The Surprisingly Manual Process Of Building Automotive Wire Harnesses

Even from the very earliest days of the automobile age, cars and trucks have been hybrids of mechanical and electrical design. For every piston sliding up and down in a cylinder, there’s a spark plug that needs to be fired at just the right time to make the engine work, and stepping on the brake pedal had better cause the brake lights to come on at the same time hydraulic pressure pinches the wheel rotors between the brake pads.

Without electrical connections, a useful motor vehicle is a practical impossibility. Even long before electricity started becoming the fuel of choice for vehicles, the wires that connect the computers, sensors, actuators, and indicators needed to run a vehicle’s systems were getting more and more complicated by the year. After the engine and the frame, a car’s wiring and electronics are its third most expensive component, and it’s estimated that by 2030, fully half of the average vehicle’s cost will be locked in its electrical system, up from 30% in 2010.

Making sure all those signals get where they’re going, and doing so in a safe and reliable way is the job of a vehicle’s wire harnesses, the bundles of wires that seemingly occupy every possible area of a modern car. The design and manufacturing of wire harnesses is a complex process that relies on specialized software, a degree of automation, and a surprising amount of people-power.

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Repairing A Broken Salad Spinner

Behold [Quinn’s] broken salad spinner, and just when lettuce and other garden produce are hitting their peak. We were surprised to find out that she was able to get the mechanism apart to fix the broken cord. We’re sick and tired of ultrasonically welded plastic enclosures that lock out the most well-intentioned repairman. But in [Quinn’s] case there were a few plastic plugs hiding the screws that keep the two pieces of the case together.

After diagnosing that the cause of the broken cord was a gnarly metal grommet, she removed the offender and sought a replacement cord. The first material she tried was some dental floss but unsurprisingly it only lasted through a few spins. Next on the road to repair was a shoelace which did a bit better but also ended up broken. But the discovery of some parachute cord did the trick in the end and now it’s good as new if not better!