Saturday, December 12, 2009

A buck forty eight.

In my opinion, one of the worst problems to have in a old car is an electrical one.  With literally miles of wiring, problems can take hours and hours just to track down.  Which is why I’ve always said if LTD you take it to a repair shop you can expect to spend hundreds of dollars on labor just to have a 47 cent part replaced.

The most worrisome problem I saw when I pickled up my $200 car #55 was in the turn signal system.  The left signal worked perfect, but when you turned on the right signal, the left signal flashed also, although not as brightly.  It was even worse when either the tail lights or the brake lights were on.  Because of the crossover from one side to the other, I didn’t automatically assume that it had something to do with bad light bulbs, after all, they were all working.

So I took apart the right tail light and started messing around with one it.  All the bulbs were working, but I finally did notice that one of the two bulbs for the tail/signal/brake lights always burned bright.  The other one was bright whenever the signal was on, but was dimmer when it was just  the tail light.  (Older car tail lights have bulbs with two filaments in them, one dim one for the tail lights and one bright one for both the brakes and signals.)  So, I pulled out the bulb and noticed that it was a 1 filament bulb, intwo a 2 filament socket.  Not good.  A single filament bulb has a single electrical connection in the center, the double filament has two connections, one for the dim system, one for the bright system.  With the single connection in the center, put in the double socket, it was connecting the two systems together, which was what was making the whole thing skewompus.

I put in a correct bulb and voila, everything worked right.  Which is a big relief for me, since the cost of fixing electrical problems can be so unpredictable.  Now, I at least have an good idea how much it’s going to cost me to get the new beast on the road.  I know it’s going to need a new exhaust system, which is no big deal since I’ve always put dual exhaust on the old LTDs I buy.  It will also need brakes and tires.  It’ll cost around $1,000 altogether, but at least I now know I’m not going to have to buy a complete new electrical harness for the car.



A Paperback Writer said...

Good news.
I remember once taking my little old bug in for some electrical problem -- and it was a spark plug causing everything.

Max said...

It's amazing how one little thing can mess up the electrical works so bad. And now, with so many computerized systems in cars, it's no longer just a 37 cent part.

Jeff said...

Wow. I highly respect anyone with this kind of know-how. I'm pretty deficient, I must admit.

Max said...

Thank you. I've been working on my cars since back in high school. First out of financial necessity, but now just for fun. Since I don't work on my primary car, I don't have the know how to work on anything that complicated, I get to do it at my own pace and just walk away when it gets frustrating. Not needing to get it done right away makes a big difference.

The Gearheads said...

Wow.. here here on that. If it's my dd, off to the shop it goes, I don't have time to wait. However BATs starter just went out, I got to it when I was just good and ready