How to Repair Car Wiring

Learning howto  repair car wiring and splice wires is an important skill you will probably need someday. With time and practice this skill can be mastered and is useful and necessary for those looking to be professional automotive repair technicians or make DIY repair jobs themselves on vehicles. With automakers adding more sensors, electronics, and gadgets to cars chances are one day you will have to make a wiring repair, whether you want to or not.

For those unfamiliar with the procedure of repairing a wire I’m going to walk through how repair car wiring simply and easily.

Step 1 – Strip Wires

First you want to strip back ¾ of a inch on the outer insulation of the wiring on each end you will be connecting together. (The inner metal part, usually made of copper, is called the conductor as conducts electricity.) It’s best to use a wire strippers that have various sizings on them for small wire repair. These can be purchased in most hardware and auto parts stores and are a great addition to any toolbox.

Remember to size and cut a piece of shrink tubing and put it on one of the wires before twisting or soldering them together. If you forget, you will have to take apart or re-strip the wire connection later to put a piece of shrink tube on the spliced and soldered part of the wire. If you fail to put a shrink tube on it will likely cause more damage to the wire from corrosion.

Step 2 – “Y” Wires

Now that the wires are stripped, take one of the wires and make two equal but separate connections with the copper strands and form a “Y.” Repeat with the other wire and then join them together interlocking the two wire ends and twist them together. When joining the wires together it is best to use one finger to hold down the legs of the “Y” on the same side on a table or flat surface. Pick-up one wire so it it at 90 degree angle to the other wire and start twisting rotating together. Try to keep the connection as snug and tight as possible.

If this is done properly there should be no gap or a very small gap between the copper strands and it should be a fairly tight connection. Also it should not be or that much larger than the outside diameter and gauge of the insulation of the wiring.

Make sure to leave enough room so that the outer insulation “none” strip sections of the wire can bend without too much trouble. You can repeat this using your other hand and twisting the other side of the wiring. It should be a strong connection even if without soldering or using shrink tubing yet. Lightly pull it to see how the connection feels.

Note: They are many methods for twisting car and auto wiring together.  This is just one way to do and certain automakers and manufacturers might have different techniques.  

Step 3 – Soldering Time

At this point you can get out a soldering gun. Nowadays most automakers recommend a butane-powered soldering gun that uses a flame for heating the tip. Soldering with an electric soldering gun is generally note recommended nowadays as it can possibly send voltage back through the wire and damage a sensitive electronic component.

Before beginning make sure the wire flux you are using is rosin-core NOT acid flux. If you use acid flux you will wreck the wiring since it will corrode down the road. I also recommend you wear protective goggles. You never know what debris could fly up at your face and into your eyes while soldering.

Once your gun is on, and your goggles are on too, touch the soldering gun to the splice and let it sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You should be able to to see when it is getting hot. Take your flux wire and carefully let the solder flow at the junction of the gun tip and splice. Put the flux too close to the gun tip and it will “stick” but if it is too far away it won’t heat up enough.

Once it solder is flowing keep adding and pushing the flux wire and creating more solder. It will flow around and onto the copper wiring strands and you want to make sure there is enough on there. You might need to move the gun depending on the size of your wiring repair.

The solder should look nice and shiny when done. If it’s dull looking you will have to reheat it since it was not hot enough. Try to give it a nice shiny appearance.

Step 4 – Shrink Tubing

After you’ve let the solder joint cool, and admired your work, it’s time to get use that piece of shrink tubing on the wire and complete the repair. Heat shrink tubing is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyolefin and will shrink around the wire protecting it from the elements and corrosion.

The best way to shrink the tubing around the splice to use a heat gun. Typically butane-powered soldering guns have an attached just for this. The tubing shrinks when enough heat is applied and will seal and conform to the shape of the wire.

The quick and dirty method is to use a lighter, but be aware that can possibly cause damage.

Step 5 – Check for Continuity

It’s good to check for continuity that the wiring and circuit is working properly. You can use a multimeter and set it to read “Ohms” so that you know the wire actually works.

Car Wiring Repair

Learning how to repair car wiring is something that sounds hard, but once you have the basics down it will be become more natural. There are other methods you can use to repair automotive wire. Crimping is another popular method but many automakers nowadays don’t like auto technicians or people using this method since crimps can pull apart.  Also it can leave your solder joint susceptible to the elements and corrosion.

