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Automotive question ( freak)

hvacfreak Member Posts: 439
Thier bill was 178.00 , if things were different and I was broke and needed transportation , they'd be hero's.

But this is a vehicle that I try to keep nice , I keep good insurance on it ( even though it's paid for ) , and I don't plan on selling it anytime soon. I don't want to worry about some b.s. wire splice sticking me on the side of the road.


  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439
    main wiring harness damage / repair

    Ok...some critter ( squirrl , or something ) chewed the wires at the connectors that plug into the computer under the hood of my truck.

    I found that my auto insurance covers this damage ( 100.00 deductable thank goodness ). The adjuster looked at it today and figured that the main harness needs to be replaced...1900.00. The tow truck pulled it out at around 12:00.

    The auto repair shop called me at 4:00 and said that the wiring harness was repaired ( some wires were chewed right at the connector body ). I don't agree with this " repair " ( electrical tape and all ). Everyone ( repair shop and adjuster ) keep talking about a " lifetime guarantee " ...I want the new harness that was written up. Am I wrong about this ? Sorry about the off-topic , just need help putting this in perspective. - Mike
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    What does your policy say?

    If your adjuster stated a degree of work to be done (they are paying for it after all, even if you are in the end), that is what dictates, at least here in MA. If a shop cuts around the adjuster's quote and charges the same, there is grounds for insurance fraud. Not saying that is what is going on, just something to look for.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790

    No doubt you pay plenty for insurance. If these are very nice soldered shrink-tube covered splices, that may be fine. However if these are the cheap crimp connector electrical tape splices, I would insist on a new harness. It just isn't worth getting stranded because of a bad electrical connection. Presumably they are supposed to clear any work with you before performing it anyway.
  • LarryC
    LarryC Member Posts: 331
    Harness repair

    Did they cut off the connector and splice a new one on? Depending on the condition of the connector and the quality of the splices, soldered and watertight heatshrink, it might be fine. Electrical tape wrapped around soldered splices, not acceptable.

    Depending on what has to be cut, moved, removed, and then reinstalled, to install a new harness may be quite alot of work. Plus disturbing things that should not be disturbed. Is the shop willing to stand behind the fix incase something fails?

    They touched it last.
  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439

    Yeah , no one called me to discuss anything.

    I keep good insurance to avoid having things " patched ". I am paying to insure a Dodge ( Mopar ) wiring harness , not one from " Scotch " ( electrical tape ).

  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439
    thanks Larry

    I think there were 5 or 6 wires damaged , so the origional connectors stayed. Solder and tape for sure.

    They say they " stand behind it " , but that means nothing if I'm driving out in the country with no cell phone signal.
  • Jamie_5
    Jamie_5 Member Posts: 103
    computer wiring

    I've been out of the auto repair business for better than fifteen years now, but I would insist on watertight, heatshrunk coverings for the connections. A wiring harness can cost $1900 because of the difficulty of replacing, but also because of the fancy connectors designed to keep the 0-5V signals that automotive computers interpret accurate.

    Either get the connections redone or, better yet, get another shop to replace the harness.
  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439
    Thanks everyone ,

    You know , I hate conflict...well " business conflict " I guess. I have this " mindset " that " it is the responsibility of a supplier of a service to provide the best service for the money spent ". It is expected of most ( all ) of us here ( which is why I would even post a personal problem here ). " Yeah , this epoxy is " stronger " than steel. I'll patch this pipe with it and you'll be good ". People here don't do that stuff...we " bite the bullet " and cut out rotten stuff and FIX IT ( often without compensation ).

    My mind is clear from the replies ( all ) . " I am paying money to insure a Mopar wiring harness ". I didn't write the contract , I just agreed to pay the premiums.

    My father was a Mercedes - Benz mechanic for 50 years. I know what is correct and what is not under the hood...and my truck is not supposed to have a roll of electrical tape on connectors entering the cpu. My problem is that I've owned stuff that required fixes like that. I guess I'm not 16 anymore , I got a haircut , a real job , and a real car ( truck ). Oh...but I do remember the "DAY " , LOL.

  • Oh boy


    i used to be an auto tech and am still in the industry but in a different capacity.

    yes, reapiring a main harness with solder and tape is pretty el-sucko. That harness repair is more likely to cause longterm problems, particularly intermittent problems as a result of poor contact/high resistance conductors suffering from improper soldering or corrosion, among other things. Repairing many wires within a main harness is just a bad idea and carries with it a certain amount of risk as well. Typically, a harness associated with a safety system (eg air bags, seat belt tensioners) is NOT to be repaired and repalced only. To me an engine harness is a safety item as well. What if you are turning through an intersection and stall as a result of the harness while another car is hurling towards you at 40 mph? Yikes.

    You should insist on an OEM repalcement harness, period. As Brad eluded to, dont rule out fraud. $1900 vs $180 or so is a big difference and could get you in hotwater as well should the insurance company find out they issued a check for 1900 but only 180 was billed and paid for. Also, as mentioned, I presume based on the 1900 estimate that includes an OEM harness (they are typically not available as after-market parts) plus labor.
  • Perry_3
    Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
    Get a new harness....

    High quality computer and electrical wiring repairs that are watertight and long lived are possible; but I doubt you will find someone in an auto shop who can do it - or even knows how to do it (and most repair attempts will cause more long term problems).

