Like any other part of a vehicle, the plugs and sockets — that are part of the system that carry power from the tractor to the trailer — need to be maintained on a regular basis.
Many people erroneously believe that fleets only need to worry about the 7-way electrical connections during the winter when road de-icers containing magnesium and calcium chlorides are sprayed on the roads. Those chemicals are highly corrosive to both brass and copper — the base metals of the plug’s contact pins. And while these chemicals certainly cause problems in the winter, their damaging effects do not stop when the weather turns warm.
These new de-icing chemicals are hygroscopic and can pull moisture out of the air even in dry weather conditions. Because of their molecular make up, these chemicals are 50% smaller than those of traditional road de-icing chemicals. This means they can go deeper into smaller spaces.
That is why it is important to thoroughly clean vehicles throughout the year to prevent corrosion from setting in. Washing the vehicle is a good first step, but the plugs themselves should be cleaned at least every three to six months, more often if the vehicle operates in areas where magnesium and calcium chlorides are used on the road.
The following procedure is the best way to clean electrical plugs and sockets:
- Use a plug and socket brush and an electrical cleaner to clean the connections.
- Apply di-electric grease to all the pins on the plug.
- Rotate the electrical assembly plug from the tractor side to the trailer side every six months. This will safeguard against uneven wear. The other option is to replace the inserts at the front of the plug.
A good way to protect your electrical system from corrosion, is to choose anti-corrosive molded nylon plugs and sockets that create a watertight seal designed to keep moisture from entering the electrical system.
However, harsh chemicals are not the only threat to plugs; chipping paint and other areas of damage are vulnerable to corrosion which can spread to the plug. Fix any damaged areas as quickly as possible to prevent corrosion.
Electrical plug and socket maintenance are important all year long in order to keep corrosion from entering the electrical system and wreaking havoc.