Auto shop

Dan Marinucci: Precautions save time in the automotive workshop

Blown fuses fiasco

A short length of insulating tape can save the life of an expensive and difficult to reach fuse. Here’s why.

Some readers envision a fuse as a readily available and easily replaced 50-cent coin. But today, some popular Asian imports such as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota use fuse sets that can cost $ 20 or more.

Compared to the simple fuses of yesteryear, these elaborate components can contain up to 10 individual fuses. This modern kind of fuse can be called a fuse block or multi-fuse.

If only one fuse in this set fails, you must replace the entire fuse block or multi-fuse. The blue component in photo 2 is a fuse block in a late model Toyota Camry.

Replacing the assembly on some Asian vehicles only takes a few minutes, but a fuse block like the one in Photo 2 is buried inside a fuse center under the hood on many Camrys.

Replacing the fuse block on one of these Camrys is a tedious and time consuming task that requires removing the entire fuse center under the hood.

One mistake that damages a fuse block is for someone to boost a battery with the jumper cables reversed. Another is a rushed job of alternator replacement.

Imagine a technician replacing a worn out alternator on a Camry. To save time, the technician does not first disconnect the battery cables.

Skipping this routine step means that a husky wire running from the alternator to the positive battery terminal is live or “hot.”

Imagine this rushed tech taking another shortcut by disconnecting that wire from the alternator and pushing it aside. More conservative technology would cover the end of the wire with electrical tape.

When replacing the alternator, the technician struck this unprotected live wire. The end of the wire arcs against the engine, blowing the alternator fuse inside the Camry’s fuse block.

On the one hand, your business owes this customer a $ 20 fuse block. Additionally, the technician must figure out how to disassemble the fuse center under the hood – without causing further damage – in order to replace the damaged fuse block.

A knowledgeable service manager or shop foreman maintains a dialogue with technicians regarding prudent preliminary precautions for repair work.

These steps will continually evolve as technicians gain more experience with certain vehicles and as vehicle technology itself develops.