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Towing a 2016 Airstream Sport 16

Discussion in 'Model X' started by Fluxed, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    Hoping someone can cast some light on this, as Tesla technical support has been flummoxed by this one too.

    I have purchased a 2016 Airstream Sport 16, which is just the right size to be towed by my P90DL with 22" wheels... I got this trailer SPECIFICALLY for my Tesla (I have owned other RVs including a 28' Airstream before, and I also have a 2015 Ram 2500 so am very well acquainted with towing, trailers etc), would not have purchased it otherwise. I just assumed it would work, since Elon drove an X pulling an Airstream onto the stage at one of his events!

    My Tesla does not recognize the Airstream is connected and it does not activate any lights! Some more info:

    1. I have my own trailer connector tester, and the Tesla connector works fine, passes every test.

    2. The local Airstream dealer has a different connector tester, and the Tesla passes all their tests too.

    3. I do not have a brake controller installed, instead I have installed a Prodigy RF controller on the Airstream. Nevertheless, connecting the Airstream DIRECTLY to the Tesla (bypassing the brake controller) DOES NOT WORK.

    4. The RF brake controller is successfully paired with the hand held control, which means that it is getting power and it registered the "c" for connect on the display of the handheld controller.

    5. I connected my Tesla to TWO DIFFERENT BRAND NEW 2016 Airstream Sport 16s, with the same result, i.e, no lights working.

    6. We have measured the output voltage of the tesla connector, and all appears within spec.

    and finally.....

    7. We connected the Tesla up to a Jayco Trailer, and the lights worked!!

    8. We tried disconnecting the battery in the Airstream, but no success.

    So what is different? The Airstream from 2015 model year up has LED lights. Does the Tesla not recognize a connection, because there is not enough of a current draw for the lights?

    Has anyone here connected a trailer with LED lights or a 2015+ Airstream?

    I am pulling my hair out. The phones at the Dallas Service Center are down now apparently, so I figured I would see if anyone online had any ideas.
     
  2. flyhigh123

    flyhigh123 Member

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    When you say RF, is this a wireless connection?
     
  3. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    Yes, it is wireless, but it is irrelevant though, the lights don't work even if I make a direct connection from the trailer to the car, bypassing the external brake controller. Also, I was told that the brake controller does a simple pass through on the lights anyway.
     
  4. flyhigh123

    flyhigh123 Member

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    dont have my tesla yet so cant help much. but normally its a one way signal.

    You said the tesla works with another trailer, just not airstream. Must be something on the airstream side or possibly the tesla needs feedback?

    Weird, keep us posted.
     
  5. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    Yes, it works with another trailer that does not have LED lights. We are thinking that since the current draw is much less on the LED lights, that the Tesla is being too smart for its own good and does not register the connection! Similar stuff happens with automation in your house, with LED lights that aren't "seen" by the controller (like the older Lutron switches) because the LEDs don't pull enough current.

    I'm waiting for a callback from the service center. What sucks about Texas is you can't contact them directly, you have to call California and then wait for someone to call you back....
     
  6. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    I looked at the rollout video the other day, and it seemed like the lights were working on the 22 ft Airstream Sport that was used in the rollout, so there must be a way to get the lights to work. It seemed that at the 24.48 mark (approx) that the trailer tail lights flashed with a brake being applied. All the exterior lights were lit as well, so someone at Tesla must know how to get this to work with a newer Airstream with LED's.
    Keep us informed about your progress as we are looking for a newer Airstream (22ft) right now for our X 90D.
     
  7. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    Yes, that is why I assumed it would work! However, if that Airstream Sport 22 was a 2014 model or earlier, then it would have had regular bulbs for the exterior lights, and would not have been an issue. I have been in touch with Dallas Service, and they are thinking of sending another Model X out to the Airstream dealership and see if the problem is reproduced on a second Model X.
     
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  8. llavalle

    llavalle Member

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    I had a similar problem with my previous car : a 2013 Volvo S60. The trailer module would not detect the trailer so would not engage towing mode with my small 4x8 utility trailer with LEDs. In that case, I found out that the module was pulsing 12V though each of the 3 pins every seconds or so to kick in towing mode. It would also constantly monitor each circuit and report wiring problem on the trailer on the dashboard. To fix it, I isolated the trailer harness using a CURT adapter (can't remember the exact model) but it worked.

