it should when hooked up to our 1999 Swift Corniche, however when I turn on the car indicator and remove the rear indicator lamp on the van, to check the control unit would recognise this and give me a warning ( flash sidelights at double speed on that side) nothing happened,  car indicator continued at normal speed and the vans low wattage side repeater lamp continued to flash on that side but of course nothing at the rear and no warning which is dangerous.

 

I appreciate that not all vans have side indicator repeaters fitted but quite a lot do and it seems odd  that the Westfalia control unit cannot recognise when the load drops from 24w (21w rear plus 4w side) down to 4w. 

If I remove the side repeater bulbs and repeat the test, then removing a rear indicator bulb immediately causes control unit to flash the sidelight instead at double speed and a lamp failure indication comes up on the dash which is correct.

 

I have checked out the wiring from the 13 pin connector on the car to all the road lights on the van and wiring is correct and no bad earth connections so either the Westfalia control unit is not compatible with trailers/ caravans which have additional side indicator repeaters or my unit is not working correctly. The tow bar company didn't have any ideas and will take it up with the manufacturer but it would be nice to know whether I am looking at a compatibility problem or a faulty unit.

 

Has anyone come across this problem before. and if so what was the resolution.

thanks 

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Bit of an update on my problem,  I believed the wiring kit was a Westfalia unit as I ordered a westfalia removable towbar with dedicated wiring kit but the wiring kit fitted is branded 'Right Connections',   towbar fitting company are checking to see if a westfalia unit would work any differently but looking at the spec for the unit they fitted it says compatible with both LED and filament trailer lights which is good if you have a new van with LED lights but it would appear that it cant distinguish between a working, low current, rear LED indicator lamp and  my existing  low current 4w side repeaters

By the way if it is of interest to anyone fitting a towbar to a BMW X3, F25 the Westfalia dedicated wiring kit apparently requires you to switch off the rear parking sensors manually when reversing however this right connections kit turns off the rear sensors when you connect the van, disables the rear camera and shows a trailer symbol when you select reverse which is neat... just wish it would tell me if a bulb has gone .

 

Is my old but remarkably sound  Swift Corniche an oddity in having side repeaters for the indicators or is it fairly common?,  I would love to know.

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Might be a red Herring but after my fitting they had to reprogram the cars computer.

Other BMW owners might comment on this.

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I think side repeater lamps disappeared some time in the early 2000's. My 2000 caravan did have them, but not on one I bought in 2005.

 

Are your repeater bulbs W5W wedge filament type, as it might be worth trying an LED replacement, which might just be a low enough current to "fool" your electronics. I am sure you have considered plan Z which would be to remove the bulbs from the repeater lamps.

 

John.

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Think you have it in a nutshell when you say it can't distinguish between a failed 21 W and a good LED load (the 4W of your side repeater) ... 

Only a means of telling the unit 'filament' vs 'led' indicators could do that ?  

Losing the side repeater bulbs may be a fix (not sure if there's any legal need for them to work if originally fitted)?

 

https://www.rightconnections.co.uk/contact-us/ is the company and - although your towbar fitters may be better placed to ask them for advice, you could also, perhaps?

 

I can't recall ever owning a caravan with indicator repeaters;  so I don't think they are very common.

 

I must commend you on such thorough checking of your new towbar/wiring.  I'd think some (many?) of us would just take things on trust that these things work.

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The Right Connections website makes very interesting reading in the Trailer Safety section with regard to the application of vehicle safety systems functions when Integrated and Networked electrical systems are fitted.

 

Pete48 the system for switching off your parking sensors etc will have included one of these 13 pin sockets with a micro-switch:-

 https://www.tridenttowing.co.uk/trailer-parts-c3/electrics-c298/plugs-sockets-c281/13-pin-socket-with-micro-switch-p8319

 

My Audi towing vehicle has a dedicated Westfalia electrics kit and I have to manually turn off the parking sensors etc every time reverse gear is selected. It's something I would have hoped would have been part of the coding, but apparently not. 

