How do you help your customers put together an effective and clean-looking wiring system?
Lawson Mollica of AEM in Hawthorne, California, said it’s tempting for the end-user to try to modify his existing harness or build a new one from scratch in order to save money, but it’s rarely a good idea. “Building a wire harness is a time-intensive project and is almost impossible to do correctly without the specialized connectors, contacts, splices and crimp tools required to fasten them properly. And end-users usually cannot tell the difference between a quality connector that will last and a cheap imitation that will lead to problems down the road. Also, using a pre-built wire harness from the same manufacturer as the controller guarantees that the wiring is right and already 100 percent tested. Attempting to get a third-party harness or doing it himself means opening himself up to big problems if there is a mistake.”
“First off, one must be properly informed on what their specific build will require as far as the switched functions and outputs needed to power the components that will be installed,” suggested Gil Zeneri of Speedwire Systems, Stouffville, Ontario, Canada. “At times there will be unforeseen add-ons that would require extra switches or relays, so it’s always a good idea to get a bigger switch panel and relay controller for these situations, also installing extra junction points for add-ons that require certain signals and grounds.”
He added, “Layout, I think, would be most important, determining the lengths of wire needed and where they all will be run along the car. I always would suggest leaving some room for changes, because there are always changes made in the future, and they will begin to make things messy if not taken into consideration.”
“The trick is to listen to the customer and get a full grasp of what he’s trying to do and anticipate expansion in the future needs of the race car,” agreed Scott Bowers of Ron Francis Wiring/The Detail Zone, Chester, Pennsylvania. “I think many times wiring is an afterthought, and installers don’t see the big picture and end up doing a lot of adding on, which in turn can create a not-so-clean wiring system.”
“You need to ask the customer questions,” advised Vince Coscia at Performance Plus Connection, Charlotte, North Carolina. “A lot of times they want a connector and they think bigger is better, but it depends on the size of the wire they’re using. Another consideration is tools. I have, I guess you would say, good, better, best quality crimping tools. I try to find out if they’re just doing a small project or if it’s going to be ongoing projects building wiring systems before making a tool recommendation.”
Deanna Hernandez of Del City in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, suggested using the resources available in catalogs and online, such as instruction and spec sheets. “Sell to the racer’s mind. Light weight, reliability/durability, ease of use and cost are all important when they are making buying decisions.”
“In our catalog and on our website we have what’s called a circuit match system,” explained Adrian Murray of Painless Performance, Ft. Worth, Texas. “It has a checklist that asks what accessories you’re going to have, and from that list you can determine which harness is the right one for your application,” he said, adding that the company also provides a dealer locator on its website, as well as planograms, countertop displays, and brochures.
“We’ve switched over to a clam-shell style packaging that allows the customer to open it to look at the part and touch it and feel it,” noted Matt Goss at Pico Wiring Accessories, Eugene, Oregon. “That’s been very helpful for sales. We’ve got attractive packaging for the performance retailers and a good mix of products.”
“As in all things motorsports, preparation and research are the keys,” said David Cunliffe of DC Electronics, Maldon, Essex, United Kingdom. “Plan the entire electrical system and make a wiring diagram before a single wire hits the chassis. Have all the components that need a wire running to them in place to ensure the harness fits like a glove and that nothing gets forgotten, which would require the addition of more cables later in the build.
“A properly designed, built and installed wiring harness will give many years of service,” added Cunliffe. “It’s no good going to all the time and effort of having the perfect harness built if you don’t tie it into the chassis correctly. A harness that moves around can rub through the insulation or simply break a wire if it is repeatedly bent back and forth. Seldom is cheapest best…and in the long run, cheap becomes expensive, as it will more than likely fail when you need it most.”
Additional Content: Visit Performance Racing Industry Magazine online for our comprehensive feature article on Wiring Kits, Harnesses & Related Components.