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Thread: Maintenance?

  1. #1
    Administrator admin's Avatar
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    May 2015
    Working on a Meyer Plow in NJ

    Post Maintenance?

    You know I always see plow manufacturers talking about maintenance tips. Usually in the fall, and in the spring, and even sometimes over the summer. The sad truth is that often even if you follow ALL of the tips, and perform ALL of what they suggest, you will often still have problems, and most of the time, it is not your fault. Aside from freeze ups (due to not changing the fluid for years) about all you can do is make sure your electrical connections are clean and tight. Even doing these things, you still may have problems. Why? Because best practices were NOT followed when the plow was installed, or even due to design flaws in the electrical system of the plow. When these problems arise, you are 99% of the time best off to just rip out ALL of the wiring, fix what is damaged (on the vehicle side), and start over. The problem in my opinion is that while the gauge of wires keeps getting smaller and smaller, the loads they have to handle do not change much, and if for some reason the loads increase, the wires overheat, which causes resistance, and even more overheating. It gets to the point where if you cut a wire and strip it, the copper is black as coal. IF a plow is more than 5 years old, there is a good chance that some or most of the wiring has been overheated. IF your plow is 10+ years old, just start over.

    Best practices have changed over the years, and those who choose to do things the way they did 20 years ago, will suffer the consequences. For instance, using the corroded alternator bracket on a GM truck for a ground is a bad idea. EVERY ground must be ran back to the battery. There are far too many installers (DIY or otherwise) that do not want to take the time, or are too cheap to spend the money to do the install correctly. Then they blame the plow for being junk. There is no way in their eyes they were too cheap or too lazy to do it right, it can't be their fault. Those that choose to ignore the changes in vehicle and plow electrical systems, will pay the price. Newsflash, electrical tape does not seal a connection. In fact, it is worse than a bare wire because the tape will trap moisture in it, and speed up the corrosion. Any electrical connection that is not sealed, is open to corrosion, and that corrosion will travel up the wire inside the insulation.

    I constantly see it with trailers, and they are not cheap trailers. The builders use wire nuts for some electrical connections, and of ALL places on the trailer BRAKES! How long do they think the wire nuts will hold up before the wire nut connections corrode, and then the wires overheat? ANY connection on a vehicle's exterior electrical system it must be assumed it is going to be submerged in water and salt brine. IF you keep that in mind, you will have far less problems with your accessory. SEAL any connection you can. For mechanical connections (like male / female disconnects) coat them in dielectric grease.

    My Wife's van was a couple of months old, and we had a major problem that took two trips to the dealer before they figured it out. The first time they had it 11 days, and replaced the radio (which I knew was not the problem) and even the ignition. The second time they had it two weeks before I went there and talked to the tech, and explained the problem. The service manager/service writers did not convey the details of the problem at all, not the first time, and not the second time. To shorten it up, there was a socket in the left rear wheel well for an accessory we did not have. In just a couple of months it filled with grit and sand from the road. When it got wet or damp, it caused a short, and the computer had over 40 trouble codes! The pins in the socket were completely green with corrosion. Overall they had the van for over 30 days combined before they found the problem. The tech cut the socket off and put heat shrink on the wires because as I said we did not have that accessory. Had Chrysler sealed the socket, we would not have had the problem. The point of this story is to illustrate how quickly corrosion can take its toll on wiring. In the end, the tech had to visually inspect to find the problem, because with the 40 codes, it was not clear where to start other than the left rear somewhere. Wiring schematics are based on VIN numbers now, so if your VIN does not say you have a particular accessory, the wiring diagram will not show the wiring for that accessory!

    ANY electrical splice I make I can warranty for 10 years, because I have no fear of it failing. I cringe when I think of how many people have a problem with a plow that is out of warranty, and take it in for repair, to the place that installed it, only to be charged to repair something that was caused by the shoddy install, and NOT their fault. Any electrical connection that is not sealed by the MANUFACTURER is going to fail, either the connection itself, or the wiring attached to it. It will degrade over time, overheating and turning black. You will have gremlins (because sometimes it might get the required voltage, and sometimes not), dim lights, one light dim, the others not, backfeeding where the high beam and low beam may light at the same time, dim, when only one should be on, the lists goes on and on.

    Just because you want a plow install to be cheap, fast, and easy does not make it so. These three words usually equal low quality, no longevity, and you are going to get what you paid for, headaches. Maybe not right away, but there is no getting around doing the install properly. When the plow fails, it will cost you (to have it fixed, and/or for someone to plow your driveway), or it will cost you (pissed off customers, lost revenue) so no matter how you slice it, the outcome will not be good.

    Not to get political, but when the economy sucks, manufacturers start looking to cut corners to maintain an affordable product price. So while you can still afford a new plow (or whatever) the quality is going down to compensate. I see it all the time. The untrained eye might not notice it, but if you know what you are looking at, it is plain as day. You start seeing tags like "Assembled in the USA" instead of Made in the USA. You start to notice Chinese hardware (ALL plow manufacturers are using Chinese hardware). You start to notice Chinese or other Asian electronics controlling plows, or plow lights. You start to see "multiplexing" to save on wire cost. They have to cut cost somewhere.

    NONE of the manufacturer marketing departments will point these things out. They will just continue to blow their own horns about how great their product is. Then stress how important maintenance is.... Most who sell plows will never tell you a drawback to what they are trying to sell you, not one drawback, they will only tell you the positive, and they might be so ignorant they do not even know about the negatives or drawbacks, because they are salesmen. They just want your money, plain and simple. There is no pride anymore, or maybe just not enough of it....

    Maybe the way I do things is putting me out of business. My installs and repairs do not come back. If they do it is for a defective part, not because of any of the work I did failed. As a business, the worst thing I can do is sell a customer with a used plow, a new one. He will never be back for parts, at least not for 5 years or even longer. I take pride in what I do, and I wish more in every industry would as well.

    Last edited by admin; 09-27-2016 at 12:09 PM.

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