    Pretty sure Tesla can fix it in software.
     
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  9. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    Thank you very useful!

    7-Way Electrical Adapters

    Yes, I am sure a firmware fix will solve it, but I have a short term problem and your info is extremely appreciated. Thank you!
     
  10. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    A salesperson for Airstream in Portland told me that their sister store in Fairfield, CA supplied the Airstream for the Model X roll out demo. Bay Area Airstream adventures number is Sales: (707) 549-6094 Parts/Service: (707) 674-620. They may have some info.
     
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  11. gjunky

    gjunky Waiting for the Model ☰

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    Just throwing out an idea. If it is a load issue, is it possible to create an additional load in the Airstream. I might be as easy as turning internal lights or anything else electric on inside the trailer. The circuits are probably separated but it might be worth a try. Worsed case, you have to drive with the trailer inside lights on :(

    also, not sure if the trailer's lights come out easy but otherwise hooking up another (non-LED) bulb in parallel might help.
     
  12. Lyon

    Lyon 2016 S P100DL, 2016 X P90D

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    Have you checked out the airforums.com ? Those guys have run into just about everything. I assume that it's like many of the late model European SUVs. They seem to have a hard time with the LED lights Airstream started using a few years ago. I'm really curious to hear about your experiences with the Airstream. We had a 25" Eddie Bauer until out third kid came along.
     
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  13. Eresan

    Eresan Member

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    Great to see this post because one of the reason I'm buying model x is I have a 2012 Bambi 16'.

    My car will deliver next week. I really do not like the idea to install a brake controller inside the car around my knee. Your mentioning of PRODIGY RF controller solves this problem. I will go get one this week and install it on my trailer this weekend!

    I will also hook it up to my trailer next week to let you know my result. My trailer is 2012, it does not use led bulbs. I did bought inexpensive led bulbs to replace the 12v bulbs. Have you tried to plug a older airstream without led bulbs to your model x?

    Do you think the prodigy rf will work with tesla?

    Thank you
     
  14. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    It should work, it really should. I have paired mine up already, and it gets power from the Tesla connector and everything seems hunky dory. Much better option than wiring up an ugly brake controller under the dash in the Tesla!

    Also, the Bowlus Road Chief 24' trailer uses an RF controller too, and I know for a fact that Teslas tow those just fine. I am on the waiting list for a Road Chief, they are AMAZING. Lighter than the Bambi 16'.
     
  15. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    On your first point, we tried that! Didn't work. Turns out the exterior lights are totally independent of everything else.

    On your second point, we thought of that too. I even have a Y-splitter coming in so that I can experiment wiring a resistor in, if the CURT adapter doesn't work. Anyway, Amazon delivers the parts today, and I should know by tomorrow....
     
  16. Halcyon

    Halcyon Member

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    Would love to see some pics!
     
  17. Jdcorbitt3

    Jdcorbitt3 Member

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    I had a similar problem with a Ceyanne and an LED trailer. The car sends a reverse voltage through the trailer lights. When it doesn't see the reverse voltage, it senses a fault. There is a 7way adapter that has a load resistor in it and solves this problem. I also made a male femal connector with incandescent bulbs in parallel. On top of being my tester, it also fooled the system and my LEDs as well as the incandescent bulbs lit up.

    You would think modern day auto manufacturers would be building systems with LED trailer lights being the preferred light.

    John
     
  18. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    as1.jpg
     
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  19. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    CURT 57003 LED Trailer Light Adapter, $23.99 on Amazon, free same day delivery!

    Works great and the Prodigy RF Brake Controller is good too.

    I have the .75" rise ball mount, but I think the front end of the Airstream is a tad high, so I am going to switch to a straight 0" ball mount. BTW, the manual says that the only allowed ball mounts are 0" - 0.75" RISE. No drop mounts allowed. I think the straight through will be good.

    First trip of around 50 miles averaged 660 Wh/mi.
     
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  20. Fluxed

    Fluxed Member

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    They are going to have it to get sorted out. Almost all manufacturers are switching to LED lights in 2017.
     

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