March 28, 2009
Fun with Electricity

[Editor's note: "ARC" is the Alfa Romeo Control system, an 80s-era bit of electronics that was SUPPOSED to tell you all sorts of useful things, like when lights are burned out, or oil level is low, etc. Being Italian, it didn't work from the factory. The last video in this post shows what it's like when it's broken. 20 years later, a shade-tree mechanic figured out a single $2 chip was all that was needed to make it behave. And now, after all this time, it's useful.]

So, rain outside means I can't take apart the Milano's door*, ok, how about the clock that the the hi-fi shop killed in September? A judicious use of the test light reveals it's not getting power**. So... is there a wire on that side of the dash that might be hot with the key off?

Let's see...

Cigarette lighter! Hmmm... is that hot? Let's try and use the test...


Well... it's not hot ANYMORE.

Thing was, I couldn't see a blown fuse. And yet the ARC was insisting, in its "downs-syndrome electronics" way, that something was wrong. "Stop Light" and "Brake" stay steady for about two minutes, then start flashing. A quick drive shows nothing's wrong with the brakes. Beer break to think about it.

Ok, trying to figure out if the brake lights work by yourself is like trying to spot a sign taped to your back. Wife's upstairs being motion sick from "Monsters vs. Aliens 3-D". The ARC is so dumb and innocent I *want* to trust it, so one last look at the fuse box and...

Sure enough, a 15w fuse, the last one on the right, is quite comprehensively blown. Quick trip to the auto store later, and we're back in business.

So let that be a lesson to you. Well, ok, me. Once the ARC is fixed, it can in fact be useful.

* The spider "owns" our one car garage. Most Milano work is done in the driveway. Which is why I'm jonesing for a 2-car garage house .

** There are 4 wires. Pink wire is hot when the ignition's on. That's the back light. Yellow wire is hot when the lights are on. Some sort of inscrutable signal to dim the back light. Black is (I'm assuming) ground, leaving black-and-red, which is definitely not hot, ever.

Posted by scott at March 28, 2009 04:55 PM

eMail this entry!

Why didn't you just backup to your garage door?? You should then have been able to see if the breaklights were working or not (Especially as cloudy outside as it was today)

Posted by: Jeff on March 28, 2009 08:03 PM

That was to be plan B, if a second examination of the fuse box came up empty. As it was, the blown fuse made it pretty obvious what was wrong, so there was no need to move the car around.

Posted by: scott on March 29, 2009 11:40 AM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?