December 22

2002 Porsche 911; Electrical Short Repair



Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience. Merry Christmas Bernie.

Bernie: Merry Christmas Mark

Mark: So we’re getting to the end of the year, I guess you guys are going to be closed from this, so this is probably our last broadcast for this year.

Bernie: It is, but a good year of broadcasts, we’ve done a lot and I’m proud of the content we’ve created. It’s pretty awesome. All the people who have watched, so thank you everyone who watches.

Mark: Good bye 2017

Bernie: Yes, good bye 2017. You can count on a lot of new content in this coming up year in 2018.

Mark: Yeah, so today we’re talking about a Porsche 911, a 2002 you had to do an electrical repair. What was going on with this fine German sports car.

Bernie: The client came to us with a, he was blowing a couple of fuses and the fuse we found blown were for the turn signal and the hazard lights. So the first step of course, is to verify the clients concern and replace the fuses which promptly blew as soon as we turned the right signal on, not the left, but the right.

Mark: Ok, so you tried the fuse, what did you do next?

Bernie: So the next step of course is go ok why fuses? Fuses normally blow for a reason. Occasionally we’ll actually replace a fuse and it won’t blow, it’s fine, it was like a one off occurrence but most of the time, there’s something going on there and if a fuse blows immediately and when you turn the right signal on, you know the problem is somewhere in that area. So we diagnosed a few things, looked at several components, found an issue with the turn signal switch and also the flasher relay as well. They weren’t functioning properly, so we replaced those two pieces and the fuse continued to blow. So we’ve repaired a couple things but hadn’t got quite to the root of the problem yet.

Mark: Ok, so this is getting deeper, so where do you go from there?

Bernie: The next step is to pull a wiring diagram out of the vehicle and go ok where are things hooked up. The other thing I didn’t mention is we also pulled the lights out, we looked at the bulbs because sometimes a bulb will have an internal short. We replaced the bulbs, we inspected everything in the light house are some of the easiest things to do. It may verify that everything was working fine in that area but also unplug the lights, you know again, the fuse would blow. So we knew the problem is in the wiring of the vehicle somewhere. So our next step was to pull up a wring diagram and at this point I’ll share a few pictures, so let’s get into some photos. So here’s our 2002, nice convertible 911 sports car. I just want you to remember this area of the car here where I’m circling my mouse pointer, this is where the actual issue, well actually on the other side of the car but this is the area where we found, finally found the problems. We’ll just give you a little pre idea of where things went. Here’s a wiring diagram of what we had to deal with. So you’re thinking, oh it’s an electrical problem, probably easy. Well, sometimes it can be but a lot of times it can be really complicated. This is the entire lighting system of the 2002 911. There’s a lot of wires here, obviously, these items on the top of the wiring diagram indicate the various components, this is the front right lighting system for instance, so there’s a number of bulbs. I guess that this picture is not big but it kind of gives you an idea. This is what goes into the right front headlight assembly. This goes to the left and these are the right rear light, the left light is I believe this one here, it looks like a similar item. This yellow mark here, the first thing you do when you’ve got a wiring problem, you go, ok it’s definitely on the right hand side of the vehicle because that’s what always pops the fuse. Let’s look at the circuit, what’s on it and where could the problem be? We found an interesting test, you know, and we eventually instead of just keeping blowing fuses, we have a circuit breaker we can connect. So what we found was interesting is when you turn the right light on, the right front light would come on just before the fuse pop and when we turn it on the left, the right rear one would not come on which kind of indicated the short was probably in the back and that’s the direction we started to go. Now, you know what’s involved in something like that. Well a lot of stuff needs to be removed. Here’s the interior of the vehicle with the turn signal switch, steering wheel off,  this is exposing a lot of the wiring down here to test the various circuits. You’ve got to start at one end and pick your end and that’s where we went. So I’ll share a couple more photos here. Actually we’ll get to this one in a second. We’ve got this is the tail light here, so that’s kind of where the direction we went, we knew there was a short in the right rear circuit somewhere. So where am I at in my questions Mark? I know I’ve done a lot of pictures here.

