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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All.
Welcome to the Ground Connection Mod:
’05’s in the garage now, 11 miles on her and I’m doing the mod’s to bring her up to speed. While doing the ground connections I realized I never posted this one, although I had helped many an insighter with this issue. This is something I would fix whether your having an issue or not. Well, here goes…
Back when I had my ’00 Red 5 spd w/AC Insight I went thru a period where recalibrations were becoming more frequent to the point where I’d have 1 or 2 a day. Didn’t know much about insights back then (I’m finding I know less now) but I knew to go bother the dealer (who knew even less) and get turned away “can’t find anything wrong, no trouble codes”.
I did know that I’d had to replace the 12v battery when it was less than 2 years old and wondered if there was a correlation. My current battery was just over a year old. Just for the hell of it went to KMART and got a battery and replaced mine. Recalibrations went back to 1 every day or two. As I used to be a dealer mechanic (back when they fixed cars) I remembered that ground connection issues could cause some unusual symptoms. A bad ground usually wants to be found, a poor ground may need to be chased to get caught.
Got out my SM and looked up the grounds under the hood. Obviously the car has grounds everywhere, I stayed under the hood where contamination would be more prevalent. There’s a ground connection for the 12v battery and two engine ground cables at the left front of the engine compartment near the air filter housing (see pics). Also, one more for the EPS (electric power steering), under the 12v battery box, didn’t bother with that one.
What I noticed at first was that we have copper cables with aluminum crimped ends bolted to aluminum with a steel bolt (electrolysis). What really got may attention was the paint had never been removed from the contact surfaces (now livid). Although this may be acceptable for a regular vehicle I would not expect this practice to be utilized on a hybrid. As I expected, using all the tricks of the trade, I almost couldn’t get the bolts out. A non-mechanic type wouldn’t have had a chance. The ground cable for the 12v battery was the worst. Sanded and filed all the connections (including the bracket for one of the cables, air filter housing mounts to it). Sprayed all with lubricated contact cleaner (Radio Shack) and put all back together with new bolts (Ace Hardware).
Don’t take this as a fix all, recalibrations can be caused by a number of things. This fixed mine though, they went back to one every month or two, which I could live with. I no longer replace my 12v battery every year or two either. And with the paint there all the electrolysis will occur at the very worst place, the threads (there’s that word again!) of the bolts. Good Luck, Jack
You can see the pics at: http://community.webshots.com/user/jackmpg-date
 

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I had purchased an Odysey 545 battery to have on hand in case my factory 12v bit the dust, so I took the weekend to install it along with the cable upgrade as described by Jack, with a slight twist, which I'll get to shortly. One thing I noticed that might help others is, when scraping or buffing off the paint where the connections are fastened, be sure to get down thru the primer also. Since I was working at night with a drop light, I could see the cloudy appearence of the primer under the blue paint as I started filing. You need to get down to shiny aluminum. Throw some light in there if in doubt. I used a hand file to do mine, as it creates a nice flat surface for the cable end to mate against. Now the twist; I only used one replacement cable. Supposidly(sp) one cable goes to the transmission and the other to the engine. Follow the_conductive_path of both cables and they go to the same place. The top cable goes over to the bracket at the air cleaner, which is mounted to the yoke, which mounts the transmission/engine to the chassis. The lower most ground cable goes directly to the transmission/engine within 1.5 inches of where the yoke is bolted. :?: I went from the uppermost cable frame mounting because it was easy to get to with the file, directly to the place on the tranny housing, which I also filed flat since it had a little build up around the hole. I used a 12 inch ground cable from NAPA with eyes on both ends, will look up the part # and edit post. Buff the cable ends with some sandpaper or emery to remove any film left from manufacturing and assemble. Works fine.
Randall

Edit (NAPA part#711294 BELDEN 4 gauge 12 inch switch to starter cable. This is the better quality item. There were some others (cheaper) out on the peg rack in blister packs, but if you compare you will see the difference.

