Having an inoperable vehicle lamp is like waving a red flag and just asking to be pulled over. Lamp failures are easy to spot, even from afar, and while a vehicle is stopped for the lighting infraction, a more thorough CSA roadside inspection will likely happen. Hours may lapse before a vehicle gets back on the road, and if a roadside service call is required, it can be even longer. In today’s trucking environment, the failure of a $5 lamp can literally cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars in service fees, lost vehicle and driver productivity, fines for violations and big points against the driver’s and fleet’s CSA scores.
Brett Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Optronics International, asks, “Why give the authorities a personal invitation to stop a vehicle?” The right equipment, coupled with a sound maintenance and inspection routine allows maintenance staff and drivers to identify and correct the majority of lighting- and wiring-related problems before a vehicle hits the road.”
Sound lighting and electrical systems are foundational to the smooth operation of any vehicle and are indicative of the vehicle’s overall operational soundness. In turn, a properly operating vehicle helps drivers and fleets comply with CSA requirements, and that is in the interests of the OEM, the end-user and the general public alike.
In fact, based upon United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) weighted guidelines, infractions dealing with defective or inoperable lighting rank higher in importance than brakes and carry higher CSA point penalties in relationship to other infractions. Unfortunately, what may appear to be a failing lamp could ultimately prove to be a more insidious problem of systemic corrosion.
Corrosion is like a deadly disease
“Corrosion manifests itself much like some forms of disease,” Johnson said. “And when the right steps are not taken to prevent corrosion, just like a biological infection, it can spread throughout a vehicle, significantly shortening its life and that of its electrical system.”
Johnson compares a vehicles wiring and harness system to the human body’s vascular system. He explains that corrosion can travel the length and breadth of a vehicle through its electrical infrastructure, wreaking havoc on each component it encounters.
Corrosion is commonly caused when moisture invades a vehicle’s electrical and power delivery system. The electrical and wiring system can be breached anywhere along its surface and through, leaking lamp connections, broken lamp housings/ lenses, cable and wire abrasions. Road debit, moving parts and temperature extremes can lay siege to a system.
Lighting and electrical systems are most at risk
An LED lamp is usually attacked at its most vulnerable location—its electrical connection. If a lamp has not been properly maintained, it can die needlessly and long before its potential service life.
Johnson said that today’s LED lamps are often designed to uses dielectric grease and modular connection designs to resist moisture at the connection point, but must be inspected regularly and the grease replaced when needed. Johnson added that he knows some fleets that apply heat-shrink moisture barriers to all electrical connections as an added barrier of protection.
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