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How to Fix an Automotive Short Circuit

Automotive electrical problems might seem insurmountable, but they're not. All you have to do is locate where the current stops flowing, which is easy with today's tools. Here's how to fix automotive electrical short circuits.

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Car short circuit repair - man looking under hoodPhoto: Shutterstock

How to Fix an Automotive Short Circuit

Finding and repairing a short circuit in your car or truck’s electrical system can cost $200 and up at a shop. But if you spend $15 on a pro-grade shop manual and $40 on specialty tools (below), you can track it down yourself in an afternoon.

Finding the exact spot where electrical current stops flowing used to involve at least a little guesswork, but modern automotive electrical tools make pinpoint identification possible.

Tools and materials you’ll need for car short circuit repair:

  • Short circuit detector
  • Fuse socket connector kit
  • Shop manual for the year, make and model of your car or truck
  • Lineman’s pliers
  • Soldering iron
  • Utility knife
  • Wire crimper
  • Butt connectors
  • Electrical moisture sealant
  • Electrical tape
  • Flux
  • Solder
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Car Short Circuit Repair - step 1Family Handyman

Step 1: Connect the Tester

Yank the fuse for the shorted circuit and install a fuse adapter. Then connect the circuit breaker leads to the adapter.

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Car short circuit repair - step 2Family Handyman

Step 2: Trace the Circuit

Find the short with the meter by sliding the meter along the wiring harness. Watch the needle swing back and forth. When it stops swinging, you’re at the short. Open the wiring harness and locate the chafed or shorted wires and repair them with electrical tape. Reinstall the fuse and test the circuit.

Now that you know how to tackle car short circuit repair, find out what these strange car noises are trying to tell you.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman