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Electronic Gremlins - Electrical Problems That Are Driving You Crazy



  • j.tullj.tull Member Posts: 3


    The keyless entry in my 2002 Toyota Solara 4 cyl. suddenly stopped working. I replaced the battery in both my key fobs, but this didn't fix it.


    Took to dealership while away on holiday break; they assumed it was a programming issue; after an hour, they said it was not a programming issue, and would have to look further into problem; I declined, and haven't done anything further.


    The owner's manual doesn't go into any detail on diagnosing this kind of problem. Any ideas??


    Thanks a bunch.
  • krazyolcatladykrazyolcatlady Member Posts: 1

    my 1999 honda accord (4 door) suddenly had the passenger side lowbeam stop working. I replaced the light bulb in there and still the high beam works but no low beam. Does anyone know which wire might be causing this and how I can go about fixing it? I am assuming its an electrical issue- all of the other lights work highbeams interiors etc. I am trying to avoid paying an arm and a leg to have it repaired if its something like a loose wire. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  • fionnbanfionnban Member Posts: 1
    I have an older ('86) Mazda pickup that has recently developed an interesting headlight problem.


    After a couple of cold mornings confronting a dead battery, I thought that the battery was dead. A check showed that wrong.


    Last night I was awakened by lights in my bedroom window. When I went out to check, the headlights on my truck were on, although the switch was off. I had to flick the high beams to shut them off. I also had to get up twice more to shut them off - I missed the fourth time and still had a dead battery :(.


    Not being an electrical genius I thought I'd check and see if I need to be looking for a short in the lighting system, or (more likely) a problem with my head lamp switch.


    Any ideas???
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    sticking headlight relay would be one guess, but you'd also need a defective headlight switch to send current to the relay. Could even be both together. I think I'd lean toward the headlight switch as the first culprit.


    If your battery has been drained dead dead dead by headlight on for a long time, you may also need a new battery.
  • 03windstar03windstar Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Ford Windstar. It has the LED turn signals in the side mirrors. When either the parking lights or headlights are on the driver side signal light comes on. The light stays on steady until the lights are turned off. My thought is the headlight switch, but just a guess
  • ckeopkeckeopke Member Posts: 1
  • 351m351m Member Posts: 2
    my problem is i cant find a dead short some where in my wiring. the wires look fine under the hood and the dash, considering the age of my truck its a1981 ford f250. what happens when i turn on my head lights it really drags the engine down and my oil and temp. gauges go to the top. I'm stumped if any one can give me some tips I'd be tickled
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    If you've traced and inspected all the wires from the switch to the lights, including parking lights - maybe the short is inside the switch itself??????
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'd be very suspicious of the switch itself, definitely, and I'd stop using it immediately before you have an under-dash fire.


    Since you can't return electrical parts usually, you are taking a gamble but without any other visible damage it suggests a lot of electrical resistance in the switch itself.


    Another culprit might be the headlight switch relay or its connections. Find this relay and see if it's heating up or has burned wires inside (if you can pry it apart without damaging it).
  • 351m351m Member Posts: 2
    eureka!!!! i found one problem. the last person to work on it neglected to re ground the engine to the body i re grounded it and it took the strain off my engine. So no more problem's with the lights or gauges. I surely thank you guys for your suggestions. I'll be back if i find any thing else thats a problem
  • mic4christmic4christ Member Posts: 1
    hello, i am having a problem with the turn signals on my truck. at first, the fuses under the hood and inside the truck were blowing, and the flasher (relay switch) under the dash was clicking way to fast (made a buzzing sound). now, the fuses have quit blowing and the flasher is working properly, but my lights won't turn on, and the lights in the instrument cluster won't blink either. there is continuity in the wires that plug into each light, and a little bit in the fuse panel inside the truck. anyone got any ideas? i hope i don't have to trace every piece of wiring to find it (crosing fingers...). also anyone with a wiring diagram who could send it to me would be very appreciated.
  • sargentsargent Member Posts: 1
    Hi Folks,

    need a little help. I have a 1994 GMC serria Z71 pickup truck. Just replaced 7 year old battery and now the truck if left unstarted for 3 to 5 days...the battery is dead. So I jump the new battery and the truck charges it up fine.14vdc on dashboard meter and confirmed on hand held multimeter. drive it around few hours shut her off starts up fine 3 hours later. Goe on trip and return (3days) and truck is stone cold dead.

