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dash light problem


winstonsmith

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My instrument panel lights are all gone. Here's the story. I had a fusible link in the engine bay that had been bent around so much it had pretty much gone to crap. I found this out because one night when I turned on my headlights they went out and so did my dash lights. I eventually figured out the problem was the fusible link. When you give it a little wiggle the headlights and dash lights would come back on. Anyway recently I turned them on and they all went out again. I popped the hood and moved the fusible link and the headlights came back on. When I got in the car I noticed the dash lights were not on. They have never come back on again. I finally got some new fusible links from MSA and the headlights come on and stay on. No more trouble there but I still have no dash lights. Is there a particular fuse in the fuse box that goes to the dash lights. My shop manual doesn't seem to say. I checked all the fuses and they all look good. I replaced most of them anyway just to be sure and I still have no dash lights. I can't imagine every bulb would have burned out at the same time. I don't appear to have any other electrical problems. The radio, turn signals, hazards etc all still work great. I don't have dash lights anymore. Is there another fusible link somewhere that goes to the dash lights? Should I check the bulbs? I checked the rheostat wiring just to make sure the wires to that weren't hanging loose or something but everything looks good there. Could the rheostat just go bad? Plus I always had it set to full bright anyway so if it did go bad would the dash lights just stay at the setting they were on when it went bad or would they shut off? Or could the problem have something to do with the old fusible link? What should I look at?

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Which car d o you have?

The rheostat is on the ground leg of the light wiring. One of the wires(pins) going into it can be patched to ground so you get full 12V (theoretically) to the lights. If you tried that and the lights still don't work, then it's not the rheostat. I'm having some trouble figuring out the circuit for the gauge light on my 280, but I think the 12V goes to the cigarette light too.

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I have a 78 280Z 2+2. I'm a little worried that something bad might have happened because they went out when the headlights did because my fusible link was old and crappy. Headlights are good now but no dashlights. You guys don't think something got damaged because of the worn out fusible link do you? I hope nothing real bad happened.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So how exactly do I bypass the rheostat? What other things could the problem likely be? Is it possible that the headlight switch on the steering column is bad? It does turn the headlights on though so I don't know if the switch is the problem. Is there anyone else here who's had just dashlights go out?

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Not sure if you have the same fuse set up as my '73 240Z, but the same fuse for the tailights is the fuse for the interior lights. IIRC, the fuse is not labeled as such, but when mine went, I did not have rear tailights (brake lights still worked) or interior lights. Also, the fuse looked good, but when I replaced it, all the lights worked fine. Also IIRC, the fuse is on the right side of the fuse panel, and was the 2nd or 3rd from the top.

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Go to this page http://www.geocities.com/zgarage2001/z.html and look at the "Z problems". The fusebox is a common site for corrosion. I had one fuse box melt down on me.

My experience was this: I would notice the lights being out. I checked the fuse visually, and it looked fine. I pulled it and checked continuity which failed. I replaced the fuse a couple of more times. One time while the lights were still working, I lifted the cover to see the fuse glowing orange, not the best thing to see in your fusebox. Eventually, the fuse heated up enough to melt the plastic. I replaced the fusebox and haven't had a problem since.

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Go to this page http://www.geocities.com/zgarage2001/z.html and look at the "Z problems". The fusebox is a common site for corrosion. I had one fuse box melt down on me.....

Be careful of blindly applying the advice given there regarding soldering a wire to the back of the fuse box.

While that will relieve SOME of the problems with the fuse box, it is neither a FIX-ALL, nor a Universal Fix. It may be, in fact, a time bomb.

The small diagram he includes for the back of the fuse box is not consistent througout all the fuse boxes I've examined. (Aside from it NOT being a Z fuse box that's diagramed.)

If you solder a wire accross the back you are going to create some major problems for yourself down the road as that isn't a common junction for ALL of the fuses. In other words, you will be SHORTING part of your circuitry if you don't pay attention. Aside from that, do NOT try that repair unless you know how to solder well. It is far easier to melt the plastic than it is to solder a wire across the back of 5 terminals.

The PROPER fix for the fuse box problem is to clean the connection to the fuses (the brass grippers) AND the rivet connection that goes through the plastic and holds everything together. It is the RIVET connection that eventually corrodes due to exposure to air.

If you have access to some spray contact cleaner, then this is what you want to use. Remove the fuse box from the car, remove the fuses and spray the rivet connections and fuse holders liberally with the contact cleaner. Then brush with a stiff tooth brush or preferably a small brass or steel brush to bring out the shine in the metal where the fuses clip in. Then, if you have access to a bench vise and a pair of metal pin punches(1/8" Diameter), lock one of the punches in the vise, and rest the fuse box rivet heads (visible through the fuse holder wings) on that punch. Then carefully punch the BACK side of the punch dead center with the other flat 1/8" diameter punch. This way you will spread the rivet out just a tiny bit without cracking the plastic, nor distorting the rivet. Remember you just want to improve the contact, you're not trying to hold up the car with it.

Once done, you will have effected a much better repair in my opinion than trying to solder a wire on the back side of the fuse box. Aside from that, not everyone can pick up a soldering iron wth enough wattage to heat up the rivet quick enough to melt the solder and NOT melt the plastic.

Lastly, get a hold of Dave in Marysville, WA for one of his healight relay upgrade kits.

http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14897&highlight=Headlight+Relay

THAT upgrade, in my personal opinion and MANY others here, is by far the SINGLE BEST UPGRADE you can make for your car......bar none.

2¢

Enrique

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I did have the same symptoms such as having a glowing fuse and no brake lights. I too accused the fusebox but it turned out to be a bad connection or ground in the tailight harness .Enrique can explain how that happens better than me. Tomo , when you figure out the cigarette lighter thing please post it. Thats the only thing I can't get to work without blowing a fuse or having the lighter launch out like a missle. That blue/white wire will haunt me forever!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I also suddenly about 3 months ago lost my dash lights. well, they are still there, just not working. i've had the dash out a few times as it only takes a few minutes to get it out.

is there a way to check this wiothout taking it out again though? i just got stuff working again, and dont want to unplug everythign again.

most of the gages still work, just no interior lights... all fuses are good

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Did you actually change the fuses to make sure they were good? In my case, the fuse looked good, but apparently it was not because when I changed it, everything worked again. Then when I examined the fuse closely, I saw that it had burned out right near the end, which was hidden under the metal caps at the end. I always recommend trying the simplest things first (i.e. change the fuse even if it looks good) before ripping everything apart. However, as mriz stated, if replacing the fuse makes no difference, next check would be a dirty or loose connection.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have the same problem on my 77 and here's what I came across. Take off the steering column covers and check the headlight switch, specifically check the solder points on the top of the switch where the harness is soldered on. High resistance in my circuit caused the solder to melt just enough that it flowed and made contact with the adjacent solder point/wire therefore creating a short. The switch is set up so that the park/dash lights are operated seperately from the headlights. The high resistance is still a mystery to me and I am still working on it. Removing the fuse box is next for me.

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Is there a particular fuse in the fuse box that goes to the dash lights. My shop manual doesn't seem to say. I checked all the fuses and they all look good. I replaced most of them anyway just to be sure and I still have no dash lights.

Check the 3rd fuse on the right. They sometimes will burn out on the ends under the silver metal caps. You won't see the filiment burned out, but it may still be bad. That third fuse will cause the dash and the tail lights to go out.

Good luck.

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