Mechanically Speaking: Water leaks can doom electrical systems

"Water is the enemy of electrical systems, especially when mixed with a little salt."

The moral of the story is, if your vehicle has a water leak, fix it. No need to read any further?

Well, maybe?

In case you did not know, every year vehicles become more electrical devices than mechanical devices, much to the chagrin of us mechanical types. A few years back I had a dream that I would build a fuel control system (carburetor) that was completely mechanical and would compete with the latest direct injection fuel systems. Not gonna happen. I am spending too much time trying to learn electronics. Likely excuse.

Back to the water leaks. Water is the enemy of electrical systems, especially when mixed with a little salt. As you may know salty water is a fairly good conductor of electricity. When salty water gets into the many electric/electronic components in your car the results can be a real challenge to the most astute automotive mechanic.

When a vehicle is brought in for a diagnosis not many customers mention the puddle that appears on the floor everytime it rains. Instead they say “every once in a while my starter refuses to turn over my engine”.

During my quarter century of repairing cars as a professional there is one very important fact I have learned. Water leaks are driven more by gravity than any other force. Any holes in your vehicles floorboards are likely letting more water out then in.

The worst and most common water leak into your car is around  the windshield. Windshield leaks usually funnel water under your car’s dashboard. Unlike under the hood where electronic components are designed to get hot or get wet and still function (NOT PRESSURE WASHER WET) under the dash electrical components are where your automaker saved some cash. By design the dashboard is a haven of electronics. Relay panels, fuse panels and modules of every kind are squeezed into every last square centimetre of space. These components are not at all designed to get wet. When they do their behavior will be way less than consistent.

Copper is still the electrical conductor of choice and many times your mechanic will find some green electrical connections that are the reason for your vehicle’s maladies. A couple of connections or a relay may be all that is needed to make a repair. On the other hand when your engine control module fills with water it will cost quite a few more dollars to get back up and motoring again.

Now that your car works again, do not plan on driving it again out of doors until the water leak is fixed. You have to fix that leaking windshield.

You can bet when your vehicle was made the manufacturer went to a lot of effort to make sure the windshield did not leak.

Today’s windshields are typically glued in place. They were glued under perfect conditions. Windshield replacement is very common in our part of the country. Not many of us make it too many years without getting one replaced.

When it comes time to get your windshield replaced be sure to use a professional installer.

The care and preparation of the sealing surface is very important. As well, the windshield is a structural part of your vehicle and the glue must be allowed time to cure to reach both its ultimate strength and seal.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net

 

Just Posted

Work has begun on the $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp. File photo
Work begins on Slocan Valley fibre-optic line

The $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line runs from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Secondary School in Creston

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for Prince Charles Secondary School

A B.C. police officer shows an approved roadside screening device. Photo: Saanich News file
Woman caught passed out behind the wheel in Trail

Police located the 38-year old in her parked but still running car, and had to rouse her awake.

Jade Osecki leading a Fridays for Future climate march in Nelson in 2020. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Grade 12 student Jade Osecki wins Suzy Hamilton Award

Carolyn Schramm was also honoured in this year’s environmental award for West Kootenay women

Photo courtesy of Mercer Celgar
Mercer Celgar to install new technology thanks to $4.5 million in federal funds

Project features process to improve fibre processing and address regional fibre availability issues

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read