    I checked all switches, dome lights, underhood lights and all in off posistion. Any ideas?
    thanks again...Sargent
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Bad battery or bad cables. Never presume that something new out of the box is good, it ruins your diagnostics.

    Bring the battery back and have it load-tested.

    Also, clean up your cables and check alternator belt tension.
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    Get an ampmeter that can handle a couple of amps or more. You might burn out the ampmeter on the usual cheap multimeter, because these usually can only register milliamps or 1/2 or .1 amps.

    Ignition off. Doors closed. Start pulling fuses and putting the ampmeter across the fuse contacts. When you find the one pulling a 1/2 amp or more, that is the circuit with the short. After that, it's a matter of checking (unplugging and testing current draw) the things on that circuit. There is no easy way to find a short.

    Unless something else was done to the truck just before this problem started. Such as that new stero rig that was installed. Or the new trailer light wiring (spoken by someone who generated a dead short in a new trailer connector).
  • sunfiremelsunfiremel Member Posts: 1
    Hello, I have a 1999 Pontiac Sunfire. Recently, the turn signals will stay on for a short time, then shut off by themselves (i.e. while I am waiting for a light to change). I can get them back on by manually turning them off and putting them back on. They will stay on for anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds and shut off again. What could this be?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'd replace the flasher, which is really just a relay. I think it's tired and putting out a lot of electrical resistance, perhaps by overheating.
  • jj41752jj41752 Member Posts: 1
    blower motor stopped working on 93 escort wagon so I pulled the motor. Should I have power at the connector at the motor with the fan switch off? If so how can I check if motor runs.
  • iwantws6iwantws6 Member Posts: 26
    I am having a similar problem w/ a Ford Escort. did you ever find out what the cause is?
  • iwantws6iwantws6 Member Posts: 26
    When I turn the key nothing happens, no lights, no radio, nothing works at all.
    Any idea what this could be?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,129
    When you say "nothing" happens, do you mean the car also does not start? Or does it start, and no electrical equipment works?

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  • iwantws6iwantws6 Member Posts: 26
    Right the car doesn't start either. It behaves as if the key was never turned or inserted at all.
  • xareedxareed Member Posts: 2
    take to dealer
  • xareedxareed Member Posts: 2
    the best way you can do it electronic problenm is take to dealer ship
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    BAd battery
    bad battery cables

    Do your headlights work?
  • iwantws6iwantws6 Member Posts: 26
    No headlights,dome lights or anything of the sort are working. :(
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Okay, you have bad battery or battery cables then.

    Buy or borrow a fresh battery, clean the cables with a wire brush and let's see what happens.
  • reverendrogerreverendroger Member Posts: 1
    was removing the cluster in my 1990 Ford Bronco and shorted the printed circuit. I repaired the trace on the PCB but the problem now is the tach, amp, and fuel gauges don't work properly and the transmission don't work properly. The only way I can drive at highway speeds is to turn off the EOD and at city speed I have to keep the transmission in.

    Could somebody please help?
  • lel410lel410 Member Posts: 2
    When driving, the door locks will go up and down rapidly, all warning lights flash on and off, and the fuel gauge, although tank is always full (I never want to run out), reads empty, then full, then empty, etc. The occurrences are unpredictable and erratic...and very unnerving. Any suggestions? (I know, time for a new vehicle).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That sounds like a nasty problem...well if I were you, first thing I'd do in my Sherlock Holmes routine is look at the wiring diagram and/or the fuse box diagram and see if the fuses that control these items are either on the same fuse or (hopefully) adjacent fuses. If the various circuits are next to each other, I'll unscrew the entire fuse box and look for a short circuit behind it.

