A specialized electrical adapter kit may offer tire dealers and service shop operators an affordable alternative to some costly OEM-style test gear. Here's why.
In my last four columns, I have discussed the challenges of making proper hookups to a variety of electrical circuits. A good, reliable hookup is vital to getting accurate voltage readings; voltage measurements are vital to successful, profitable electrical diagnoses. Unless you've been hiding in a cave somewhere, you must have noticed the proliferation of electrical circuits throughout vehicles.
To recap, there are three basic ways to connect to a circuit for a voltage measurement. You can connect a common alligator clip to an exposed electrical terminal. When exposed terminals aren't available, you can backprobe an electrical connector. The third option is to pierce the wire's insulation with an appropriate piercing tool, then reseal the insulation.
The breakout boxoften called a BOBis probably the most involved of the electrical connection techniques. Although I have covered the BOB approach in previous issues of Tire Business, the technique has largely been out of sight, out of mind for many service personnel. Prior to the arrival of the standardized OBD-II diagnostic connector in 1996, the BOB was more popular than it is today.
A breakout box, which is supposed to provide a safe, sure way to take voltage readings, is the electrical equivalent of a plumbing tee fitting. It's designed to fit between the male and female wiring harness connectors on various electrical circuits. Once a BOB is connected into the circuit, a technician can take voltage readings from various test terminals on the face of the tool.
BOB equipment can be very costly because manufacturing the required wiring harnesses is relatively expensive. Plus, the device is designed to fit very specific electrical harness connectors on very specific vehicleswhich often prevents it from being a high-volume tool.
Regardless, a BOB can be immensely helpful, first, if you don't want to pierce wires and second, if the harness connector design is exceptionally difficult to backprobe.
Waekon Corp.'s perfect mate terminal adapter kit No. 77202 is one affordable alternative to the BOB on some electrical connectors (www.waekon.com). The kit includes three little, double-ended fittings that function as electrical tees. The user plugs a common, banana terminal test lead into the center of this fitting. Then, the kit's big selection of jumper wires fitted with popular OEM terminals allows the user to connect the fitting neatly between male and female harness connectors.
Granted, the kit only allows you to splice into three terminals at a time. But it may be an affordable test alternative in some diagnostic situations.
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