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Old 02-07-2015, 02:20 PM   #1
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My car electrical wiring harness melted, where to go from here?

My car died and smoked me out of it onto the side of the freeway. I've located the probable source in these photos.

The car turns over but no longer ignites, and the passenger door indicator stays lit, this circuit appears to have shorted.

Could you please help me with suggestions as to possible actions I can take in repairing this myself?
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Old 02-07-2015, 02:51 PM   #2
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Hard to tell what fried in the photos. Are you saying some of the wire overheated and starting burning stuff around it? Can you identify which wires are fried on a wiring diagram? What year, model, body style do you have? You might need a new body harness (or part of one).
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Old 02-07-2015, 03:24 PM   #3
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You definitely need to replace the harness. No getting around that (well, you could rewire it... but replacing it would be far easier.)

Are you running anything that could be drastically increasing the electrical load? Have you done any custom wiring recently? Wire harnesses don't usually burn up unless there's an overload, or the wire itself was exposed and shorted out. It that's the portion of the harness going to the ECU and/or TCU, those components may be damaged as well.

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Old 02-07-2015, 03:32 PM   #4
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First: immediately disconnect the Positive side of the battery (leave ground connnected), and don't turn the car on AT ALL while making repairs of this nature. Once you feel you fixed it, then reconnect the battery.

did you make any changes to the car recently? perhaps it is related to the passenger door wiring wearing out from flexing with the door hinge for so many years. The wires burnt up because somewhere along their path, instead of leading to their endpoint destination, they touch Ground (or something else... but often ground) and let stuff fry uninhibited. Figuring out what wires are burnt and where they lead to/from would be best, with help of wiring diagrams, and matching colors, etc, then you can identify which other parts along the harness/car might be possible failure points (like what if that harness contains the wire for the fuel pump? Maybe your fuel pump wiring under the car got hit? speculating...). Once the short happened, part of the related wiring (the weakest/thinnest point, could be anywhere within the circuit) cooked, until a fuse blew. Have you checked all the fuses in the dash and engine bay? Including the bigger cube ones? That may give you a direct clue to which circuit to check. Note: Don't just replace a fuse and hope it works, it will likely cause a different part of the harness to fry as well. There is a damaged wire somewhere.

If you know how to use a Multimeter, you can test continuity between each of the wires, and Ground. Like, to see if the wire itself is connected somewhere to ground (use the body of the car as your ground). Take note of any ones that do - they are likely your culprit, but don't be certain yet.

if you were able to find the cause of the short - fix the spot with the initial damage. Try cleaning up/separating/taping the wires that got burnt, and replace any that are too damaged (solder in a replacement section of wire to bypass, external of the harness, and cut out the original piece). Try testing continuity to Ground again for those same wires - the one that was grounded will now hopefully no longer read as being shorted to ground. Then replace the fuse and hook the battery back up to try.

There is also the possibility that the wires shorted to each other, and not to Ground/the body of the car. In this case, you may want to check continuity between each of the burnt wires themselves - if they were separate wires of different colors, then they were not likely supposed to be touching in any way... so if they read as being continuous/touching electrically, then you must find the spot where they touch. You can peel open the black harness covering, check further up, at a bend in the harness, or anywhere further down the harness, etc. Again, identifying wire colors and matching them up to a wiring diagram will help you know where to look to follow the wires.

Good luck on finding your short.

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Last edited by cp[mike]; 02-07-2015 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 02-08-2015, 09:22 AM   #5
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Not to be an a-hat, but can we add "melted wiring/electrical harness" to title for better search results?
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circuit , electrical , melted , problem , short

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