98 Outback: short circuit/fusible link

Hi guys (and I assume you are mostly guys): My 98 Sube Outback is developing electrical issues, and I'm trying to get a little background instead of walking into the dealer and handing
them--in effect--a blank check to figure this out. The car blew a fuse a few weeks back, I lost the cigarette lighter and the electric mirrors. No biggie: my husband pulled the kickplate out from under the driver's side dash and replaced the fuse. A few days later, all at once, I lost the door open sensors on the dash, the dome lights, the CD player, and the radio presets are erased every time I shut the car off. We tested the battery by the way, it's fine. My husband tested a bunch of fuses in the box under the hood. Fuse 15A was bad (it says Room/radio); he tried a couple of new fuses--they arced and blew instantly. So there's a short in the system. A friend suggested a fusible link might be bad (somewhere between the the two fuse boxes?). Any ideas where to start? My husband's elctrical knowledege is pretty good, he has an ampmeter, etc. One further complication: the car has a high-end, fully integrated, alarm system. It's been acting up too.
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lindah wrote:

Finding the cause of your problem may require access to wiring diagrams and I will leave advice on that aspect to others. However, your husband (or whoever works on the problem) may find a Short Detector useful. I have one that is 20 years old and I think I got it from Mac or Matco Tools, but you can make one up yourself. It consists of a 10 amp circuit breaker with leads and alligator clips plus a "short detector", which is basically just a small compass.
To use, one replaces the blown fuse with the circuit breaker, which in turn protects car systems from further damage. If there is a short, the breaker will cycle on and off, resulting in the current between the circuit breaker and the short cycling on and off. The "compass" will respond to the current surges. One moves the compass along the wiring starting from near the circuit breaker, looking for the point beyond which the "compass" no longer responds -- that is where the short is located.
Ed P
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x-no-archive: yes
lindah wrote:

First, Check your negative battery terminal connection on both ends. Loose or corroded connection here can cause an array of "strange" electrical problems.
Have you recently driven through standing water or been a severe rainstorm? It sounds like you might have water in an electrical harness connector that is causing it to short.
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