Trailer connectors are used to link the electrical systems of the vehicle to those of the trailer or caravan. This is how the trailer or caravan can display the corresponding lights if you use the indicators, turn on the tail lights, use the brakes or fog lights. This is extremely important for the safety of your driving whilst towing.
If those behind you cannot see the signals you are giving them, this could, in extreme circumstances, lead to serious accidents. It is therefore important to make sure that you have the right fittings and connectors before you set off on a journey with a trailer or a caravan in tow.
When it comes to trailer connectors, there are two main types: 7 pin and 13 pin. Both are used extensively throughout Europe. The 13-pin connector was developed as car electrical systems became more complex and a greater number of lights needed to be powered on the towed caravan or trailer. Since 2008, the numbers of caravans using the 13-pin system have increased greatly, and now most caravan owners will use this connector.
Aside from the increased number of electrical connections offered by the 13 pin system, there are also several other advantages. The new 13 pin connectors are made to be watertight, which is much safer if driving in wet and rainy conditions. The 7 pin connectors are not built to the same waterproof standards. The 13 pin system is also much more compatible with different systems used across Europe, which makes it easier when hiring foreign caravans and trailers. It also has a twist lock mechanism to ensure that the connection stays tight. This means that the pins are more likely to stay in place for longer, and there is less chance of the electrical systems of the car and the caravan becoming disconnected during transit.
But do not worry if you find that the wiring on your tow bar and the wiring on your caravan belong to different systems. There are adaptors available to make sure that you can still connect your car and your caravan together even if one has a 13 pin system and the other a 7 pin system. Adaptors are much cheaper than changing the wiring systems and do not affect the performance of the connectors themselves.