Whatever method you use check what the manufacturer recommends of the vehicle you are working on.  If you ever need help remember there are lots of resources out there to help with wiring and electrical repair online nowadays.

If you have any questions, tips, or advice on car and auto wire repair please leave a comment below.

Electric Scooters – A HOT and Growing Niche Industry

electric scooters

Have you heard about electric scooters?  Maybe you have or maybe you haven’t.  Either way it seems that there are not only more electric car companies popping up but electric scooter companies are too.  This niche motoring industry is HOT right now like never before.

It doesn’t take long if you are searching around on the internet to see all the mainstream companies and start-ups that are getting into the electric scooter business.  Here all the ones that I am aware of;

  •  BMW – BMW, more specifically BMW Motorrad, just introduced the BMW C Evolution which is the Germany company’s foray into the electric scooter market.  They are touting it as an “urban mobility” vehicle and it looks slick.  Range for the BMW C Evolution is about 60 miles which should get you there and back no problem and it’s electric motor pumps out 48 horsepower.  It has top speed of 75 mph.  Not so slick is the £13,500 British pounds it costs to buy one.  That’s about $23,000 American dollars of course it is the most finished and well put together electric scooter I’ve seen.  
  • Terra Motors - A Japanese company that is going to build electric scooters.  Terra Motors A4000i looks like a promising entry into the scooter market but seems like it will only be available in Asian countries to start.  The company is also planning on building scooters aimed at the delivery market (newspapers, pizzas, etc.) as well.
  • ZAP – The well established electric vehicle maker has the Jonway line of motorcycles and scooters that are all electric.  Range and prices vary.
  • Mahindra – The Indian automaker is going to build it’s GenZe electric scooter in Michigan.  The GenZe will have a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 30 mph.  It will use specialized storage compartments for carrying your gear and stuff.   You can put down a $250 deposit and the GenZe scooter will cost you $3,000.
  • TianmAmerica – A Chinese based electric vehicle company that will ship you any of it’s electric scooters for $200.  You can order them with lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid depending upon your budget.  Prices are $2,300-$4,000+.
  • Flux Mopeds – A small Wisconsin based company has only one scooter model, the EM1.  It has a removable battery so you can charge the electric scooter indoors.  Ideal for apartment dwellers and those who live in dorms.  The EM1′s $2,000 price tag is quite attractive too.

The advantages of a scooters compared to motorcycles are mainly that they are ideal for urban environments, since they take up less room and easier to maneuver.  Also you don’t need a motorcycle license to operate an electric scooter.  (For some scooters you might depending on the power.)  This can be a hassle for some if all you need a scooter for is going a few miles in a city with limited parking space.

As you can tell from above pricing on most electric scooters isn’t that much different from normal gas powered scooters. Still there are many advantages.  Chiefly the fact that you don’t need to buy gas and “filling up” on electricity is much cheaper.  Even in cities where electricity rates are sky high you can expect to recharge for $1-$2 dollars possibly less than that.  This means a significant savings over the life of electric scooters compared to gas counterparts.  Also an electric scooter will require virtually no maintenance.  No changing oil, oil filters, dealing with gas, spark plugs, etc.  You still obviously need to make sure that your scooter is maintained to a degree.  Things like the brakes need to be replaced, brake fluid should be changed, and you need to keep the tires properly inflated.  Tires need to be changed out when as needed too.  However the bottom line is electric scooters will save you time, money, and hassle.  Who really likes maintaining their scooters, cars, or vehicles anyway?  This also saves a significant amount of money on repairs down the road.

Another advantage for urban commuters, the reduced noise.  Typically gas powered scooters can make a lot of noise and are not the most emission friendly.  The nice thing about electric scooters is the electric motor runs smoothly and quietly.  That means you can take off early in the morning without annoying neighbors and come back late at night from a party (don’t party too hard.)  Why contribute to more noise pollution in urban environments when there are already so many other sounds?  (Some might consider this a con though as it might be hard for people to hear your electric scooter coming down the road.)

