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Pontiac Vibe Electrical/Lighting Issues

PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,807
Discuss electrical problems with the Vibe here.


Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles



  • LuzerLuzer Posts: 118
    Finally went to the service mgr cause the warranty will be up soon.

    He tells me that the Vibe and Matrix use different light systems, and that trix don't have DRL. Hmm, Riight. Mine is also the first Vibe to come in for this problem and he's been there for 5 yrs.

    Anyway, we go out to the parking lot and find some areas that I thought the light would go on, guess what, it doesn't. I guess it was about noon, and I rarely drive at noon....

    If anyone had the automatic headlights fixed, please let me know the part description and Part Number that was replaced. I'm assuming that the fix worked.

    Anyway, the under shifter storage HAS a TSB and they are ordering 2 parts to fix it, I guess it's NOT just the drawer itself.

    My 2003 Vibe was built on 10/9/02.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    it's possible that the Vibe uses different lighting systems, but it sure isn't likely. All the mechanicals on these cars are Toyota. And that service manager is certainly talking bunk: the Matrix does have DRL.

    Luzer, way back in this thread I posted the Toyota TSB number - it was around 8-10/04. All they did was replace the sensor, and the new sensor is the one they have been installing in brand new Matrixes ever since. So maybe you could just go into the parts department and order the sensor for an '04 Matrix, then put it in yourself? I dunno.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • LuzerLuzer Posts: 118
    Hey Nip,

    I found that post (2/27/03) and brought it with me, but they said they can't cross ref Toyota part numbers....that's why if someone did this with a Vibe and provides the similar info as you, then we would all do a mad rush to the dealer.

    Anywho, is it the relay or the sensor itself?
    Here's your post...

    "I got my paperwork back for the new relay assembly for the twilight sensor. The part # is the same as posted above: #82810-02033. I guess this is a relay better calibrated to its location on the dash in the Matrix. More importantly, it notes on the paperwork that "service bulletin EL007-02/replace relay" was performed.
    So I guess this is the number of the TSB for this twilight sensor problem."
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    wow! confronted with my own words! :-)

    I guess my memory, fuzzy at the best of times, confused relay with sensor, but I do remember writing that and I was quoting the service invoice exactly. So it must be a relay. Makes sense, I guess, because the sensor is probably fairly generic. I don't know where this leaves you though. My car was a Matrix, not a Vibe, and there is probably no way to be 100% sure that the parts woill go from one car to the other without just buying the Toyota part and trying to install it in your Vibe. The whole job including professional labor rates was only somewhere in the $100s (covered under warranty for me of course). Which means it didn't take them much time and the part itself was quite cheap. Might be worth investigating.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • I remember printing out nippon's post and taking the TBS number with me to the service department. They didn't even want to look at it because they already knew what they were going to do, but I managed to look at their paperwork and confirm that the TBS I brought in was the same one they were referring to.

    What if you just take your Vibe in and complain that the running light/headlight system is not working properly (going from one to the other constantly)? Pontiac should be able to replace the sensor or the relay or whatever, using whatever part they now use when they manufacture the vehicles.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    yes! Exactly. They could just get a replacement part from a new model, and hopefully all would be well. Of course, that presumes that Pontiac updated their part when Toyota did, which might be a big presumption given that they are built on two different lines in two different countries. I HOPE Pontiac is not still using the original part!

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • vibovibo Posts: 9
    I have a 2003 base Vibe. Since the overnight temperatures have been below 20F, my headlights have been automatically turning on and draining the battery during the night.

    How do I know this? My neighbor gets home at about 2:00am and he called. Other neighbors have noticed as well.

    The first time it happened, the neighbor called and so I went out and could not get them to turn off. They finally turned off when I pushed the high-beam selector forward, which normally would illuminate the high-beams.

    Needless to say, I have called roadside assistance each morning for a jump-start. The dealer can't give me an appointment until this Fri.

    Has anyone heard of this problem? I know many have complained on other Vibe/Matrix forums about the Vibe's weak battery in cold weather. This may be the root of the problem.

    Any help would be appreciated.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    on very early Matrixes, and Toyota came up with a fix and issued a recall to affected owners. It was a problem where in cold areas the lights on some cars would turn themselves on in the middle of the night and kill the battery, which sounds exactly like what you are saying? Did Pontiac not recall the Vibes? You may want to check with your dealer. I am surprised you have not experienced this problem before now?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • LuzerLuzer Posts: 118
    I have zero confidence in Pontiac.

    First - The service tech was using a flashlight to make the thing go on/off and claims it works right.

    Second - The service manager tells me the trix doesn't have DRL, and uses a different headlight than the Vibe. AND this is the first complaint he's heard of.

    He did spend about 30 minutes driving around the parking lot - but it seems that at noon, on a clear day, there is enough ambient light to make me a liar. Most of my morning commute is with the headlights ON.

    My two parts for the under storage bin came in, some consolation... they had a TSB for that!...also, there's a PENDING programming update for the rotten egg thing.

