Saturn Fuse Box Repair (1998-1999) Part 3

Reference 1:

Reference 2:

In Reference 1, I show how to disassemble a Saturn fuse box and solder the internal connections.  Several months after publishing that post, our 1999 Saturn developed problems with the “F5” connection.  The F5 problems were quite possibly at the root of the issues that I was trying to fix in Ref 1.  To permanently solve our F5 problems, I added a jumper wire, as detailed in Reference 2.

When I added the jumper wire shown in Ref 2, I had the advantage of being able to easily remove the front and rear cover plates from the pins to gain access to F5 for soldering in the jumper wire.  Since most people who might want to add a jumper wire will not be able to easily remove those cover plates, I thought it was time to show a way to do the job without removing the cover plates.  No one wants to do that, unless it’s really necessary, and I suspect that, most of the time, it will not be necessary.

In this post, I show how to add a jumper wire to the F5 connection in a Saturn fuse box that has never been taken apart and had its internal connections soldered.

Here’s a view of the back of a 1999 Saturn fuse box that had never been previously disassembled:

DSCF1019Note the melting around the F5 connection, located third pin from the left at the top of the photo.  That pin is also covered with melted plastic and other deposits, making for a very poor electrical connection.

Here’s that same fuse box after removal of the rear housing:

DSCF1021Pin F5 is at the bottom, third from the right.  Notice the melting in the cover plate around F5.

Next is a photo of the Dremel tools I used to cut a hole in the cover plate to gain access for adding a jumper wire to F5:

DSCF1024I first used the cutter wheel that is attached to the Dremel tool; then I switched to the small carbide burr shown below the Dremel tool.

Next a view of the cover plate after using the cutter wheel to partially cut out a hole:


Next time, I’ll dispense with the cutter wheel and just use the carbide burr as shown next:

DSCF1032Notice that I’ve used the carbide burr to cut away the cover right next to Pin F5, as well as right where the burr is located above.

Next, break away a piece of the cover plate, using a pair of pliers:

DSCF1033With the resulting hole as shown below:

DSCF1037Notice that I’m using a (rather dull) knife to remove deposits from the F5 pin, as shown above:

And the other side, as shown below:

DSCF1038There is still a lot of plastic, which must be removed, at the base of Pin F5:

DSCF1040Notice how little of the metal at the base of F5 is visible in the above photo.  The carbide bit is used to remove that plastic for access to drill and solder:

DSCF1041There was a little bit of plastic, right in the corner at the base of the pin, that the Dremel tool couldn’t remove, so I cut that tiny amount out with my dull knife.

Next, I drill a hole for my jumper wire:

DSCF1044Once again, I’m using a 3/32″ (0.094″) drill to make a clearance hole for a 14 gauge wire.

And here’s the hole:

DSCF1045Next is a shot of the 14 gauge wire inserted into the hole:

DSCF1046Notice that I’ve pushed the wire in as far as it will go, such that it hits against the plastic cover on the other side.  That’s allowable because there are no electrical components there for it to hit against, so shorting is not a worry.

Next is another shot of the wire after insertion into the hole:

DSCF1047Here’s a picture of the 50 Watt soldering iron I will use:

DSCF1049You need plenty of heat for this job, and the 50 Watter seems just about right.

Here’s a shot of the completed soldering job:

DSCF1050Next is a view of the type of clip I would use to install this fuse box into our Saturn, if I were going to do that.

DSCF1053But, because I’ve already installed a jumper wire in our Saturn, this fuse box will go back on the shelf until someone needs it.

Notice that there is a bit of plastic inside the clip, at the end of the wire, that prevents that wire from going all the way through the clip.

Here’s another view of the clip, which also shows that bit of plastic, as well as the Ace Hardware package and the item number (34566):


Now, if I were going to install this fuse box in our Saturn, I would use three of those clips.  I would place one at the end of the jumper wire, as shown above, and the other two, I would drill out that aforementioned piece of plastic so that I could install the other two clips over both wires.  That would give me three of these clips to carry the current, as well as the original F5 pin, for whatever that has to offer.

You see, I really don’t trust these clips in a high current situation like this, so I would use three of them, with the F5 pin making a total of four connections to share the load.

I so much mistrust these clips that, on my wife’s Saturn, I chose to solder the jumper wire to the red wire going to F5, as shown in Reference 2.  For those who have the necessary skills, I highly recommend soldering instead of these clips.

Here’s a view of the completed repair, with the jumper wire sticking out the side of the fuse box:



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6 Responses to Saturn Fuse Box Repair (1998-1999) Part 3

  1. Pingback: Saturn Fuse Box Repair (1998-1999) Redux | Tom Bryant, Wiscasset, Maine

  2. Pingback: Saturn Fuse Box Repair (1998-1999) | Tom Bryant, Wiscasset, Maine

  3. Chris says:

    Looks great. Thanks, Tom! I’ll keep this saved on my computer for future use. I have a 2002 Saturn SL2 and am running a phone charger, GPS, Radar Detector, and upgraded Stereo Head Unit. It may be on borrowed time, but with this write-up, I’ve got what I need to make repairs when they’re needed.

    • Tom Bryant says:

      My wife and I never used much of anything in the cigarette lighter plug of her 1999 Saturn. We never used the cigarette lighter, and the most we ever plugged in there was a Tom-Tom GPS, and that was very rarely. Yet, we had the failure anyway.

  4. Rose says:

    Hi Tom I appreciate this information. I initially saw the video from you tube about the f5 red wire but this is wonderful! Did the last fix do the trick?! I am truly hoping because my car is requiring this work to resolve this issue?! I guess the best question is…is your wife still driving the Saturn? Thanks Rose

    • Tom Bryant says:

      Yes, Rose, the last fix (that is, the jumper wire) did the trick. We have had no issues whatsoever since that was done. And yes, my wife is still driving the car. Runs great. Can’t kill it. And, please, anyone reading this, don’t go inside the fuse box and re-solder all those joints, as I did initially, unless you really have to. That’s overkill, at least most of the time. The jumper wire will fix the F5 problem, if that’s all that’s wrong, and that’s usually the case.


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