How To Install a Trailer Hitch Wiring Adaptor–Honda Element

I needed a trailer hitch wiring adaptor installed on my Element. I installed a hitch to be able to carry a motorized wheel chair, but my trailer needed a hook-up for the electrical part. My Honda Element will tow up to 1500 lbs.–more than enough capacity for just carrying a motorized wheelchair and its traveling platform. Of course, one thing leads to another.

Being able to tow up to 1500lbs. opened the door to exploration of small and large trailers. Although it will pull a large trailer, a loaded large trailer is a different story. However, a loaded small trailer as long as it is not over 1500lbs. should be ok. After all, it really isn’t a truck and I have been reminded of that fact, whenever I call it a truck. Towing capabilities installed, I set out to install some sort of trailer wiring harness or adaptor.

I use to install wiring hook-ups, for lack of better words, on U-Haul customer rentals. It is not like I was in unfamiliar territory. Not really wanting to stick my fingers with a voltage tester, or fight volt meter probes, I opted for an adaptor that would plug directly into my Honda’s wiring harness. Installing it was the uncharted territory. Could I find the connections, and how much trouble would they be to get to?


Package with instructions

package instructions

More instructions that did not work

I found an adaptor by searching the internet, and I was lucky in that the site had installation instructions as well. The adaptor was less than $30, and the site was easy to find as well. Just search for a trailer wiring adaptor for your model vehicle, and you should find the same people that I found. If they give you installation instructions then it is a good chance you are on the same site I was. I am sorry I didn’t bookmark that site.


Tailgate flap

After unpacking my adaptor, I found that the instructions that I printed from the web site were identical to the enclosed package instructions. Included in the package were wire ties of various sizes, an adaptor plug cover, and some double sided tape. Following the installation instructions, the first step was to remove the cargo door on the floor. This door just lifts out, exposing the spare tire. The spring loaded hinge cover was next and it was also easily removed. The problem arose on steps two and three of the instructions when I was to remove three plastic clips, and five screws that hold the plastic trim panel in place.

shop manual

Shop manual, adaptor on top

right panel

Bottom of right body panel

I could only find two plastic clips and as far as the five screws, well I found two or three. Some of the screws were used to hold tie downs. At this point I knew the instructions, although well written, were not going to pertain to my 2003 Honda Element, as advertised. I decided to check the Shop Manual which I had purchased online several years ago. The manual suggested removing the right rear taillight. However, the connectors in the wiring harness were actually behind the taillight and behind the right rear panel. Additionally, the seat, seat belt bolt, and seat holding bar needed removing. None of this was difficult and their removal gave me a better exposure to the panel itself and a few additional screws.

loose panel

Panel loose enough to work with

After removing the afore mentioned items, I needed to pop up the floor pillar trim panel a bit. This is basically on the floor and the door closes over it. Could I call it the door sill plate? Anyway, one can see where the rear panel meets up under it. After all this is done and you find no other screws holding the panel, then you can pull and pop it loose. It has push in connectors on its backside that are not visible. Additionally, they push back in and re-connect the panel back nicely when the job is done.

wiring harness

Wiring harness showing connection points

I didn’t have to completely remove the panel. I only had to pull it back enough to slide the adaptor harness end through a factory cutout previously covered by a round rubber cutout. Then I was able to connect the adaptor plug end to the Honda Element wiring harness plug in. It was a nice secure tight fit. I then hooked my test plug to the other end of the trailer wiring harness adaptor and checked the turn signals along with the lights. Everything worked very well.

test connector

Showing the test connector. Saw some in Auto Zone


Testing the new harness with not-included plug-in.

Finally, I was able to put everything back together in reverse order. It actually was quite easy. I could have additionally secured the adaptor wiring with the supplied plastic ties, but the plug fit was tight and I didn’t want to short myself on wiring length. After all, it does have to hang out the window and connect to the trailer wiring plug. I finished the installation using the supplied double sided tape by sticking the adaptor box to the rear side panel. The tape lasted two days before letting loose. Velcro would do better. That pretty much is it, and there seems to be plenty of length to the adaptor to connect to a trailer when the time comes. May your next project go smoothly!

adaptor installed

Adaptor stuck on the panel with double-sided tape

new adaotor wire

Make it long enough to reach the trailer hook-up