Homer Hogg, manager of technical development for TravelCenters of America (TA), says that the most frequent lighting replacement/repair maintenance issues with which the TA technicians deal are wiring/voltage issues and bulbs (burned or otherwise failed). “For the wiring issues, I’d say focusing on proper testing and repair techniques are important,” Hogg advises. “We run into a lot of voltage drop issues and damaged wiring due to corrosion caused by either improper testing technique (such as pierced wiring) and/or improper repair techniques such as butt connectors with no solder or heat shrink.
“Some of the major places we’re seeing voltage drop issues are at connectors such as headlight connectors and trailer seven-way connectors,” he continues. “Just making sure there is a good, secure connection would go a long way towards preventing a good number of the issues including some of the melted connectors and damaged lights and lighting assemblies we see, particularly as far as headlights are concerned. Some of the other issues we run into as far as wiring are simply manufacturing errors such as improper securement of the wiring or pinched wires that are incorrectly routed. It’s rare for us to replace a light on a truck or trailer without running into some sort of accompanying wiring repair.”
“LED lights are a helpful tool with their longer life and lower amperage draw,” Hogg says. “Regular inspections of lights and wiring at PMs and DOTs are beneficial. We run into a lot of LED bulbs that are beginning to fail, but not fully failed. Replacing a partially failed LED assembly that has one or two failed LEDs or a cracked lens can potentially prevent some of the emergency repairs we see when they fail completely. Be certain to instruct servicing facilities to use, at a minimum, heat shrink or heat shrink style butt connectors to help counter invading corrosion. The best practice is to use butt connectors with solder built in. Finally, never allow a technician to pierce a wire with a probe. This will certainly open the circuit for corrosion and additional repairs later.”