Help - No tail lights, instrument panel lights, or corner lights! 1998 Mercury Villager.

mielkebamielkeba Member Posts: 2
edited July 2014 in Mercury

Hello everyone!

Just inherited a 1998 Mercury Villager GS from my grandmother. It's your typical "little old lady car" - only 62k miles, everything looks brand new, garaged, great shape...only one problem:

The car hasn't been driven much in the past few years. Drove it to my uncle's house the other day, and when I started driving home at night, I discovered that the tail lights don't work. The instrument panel lights don't work. The corner lights (running lights?) don't work.

The headlights DO work. The brake lights DO work. The emergency flashers DO work.

I've checked the fuses under the driver's dash...all good. Even replaced them. No change. According to the labels, the fuses for the non-working lights are sourced from the battery. The battery is brand new (just replaced the old one, which was dead.)

I've read that the brake lights can overheat and the solder can melt together, shorting out the I checked those and they're fine.

I have a Haynes manual that shows a set of relays for the rear lights, but can't figure out where they are or how to get to them (under the car maybe?)

Has someone dealt with this issue? It sounds to me like I'm not getting power to these, so I'm thinking it's either coming from the battery (a broken or loose wire?) or there is a busted relay going to the back. Unfortunately, the Haynes doesn't really show me exactly where to look.

Would appreciate any help I can get! Thanks...



  • mielkebamielkeba Member Posts: 2

    Update: I've found the culprit(s).

    Culprit #1: There is a relay (#33, pictured in the Owner's Manual) that controls all these lighting circuits. It's the top one to the left of the fuse panel under the steering column. $8 at O'Reilly Auto Parts. Now the lights will turn on...BUT...

    The lighting control switch is a 3-position switch. OFF - running/tail/instrument lights ON, headlights OFF - and ALL lights on including headlights. When I turned the switch to the second position, everything but the headlights came on. GREAT! I'm hopeful I've fixed the problem.

    NOT SO FAST!!! Turn the switch to position 3 and everything turns off (but the headlights, which turn on.) Hmm...that's not right.

    Luckily, the switch comes right out of the dash with a medium-strength tug. Disconnect the dimmer switch and the light control switch and it's out.

    Took it apart...and a few of the contacts were corroded (a pretty simple switch, too, from my experience as a Navy electrician.) Isopropyl alcohol, SOS pad, back together, and...

    EVERYTHING WORKS AS IT SHOULD. The world is right. Children are dancing in the street. Obama is on the phone to congratulate me.

    Now, tomorrow, I'm going to go get some silicon gel to hopefully contain the corrosion, because the replacement switch is $190 online. Yeah, don't think so... So tomorrow I'll have 15 min of work to do. BUT...for anyone else with this issue, hopefully this helps!

    (You have to love it when people answer their own questions!)

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454

    Cool beans. I had a funky power window switch in my old '99 Quest that was also due to corrosion. Would up swapping out the innards with a donor switch.

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