 

John.

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Posted (edited)

Are we talking about side repeater lamps for the indicators or side marker lamps to show the extent of the trailer.

 

AFAIK there's no requirement for side indicator repeater lamps  on a trailer but there is a requirement for side marker lamps - see schedule 9 of the Construction & Use regulations   https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/1796/schedule/9/made

 

In 2015 I had a Westfailia "dedicated" wiring system fitted to my Ford S-Max and TBH I was not impressed - it had to be tapped into the can-bus wiring and additional wiring had to be run from the battery to provide fridge power. I had no end of problems .The flashers started randomly fast flashing and not flashing at all and there were other electrical problems which may or may not have been attributable to the towing module. Eventually  I had it all taken out and a Ford trailer module & kit fitted in it's place.

 

 The Ford unit  plugged straight in, no tapping bodging or additional wiring - the ECU had to be programmed (as did the Westfalia unit). My present 2018 S_max also has the Ford supplied module and cable harness - no problems at all (although I will confess that I haven't done a bulb failure check with the van plugged in)

 

I've done one with my fully wired test panel which I made up to try and fault find the towing module problems (it  also checks the, reverse light, fog lamps and 12v fridge & battery supplies)

Edited by matelodave

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Thanks everyone for your replys, 

my van has side indicator lamps as well as front and side marker lamps, I know that the marker lamps are a requirement depending on trailer size and I couldn't find any requirement in the regs for indicator repeaters although I have not been able to ascertain whether lights have to be working on a trailer/caravan if they were originally fitted (as they have to on a car).

The side repeaters are W5W capless lamps and I did try LED lamps (both canbus type with resistors and non canbus) to see if the reduced load would allow the lamp failure circuit to work but it  made no difference in that respect although it did introduce some other really weird effects. For instance, if I took out offside rear indicator lamp the OS LED side indicator would continue flashing at the normal rate and no warning of failure on the dash yet if I then turned on the NS indicator (with all lamps present) then not only would the NS indicators flash at double speed but the NS side lights would also flash and a lamp failure indication comes up on dash, wiring kit clearly thinks there is a fault on NS when there isn't.  Exactly the same thing happens if you do the test on the opposite side. This is why I checked out all the wiring in case something was crossed.  This only happens with LED in side repeater, with normal lamp you just get no warning of the failed rear lamp and the opposite side flashes normally, with no lamp at all in side repeater everything works as it should and the failed lamp triggers the side lights to flash on that side at double rate.

 

It would appear that side repeaters have been largely dropped since the early 2000's so maybe this is why they haven't been taken into account, I was considering just leaving the bulbs out, maybe this is the sensible option.

I was interested to hear others comments about the westfalia wiring kits, I was sort of expecting them to be better, more 'OEM' in some way as I believe they supply BMW for factory installations but it would appear that may not be the case.

Both Westfalia and Right connections say there is no coding required on my car and Westfalia told me that BMW do not disable parking sensors and it has to be done manually so JOHN19's observation about Right Connections using a microswitch in the socket would explain why this happens automatically.

 

I have been intending, for a while, to build a test box to check out car towbar electrics and also van electrics including all running lights, fridge feeds, eths, volt drops etc. I drew up various circuits, and collected various bits  but house alterations and a garden needing TLC have delayed things rather.Perhaps I will just take the side lamps out and just get on with decorating :-)

Thanks again everyone for your input

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Interesting!

Try removing all bulbs apart from your indicators.

Fit non CANBUS LED's in the side repeaters.

Test and see how the indicators work with all bulbs then with ones missing.

 

Some of your symptoms sound very much like a poor earth somewhere, with current tracking the "wrong way" through another bulb.

Also replace your 5w/21w side/brakelight bulbs if you have any. These are notorious for part failure where the filament fails but drops onto the other filament, completing a circuit. This can demonstrate weird symptoms, whilst the bulb itself exhibits normal operation in isolation.

