The importance of having excellent earths

Whilst I’ve always driven and owned classic cars, its only when I bought a 1971 Lotus Elan, 26 years ago, that the importance of earths really hit home.  The reality of owning a glass fibre (plastic) car meant that every item on the car that was fastened to the body had to be separately earthed, whether a front or rear light, windscreen wipers or illumination for the gauges they all need their own earth.  However, GF cars normally have a steel chassis to run all the earths from, which is fine, until the car gets old and the earths begin to deteriorate.

My first Lotus had lots of problems, which were often earth related…in the end I went through each earth, removing it, cleaning up all the surfaces, then using NEW BOLTS NUTS AND WASHERS put them back together.  Once done the earth needs some wax to protect it as corrosion works quickly to undo all your good work.  After 25 years I’m starting to get problems again, starter clicks, must be the starter motor, which is a b…..d of a job, but once changed you realise it’s OK and get back to sorting out all the earths again!

Earths aren’t only an issue on GF cars, but on unitary steel bodies as well.  In fact, the number of times I’ve seen batteries or alternators replaced when the real culprit was a poor earth…costing money and time.  On steel bodied cars, the critical earth is between engine and body.  Again, make sure you remove the earth, if heavily corroded, replace or clean up, clean thoroughly the mating surfaces then replace the fasteners, particularly the washers, which need to be able to cut into the base metal to help provide a tight grip.

Whilst service lists rarely ask for earth checks, I check all the earths on my Elan annually, particularly given the problems that surface, often associated with the earth.  Remember, at Leyton classics we can supply most of the fasteners you need, especially UNC/UNF.  Call or email OR 0151 355 8045 and talk to our fasteners experts.