The road to electrification on two wheels hasn’t been all smooth sailing.  Zero Motorcycles, a promising California start-up, pulled their bikes out of the UK market last year due to limited sales.  While the Isle of Man TT Zero racing category sparked interested in the electric motorcycle and scooter industry, it still seems to be growing at a slow pace.  (A great movie about the TT Zero is Charge available to watch Netflix.)  Sales of electric motorcycles, not scooters, in 2013 were estimated to be a a paltry 500 bikes.  Things are not look better this year.  While scooters and motorcycles do have fundamentally different transportation goals, at least from a marketing perspective, the industries are intertwined.

Limited range and charging infrastructure can be an issue for some two-wheeled riders as well.  Of course let’s not forgot Terry Hershner who rode his electric Zero motorcycle across the United States.  If Terry can do it on today’s charging infrastructure I don’t see why others can’t?

I personally believe electric scooters make sense and have a bright future ahead.  Even if it is a small niche industry it is a growing industry.  What are you thoughts about electric scooters?  Are they positive overall for the scooter and motorcycle market or something that will never really gain traction?

Editor’s Note: This article is a sponsored post by GumTree South Africa.   This means the author was compensated for writing and including a link.  It still reflects the author’s, Adam Yamada-Hanff’s, honest opinions about electric scooters and the industry.  

Energica releases Commercial to Showcase it’s Ego [VIDEO]

 energica ego

Energica, an Italian electric motorcycle company, released a commercial online today to showcase it’s Ego.  No not that type of Ego but it’s Energica Ego electric motorcycle that can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds.  Sounds like a pretty slick bike to us.

The commercial and promotional video is meant to emphasize the technology and everything that the Energica Ego comes packed with.

  • 45 years of heritage
  • F1 technology
  • Aerospace technology
  • Together on One Motorcycle
  • Multiple ride modes
  • Internet ready
  • No Emissions
  • A New Italian Legend

The video has all the elements of a full fledged TV commercial.  A well thought out story with inspiration music in the background couple with nicely done shots in beautiful scenery, a nice looking electric motorcycle, and a gorgeous blonde Italian women at the end with an open back dress.  Check it out the Energica commercial below.

Energica Ego – Electric Satisfaction

Energica Ego, the first high performanced Italian electric motorcycle coming from the passion and experience of CRP Group.

At the heart of this thoroughbred is an electric motor which produces an astounding 195 Nm torque from 0 RPM to redline, an electronically limited 150 Mph (240 km/h) and a 0 — 100 time of under 3 seconds.

Top of the line racing components, onboard chargers, and a range of approximately 120 miles of real world riding, with a phase 4 DC charge to 85% in just 30 minutes.

The Energica Ego is being touted as a “superbike” but it has to be seen if riders of this variety will take to electric motorcycles.  (Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire is a positive sign there is interest across the motorcycle spectrum.)  The company is currently touring the US to showcase Ego motorcycles in a tour they are calling “Where is my Ego?”

Subaru Nails what It’s like Driving as an Adult [VIDEO]

subaru commercial jr driver

Do you remember being a kid and just wishing you could be an adult driving?  Subaru has captured this feeling perfectly with a new commercial for the 2015 Subaru Legacy.  It shows a dad coming home and offering the keys to his Subaru Legacy to his 5-year old son.  The son is currently driving a little blue electric car convertible.  His mind plays out all the scenarios that he will have to deal with driving the 2015 Subaru Legacy.  Going to the grocery store, having to pick-up his dad, getting a parking ticket, being stuck in a traffic jam, and going to the ATM.  Essentially all the “fun” things we do as adults driving a car.

Subaru Commercial – Junior Driver

A five-year-old boy learns that being a car owner may not be the freewheeling fantasy he was expecting — even if it is in the all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy.

DriveGuard Tires – Everything you Need to Know

driveguard

If you’ve visited a Firestone auto repair center or one of their subsidiary Tire stores (Wheel Works, Tires Plus, etc.) one of the service advisers probably told you about Bridgestone’s new DriveGuard tires.  Bridgestone has made the claim DriveGuard is the first full line of mass-market replacement run flat tires available for regular cars.  That means non-Luxury in case you are not aware. :)

What are Run Flat Tires?

Run flat tires allow a driver to keep driving when they get a puncture in the tread of their tire.  Punctures usually occur when your tire picks-up a nail or screw on the road.  It can start to loose air slowly but most of the time you will probably hear the tire loosing air and it will be a major time suck in your day when you get out of your car and start swearing.

