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Old 09-15-2011, 06:54 PM
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easiest way to find a short to ground & my first exp with electrical

Working on a vw bug and it's really my first car for me to work on electrically speaking. When it arrived it had no brake lights, blinkers, hazzards, and a hidden short I found later. Got a schematic on line and a multimeter. I figured the blinkers had to do with the hazzards and flasher relay. The turn signal handle was also broken and I read that for those cars the turn signal needs to work right for the brakes to work. So we got the flasher relay and turn signal switch and we were back in business. Also fixed a bad ground on a light. Then I go work on the rear tail light which works intermittently so I sanded on the connections and they worked so I was thrilled, but this had NOTHING to do with bad connections, and I'll get to that in a minute. Then RIGHT when I thought I was done with the lighting I begin to zip everything up... I put in the parking lamp on the right to make sure the same filament is lighting with the left, which was already tested, and as soon as I turn on the light the fuse pops and the right tailight goes out again. They share the same fuse so the intermittent light issue was no issue at all. Cleaning the connections just enabled me to steal back some current. Anyhow, I know where these wires are and it's pretty easy it seems, BUT I'm just wondering what the easiest way is to find a short? I heard about disconnecting the battery and using a continuity tester or powered test light on the power wire of compenents, or flasher circuit breaker wired in parellel with the fuse, a circuit breaker then unplug components and make your way to the fuse. Which is the easiest? I've tried them all except a circuit breaker. The flasher was stupid cause I had to rub the wire to get it to snap. If I try a circuit breaker which would be best and where to get it? I had ANOTHER short earlier but never found it but when I unplugged one wire to the coil it stopped popping fuses. I then cleaned that wire's connection and everything seems to be fine. Could this wire perhaps be rubbing against the SURE shorted parking lamp wire? I guess I'll find out tomorrow. Just wondering about finding shorts cause it seems like a hang up and everything else has been pretty smooth for a electrical rook.

Sorry for all the babbling but this electrical stuff is pretty fun and I told the boss to pay me peanuts on this one just so I can get my feet wet so I don't let anyone down. Still want to nail this thing tomorrow though. Any help appreciated.

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Old 09-15-2011, 08:31 PM
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Put in a higher rated fuse and the wires that fry are the ones where the short is. Just kidding, the best way I know is to trace wiring back and look for places it has rubbed through the insulation. I would fix the known shoty and see what happens from there.
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:32 PM
put up or shut up

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This car seems really easy being there's the connector to the parking lamp straight to the fuse. The only daunting thing is the wiring loom. Is it unheard of to just cut the connection and put some heat shrink tubing at the ends to cap it off, and then run new wires? In other words, leave the wiring loom untouched? I feel that would save a lot of time. but probably hack.

Btw, does anyone know what kind of circuit breaker I can get that I can wire in series with the fuse connections so I can test for grounds at a later point? I know where this short is but for next time I want to be better prepared. Thanks ahead of time and thanks for the response.

you're gonna laugh but I thought it was easiest to check for the short just by putting the screwdriver across the fuse and looking for the spark.
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Old 09-15-2011, 11:49 PM
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actually found this on line.


If you're interested check this video of this guy using one. They seem pretty cool. They also make an audible version to help with intermittent shorts for a little bit more. This is exactly what I was looking for.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:34 AM
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Hi Tech,

Cutting and running a wire is an option, but I would avoid that because like you said it is somewhat of a hack. Not saying in a bad way, if it gets the job done and it is clean then so what but I myself would try to keep the original wires.

The good thing is that you know where the issue is and the fact that it only pops when you turn the turn signal on. The tool you posted up will help, the magnetic deal has always led me astray, but the circuit breaker is helpful. Some guys run a series of 1157 light bulbs in parrallel (6 of them) in a homemade box with some leads or a high draw headlamp. The box or headlight then connects in place of the fuse, when light(s) are on that means there is a short. You can unplug connectors until the lights go out to help narrow down the area. Light bulbs in the box can be removed depending on the amp draw you are looking for as each bulb will generally dray about 2 amps.

I am not too sure about the vintage of VW you are working on, I am wondering if this is a positive ground system. This can change the way you approach your diagnosis, but basics are the same.

I am at work and I could not watch the video with volume but I think these guys are on the right track.



You will regret working for peanuts. I can sit at home and watch TV for free
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:44 AM
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If you want a circuit breaker as a temporary test fix, digikey or mouser electronics sell 3,6,10,15amp resettable breakers. They are round like a AA battery with a reset button and usually have 2 wires you can put a connector on and put it in the fuse holder location. They're not made for fitting there so you leave like 12" wire and zip tie em up somewhere. Works the same as a fuse but can be reset. They're like $5 per or less I think. Some styles are the same as the ones in a 120 volt power strip, you know?
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