Lesson: Persistence pays off.

Prior to leaving for the hiatus, we took several trips in order to prepare and figure out what problems we may have with the rig. We knew from the get go that we were having issues with the left turn signal on the HILO Towlite 17 (affectionately known as “Louise”) because it would not work consistently and with the vigor that the right turn signal worked when hooked up to the 4Runner (affectionately known as “Clark”). We tested this issue with the folks we bought the HILO from as well as on the first trip I took with her to Edgar Evans State Park with my buddy Jay for a fishing trip. It worked with the trucks of both the people we bought Louise from and Jay’s truck, so we were able to deduce that the issue was with Clark.

My parents came down from Pennsylvania for the 4th of July and we camped at Montgomery Bell State Park. My dad and I went through Louise and Clark to try to identify the issue, to no avail. Again we deduced the issue was with Clark; however, we couldn’t figure out exactly what the issue was since all of the wiring seemed to be intact and good to go.

We did decide to have a load stabilizing system and electronic brake controller added to the rig due to the sway that we were getting around 60mph. The best place we could find for this installation was U-haul. We also asked them to diagnose the issue to see if we could figure out why the left turn signal light was not working. The mechanic at U-haul was gracious enough to not mind me breathing down his neck as he was working on it and was able to show me that there was current going into what we now know is a taillight converter, but not coming out. This was not a part that U-haul carries, so they were not able to replace it.


This began the search for the replacement taillight converter. Autozone was the first place I looked and they had something that resembled it, but not the exact part. A couple of calls to Toyota dealerships and some extensive online research led me to find out that the converter is no longer made by Toyota. Obviously the solution then was to find the part at a salvage yard; a task more challenging than you would think. I checked Pull A Part in Nashville and they didn’t have any 3rd Gen 4Runners. I checked LKQ, who had one, but the vehicle didn’t have the part anymore.

Then Melissa got on the case. She checked several other salvage yards and found several matching vehicles, but they were all a good drive outside of Nashville. After several hours of driving around one day, I finally found a converter in a ’97 Toyota 4Runner. I paid about 5 bucks for it and took it home. The next day, I replaced it and hooked it up and what do you know? It didn’t work! Not better… so we put the old one back in.

tailight converter

So we started looking at salvage yards along our route because it was time for departure. We found a U Pull and Pay in Cincinnati that had a ’99 and an ’01 4Runner, so we decided to make it a stop on the first day of our journey. The ’01 had something like it, but the wires had been cut and it wasn’t plug and play like what I was looking for. However, the ’99 was the jackpot!

We made it to our first stop in Ohio at the EZ Campground and Diner. After fishing in the pond a little bit the first night, I woke up the next morning and installed the taillight converter and it worked! We can now signal effectively when we are turning left. Persistence pays off!

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