How to Fix a Short Circuit

Your car or truck's electrical system isn't as complicated as you think

Automotive electrical problems might seem insurmountable, but they're not. All you have to do is locate where the current stops flowing. It's easy with today's tools. Here's how to fix automotive electrical short circuits.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Find and fix an automotive short circuit

Finding and repairing a short circuit in your car or truck's electrical system can cost $200 and up at a shop. But if you spend $15 on a pro-grade shop manual and $40 on specialty tools (see our sources below), you can track it down yourself in an afternoon.

Install the adapter and breaker in the fuse box (Photo 1). Then find the short with the meter (Photo 2). Open the wiring harness and locate the chafed or shorted wires and repair them with electrical tape. Reinstall the fuse and test the circuit.

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The tools you'll need

Finding the exact spot where electrical current stops flowing used to involve at least a little guesswork, but modern automotive electrical tools make pinpoint identification possible. Here's where to find the tools we used:

KD Tools 2524 Short Circuit Detector, available at sears.com
GTC CT6100 Fuse Socket Connector Kit, available at amazon.com
Digital shop manual for the year, make and model of your car or truck, available at eautorepair.net

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Lineman's pliers
  • Soldering iron
  • Utility knife

You'll also need a short circuit detector, fuse socket connector kit, shop manual and wire crimper.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Butt connectors
  • Electrical moisture sealant
  • Electrical tape
  • Flux
  • Solder