Somewhat long story here . . . I’m hoping this unorthodox repair is ok for an old car that simply gets me back and forth to the commuter lot every day.
2001 Saturn SL1. CEL came on with a code for the secondary air injection system. Found proper voltage at the air injection pump, but the pump wasn’t working. The rest of the system checked out ok. Got a pump from a junkyard (they don’t make them new anymore). Same problem with the “new” pump. Figured bad luck and bad part. Sourced another junkyard one. Same problem with this “new” pump.
Did some research and saw someone had fixed a similar issue by cleaning the pump’s ground wire connection. I found the point where the ground wire attaches to the frame. There are 5 wires grounded here. There was a plastic cover housing those connections. Inside was a thin copper plate, maybe three inches long and thick as cardstock (think business card paper), with prongs for wire connectors. The plate itself looked fine, but all the wire connectors were corroded – I mean green like the Statue of Liberty.
In the interest of not spending hours trying to match gauges for 5 different wires and connectors, I took a shortcut. I cut the wires before the connectors; stripped the ends; spliced them all together with a single, small length of 10-gauge household wire; stripped the other end of the 10-gauge wire and wrapped it around the copper plate; wrapped some electrical tape around that; and screwed the plate back to the frame. I couldn’t reuse the plastic cover, as I had to cut it open to remove it.
I’ve driven over 100 miles since and no CEL anymore.
Is the 10-gauge household wire without the plastic cover a safe fix for the long term? A 10-gauge household wire is rated for 24 amps at 120 volts, or 2880 watts. I can’t think of any combination of things on a car (other than the battery) that could produce anywhere near 2880 watts. All the wires that I spliced were quite narrow – nothing approaching the thickness of a household wire. So, I’m guessing a 10-gauge ground connection isn’t going to be any issue.
But, absolutely, please correct me if I’m wrong.
In any case, I am the now the proud owner of an 18 year-old car that will pass state emissions inspection, along with two backup air injection pumps. Anybody need a spare?