If you get a puncture and start to loose air in a run flat tire, a dash warning light is triggered by the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) in the vehicle dashboard.  This alerts the driver that you have a low tire.  Run flat tires have stiffer sidewalls which prevent the sidewall of your tire from collapsing even if they loose air pressure.  This allows you to drive to a tire shop or auto repair shop nearby to get a new run flat.

Why should I buy run flats?

A poll, obviously conducted by Bridgstone, that surveyed 2,800 U.S. drivers age 18 years of age and older showed that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of drivers have experienced a flat tire, and 61 percent said this would really suck and ruin their day.

Based on the survey, 60 percent of people say they know how to change a flat tire however 64 percent of them would still call a roadside assistance service or friend for help. Women drivers are more than twice as likely to call for help as men (86 percent versus 41 percent), with only 14 percent of women saying they would change a flat tire themselves.  Whereas 59 percent say they would change a flat tire.

Considering that most people don’t check their spare tire for proper inflation… ever and a lot of new cars don’t come with a spare tire these days, run flat tires look like an attractive option.

What are run DriveGuard tires?

This is Bridgestone’s new line of run flat tires aimed at the mass consumer market.  Essentially this means that these run flats are available on Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, etc.  Usually run flat tires only come factory equipped on luxury vehicles or high end sports car.

DriveGuard tires give “normal people” the ability to continue driving up to 50 miles, or 80 kilometers, at 50 miles per hour if a puncture or loss of pressure should happen on any of your Bridgestone DriveGuard tires.

How do DriveGuard tires work?

Here are some videos detailing how they work.

DriveGuard Overview

DriveGuard – Run Flat Technology

DriveGuard – Cooling Fins

DriveGuard – NanoPro

Looks convenient, Can I get DriveGuard tires installed on my car?

DriveGuard tires can be equipped on coupes, sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks.

Bridgestone does not offer them on SUVs, crossovers, minivans, vans or trucks… yet.  Also if your car is built pre-2008 and not equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which is that annoying light that indicates that your tire pressure is low, than you can’t get DriveGuard tires installed.  The reason?  With stiffer sidewalls that are designed to run for 50 miles at 50 mph it’s hard to know if the tire is low by just looking at it.  You need some sort of sensor to inform you that it is low.  I’m sure this gets ignored by a lot of people though.

DriveGuards come with a 50,000 (80,000 kilometers) to 60,000 (100,000 kilometers) mileage treadwear warranty and are available in 32 t, 15” to 19” rim diameters and 35 to 65 series.

Currently DriveGuard tires are only available in the United States and Canada.

How much are DriveGuard tires?

TireRack, where I’d order tires from, has all available sizes of DriveGuard tires in stock form what I can tell.  The smallest size on TireRack was $109 per tire and the largest size was $266 which is inline with what regular tires cost on the market.

Getting tires installed usually costs around $15-$25 per tire.  Likely it will vary by what state and city you live in and there could be miscellaneous fees like they have like tax and tire disposal.  TireRack can drop ship tires to a shop of your choice so you don’t have to lug them around in your car if you want.

Would you get DriveGuard Tires installed on your car?

I have heard complaints from people who have run flat tires on their cars.  They say the ride is not as comfortable, since they have a stiffer sidewall.  In addition the tires wear quicker and are generally more expensive than non-run flat tires to replace.

Bridgestone claims these new DriveGuard tires deliver a better experience that is more quiet, comfortable ride you’d want from your tires.  Also as stated above DriveGuards are not that much more expensive than normal tires.

Granted I haven’t driven any cars equipped with DriveGuard tires and I don’t currently own any cars that have TPMS.  (Hey my non-TPMS Honda Accord still runs great.)  So even if I wanted to run out and buy DriveGuard tires or another brand of run flat tires, I couldn’t.

Final Thoughts on DriveGuard tires

Bridgestone hasn’t offered to let me try out DriveGuards against regular tires so I couldn’t say for certain if they are good or not.  I wouldn’t mind trying them out for 1-2 weeks if I got a chance.

If you have DriveGuard tires installed on your car, do you like them?  How is the ride and comfort?  If you are considering getting some installed leave a question below and I will try to answer as best I can.