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Troubleshooting Electrical Systems

By April 6, 2017 No Comments

The last 20 years has introduced many innovations to the semi-trailer electrical operation including the wiring harness, LED lighting, and ABS. Just in the past several years, additional features such as tracking devices, tire inflation, and sensing devices have been added.

These added features as an intergraded system demand new testing tools and methods replacing the famous switch box and the technician’s best guess. The technician needs to know his voltage and the condition of the circuits to be displayed.

  • Circuit voltage with the load which includes poor connections and corrosion
  • Amperage needs to be able to read 0.01 amps
  • Automatically identify good, open circuit, circuit to circuit short, open ground, and chassis ground conditions. Note: a circuit may have more than one issue.

There are discussions about 42 volt systems and eventually the CAN ABS requiring addition connections and added complexity that exists in the global market.

Electronic testing tools with dedicated software and digital readout are absolutely required to identify circuit issues and read the ABS electronic control unit. These tools take the guess work out of the repair with consistent information.

ABS will be the platform for road stability, Electronic Control Systems, electronic braking, Auto trailer tail deployment, and who knows what else. Since the ABS depends upon electrical power, the all-in- one testing device will deliver the power and read the ABS as system.

The ideal diagnostic testing device must incorporate Federal standards as well as the Technology Maintenance Council’s “Recommended Practices” to fully meet the industry’s needs. For example, power requirements for ABS operation is clearly identified to facilitate the technicians trouble shooting efforts. Insufficient or no power is a high percentage of inoperable trailer ABS.

A critical element of consistent trailer circuit and device testing is power management. The ideal source voltage duplicates the tractor output at 13+ volts.

  • In case of mobile operations, battery maintenance is required.
  • For the shop operation, a 110 vac power supply (not converter) delivering 13.8 volts is the best solution.

Several years ago, a TMC member survey identified preferred characteristics for buying tools.

  • Easy to use or “user friendly” (minimum training required or available)
  • Rapid payback within a year
  • Solves multiple issues such as electrical, air, and ABS troubleshooting
  • Durable for shop or mobile
  • Upgradable extending the life and applications.
  • Vendor support and service

The future of trailer maintenance is data management. Historically, the trailer was the forgotten sister to the tractor even though the trailer was the revenue generator. Technology is now available to collect the trailer elements (electrical, air, ABS, tires) automatically on a tablet in the shop. The tablet app directs the technician thru the process to produce a DOT inspection in a file for a printed report and data collection.

The patented VERIFIER TRAILER INSPECTION SYSTEM by LITE-CHECK is the future. Easy to use, management has a verifiable report and data to manage the trailer fleet.

Bob Blair
President and Founder