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Wire-d · 21 November 05
My wife started dropping not-so-subtle hints about there being “no room” in the garage. Translated this means there’s too much of Eve in the garage.
Too much and spread too thin and too far.
After tossing down a quick Sunday morning breakfast and a few cups of coffee I set about moving all of the accumulated parts that have been removed from Eve. Cleaned out the garage, right into the garden shed.
With all of that new-found room there’s only one thing to do:
Make an even bigger mess…
It was time to take care of the wiring once and for all. Clean it up: a little bit or a bunch, but wrap it up. I started off expecting to do just a little bit, honestly.
For anyone who might be considering such a task let me outline what is ahead:
There is a lot of wire in a car. I mean a whole bunch of the stuff and it is everywhere. It’s a little intimidating to even think about where to start. When you finally pick a point to start on it quickly becomes overwhelmingly complicated.
You are going to start hating yourself for doing this. Once you start getting a few areas cleaned up and get a little cocky you’ll look up and notice that you’ve barely made a dent. Fear sets back in as well as a little jab in the gut telling you that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
Eventually there will be a wire, a part, or a connector which triggers some deep, primordial fight-or-flee instinct. The gut churns, a lump forms in the throat, and you’ll laugh out loud nervously.
Take the dog for a walk and then get back in there soldier!
Eventually, if you don’t run away to another country with the dog, you’ll finish a section and realize that you feel pretty darn good about it. Look at all of that crap you’ve removed! Wow, this might work out after all.
Laugh nervously and move on…
I probably have eight hours into this de-wiring project so far and there’s still a little bit left to do. Not to mention putting it back together. It’s a lot like a intricate puzzle or a murder mystery.
What is this?
Where did it come from?
Why the h*ll is it over here?!
I started off in the engine compartment but there’s a lot of wires and very few clues with which to eliminate them. After getting rid of the rest of the fuel injection and cooling fan relays it started getting tough.
So I moved into the passenger compartment. Figured I could start off with something easy and obvious: fuel line and passive restraint system.
For all future de-wirers: either go all of the way or don’t do it at all. I started off timidly, trying to leave some things taped together (everything is taped) but that just doesn’t work. In the end I removed all of the tape, harnesses, tiewraps, and wire clips.
It was a scary mess.
Take a tip from your old Math teacher: start from the known and work your way to the unknown. I’d find wires that I knew could go, trace them back to a connector and snip. Block all of the other wires out of your peripheral vision and concentrate on the known ones. Eventually things start cleaning up, there’s less mess, and you can start investigating the remaining wires without going crazy.
Here’s what I removed:
- Stereo system: they had wires and connectors in place for additional options (subwoofers) and the wiring/power was convoluted at best. Much easier to run new wiring when I decide on a stereo to install (probably some sort of iPod dock w/amp).
- Passive Restraint System: the whole job of this little box of transistors and relays is to evaluate the seats, doors, seatbelts, ignition, and maybe a few other things to determine if it should light the “fasten seat belts” idiot light and/or sound a chime. An incredible amount of wiring goes into a system that is meant to be annoying.
- Fuel tank wires: not very many wires, but everything seems to be related to everything else and doubt sets in.
- Most of the center console gadgets: have to find a new place to mount the electric mirror controls. Forget the lighter and lighter illumination.
- License plate light: have to check if these are required. The wire went from fuse in left front, across dash to far right front, down to floor, under passenger and driver seats, then back along left side and finally to middle of trunk area.
A few obvious gotchas along the way include:
- ground wires are shared, either using link blocks or mid-harness splices.
- sometimes non-ground wires are shared. A good example of this is the “courtesy lighting circuit.”
- never underestimate how crazy the manufacturer might make a circuit. The heater fan wire originates at the center column, travels through a few connectors to the very front of the engine compartment and a relay, then a single, thick wire travels from there back through the same connectors, across the center of the dash, ending up eight inches away from the original switch.
By the time I finished the passenger compartment (not the dash mind you) all that was left was mirror wiring and the rear turn signal, braking and reverse lights, and the rear defrost circuit. There are no longer any wires in the middle of the passenger compartment or on the passenger side. None.
Despite the initial fear/anger/panic and other moments of worry I’m very happy with the results. The car wiring has gone from being a mystery to a state where I know exactly how it all works.
Next, I dove into the dash wiring of doom!
But that’s a story for later.
Oh, and one final tip: don’t wait until the end of the day to remember that you also bought the wiring manual!