While basic electrical maintenance may seem like a thankless and time-consuming job, it still requires a high level of discipline and willingness to follow proper procedures. Yes, it may not be rocket science, but it is very important. It’s also important to consider that basic electrical maintenance is not the same as electronic troubleshooting.
The point of a proper electronic maintenance program is to keep the juice flowing. Ensuring proper voltages and current is crucial for proper maintenance. Any fleet technician will tell you, keeping flow clear and restrictions minimal is key to ensuring wires do not get corroded and can still conduct electricity well.
A Primer on Electrical Maintenance
When current is limited to a particular component, take an electric actuator as an example, unexpected problems can arise. You may wind up with a temperamental turbocharger or shifter servos. The fact is, it’s easy to misdiagnose an electrical problem.
It’s not hard to imagine a tractor being pulled and overhauled for something like erratic shifting only to find that it wasn’t the hardware at all, but instead was a low-voltage problem. Obviously, that’s a pretty expensive mistake.
The way to avoid mistakes like these is to ensure basic electrical maintenance procedures are followed. It takes a certain level of discipline for a fleet technician to ensure they aren’t taking shortcuts to diagnosing a problem.
Doing something like battery maintenance may seem routine and benign, and many techs will tell you it isn’t their favorite job, but it is vital to ensuring a problem isn’t misdiagnosed, resulting in a huge – and quite unnecessary – repair bill.
Deciding on whether or not cables should be disconnected or connectors cleaned shouldn’t be left to chance. Load testing the batteries shouldn’t be a ‘maybe.’ These essential procedures must be done right every time.
Dielectric Grease and Compounds
And yet, conventional wisdom says that you should use things like dielectric grease and anti-corrosion compounds on battery terminals, but that may not always be the case.
Consider that you can lose two volts right at the terminal posts if there is any dirt or dust inside the connection. Anti-corrosion compounds are also quite messy and difficult remove if you need to remove any components and clean the terminals. Finally, you don’t want to find yourself getting a false sense of security and neglect something because you think an anti-corrosion compound is doing it for you.
Another area to consider is in cable routing. When pre-delivery inspection is completed, cable routing should be at the top of the list of things to check.
Since manufacturers may miss something when tying off cables or wiring may rub up against metal components, it is vital that these items or checked. By overlooking them, you may wind up with a fire in your brand new rig.
Cable repairs is another overlooked area that requires careful attention. While modern connectors are made weatherproof at the start, old practices can undermine a connector’s ability to keep out moisture.
As we mentioned before, avoid globbing dielectric grease on new AMP connectors. They don’t need any additional protection and if you use too much, you risk popping the neoprene seals, pretty much canceling out any positive effect you may have gained.
Once you have proper electrical maintenance and troubleshooting figured out, you will be able to minimize problems that could cripple a vehicle.
While many a fleet technician may equate electrical maintenance with just about as much excitement as brake and tire work, it is a crucial aspect of any fleet’s maintenance program. By investing properly in your electrical system, you can ensure the power stays on without resulting in a costly breakdown or misdiagnosis.