With carmakers introducing ever more sophisticated systems to enhance usability, comfort, convenience and safety, there’s the rising probability of something going. And still, buyers want their money’s worth. Standards in safety have shifted dramatically, to include such things as blind-spot monitoring and anti-collision braking, as have expectations as to what is standard equipment, even in entry-level trims. With more electronics on board, there’s also more wiring to connect each unit. In new cars still under warranty, this might not present itself as an issue, but there will be cases, maybe in the not-too-distant future, that these give way and not stand the test of time.
Multiple things can go wrong with the wiring in your vehicle. First, it’s the sheer amount of wiring and wiring harnesses that straddle new cars to power anything from the upgraded hi-fi, to the autoboot, items we find as necessities today. Wiring in everything powered by the car battery needs to be routed through endless networks throughout the vehicle, often set against abrasions, vibrations, and varying moisture levels. Harnesses bundling several cables and wires save on space, but also shield each cable. Should any of these experience a short, it might not be just the GPS malfunctioning, but something much worse. Cables can fail due to cracks and overheating, often a sign of low-quality sheathing materials, rusting connectors or factory errors.
Checking on the state of the wiring under the hood should be done from time to time, especially if systems start to fail. Less severe issues can be fixed by repairing frayed harnesses with an automotive cloth tape. This bundles the individual cables in a tight heat and moisture-proof wrap and shields the assembly from knocks and vibrations throughout the vehicle. Everything will work just as it should, and there’ll be no weird noises piercing into the cabin.
What is Automotive Cloth Tape?
Automotive cloth tape is tape used to bundle and wrap wiring harnesses in your car. Products intended to be used in the engine bay are specially designed to stand up against high heat levels, while those in the car interior elevate comfort by reducing overall noise. This tape replaces basic PVC electrical tape you’d find in older cars or repair jobs, and is recommended in any type of rebuilds or resto-mods.
What Types of Automotive Cloth Tape are There?
There are two types of cloth tape used in automotive applications – fleece and underbody tape.
Fleece tape gets its name from the woolly PET backer. It is the tape of choice for high-end car brands when attending to wiring harnesses. Fleece tape has outstanding longitudinal strength, so stretches to the required length without breaking, and yet is easily applied by hand. Simply tear the tape across the grain. The tape is primarily intended for interior wiring applications, owing to its superior noise dampening properties that reduce noise levels by up to 15 decibels. In addition, it is resistant to temperature extremes, from -40°C to over 100°C and has exceptional abrasion resistance. Tapes are sold in varying widths and you can have any colour you like as long it’s black.
Underbody automotive loom tape is used for wiring looms in the engine bay and undercarriages where heat and moisture levels are often higher. Compared to fleece tape, this has a canvas-based backer material that has higher abrasion and heat resistance, which also does a better job at wicking away liquids. It too is flexible, easily stretched and applied. In addition, underbody loom tape can reduce noise levels from vibrations, though not to the level of fleece tape.
Compared to traditional bundling options, like vinyl electrical tape or alternative wiring harnesses solutions, these two options offer several benefits. Unlike electrical tape, fleece and underbody loom tape are easy to tear and are applied with minimal fuss. Removing them is also way simpler and quicker, since there is no residue left along the wiring. Both tapes feature strong pressure-sensitive adhesives, sticking well and won’t come undone or cause a tangled mess. Once applied, they give off a neat, professional appearance, resembling the factory fitted loom in the vehicle. Compared to heat shrink tubing, sleeving or split loom tubing, automotive cloth tape is much easier to use and has better adhesion and noise dampening, while offering comparable (if not higher) vibration, chemical, heat and moisture resistance. It also comes at a lower cost for the same length.
Using Automotive Cloth Tape
Automotive fleece and underbody loom tape can be used in regular repairs and maintenance, or in rebuilding cars from scratch. The purpose of the tapes is to shield the individual cables and wires and route them to the specified location. If you encounter damaged or frayed sheathing along cables, or any other damage, the best thing to do is repair wiring and connectors, to prevent problems down the line. Once you’ve checked the condition of the wiring, actual wrapping is straightforward. The tape elongates and sticks around the bundle with an easy pull, and creates a neat pile. Wires that need to be split are wrapped separately. When you’re done, a simple tear is all that’s needed.