Mark: Well just that next was the wiring diagram, was that unusually complicated?

Bernie: It’s actually not. I mean there’s, it’s not actually really any more complicated than you’d find in probably a Toyota of similar vintage. I mean you’ve got basically four bulbs back here and you’ve got your bulbs in the front so it just gives you and idea of what goes into building a car and the wiring systems within a car, there’s a lot to it, not exceptionally more complicated than a lot of other cars. Although a number of cars have bulb warning systems. I don’t believe this car does have it but if you have a light bulb that’s out, a lot of European cars have them. If you have a bulb that is out, it’ll put a warning on your dash. It’d be kind of annoying because cars, you see in the back right here, there’s four bulbs, I can’t even think you know, there’s got to be at least 20 exterior bulbs on every car and so if one of them goes out and it puts a warning light on and it’s good to know, but it can be kind of annoying because you fix one and then a month later another one goes off and you know, at least you know but… Ok yeah, it’s not exceptionally more complicated. I’ll just get right to the heart of what we found with this vehicle. So what we did eventually find is after accessing this wire here, which gets buried into, goes into, through a hole and then into a grommet, and if you’d wiggle the wire around it would start popping the breaker which is great. Ok we’re on the right track. When we started peeling the covering off the wiring, we couldn’t find anything. To access the wiring further we had to move the convertible top up and down, so we did that and all of a sudden the short stopped and ok what’s going on here. It’s like you know we couldn’t, it wouldn’t blow the fuse anymore. Ok well what have we done here that’s different? Well we moved the top. So we peeling some of the covers back to access the wiring and that’s where we found the problem and that is right here. This wiring harness goes in from the engine compartment in through, under the convertible top under a cover and this is a little bracket that just holds a little cable for the convertible top mechanism. The bracket is bolted down but it does move around a tiny little bit so over the years, you can see this wiring isn’t fallen insulated, you can’t quite see down here, but this is where the short was occurring and when we finally found it, I could actually touch the wire, you could see it sparking against the metal piece. So it’s good we have fuses because otherwise wires would melt. There’s another picture here and this actually shows the shorted wire here. So again here’s our bracket, there’s the wiring harness bundle and you can see this black spot on the wire here, where the arrow points, that is the shorted wire to the right rear turn signal. So the steps of course to repair it are, disassemble the wiring harness, repair the wire, tape everything out, make sure there’s no further damage, then we put some extra protective rubber coating around the wire so this would never happen again. So that’s our wiring repair in a nutshell.

Mark: So how often you come across an issue like or similar to this?

Bernie: You know, not that often. I mean we do get wiring shorts from time to time but you know, they do happen but it’s not too common. Usually there’s a component at the end of the circuit or something that’ll cause a problem so it’s usually easier to figure out than this. This was, I like doing this hangout because this kind of shows some of the work we have to go through in our business. People have an expectation though it’s probably something like a simple short. Well these can be the worst problems to find because they’re just, you know, just a slight little manufacturing defect, had they put a little more insulation on the wiring harness, it wouldn’t of happened and of course, the car is 15 years old. So that’s a fair amount of time and things happen. i wouldn’t call it bad manufacturing or anything but that’s kind of the way things work. We don’t see a lot of them but enough of them to keep life interesting.

Mark: And how is this generation of Porsche for reliability?

Bernie: They’re really good. Yeah, they’re very good cars, I you know, they’re the kind of sports car where you can drive it every day, quite reliable, they don’t break down, they don’t need a lot of tuning and tweaking, there are relatively few problems. The owner of this vehicle has ben a client of ours for a long time and we don’t see him very often, you know if doesn’t really need a whole lot of work. So it’s a pretty good car.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for some service for your vintage Porsche in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book ahead, that’ll be in January 2018 though. You can check out in the meantime our website tons of videos and information on there or check out our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, 4 or 5 years worth of videos there. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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