    So this is the thanks I get for venturing into American cars. The Vibe may be built with "perceived" Japanese quality, but I think I am learning to stick with the original manufacturer/designer/Engineering just so updates happens - Joint Venture or not.

    As in real life, information is key, and someone forgot to tell Pontiac to CHANGE THE PART.

    About sensor/relay nomenclature - I had a toyota muffler replaced on my old corolla and the item was listed as "tail pipe assembly". Since they warranty the muffler for life, I had the same argument every few years, that the muffler = "tail pipe assembly". So maybe the sensor is part of the "relay assembly"...then again, maybe not.

    Wax on, wax off...
  • vibovibo Posts: 9
    Thanks Nippononly.

    I bought this '03 Vibe new at the end of the 2003 model year. This is the first winter that it has not been in the garage, thus it hasn't experiences temperatures so low.

    I love this car. My Vibe replaced a 2000 VW Passat, which I had a lot of trouble with, both electrically and mechanically.

    In two years of ownership, this will be the first time it has acted up.

    I am worried about this mysterious headlight problem. When I set up the appointment, the dealer was very skeptical, and basically said they would have to verify the problem themselves--yeah like some technician is going to sit with the car over-night to watch the headlights illuminate.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    well, Toyota fixed the problem on Toyotas within a few months of launch, say by the end of Summer '02, but I don't know when or if Pontiac ever did the same. For Toyota it was actually a recall of all affected Matrixes (there weren't a huge number).

    Again it is possible that if your Pontiac dealer is not willing or able to diagnose and eliminate this problem, you could maybe approach a Toyota dealer and ask if you could pay for the repair that was performed on the Matrixes that had this problem. Even though it appears Pontiac dealers are making much of the differences between the two vehicles, the fact is that until the updates to both models for the '05 model year, they were identical except for some cosmetics. Both would have the same DRL, the same twilight sensor and relay, etc.

    If nothing else, you could perhaps get the Toyota dealer to llok up their recall info on those early Matrixes and print it out for you to show the Pontiac dealer.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • We didn't get a recall notice for the headlights turning themselves on in the middle of cold nights. Ours was bought in August 2002, so I hope we weren't missed. I don't think we have ever left it outside overnight when the temperature was less than 20 degrees.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    in that case it must have been a Toyota TSB rather than a recall, but I know they did so because when I took mine in for its very first service, the guy mentioned it and the fact that he would check to see if mine was among the affected cars. The affected VINs were REALLY early production cars, mine wasn't one of them (mine was built in May or June 2002 I forget which). If you bought in August, herzog, you would almost certainly have not been affected by that. They had already addressed the problem by then.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • vibovibo Posts: 9
    I took the car in Friday for the scheduled appointment. The weather has warmed above 20F, so, of course the lights did not automatically turn on during the night.


    The good news is that Pontiac dealership did find a TSB and ordered the new "switch", and they will replace it Tuesday.


    Thanks all of you on this forum for your help. It makes a difference when you go in to the dealership with some information backing your claim. In this instance, headlights turning on at night.


    I know there are many on the "Vibe" sponsored forums complaining about dead batteries in the cold. They may want to look into the headlight problem as well, not just battery problems.


    Thanks again!
  • 98clru98clru Posts: 1
    I gently pried sensor out of dash, and removed the smoke colored cover. It is much better, but still goes full headlights in brighter light than I would like.


    The sensor is installed by just connecting to wires and pushing into place, simple tension retainer. Be gentle! The dash is still hard for me to see in bright daylight, but much easier to see than it was when the sensor dimmed dash lights when the headlights were activated!
  • airheadairhead Posts: 3
    I have a 2003 Vibe and the display light on the stereo just burned out---repair cost from dealer is $580 because the whole unit has to be replaced. Has anyone else had this happen?
  • bheiny3bheiny3 Posts: 4
    I don't have a solution for you - but half of the display in our 2000 Montana burned out last spring. When the dealer told me how much it would cost (over $400, and yes the ehtire unit would have to be replaced) I decided I could live with the half lighted display. On my new 2005 Vibe I got a month ago, I noticed it has almost the same identical unit as the Montana - display and controls, et al. So I have that to look forward to, probably in a couple of years - probably on both vehicles. I will be interested in any other replies you get that might actually give a better repair solution.
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    Isn't your vibe still under warranty?
  • airheadairhead Posts: 3
    No, the warranty expired---it has 56,000 miles (mostly freeway). They tried to suggest that the light burned out prematurely because I was in and out of the car a lot, but I drive 40 miles each way to work so I don't think that's a valid argument. I wonder if it might have to do with the daylight sensor turning the dashlights on and off all the time. I saw a different dealer today who told me that a lot of the car's functions (i.e. powder door locks) run through the radio wiring. I was considering going to Circuit City and having a better radio put in for much less money but now I'm wondering if that's even a possibility.
  • tieratiera Posts: 3
    :confuse:I am having the same problem with my 2003 vibe. This is the first year it started doing this. I wake in the morning after it froze outside and my battery is dead because the light turned on automatically in the night. No dealer knows what Im talking about so any info would be greatly apprieciated
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