If you have enough spare wire, I would be very tempted to fit (aka bodge) a temporary earth to all lamp holders and see what behaviour it shows.

 

Might also be worth trying the W5W LED'S the other way round too.

 

 

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4 hours ago, AlwynMike said:

Interesting!

Try removing all bulbs apart from your indicators.

Fit non CANBUS LED's in the side repeaters.

Test and see how the indicators work with all bulbs then with ones missing.

 

Some of your symptoms sound very much like a poor earth somewhere, with current tracking the "wrong way" through another bulb.

Also replace your 5w/21w side/brakelight bulbs if you have any. These are notorious for part failure where the filament fails but drops onto the other filament, completing a circuit. This can demonstrate weird symptoms, whilst the bulb itself exhibits normal operation in isolation.

If you have enough spare wire, I would be very tempted to fit (aka bodge) a temporary earth to all lamp holders and see what behaviour it shows.

 

Might also be worth trying the W5W LED'S the other way round too.

 

 

Thanks for the suggestions AlwynMike, good suggestions, I will have another look tomorrow. Initially I did wonder about bad earths as this is usually the problem when lights work abnormally and cleaned all the sockets, lamp holders and lamp bases.  There was no measureable resistance in the earth circuit  across the van and fraction of an ohm front to back but must admit I didn't measure  for any volt drop under load so will check again.

Must admit I hadn't considered part failure of a bulb and will swap them out and will definitely  try  an additional earth cable to all fittings to ensure wiring kit has best chance of working. Thanks, will post any results.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 07/03/2019 at 10:40, Pete48 said:

Bit of an update on my problem,  I believed the wiring kit was a Westfalia unit as I ordered a westfalia removable towbar with dedicated wiring kit but the wiring kit fitted is branded 'Right Connections',   towbar fitting company are checking to see if a westfalia unit would work any differently but looking at the spec for the unit they fitted it says compatible with both LED and filament trailer lights which is good if you have a new van with LED lights but it would appear that it cant distinguish between a working, low current, rear LED indicator lamp and  my existing  low current 4w side repeaters

By the way if it is of interest to anyone fitting a towbar to a BMW X3, F25 the Westfalia dedicated wiring kit apparently requires you to switch off the rear parking sensors manually when reversing however this right connections kit turns off the rear sensors when you connect the van, disables the rear camera and shows a trailer symbol when you select reverse which is neat... just wish it would tell me if a bulb has gone .

 

Is my old but remarkably sound  Swift Corniche an oddity in having side repeaters for the indicators or is it fairly common?,  I would love to know.

 

If the vehicle has rear sensors that are not an after market fitting the vehicle should control them through the vehicles system and if the towbar has been fitted with dedicated electrics and programmed if needed it should automatically cancel the reversing sensors and rev lights . This might be why the bulb failure is not working as it is a legal requirement and BMW would have this covered .

 

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

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6 hours ago, CommanderDave said:

 

If the vehicle has rear sensors that are not an after market fitting the vehicle should control them through the vehicles system and if the towbar has been fitted with dedicated electrics and programmed if needed it should automatically cancel the reversing sensors and rev lights . This might be why the bulb failure is not working as it is a legal requirement and BMW would have this covered .

 

 

 

Dave

Dave, thanks for the suggestions.  The vehicle has front and rear sensors and reverse camera fitted as original equipment from the  factory and the towbar has dedicated electrics for this vehicle and manufacturer, Right Connections,  says no coding is required for it.  Both Westfalia and ECS say that with their dedicated wiring kits on BMW F25 you have to switch off the rear parking sensor manually from the centre console  and  no coding is required,. They all will switch off fog and reversing lights and the right connections module disables the rear PDC as well which I quite liked.

 

My problem is, the bulb failure sensor works perfectly as long as there is only 1 indicator bulb per side, my van has an additional low wattage side repeater near the front as well as the normal rear indicators and if a rear bulb dies the towbar electrics is happy to just keep flashing the  low power, side repeater and doesn't  'see' the failure,  Having messed about with it for some time I have deduced that bulb failure monitor circuit in the towbar electrics module needs to see a complete disconnection before it will register a fault, rather than just a significant reduction in load, I suspect its been designed this way so it will work with LED lighting which only draws a small current when working normally.

