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Lighting and Dash Electrical Failure


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2seater

My son was leaving from working on the project car with Dave’s former winter car and we first noted the headlights wouldn’t pop up but a couple tries of the switch and they opened and everything was normal. After a short distance of less than a mile, there appeared a cascade of electrical failure. The headlights went out, followed by the fog lights and then the IPC and CRT. The park lights and tailights remained on throughout and the engine never missed a beat. We won’t be able to examine until tomorrow morning but asking for opinion of where to look first? First guess would be headlight switch but loss of ipc and cry wouldn’t be involved with that? Ironically #2 son just left with the fsm to read through a couple questions dealing with the family project car.

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Ronnie
16 minutes ago, 2seater said:

First guess would be headlight switch but loss of ipc and cry wouldn’t be involved with that?

That is a head scratcher. The headlight switch would be my first guess too. the headlights acting up and the IPC & CRT might be related. Mayby they are both working and a problem with the headlight switch might have caused them to dim to the point that you can no long see the display.  Did the idiot lights on the IPC go out too?

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2seater

In progress update:

In answer to the idiot light question the answer is, everything went dark, no lights visible on dash or crt. 
Swapped headlight switch from parts car and no change in operation. The only operational item is the park lights, front and rear.
We found a 7.5 fuse (blown) in the 20a headlight breaker slot in console. Swapped in a breaker from parts car and headlamps are back and appear fully operational. 
Cannot find any additional blown fuses at this point but did find two relays tied up in a rag and stuffed in forward of the console fuse panel. They appear to be the missing hi-low relay and park light relay from the actual fuse panel in the console. In other words, the two slots in the panel for these two relays are empty, including the terminals. The relays in the rag are terminated individually with what appear to be the terminals removed from the panel? Curious but still investigating.

So far it all looks like coincidental failures. The dash display loss is a separate issue that was intermittent before and was a known issue which seems to have become permanent. The only other item left is the lack of fog lights, which were operational, and the indicator in the switch does light when pressed.

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DAVES89

If you go back a number of years [on the other forum] you will see I discussed the headlight relay issue. I believe the headlight failure was "fall out" from the issues "Snowdrift" [my previous owner] had with the car when he shorted out the alternator live wire while swapping the alternator. At any rate Kendall diagnosed the relay plugs/terminals were bad in the fuse box so he rewired it and installed them at the engine end of the console where you found them. I suggest you leave them alone.

 The headlight switch is not your issue nor is the relays you found outside the fuse box your issue. I believe the issue to be the 7 volt silver box that runs the dash components is either failing or the connection has worked its way loose. I know it is not the BCM or ECM as nothing is lost when it happens. What I did when it happened to me was pull over to the side of the road, turn off the car and then restart it with no wait time interval. It had never failed to light back up. Because it was such an intermittent failure I never pursued repairing it. As a further thought it may just be a bad connection because if memory  serves me it first happened when I hit a hard bump in the road.

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Ronnie
9 hours ago, 2seater said:

In answer to the idiot light question the answer is, everything went dark, no lights visible on dash or crt. 

That eliminates the problem being as simple as the IPC and CRT just going dim for some reason.  It is likely to be a electric power or ground problem more like what Dave said. Good luck on finding the problem.

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2seater

Dave, yes I agree with everything you said. I had previously warned the new owner of the dash power problem and taking it all in stride. He had come to the same conclusion that the silver power distribution box or connections are the issue with the items on the dash. Actually if it is now broken long term we can diagnose and repair the issue. I didn't realize it was Kendall that did the relay relocation but surmised it was something like that and verified they have nothing to do with the issue. It looks like coincidence the two faults were closely linked in time only. My conjecture on the small capacity fuse was the headlight relay harness previously installed didn't require the higher amperage breaker. As a matter of fact, I recommended he install a similar harness, even with stock headlights. No worries, he loves the car, just a bump in the journey🙂

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DAVES89

Sorry if I came across a bit harsh, my intent was just to explain what my experience was and what Kendall had done. I have a great memory for what was done to the car so keep the comments coming as things pop up, as I am glad to help.

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2seater
50 minutes ago, DAVES89 said:

Sorry if I came across a bit harsh, my intent was just to explain what my experience was and what Kendall had done. I have a great memory for what was done to the car so keep the comments coming as things pop up, as I am glad to help.

No worries, and the mention of the previous owner sparks a bit of memory for me too. In any case, as I mentioned before, #1 son likes the investigation and finding a solution, but not much on letting the rest of us know. I never thought the donor would turn out to be just what I needed. The interior was pretty much useless to me, wrong year and color, but all the glass is good, doors are solid and pretty much all the exterior is okay and the right color, so finding a use for the interior is a bonus for me.

