Jump to content


Electrical odyssey about to begin!


Recommended Posts

After just driving my Zed for a year and cataloguing needed repairs, a jammed hood release cable has catapulted me into a whole series of repairs!

The electrical gremlins to be excorcised are: Intermittent dash lights; short on the dome light circuit ; inop horns ; inop washer motor ; and bizarre ammeter flucuations! There is evidence that P/O had installed driving lights and removed them, as well as other curious wires to nowhere.

I have no electrical experience, just a desire to get things working! Any advice or tips are appreciated! I guess my first step is to buy an ohmmeter or multimeter, then figure out how to use it!

Wish me luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Make sure you take detailed notes, and get a copy of the various wiring diagrams floating around. Your multimeter will be invaluable. Get a good one. Also be prepared to do a lot of cleaning. Sometimes problems that may seem big are just contamination on a terminal. Clean every terminal you touch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suggestion #1 - Learn how to read current with a meter. Always start with the highest scale on your meter and work your way down. Otherwise, you'll at least blow the fuse if not the circuit board. If you don't want to break circuits to put in an ammeter (or multimeter with an ammeter function), consider a clamp-on ammeter (higher cost meter). I have used one for work since I'm measuring 40A DC circuits at times and most meters only go up to 10 Amps. I have also used it on a friend's car to diagnose circuits that might be draining the battery. Clamp-on meters help you work faster on circuits since you don't have to disconnect anything, but you give up some on accuracy. Be aware that most clamp-on meters measure AC only, so don't buy one of those expecting it to work on your car's DC circuits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, but there's no way of saying this nicely, but you have him doing equations and voltage comparisons when he's mentioned that he knows how to change fuses. That's going to discourage him more than encourage him.

I'd suggest that he start with the most basic of electrical checking tools.... a continuity checker and a current checker. Both of these tools are available for under $10 (sometimes for BOTH), and can help correct tons of problems.

The continuity checker is a simple AA battery, with a flashlight bulb and two wires. You put one wire on one end of the wire you are checking, and the other wire on the other end of the wire in question; the light bulb lights... you have continuity, if it doesn't then you dont.

The current checker is the same item, without the battery. If the light glows... there is current, if it doesn't then you don't have current.

Once he gets those items checked per the wiring diagrams, then he can get in there and start determining resistances, current drops, voltages etc..

But for the most part, in the 30+ years I've been working with the electrical systems on cars.... the two tools I mention are more than sufficient for the bulk of the troubleshooting.

Knowing the voltage is the next step, and only for certain problems. That's when you use the most basic of the multimeter functions.... voltage.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to add that next to 1. a test light and 2. a decent multimeter (spend at $20-$40 for a good one you don't need a specific automotive multimeter which is more expensive), the third most important 'tool' is contact spray (or spray contact cleaner). Source a can of "Kontakt 60" spray and apply it to contacts, wire ends and plugs to get rid of oxidation and contact problems.

Always work from one end to the other and take photos and write down measured values. Get into a habit to draw circuit diagrams of what you check and discover, this helps tremendously in understanding how your car's electric setup works.

The Haynes Practical Electrical Manual is a good start for a beginner to understand whats going on. Also, source PDF downloads of the electrical manuals for your car, print them out and add comments to them while you work on the car.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Guidelines. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.