My Dad the Fuse Buster

I returned from San Diego to Ohio (first mistake!) to help out my folks and like a complete noodle, sold my Nissan before I left.(second mistake!!!)

Now I share the family car, an elderly Oldsmobile with a fuse problem. Way too often, when my dad gets into the passenger seat when its rainy or damp and slams the door, the door lock/interior light/radio fuse bites the dust. The Auto Zone said it was because we put quarters in the ashtray. Nope, still happening. Then his mechanic said it was faulty wiring, nope… Help!

You should know

1. Hes not a small guy.

2. He is a strong guy.

3. The car lives in a garage, but its still damp out there.

Thanks! Li

The wiring that runs into the door is probably shorting somewhere. The most likely places are where the wires move/bend as the door opens and closes.

Hum… is this a Mechanic thing, or a Daughter thing?

You said when your dad gets in the car. How about when other people get in the car?

If you have to ask, then it a mechanic thing. Find a good independent. The chain store mechanics aren’t real mechanics and probably can’t troubleshoot this. You dealer could fix it, but they will charge a fortune because they will want to replace entire harnesses.

I agree with Tardis. And you should know that this condition is not uncommon in older cars. Every time the door is opened and shut the wiring harness gets bent back and forth, and the protective devices used to keep it from chafing in the metal passages get massaged too.

Repairing this sort of failure generally involves opening up the wiring harness and doing either some splicing or some form of insulating, then retying and rewrapping the harness. It’s a job that takes patience and a high tolerance for frustrating tasks.

But, take the quarters out of the ashtray and send them to me anyway, just in case. (just kidding. the quarters are a non issue.).

nope, its just him… My mother is a feather weight (seriously light) the car hardly knows shes there, and the other people we cart around are all oldsters of varying poundage.

Hah! I will need your snail mail there same old mountain bike, you know, for that landfall of quarters you will be getting!

I still have my specialized stump jumper - bright green! - from the 90’s - not giving it up for anything short of a sparklin’, bright yellow, Maserati, yeah!

What happens if he doesn’t have the dome light switch in the “door” position? The little button in the door that makes the lights come on with the door open is a good suspect.

You’re getting my blood pumping…not good for an old man like me!

I still have the last bike I was able to ride. A Triple-butted ovalized aluminum Giant ATX-AL1.75 (pro frame) with Sakae 8008 MCU shocks (don’t laugh, I LIKE MCU!), a 24/36/48 crank ring set (I seem to remember on 165mm cranks) pulling a 12x32 cassette, push-push XT shifters with three-finger off-brand pulls, an XT front derailler with an XTR rear, Weinman rims on XT hubs, a Kalloy Uno quill stem (it’s an old build) Uno bar with Salza Amore ends, Psychos on he rims, a Kalloy Uno MCU shock seat post…and a few other details. Yup, I built it myself. It has a place of honor in my garage.

And my son races (roadie) with a team in southern Cal.

Your dad’s mechanic is correct. There is a intermittent fault in the wiring that is causing a short. That’s a no brainer. Finding where the trouble is at is the trick. I will also agree with the others that the first place to look for the fault is in the driver side door jamb wiring. If there is a connector that can be removed that should isolate the trouble if it is there and you could test it for a while. It will disable all the electricals to the door though.

Just a heads up GreasyJack. Most dome light circuits use the door switch to make a connection to ground in order to turn on the light. Power ties to the light first and then is switched to ground. If a short to ground happens on the wire it will simply just turn the dome light on.

Cars are designed for their doors to be opened time and time again with no harness damage. I would not at all call it “common” to have a problem in this area.

Now aftermarket installers like to access wires in this place, I would call it “common” that they cause damage there,but not just from opening and closing the door.

I’m surprised at your response here Oldschool, especially with your experience. The newer cars seem to have a better strain relief for the wires but having broken wires in the door jamb in older vehicles due to stress on them is a common problem.

Its is that same expertise that makes me comment. Electrical was my speciality with GM and in now way would I call it common for problems to arise here. Older like 1940 OK but not in the years I worked with ,mainly from mid 80’s too 2005.

I would call it “common” for interior lighting problems to be centered in the door jamb switches or the switches in the latch.

Like I said aftermarket installers like to mess things up in this area espically with F body cars as it is the easiest place to access door lock actuator wiring.

We are talking about the passenger side,much less use.

What years did you actually see come into your garage with problems in this area? and in what numbers?

See if you can find a circuit breaker to fit the fuse box.

Most of the reason I stated that broken wires in the door jamb is a fairly common trouble is from postings here. Folks having trouble with window and door lock circuits. My sons '95 Grand Cherokee had broken wires in the door jamb which I had to fix. I haven’t worked as a professional auto repair tech as some folks like yourself here have so I can’t give you any real data on this. Though I have worked on a fair amount of car problems over the years.

I’m not sure why you mentioned the passenger side door Oldschool. I was refering to the driver side door. Naturally, it is the most prone to have trouble due to use. As a guess I would say the trouble is more likely to happen in vehicles over eight years old. Maybe I’m wrong about this but I think others here will say this is a common trouble also.

The OP is having the problem on the passenger side thats why I mentioned the passenger side. They don’t say they are having any trouble on the drivers side which would be the door opened and closed most and if there was a design error causing chaffing of wires simply from repeated opening and closing of the door it would be expected to be seen more on the door that is opened and closed more.

It doesn’t have to be a design error. It could be a mistake made on the assembly line on just this one car and it took until now for the wire to wear through. Or it could be that someone else did some aftermarket modifications and they are the source of the problem. Is your argument that nothing is wrong with this car since it was designed well? Or, do you admit that something has/is failing? If so, then isn’t one of the possibilities the wiring going into the door?

Ok, after reading the OP post again I see the reference to the passenger seat. I missed that point. Thanks Oldschool.

Since this trouble seems to happen just when passenger side door is used then the trouble is most likely within the wiring for that side; which I’m sure you will agree with. Even though the driver side is used more and the chances to have a wiring problem is greater on that side it still can happen to the passenger doors also. Though I will now say this probably isn’t going happen as much or be as common as it will to the driver’s side door.

The only reference to the age of the vehicle that I saw from the OP was stated as being an “elderly Oldsmobile”. I will bet this car is more than 8 years old and I think the bending of the wires in the door jamb when the door opens an closes over the years takes its toll on them and causes these kind of problems.

I didn’t think of this until I reread my post after posting it but I guess I made a good bet about the age of the car. I forgot that Oldsmobile was shut down in 2000. How time goes by when your having fun.