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DAVES89

Sounds good. BTW the headlight harness that I installed [but as you know removed] is still available on Amazon, however their price has gone way to high. There are other similar units at a much better price. I will be ordering one this fall to install in the 'vert [unless you want to come over and show me how to install the relay in the factory wiring. No rush whenever you are back in town] as both the Black and Red have headlight relay harnesses.

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Ronnie

If the goal is to take the load off the headlight switch to protect it, I think installing the factory relay setup is the best way to go. Not only does it take the load of the headlights off the headlight switch, it also takes the load of those 14 light bulbs in the taillight off the switch. However, it doesn't address the problem of the sub-par wiring going the headlights.  If lower wattage LED headlights were installed at the same time as the factory relay I think that would be a good combination. I've been planning on installing the relay in my car for a long time. I purchased the relay and connector a long time ago and I have the wiring changes that need to be done somewhere.  I just haven't been motivated to do it yet.  If one of you guys add the factory relay take some photos and do a little write-up so I can make a tutorial and post it here on ROJ.

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2seater

My likely plan is to add relays to both the black and red cars but I am not at that point yet. I remember the convoluted route to adding relays to my car with lots of forum help, and then Dave’s harness discovery simplified the installation. The latest find, grounding one end of the wire from the module, opens up more possibilities on how to upgrade which I hope to explore later.

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DAVES89

One thing I don't like about grounding the module is then you are changing the wiring. I know it is just one lead and it goes to ground, but these cars are so electrical I just don't want the change to potentially change anything else. I just have this vision of something else going wrong and then it gets traced back to a wire modification.

 So many guys come on this forum with electrical issues and so much of it is because of wires being damaged or altered.

 Over the years Kendall, Bob and myself have made "additions" to the wiring [MP3 lead, fan speed harness, shifter light, powered sub woofer lead, auxillary power source, headlight relay harness] but except for the sequential directionals I have never spliced into a wire. I have had connections go bad, but they were rewired and soldered in.

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Ronnie
2 hours ago, DAVES89 said:

One thing I don't like about grounding the module is then you are changing the wiring.

Same can be said for adding the late '90 headlight relay upgrade. If I remember correctly wires will have to be cut and rerouted as well as tieing in some new headlight relay connector wires.  I don't have a problem doing stuff like that but I realize it could be a problem for another owner.  I have done some modifications to the wiring on my car already like adding a resistor to get the photocell working without removing the dash pad, I have added a jumper to make the cooling fans run on high ('88 only mod) and added a controller to turn the cooling fans on at a lower temperature.  When I do things like this I always weigh the benefits vs the downside before I do it. Everything I have done so far can be easily reversed but adding the headlight relay will be a permanent modification to the headlight wiring.

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Nittany

Daves89, 2seater, and Ronnie,

 

Guys, I don't post much, I do read EVERY post on both forums . . . Kudos to the three of you for the adult dialogue and interaction as all three of you have vast knowledge of Reatta and you share your talent and experience with all of us who read these forums now or in the future!!

 

Thank you gentlemen for your contributions!!

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DAVES89

You are welcome Nittany. I am glad to help where I can especially when someone appreciates what we try to do. Thanks.

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DAVES89
1 hour ago, Ronnie said:

Same can be said for adding the late '90 headlight relay upgrade. If I remember correctly wires will have to be cut and rerouted as well as tieing in some new headlight relay connector wires.  I don't have a problem doing stuff like that but I realize it could be a problem for another owner.  I have done some modifications to the wiring on my car already like adding a resistor to get the photocell working without removing the dash pad, I have added a jumper to make the cooling fans run on high ('88 only mod) and added a controller to turn the cooling fans on at a lower temperature.  When I do things like this I always weigh the benefits vs the downside before I do it. Everything I have done so far can be easily reversed but adding the headlight relay will be a permanent modification to the headlight wiring.

That's true. One other mod I did was swapping out the rear calipers for 1996 Cadillac Eldorado. It was an easy swap but the next guy [I'm pretty sure there won't be] will have no other idea what I did, however I did indicate that in the owners manual. I also swapped out the steering wheel but that is a visual swap and changed nothing inside the column.

 The 'vert also has a different steering wheel with wiring changes [air bag, and security] as well as a different GM radio/stereo but uses same Reatta connectors.

Edited by DAVES89
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Ronnie
1 hour ago, DAVES89 said:

You are welcome Nittany. I am glad to help where I can especially when someone appreciates what we try to do. Thanks.

Thanks Nittany,  Dave expressed how I feel quite well.  It's nice to know someone notices that we are willing to help out whenever we can.

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Reatta 89

Thanks to everyone for your input on this problem it was a fuse that tested good but but upon further inspection was bad.

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Ronnie

Good find on the fuse. Something like that can run you crazy and be really hard to track down the problem. 

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