Jack, your a mechanic, why the two cables in the factory config :?:
 

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I hope that you realize that the paint and configuration that Honda used may have been depending on the threaded bolt to make the ground connection, and they did not want metal to metal anywhere else? Unless you use NoOX or some other corrosion inhibiter, that you may have made the long term corrosion problem worse rather than better?
When I did my car grounds, I saturated the connections with an electrical oxidation inhibiter like you use when using aluminum wire in a breaker box.
IMHO
 

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So Mike, Is this a spray that can be applied after the fact with intended results? And since these connections are far away from the battery will they be as prone to corrision? I understand the disimular metals thing but most of what I have seen is in the area of the top posts on the vented push-on-cap, refill type battery.
Randall
 

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The stuff I used on my grounds, I have had kicking around since I wired my house 25 years ago, it was called NO-OX for no oxidation. I don't know what the current product is called, but the current passing through a dissimilar metal issue is a problem when using alluminum wiring in an electrical sub panel where the copper lugs and aluminum wire meet. It is a grey paste like the heat transfer compound in the MIMA kit, but has zinc or some other metal filler to act as the least noble component and it therefore saves the aluminum. Any electrical supply place may have it? I only bring this up, because I have had an aluminum panel dissolve when I had a cad plated copper lug bolted to it, and would not want to see us make the ground problem worse. My recomendation would be clean, remove paint, cover with generous coating of the corrosion inhibitor grease, then assemble the ground as Jack indicates.
 

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What I noticed at first was that we have copper cables with aluminum crimped ends bolted to aluminum with a steel bolt (electrolysis). [/quote

Congratulations on the purchase of your 2005. It's nice to see so many Insight owners purchasing a second or even a third car. It says a lot about the car and owner loyalty.

FWIW, major automotive manufactures use ferrous bolts and fasteners electroplated with a tin-zinc alloy to prevent corrosion whenever fastening parts to an aluminum body panel, casting, or forging. The tin-zinc alloy offers excellent corrosion resistance in this appliction. The electroplated bolts are also dipped in what is known as a chromate solution that gives them a dull yellowish brown or yellowish green appearance.

Years ago ferrous bolts and other fasteners were plated with cadmium to achieve corrosion resistance whenever attaching a ferrous fastener to aluminum. By the 1970's cadmium was considered somewhat toxic (not so much to the end user, but to the environment in general) and other electroplated finishes were developed to replace cadmium whenever possible. For automotive applications the tin-zinc alloy has won out. FWIW the aircraft industry still uses cadmium in most aluminum joining applications.

In some ways the tin-zinc alloy is superior to cadmium in that it is ductile, a good electrical conductor, and easily solderable. For a threaded aluminum electrical connection (such as the Insight ground strap) it is often the practice to make the bolt/insert clearances tight. This allows the electroplated bolt to "scrape" the female aluminum threads on the way in, thereby removing any aluminum oxide (which is a very poor electrical conductor) from the electrical connection. The ductile tin-zinc alloy fully "fills" the threads and in doing so prevents further oxidation of the aluminum and hopefully assuring good electrical conductivity. However the tight fit also makes it harder to remove the bolt, but not normally as difficult as you described.

If your bolt had any corrosion on it, I would reccomend taking the Insight in on warranty and ask to have the bolt replaced. Have fun with your new car.
 

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Ok, can't argue with anything there, but other than Mikes suggestion of using a no oxidation treatment, this 12v cable upgrade (if we can call it that) has cured some problems for several insighters in its present form.

For a threaded aluminum electrical connection (such as the Insight ground strap) it is often the practice to make the bolt/insert clearances tight. This allows the electroplated bolt to "scrape" the female aluminum threads on the way in, thereby removing any aluminum oxide (which is a very poor electrical conductor) from the electrical connection.
From the looks of the fasteners used to mount the ground cables to the aluminum chassis, over by the fender, they appear to be self taping, as after removing one of them there were two (2) threads full of swarf. I ran a 6MM tap down in the hole a couple times to straighten up the threads before reassembling. I'm a machine programmer by trad, I understand threads and threading. Something I don't understand is why a major automotive manufacturer would depend on stripping threads in aluminum for a ground connection. Good electrical conduction is somewhat dependant on circular mils, which is nothing more than surface area. Why depend on 60% thread contact for surface area, over the surface area of the cable end mated to the flat surface of the host part. Why not use a conductive adhesive or thread locker on the threads if they are to be the path of the current, instead of displacing metal to get around the oxidation problem. Displace aluminum very far and you overcome its tensile strength.

