App. Note 20 - Automotive Service
What is Stabilant 22?
Stabilant 22 is an initially non-conductive block polymer
that when used in a thin film within contacts switches to a conductive
state under the effect of the electrical field. The field gradient
at which this occurs is set such that the material will remain non-conductive
adjacent contacts in a multiple pin connector environment.
Thus, when applied to electromechanical contacts, Stabilant 22 provides
the connection reliability of a soldered joint without bonding the contacting
Contacts are generally the weakest link in any piece of electrical-electronic
equipment whether it be an electronic ignition module, an automotive computer,
power door locks, or even headlights. The use of Stabilant 22 or
its isopropanol-diluted form Stabilant 22A, will make contacts from
10 to 100 times more reliable, eliminating costly callbacks and ensuring
Can't Stabilants be used on an automobile?
Sure, for example electronic ignition systems can benefit from its
use. Both the main power connectors as well as the individual sensor connections
can b treated with the Stabilants. Often a "sensor malfunction"
error message on a diagnostic computer occur because of a faulty connection
to the sensor. We're sure that if you service this type of equipment then
you've replaced sensors only to have the same error message re-occur. In
cases where a heavy grease has been used to t and waterproof the connection
this should be removed with kerosene, isopropyl alcohol and/or cleaner
before applying the Stabilant.
Can Stabilants be used on instrument clusters?
Malfunctioning lights or instruments on/in an instrument cluster are
often caused b poor contacts, and this can be cured by the use of the Stabilants.
the Tab TM type connectors sometimes breaks the wire where it is crimped
to the connector, especially in older cars. You can use Stabilant 22a
penetrate the connector without having to uncouple it by applying a couple
of drops to the coupled-up connector, it will "wick" into the contacts
What about fuses?
While the new blade type fuses are more reliable than the older 3AG/AGC
types, the use of the Stabilants will reduce the possibility of
fuse contact heating which ca cause an fuse to blow below its rated
current on a circuit that is O.K.
Is it useful on dome lights and courtesy lights?
Again its good practice to use Stabilants when replacing dome
and courtesy lights. Ignition switch lights are often quite difficult to
get to, and the time involved in changing a light in an older car often
makes it a job where the cost of the work is not appreciated by the customer.
Do heater & air conditioning controls, thermostats and electric motor
switches pose any problems?
Caution should be used when using Stabilants on any switch contacts
which switch an inductive load. A good rule of thumb is, if there's
enough inductive kick to make the switch spark- don't use the Stabilants
as the -material would break down under the heat of the spark! However
it is OK to use the Stabilants in the wiring harness connectors
in these circuits.
What about electric rear-view mirrors
The tab connectors inside the doors are susceptible to contamination
from some of the oil/wax rust-preventative sprays. Usually a drop of Stabilant
22a per contact is all that's needed to restore reliability.
Is it useful on solenoid door & trunk Locks, and power windows?
The same problem as above occurs with solenoid-operated lock mechanisms.
Some cars rely on the hinge/door latch to provide a ground return for these
circuits (which is why on many older cars the power windows only work perfectly
when the doors are open and on the "detent") and it may be necessary to
run a separate ground wire to restore proper function.
Can Stabilants be used on horn circuits?
Nobody likes servicing these because of the possibility of recurring
problems. Use Stabilant 22 to prevent having to do the job all over
a second time.
It seems obvious that it might be used on tail lights, parking lights and
Although the current through the contacts is usually high enough to
burn-off the contamination on contacts in these circuits, there is often
a voltage drop that causes the connectors to over-heat. A little salt contamination
with this high-heat condition hastens the corrosion process. Use Stabilant
22 to stop this and increase the lighting level by the elimination
of these undesirable voltage drops. Don't forget to treat the external
on the headlight relays. (Don't use it on the relay contacts if there's
any sign of sparking when they open!)
Can it be used door activated switches?
Everyone has run across automobiles where the dome-lights don't function
when the doors are opened. Stabilants on the switch connectors will
usually cure these problems.
Is the material used on radios, cassette decks & speakers?
It's tough when stereo speakers start to go out of balance because
often it's not the fault of the radio or power amplifier, but the interconnects
or speaker leads. Several hundred thousand dollars of the Stabilant
is used each year in the home audio industry just to ensure reliability
and reduce distortion.