    I can't imagine the door locks and fuel gauge being on the same circuit though. Makes no sense.

    Also you can check the wiring diagram to see if there might be some other junction where these two circuits (or three circuits) cross paths.

    LAST THOUGHT--I just had an idea----these three things you mentioned might all happen if the ignition were briefly interrupted, wouldn't they? Let's say your ignition lock was very sloppy and the key had a lot of play in it.
  • lel410lel410 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you for the input. I'm going to check into the ignition first and then attempt to tackle the fuses and see if that helps. Thanks again!
  • anita3anita3 Member Posts: 19
    Hi all... New to this forum...Having a problem with my 98 Aurora...When go to start the car..(interior lights on ) when i turn the key.. i loose all power.. no dash lights, no interior/exterior.. everything goes . I thought it was the key with the lil computer chip in it so i had that replaced. Put new key in.. at that point lights on again.. put key in ignition, chiming sound dinging.. go to turn the ignition.. loose all power again. I know with the 98 Aurora's they have a security feature on the ignition where it shuts down the starter and the fuel system.. but suppose to be able to try the key again after 3 mins. Have done that.. still nothing. Replaced battery and alternator 10 months ago.... Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.. just hate to take to dealer and be charged that ridiculous $$ for something that could be simple to be fixed.

    Anita :confuse:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    If you mean that the starter doesn't crank the engine, and if you mean that as soon as you turn the key you loose your dashlights and hear/see nothing at all, then you had better check your battery cables.
  • anita3anita3 Member Posts: 19
    If you mean that the starter doesn't crank the engine, and if you mean that as soon as you turn the key you loose your dashlights and hear/see nothing at all, then you had better check your battery cables.

    Right as soon as i turn the key to start the car... i loose all power. I will have the
    battery cables checked... thank you for you quick response : )

  • tmarttmart Member Posts: 2,100
    Does the car start? If the car starts, the lights should come back on when the key is released. Modern cars cut power to everything but the starter when the key is turned.
  • blkcab02blkcab02 Member Posts: 1
    Im a new subscriber to this site, and im at my wits end. No one i know, even my mechanic can diagnose my 2001 VW cabrio problem and im hoping someone out there can give me some advice or insight to my current problem.

    When traveling down the highway, or any road for that matter, all the sudden my dash board will freak out and the needles on all the gauges including the tack, gas gauge, temp. gauge, and speedometer will start fluctuating rapidly. When this happens the brake light, oil light and temp. light all blink in unison. The car runs perfect, never misses or gives me any problems. The lights dont dim or shut off or anything, the dash just seems to go crazy whenever it wants.

    Please help me, im totally clueless
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    First thing I'd do is get a wiring diagram for it, then locate and verify all grounds for the instrument panel.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yep, that's my bet, too. Also find out if there is a large electrical multi-pin coupler of some sort that connects the main wiring harness to the dashboard printed circuitry and wiggle that around.
  • kkollwitzkkollwitz Member Posts: 274
    Our 1999 Chevy Venture's interior "courtesy" lights won't come on. The fuse serves the lights and the vent blower, which works fine, and the fuse is intact. Normally the lights go on if:
    A door opens.
    You turn the instrument panel dimmer all the way up to max brightness.
    You click the lights individually.

    None of these work now.
  • strozierstrozier Member Posts: 3
    my bertone coupe headlights willnot work, also seat belt alarm goes off by it self. i tested the
    fuses and umber 17 thru 20 isnot hot. i changed bulbs and fuses, but no lights
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Probably unrelated items.

    I'd check the headlight relay but of course it's easy to check the headlight socket where it plugs into the bulb--see if that has current (obviously not)..and work backwards to the relay, and then backwards to the switch itself.