I don't think this is a coding issue as the BMW software works as it should when the trailer module indicates a failure on the CANBUS (failure message on dash,  doubles indicator speed). As John19 pointed out in an earlier response, vans tend not to have additional side repeaters now so guess this is a compatibility issue between an old van and new technology.

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On ‎08‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 20:47, Pete48 said:
On ‎08‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 16:22, AlwynMike said:

Interesting!

Try removing all bulbs apart from your indicators.

Fit non CANBUS LED's in the side repeaters.

Test and see how the indicators work with all bulbs then with ones missing.

 

Some of your symptoms sound very much like a poor earth somewhere, with current tracking the "wrong way" through another bulb.

Also replace your 5w/21w side/brakelight bulbs if you have any. These are notorious for part failure where the filament fails but drops onto the other filament, completing a circuit. This can demonstrate weird symptoms, whilst the bulb itself exhibits normal operation in isolation.

If you have enough spare wire, I would be very tempted to fit (aka bodge) a temporary earth to all lamp holders and see what behaviour it shows.

 

Might also be worth trying the W5W LED'S the other way round too.

 

 

Well I spent a while today following up your suggestions Mike.

tried removing all rear bulbs, just W5W  bulbs in side repeaters, both indicators worked at normal speed, no fault detected. Rechecked all earths, all separate back to 13 pin conn , less than 0.5 ohms to rear fittings which is about right, added extra temp eth to all fittings but no difference. Tried LEDs in side repeaters and CANBUS LEDS,both reacted the same......flashed as normal with no rear bulbs but when rear bulb in left and LED in LH side then  indicate right...normal flash of led in right side repeater but no error. Turn on Left indicator and  rear and side repeater as well as all left sidelights flash at double speed along with lamp failure warning on dash, the same happened in reverse when you swap rear bulb into right side. no crossed wires or bad earths and stop & tail, reverse and fog bulbs were removed so no stray paths for current ( the stop& tail lamps were ok although I swapped them out  with some spares for testing.

I tried fitting the W5W leds the other way round, as you would expect they were reverse biased and didn't light and acted as if they weren't there, interestingly the canbus versions did the same, not measured the internal resistor in them but they clearly don't draw enough power for trailer module to see them.

Not sure exactly how the bulb failure cct works but it seems that an imbalance of loads combined with leds confuses it 

Having checked out everything on the van Ive come to the conclusion that this is just a compatibility issue between  an older indicator arrangement and a trailer module designed to cope with LED lights.

 

I've taken the side repeater bulbs out altogether and things work ok like that for now although the towbar company are supposed to be asking westfalia if their modules would cope any better with multiple indicator bulbs.It would be nice to have the side repeaters working as I think they are useful especially for traffic coming up alongside you but not so good if the lamp failure detection doesn't work:(.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Pete48 said:

I've taken the side repeater bulbs out altogether and things work ok like that for now although the towbar company are supposed to be asking westfalia if their modules would cope any better with multiple indicator bulbs.It would be nice to have the side repeaters working as I think they are useful especially for traffic coming up alongside you but not so good if the lamp failure detection doesn't work

 

From this situation you could do a simple fix, add a relay to the indicator circuit, feed the relay contacts from the fridge supply and use that to operate the side repeaters. Not the best of fixes but a simple one that would work.

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Sorry my suggestions came to naut.

 

Very odd flashing the side lights as well.

 

Were you able to change the Right Connections box?

I can understand that the box will throw up a fail when no current is drawn, but flashing the side lights as well?? Odd.

 

Have you tried an LED rear indicator?

 

1 minute ago, AJGalaxy2012 said:

From this situation you could do a simple fix, add a relay to the indicator circuit, feed the relay contacts from the fridge supply and use that to operate the side repeaters. Not the best of fixes but a simple one that would work.

