Did you know that your Citroën puts your house at risk of burning down.  Did you know that you could reduce that risk for only $10?  Read on, if you dare…

Recently I offered to help a local member diagnose an electrical problem on his 2CV.  After a few test with a multimeter, I determined that the alternator was not charging the battery.  On further investigation, one of the wires leading to the alternator was found to show signs of heat damage, although it was still carrying current.  To me, this was not the problem, but rather was just a symptom.

I continued my investigation by tracing the wiring harness back from the alternator towards the battery.  What I found was chilling.  It appears that the harness had come loose from the brackets that normally hold it in position.  This allowed it to flop down onto the hot exhaust manifold.  One wire must have burned through, and shorted.  The resulting heat in that wire then overheated and melted the rest of the harness in a cascade of shorts.  One of those shorts also damaged the alternator.

So, the immediate result is that the wiring harness needs to be repaired or replaced, as well as the alternator (I hope it is just a diode that has been damaged).  It may have been just luck that the car itself did not catch fire during this event.  Fires like this can happen even when the car is parked and unattended.  It just depends when the wire melts.  The older wiring on our cars also increases the risk of shorts.

So, what if the car had been parked in the garage at the time?  The result could have been a catastrophic fire.  Sadly, it happens more often than we might think.

But you can prevent this scenario for only $10, by installing and using a battery cutoff switch.

These useful devices are easily installed on the negative terminal of the battery.  When you leave the car in the garage, all you have to do is lift the engine hood, and give the green knob a twist.  This disconnects the battery from the electrical circuit, so that a short cannot cause a fire.  The next time you want to use the car, just twist the green knob the other direction.

Here is view of the battery in my 2CV6, with the switch installed, as well as a close-up of the switch itself.

Installing a switch like this is as easy as connecting the battery cable to the post.  Just remember that it goes on the negative post.  It will not fit on the larger positive post.

You can get these switches for $10 Cdn or less.  Here is a link to one at Princess Auto.

Isn’t you house worth it?

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