What about batteries and starter lugs or terminals?
While it is an unusual application, many automotive electricians prefer
to "seat" the battery connections using Stabilant 22 rather than
petroleum jelly or electrical grease. A much better contact results. They
then apply grease over the coupled connections to prevent battery-acid
Can Stabilants be used on voltage regulators and alternators/generators?
Again, Stabilant 22 is very useful on these devices contacts.
Often alternators with bolt-on voltage regulators suffer because of their
close proximity to the exhaust manifold, additional heating due to localized
contact problems can lead to erratic regulation or premature failure of
the voltage regulator. Stabilant 22/22a applied to the lug type
and-tab type connectors can result in better regulation and will help prevent
dead or dying batteries due to insufficient charging current from the alternator
Isn't it expensive to use?
Not when you consider the time it saves! How long does it take you
to take off a door panel to get to the contacts inside, or pull an instrument
cluster for that matter? Have you timed the removal and replacement of
a headlight lately? There are about 900 drops in a 15mL Service kit of
22a and each drop could save you 5 minutes.
In what forms is it available?
The Stabilants are packaged in 5 mL, 15mL, 5OmL, lOOmL, 25OmL
and 500mL containers for both the Concentrate (Stabilant 22) and
isopropyl alcohol diluted (Stabilant 22A) versions. Because of the
4:1 dilution of the latter, it will generally cost about 1/4 the amount
of the concentrate, although, obviously, it is the concentrate that does
the job. The isopropanol is just there as a solvent to "carry" the concentrate
into place, once its there the isopropanol evaporates In the case of the
ethyl alcohol diluted form, (Stabilant 22E), a more limited size
of containers is presently offered.
What is the difference in usage of the different forms?
Not very much, you have to remember, the alcohol is only a carrier
solvent, in either case about a 1/2 mil thick film of the concentrate on
the metal connector is all that's required. Therefore, on open easily accessible
contacts a small amount of concentrate applied with a swab is enough. For
connected contacts, or faster application you can "flood" the connector
with the dilute Stabilant 22A or Stabilant 22E and actually
use less of the concentrate that it contains.
Is it available in a spray can?
No, for the reason that users found that they were wasting 60%
to 70% of the material on overspray. And why mess around with chlorofluorocarbon
Is Stabilant just another contact cleaner?
No, Stabilant 22 is an electrically active material which enhances
conductivity within a contact without causing electrical leakage between
adjacent contacts. Thus largo quantities of the material do not have to
be "hosed on" as is the case with cleaners. Stabilant 22 does have
a detergent action but it is not sold as a cleaner, just as it has a good
lubricant action but is not sold as a lubricant.
Just how much should be used?
Normally, a film thickness of about 0.5 to 1 mils of the concentrate
is more than enough. In other words, you want just enough to fill up the
minute gaps within the contacts. Where Stabilant 22A or Stabilant
22E, is used, be sure to allow for the evaporation of the alcohol which
forms 4/5th's of the volume.
Is the material hazardous?
No skin reactions have ever been observed. In the undiluted form at
room temperature it is non-flammable, however if the temperature of the
material is raised above 200'C the resulting decomposition products will
In the United States, none of the Stabilants are subject to the
TSCA (Toxic Substance Control Act) nor are they reportable under SARA Title
Ill. Because even the use of Stabilant 22A or Stabilant 22E,
result in a factorial reduction in the Solvent Burden/Year over that of
conventional electronic cleaning solvent treatments, the Stabilants
the treatment of choice for many environmentally conscious agencies!
Can it be used by untrained personnel?
Many thousands of applications of the consumer audio version of Stabilant
22 (as TWEEK(TM)) have been made since 1983 without problems.
Do the action of the Stabilants deteriorate with age?
It has been in use is field applications in excess of twelve years
now without showing any sign of reduced effectiveness. The material has
a high molecular weight and a very low vapor pressure. Thus it is not prone
to losses to evaporation. Unlike some other contact protection oils, Stabilant
22 will not cross-link when exposed to certain material such as high
sulfur (free-machining) brass alloys or in contact with elastomers containing
ultra-accelerators, curing agents or other cross-linking agents. Thus the
phenomenon of "varnishing", so common with some of the oil-based protective
films will not occur with the Stabilants.