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General Articles - Product Reviews

Dielectric Grease

Article written by Moab Man

Date Added: 12/14/2008

The argument over the correct use of dielectric grease is only comparable to Trekkie's at a Star Trek convention. While I don't know what they actually argue about, you can ask magazine staffer "Icky." He loves to talk about Trekkie conventions.

Dielectric grease is a thick, non-conductive, water resistant grease. The "correct" use of dielectric grease is to pack the area surrounding an electrical connection with the grease. The grease should be all around, but not actually touching any of the metals that actually make the electrical connection.

Now that we?ve gone over all that boring ?correct? use of dielectric grease, let?s focus on how to do it the ?wrong? way (or what I like to call the ?easier and even more effective? way). Please, if you want to use the grease in what some would call the ?correct? way, don?t listen to anything I?m about to tell you.

I confess, I use dielectric grease on the metal in all my electrical connections. Yup, I admit it... GUILTY! I slather that stuff all over the metal connectors, and all the surrounding area. But wait, before the madness continues, let?s take a step back and look at why we need dielectric grease to begin with.

Over time the electrical current passing through the metal contacts on your Jeep, such as your light sockets, combined with moisture, (or maybe even water itself if you play like our resident photographer, Troll) will cause the contacts to corrode. I personally have seen corrosion so bad that the electrical contacts on both the light and the receiving socket have turned to dust when trying to separate the two.

I learned a long time ago from some professional boat mechanics (guys who know about keeping water out of electronics) to put a small amount of dielectric grease in the light socket and on the contacting metal tabs that go into the socket. Along with headlights, we use the same basic idea for turn signal bulbs, but the socket is a little different.
Now, back to the MOABJEEPER approved ?wrong? way to use dielectric grease. Using our headlights as an example, squeeze a little into each connector of the socket. It?s easy to see right away how difficult it would be to do this the ?correct? way and not let any touch the metal contacts. Also apply a small amount of grease to each terminal on the headlight.
Check out the burnt out bulb we?re replacing. With a little over three years on this particular headlight, the tabs show zero corrosion. Sure we?ve got lots of dirt and crud in there, but no corrosion. Actually considering how much dirt got into these connections, imagine how much water has entered the socket over the years.
By contrast here is a headlight that didn?t have any dielectric grease on the connection. For a little perspective, this headlight was in a mainly street driven TJ out here in the middle of the desert.

Final Thoughts

I'm sure some diehard dielectric grease fanatics at their international convention will read this article, stomp their feet, and shout from the top of their "correct" usage soap box. However, this little trick (wrong way) has faithfully prevented all corrosion and never stopped any connection from operating. Frankly, letting the dielectric grease touch the metal contact doesn?t hurt anything, and in our opinion probably actually works better. But like I said... don't listen to a thing I told you, because it's not the "correct" usage of dielectric grease.

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