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Taking a look at practical uses of silicone paste

Silicone paste helps electrical connections withstand the elements, thereby minimizing the risk of weather-related electrical comebacks.

Silicone paste, also known as dielectric grease, has applications on components such as brake parts, suspension bushings, spark plug boots and ignition terminals. But service personnel may underestimate its value on basic electrical connections.

I began using silicone paste on various electrical connections back in 1977. I happened to interview an engineer who described its ability to protect terminals from rain, snow, road splash, road salt, humidity and battery fumes.

What's more, silicone paste won't liquefy or melt in a hot engine compartment.

Among the locations where I have tried silicone paste are battery terminals, firewall harness connectors, various lighting connectors and trailer harness terminals — not to mention computer, sensor and actuator connectors.

The engineer said the paste would not restrict the flow of electricity through a healthy electrical connection. Numerous times I have tested electrical connections before and after treating the terminals with the paste.

Indeed, I have never measured any increase in the voltage drop across an electrical connection after treating its terminals.

The silicone paste protects an electrical connection by coating its terminals, filling the tiny voids or air gaps between those terminals. To be fair, experience has shown that many electrical connectors withstand years of exposure to all the elements.
But suppose a technician has to unplug that connection during a repair. Applying a film of silicone paste to the connector's terminals and its internal, protective seal does two things.

First, it eases the task of snapping the two halves of that connector back together without disturbing or damaging this vital seal.

Second, the paste provides additional weather protection by filling those air gaps within the terminals and imperfections in the connector's protective seal.

Sometimes carelessness causes corroded terminals inside an electrical connection: A discarded, cracked or misshapen connector seal has allowed road splash to penetrate the connector and its terminals.

In many cases, I have cleaned these terminals with the appropriate chemical. Then I have carefully filled that connector with silicone paste so that road splash can't contaminate and corrode its terminals again.

Later, firsthand checks of this car confirmed that this connection delivered trouble-free service for years afterward — despite the missing or damaged connector seal.

Last but not least, the silicone paste has performed beautifully inside common battery terminals.

I have cleaned the terminals and applied a film of dielectric grease to the battery post or side-terminal mounting "pad" on the side of the battery case. Then I connected the battery cable to the terminal.

I have experimented with dielectric grease inside countless battery terminals. When I disconnected the battery cables five years later — during battery replacement — the battery terminals were still shiny and clean.

Don't overlook silicone paste's value to electrical connections.

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