    Insist on a new harness. Be sure to contact your insurance company about what was done - without any discussions. My guess is that they did not know about the "fix."

    Also, find a different shop to do the work (and don't pay a dime to this one).

    On a very much related side note: If you go into a large home supply store (home depot, lowes, etc) you may notice that they have bins of electircal tape at about 97 cents per role (or maybe $1.19 per roll). Then there is a small bin with some tape at $3 - $4 per roll (3M 33+ or equivelent). You may not know it but there is electrical tape at $6 - $7 per roll too.

    All forms of electrical connectors have the same grade distinctions. Nominally the same size, shape, and capacity. But they sure do have very real breakpoints on how long they last under what conditions.

    At power plants with thousands of control circuits that must be reliable under all kinds of conditions, the $3-$4 roll is the base tape - and their sure is a lot of the $6-$7 per roll tape used. Not a 97 cent - $1.19 roll to be found anywhere... Wonder why... Ohh - almost forgot, our connectors arn't the cheap ones either.

    Me, I use 3M 33+ at for home use. Who cares if it cost me $3-$4 per roll, I only use a roll a year or so.

  • Steverino
    Steverino Member Posts: 140
    ...I want the new harness that was written up

    If they billed you for a new harness & didn't give you a new harness...I call 'em on it! Your insurance company paid for a wiring harness that you didn't receive.

    If you think about it, your vehicle takes a lot of punishment. What with wildly changing temperatures, humidity, potholes... And you have a critical electrical component begging to fail.

    You wouldn't perform a half-baked job for your customer, you shouldn't accept a half-baked as a customer!
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    open up can o worms

    Repalcing a harness might cause more trouble down the line. It is not easy work, as everyone says. I would not risk it myself. You are only talking about 5 wires you say... it is not rocket science.

    A solder joint covered with heat shrink is a VERY secure method and has no diasadvantages in this type of application. Take the 1900 and spend it wisely.

  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405

    I had a similar incident. Auto accident, some guys wanted to bondo the rocker panel. I wanted it cut out and replaced with new sheetmetal.

    Only one shop proposed the "right" way; their estimate was $1200.00 higher. I went with them.

    Adjuster approved the bondo route. After speaking with the repair shop, they said I could pay the difference out of pocket and the insurance company would write me a check for the expense.

    I'm thinking "yeah right". Sure enough, I got a check in the mail from the insurance company for $1200.00.

    Ask your adjuster if the insurance co wil reimburse you.

  • Perry_3
    Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
    You are partially correct

    It is not rocket science. Rocket science is the realm of a specific branch of engineering - and most people (including most engineers) can't do it.

    Proper soldering is a highly technical skill - and most people have never learned enough to even know all the factors that go into it - much less be able to do it.

    For starters. To prevent long term problems the wires need to be cleaned of any contamination that has gotten into them (or they may corrode and fail after soldering - and may totally prevent a proper solder joint). Cleaning damaged wires under the hood of a vehicle.... Not something I'd even want to attempt.

    OK, once the wires are cleaned - they they need the right kind of solder and the right amount of heat. Do you know how often I have found people using plumbing solder on electrical wire.... I've even seen people use plumbing flux on wires. There is a reason that electrical solder is "rosen core" (and their are even different kinds of that for different applications).

    For small wires you need a pencil soldering iron for proper heat - not a big soldering gun. It makes a huge difference.

    Finally, since these are damaged wires - which do not have any extra lenght on them - and have a connector on one end... I can't immagine how you get the shrink wrap on them (and are you using the cheap shrink wrap or the good stuff? - there really is a difference). Thus you use electrical tape. I am not going to say that you cannot do a proper tape job. I just can't immagine anyone in a normal automotive service garage doing it. It has to do with the type and quality of the tape and the patterns of how you put it on.

    Yes, changing a wiring harness does have some risk - but can be done and is somewhat routinely done without problems. A poor electrical joint on under hood computer wires... guaranteed problems down the road.

    Did you ever wonder why the standard response to wiring harness damage from both the automakers and the insurance companies is to replace the harness. It's becasue repairs to wiring harnesses have proven to be very unreliable. Don't you think the insurance companies would love to just pay a $50 to $200 bill for repairs instead of replacement - and refuse to pay more in most cases. The experinece is in... it supports replacment and not repair.
  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439

    The adjuster is comming over tomorrow to look at the repair. And yeah...there are good and bad aspects of either changing or living with the repair.I think I would accept an approved " junction box " with new connectors at the cpu ( if such a thing exists ). I hate the thought of someone ripping out my dash and everything else over a few wires...and I hate living with the thought of a few wires causing me problems for as long as I own the truck. The damage was right at the connector on two of the wires , which is why I'm bent out of shape.

    A fellow control man told me today ..." you know as well as I do that a circuit is complete or not " ( meaning the repair works or it doesn't ). I replied " things happen in automotive wiring that you wont see anywhere else. Connections that aren't " perfect " fail ".

  • mtfallsmikey
    mtfallsmikey Member Posts: 765
    Underhood harness

    Some OEM's cannot supply replacement connectors. That's why eiether partial or full underhood harnesses are available. There are also aftermarket mfr's who custom build harnesses, especially for custom/antique auto market.
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