    The seatbelt alarm sounds like a bad ground somewhere. Since it's pretty easy for a driver to tell if his seat belt is on, you might look under the seat and see how the warning light gets its signal. Of course we would never want to disconnect that wire.
  • strozierstrozier Member Posts: 3
    thank you, i will work from the socket back, you can see i am not a genius
    when it comes to aotos
  • terrryterrry Member Posts: 3
    I have a 1999 Montana. When backing up the ABS and the TCS light come on. Left turn signal is also affected when brake is applied blinker is very rapid. It also affects all the back lights, back up, stop, signal, running lights. Lights aren't on the next time the van is started, but come on when backing up. If you start van and just go forward lights don't come on. I have been told this is a turn signal switch problem. Vehicle seems to run fine. I have also been told to check fuses and grounds. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks :cry: :confuse: :sick:
  • fstkatfstkat Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Olds Silhouette I've replaced the bulbs and brake switch all I get to light up is the thrid brake light. Help
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
    Hi Gang...I'm finally here asking a question. I have a 1992 Saab 900 and the brake lights are out (both sides, not the bulbs as we replaced the bulbs on both sides). The fuse "looks" fine, but will probably replace that next (cheap, no effort).

    If that doesn't work - what should I check next?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    A fuse can look good and be bad.

    Not sure on your car if there is a little switch attached to the stem of the brake pedal that activates the brake lights (under the dash, follow the brake pedal up until you see a little switch with a button). Those get loose, fall off, etc. Just not sure if that's how yours works.

    Some brake lights are activated by a hydraulic switch off the master cylinder, which is attached to the firewall, lined up with the steering wheel. But check under the brake pedal inside the car first. It will be obvious how it works....push down on pedal, button is released (extended) and is "on" ; release pedal, button is pushed in and is now "off".
  • atvdraggeratvdragger Member Posts: 26
    Sounds like your next step is to get an electrical wiring schematic and trace down wiring. Start at the bulbs first. Because if the third brake light works you are get fire to the rear of the van there for it may simply be a loose connector. However in most vehicals the two side brake lights also serve as blinkers you may have a problem there and not in the brake circuit. You can answer this quickly by checking to see if your blinkers work.Keep in mind that the blinkers might matter only if the brake lights serve double duty as turn signals.
    If the blinkers don't work either , consider the turn signal switch in the steering colume.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh that's a good thought. Test current at the rear sockets first.
  • markymark1markymark1 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1996 JGC with 123K which hasn't given me many problems. Recently, I've been experiencing problems with blinking interior lights and the power locks engaging while driving. Does anyone know what causes this annoying problem? Could it be a short, or a problem with the security system?
  • bobbie2bobbie2 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee with/152,000 miles. It starts fine, but when I slow down for stop lights or traffic, it sputters and conks out. It is starting to do this while I am on the interstate also. I have replaced my spark plugs, ignition coil, distributor cap, and camshaft. When it is hooked up to a diagnostic machined, nothing registers. Does anyone have an idea regarding the problem?
  • kimble989kimble989 Member Posts: 14
    I purchased a 2001 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCab in December of '03. Its an automatic V6, 4.0L, SOHC engine. I love the truck and how it drives, when it drives. I have recently ran into a problem that two different dealerships in four visits have still not been able to tackle.

    While driving the truck it will start to sputter, you will then lose your speedometer, then the truck slips itself into neutral. It is still running, but just slips into neutral. Then the overdrive light and ABS lights on the dash begin to flash at 100mph. You simply coast off the side of the road, turn it off, let it sit for about a minute or two and start it back up and you are good to go for another 2 days or so, sometimes less, before it happens again.

    I've been told that a wiring harness can do this under the drivers seat if corroded, but both dealerships (very reputable ones) have found nothing. I paid $200 plus labor b/c they thought it might be the alternator overcharging, but happened again after I had the truck for only 3hrs. The only thing I can get from them is that all of the codes read high voltage.

    Anyone have a clue? I cannot afford to be without a vehicle for a fifth trip into the dealer for another 1-2 wks.
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