I did argue a bit...huh :lol:
Randall
 

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Guys
I think we will need to watch the connections, and see if over time corrosion begins to be a problem. Lawson's information seems reasonable, and would indicate that a new bolt of the same type would be a good solution, if not for the fact that if it worked so well, why are the straps corroded now?
Dont know. My No-OX with zinc filler should help. I will remove my connections next spring, and see how they are holding up. :wink:
 

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Randall wrote:

Something I don't understand is why a major automotive manufacturer would depend on stripping threads in aluminum for a ground connection.
Randall, I can't and won't argue with that. :) I really don't like to see self tapping screws used for grounding connections either. Honda did weld a tab on the chassis (for the battery cable) to increase thickness to give the threads something to grab to, but I do prefer an "interference" fit that I described earlier, as it gives excellent electrical conductivity via the threads, and in addition, is likely to have better conductivity at a later date if the bolt has to be removed and replaced, as is often the case.

Apparently there has been a problem with grounding on a certain number of Insights, and its good that Jack has addressed the problem with his grounding mod. I believe your method of chasing the threads with a tap to clean them up was a great idea, and using Mike's suggestion of NoOx is essential.

Back in the early 90's I worked with a design company that converted several brand new vehicles to electric power. In the process a lot of aluminum was used to save weight, and often 12-volt ground connections had to be made directly to the aluminum. In making the ground connections either stainless steel or tin-zinc plated fasteners were used, along with a product called NOALOX (with suspended zinc) to dress the threads before assembly. To my knowledge there was never a problem when connections were done in such a manner.

FWIW, a zinc plated ferrous fastener should never be used to join anything to aluminum. Corrosion begins almost immediately, and the corrosion causes hydrogen embrittlement which can cause Grade 8 bolts to break without any warning.

Also, Mike, I recently downloaded the MIMA Waiver of Liability and hope to have it in the mail tomorrow morning. I'm really looking forward to having MIMA on my Insight. Thanks for all the hard work you've put into the developement of the project.[/b]
 

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The name is Noalox (#30-030) by Ideal Industries. http://www.idealindustries.com
800-304-3578
I have a 8 oz. bottle that I used for underground connections in a cathodic protection system a few years ago. It is for aluminum to aluminum, and aluminum to copper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Highwater

Hello Highwater,
Why two cables? Well, let's see, I just walked out to the shop and took another look. Both cables, over by the drivers side of the air cleaner, have one end bolted to the chassis. One has the other end bolted to the trans housing, the second cable is bolted to a bracket that supports the air cleaner, which in turn, is bolted to the trans housing, humm. One cable would have been enough if it had been done right. Two cables would reduce current flow and therefore, electrolisis. It may have just been one engineering team compensating for what they perceived as a SNAFU perpetrated by another engineering team. Normally, grounds like ours are SOP, but for a hybrid they may have had the good sense to at least utilize redundancy as a ground failure there might (I think, would) play havoc with the IMA and/or other systems. Any other ideas? Jack
 

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My guess from looking at the gauge of wire is the IMA may draw a huge ground in full charge/discharge. Probably by doubling the wires and seperate chasis ground points, they lowered the ampage over cable to a more managable amount.
 

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According to the shop manual, one is the transmission ground and one is the engine ground. To remove the engine you undo one of them, and to remove the transmission you undo the other. That doesn't really explain why they both seem to connect to the transmission, though--directly or through a couple of brackets...
 

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I also had to replace the engine and transmission ground wires. Several broken strands were visible on the upper wire even before removing it. After taking off the frame side, the entire wire fell off leaving just the crimp and bolt attached to the engine! This was at around 60k miles.
 

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There was a little bit of corrosion on the entire length of wire, but nothing major. The breaks looked clean, more like fatigue. And it was right at the end where the sharp angle of the crimp could cut into the wires.
 

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Popped the hood on Wiffee's '05 Civic over the weekend to check the oil. Right in front of the engine, behind the radiator, is the ground cable. Very nice looking braided cable. Looks like it is long enough, and has the right ends on it, to be used on our Insights. Might be an option for those wishing to stay closer to factory stuff, but still upgrade. The braided cable will resist vibration better, IMHO.

Randall
 
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