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Navigator/Expedition “trailer disconnected”


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We have a 2016 Navigator L that we use to pull our 2019 23 LSV on the factory Malibu trailer.  We keep getting a “trailer disconnected” warning that pops up while driving or bulb failure warning.  A couple seconds to a minute later, it reconnects and works fine. Sometimes this happens right from plugging in the trailer and I can’t get the vehicle to recognize the trailer is plugged in.   The problem used to happen infrequently but seems to be getting worse and happening more often.  When the “trailer disconnected” warning comes on, the trailer lights go out most of the time but sometimes they stay on.  I found a Ford truck forum where people have had the same issue and some say the solution is to get under the car, unplug the harness that connects to the back of the 7 pin outlet check for corrosion.  If it looks good, put some di-electric grease on it and reconnect the harness to the outlet.   It probably does not help that the ramp we use is not very steep and the 7pin gets submerged every time we launch and retrieve.   Another response on the Ford truck forum was to clean the pin contacts with contact cleaner and a wire brush pipe cleaner kind of brush (after disconnecting the negative battery terminal so to not cause a short while cleaning).  Anyone else have this issue and how did you resolve?

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I had that same error message (different vehicle).  I replaced the actual plug on the trailer and it went away. My boat trailer was about a year old at the time as well (FWIW).

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My brother had this issue with his F-150.   Make sure to check the grounds on the trailer.  These new systems are sensitive to grounding.  Trailer side pigtail, splice the ground and run a dedicated ground to the trailer frame.  Most of the lights are grounded to the frame and some manufactures rely on grounding through the hitch ball and this always seems to cause issues.  

Does this happen with one trailer or multiple trailers?


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Thanks  @RyanB and @blk93jeepzj.  I need to go in for some minor warranty stuff anyway so I am going to try cleaning the contacts and mention it to the dealer to see if they have any ideas.  Maybe they will let me plug in a couple trailers on their lot to help figure out it it’s the car or my trailer.  From new, one marker light on passenger side has never worked along with the light up Malibu logo has never worked either on that same side.  This is the only trailer I have so don’t have any others to test.

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To close the loop on this, I had a chance Saturday morning to look at my trailer plug in better light.  One of the contact pins was like slightly oxidized or corroded on the surface.  I cleaned up the contact by scrapping it with a pocket knife, plugged into the SUV and it immediately connected and never lost connection in the 25 mile trip to WSA. I am going to get some contact cleaner and clean it up some more but I think it’s fixed.

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