Surely the load presented by the relay would cause the same effect as a bulb or LED.

You would have to add a suitable relay in series. And of course, the failure detection will not work, which is the reason for all this in the first place.

 

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25 minutes ago, AlwynMike said:

 

Surely the load presented by the relay would cause the same effect as a bulb or LED.

You would have to add a suitable relay in series. And of course, the failure detection will not work, which is the reason for all this in the first place.

 

I would doubt it would affect the bulb failure in any way, there are some very low current relays around. Putting one in series wouldn't be a good idea.

 

Example this one, 30mA coil current, switches 10 amps

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5V-12V-Mini-PCB-Relay-SPDT-5-Pin-Packs-of-1-2-5-or-10-Free-Postage-/122195388493

 

 

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I've had a Swift with side repeater indicators I think there a good idea, after all cars have them in the mirrors on lots of cars.

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Around the time your caravan was made was when caravan electrics were changed (September 1998) prior to the change caravans had one earth, after they had 2 earths.

I wonder if this could be half of the problem, it is however dependent on the actual build day of the caravan and whether its been modified since.

 

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31 minutes ago, Paul_B said:

Around the time your caravan was made was when caravan electrics were changed (September 1998) prior to the change caravans had one earth, after they had 2 earths.

I wonder if this could be half of the problem, it is however dependent on the actual build day of the caravan and whether its been modified since.

 

OP has already said the earth is very low (acceptable) resistance so it doesn't seem like it will be, it just seems the Westfalia system isn't quite sensitive enough to the reduced current.

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17 minutes ago, AJGalaxy2012 said:

OP has already said the earth is very low (acceptable) resistance so it doesn't seem like it will be, it just seems the Westfalia system isn't quite sensitive enough to the reduced current.

 

This is why I thought about the wiring change, it was also the reason for battery charging and fridge problems with caravans with the old wiring and cars with the new.

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On ‎10‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 08:32, Paul_B said:

and Around the time your caravan was made was when caravan electrics were changed (September 1998) prior to the change caravans had one earth, after they had 2 earths.

I wonder if this could be half of the problem, it is however dependent on the actual build day of the caravan and whether its been modified since.

 

You are quite right about the wiring changing in 1998 but my van has the later wiring scheme, the road light, charging and fridge earths are all separated as they should be back to the connector (I swapped the old 12N & 12S for  a new cable and 13 pin plug)  and the resistances seem ok for the length and gauge of internal wiring used.

On ‎10‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 07:17, AJGalaxy2012 said:

From this situation you could do a simple fix, add a relay to the indicator circuit, feed the relay contacts from the fridge supply and use that to operate the side repeaters. Not the best of fixes but a simple one that would work.

Its  funny you mentioned that, I did have a similar thought On the 1980's MG Montego the bulb failure sensing was done by means of a unit in series with the light circuits. Inside the unit the lighting cable  was coiled a bit with  a reed relay contact or Hall effect magnetic switch in the centre so if the bulb was ok and current was being drawn through the cable the contact was closed, if bulb failed the contact opened and raised a warning. I still have a spare unit somewhere kicking about, might try using it in series with indicators and use fridge feed to drive side repeater using the warning output contact via a couple of small low current relays (have lots of electronic bits laying around).  Should be pretty simple to fabricate and advantage is that the unit goes in series with the lamp being monitored and has negligible  resistance so bulb works normally and if it fails there is no remaining load on the wire to fool the towbar bulb detection cct.   Not had an answer from tow bar co yet about whether a westfalia box would work better that the right connections unit they fitted but must admit Im wondering, if other box does work ok with dual indicator bulbs is it worth swapping bearing in mind I would have to disable the parking sensors manually whenever reversing as westfalia box does not do this and RC box they fitted does.

 

 

 

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Man , I've got a headache just trying to read all this! I had a 2011 X3 3.5i , had a towbar fitted and wired and everything worked perfectly . But no side repeater lights on my van.

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