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Old 11-09-2012, 10:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Headlights will randomly not turn on

I've noticed over the past few days that the headlights in my '94 randomly do not turn on with the switch. The dash lights, tail lights, and parking lights all come on, just not the headlights. Usually after a few attempts at turning the switch off and on they will come on but last night in particular it took maybe 5 minutes before I could get them to come on.

I'm guessing this is some type of problem with a relay. Otherwise, I'm thinking it might be the actual switch inside the turn signal lever. Has anyone ever experienced this and/or know what the problem might be? Next time it happens I will try popping the hood and tap on the relay to see if they come on.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

I was coming online tonight to post the exact issue! In fact, tonight, a new issue came up in which they turned off while driving. Ack!

I can tell you what I have done so far. I have tested the headlamp relay in the fuse box in the front of the engine bay by jumping the 3rd and 4th connections and the lights come on and stay one without issue. The other thing I did, was look at the Lamp Auto Cut Off controller(MB852412) which is in the panel where the driver's side rear speaker is. I replaced it with another one thinking that was the problem, but I get the same results with the replacement controller. I checked the fuses, and they all look ok. I'm wondering if there is another controller somewhere. All my dash lights, interior lights, parking lights, tail lights all work fine.

Anyway, hopefully someone can help point us in the right direction.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

Today, I decided to reset the ETACS by disconnecting the negative on the battery for 10 minutes. I then turned the car on and let it run for 10 minutes. Lights seem to be responding. I'll have to see what happens in the next day or two.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

Quote:
Originally Posted by LunarSX View Post
I was coming online tonight to post the exact issue! In fact, tonight, a new issue came up in which they turned off while driving. Ack!

I can tell you what I have done so far. I have tested the headlamp relay in the fuse box in the front of the engine bay by jumping the 3rd and 4th connections and the lights come on and stay one without issue. The other thing I did, was look at the Lamp Auto Cut Off controller(MB852412) which is in the panel where the driver's side rear speaker is. I replaced it with another one thinking that was the problem, but I get the same results with the replacement controller. I checked the fuses, and they all look ok. I'm wondering if there is another controller somewhere. All my dash lights, interior lights, parking lights, tail lights all work fine.

Anyway, hopefully someone can help point us in the right direction.
So if I am understanding you correctly you have been able to determine that it is not a problem with a relay?

I have not driven my car much over the past week and haven't had time to look into the headlight issue but I have noticed a couple things. One thing is that the lights will sometimes come on when I rev my engine up. I also checked my alternator and it appears that it isn't charging when the car is sitting at idle (multimeter shows 12V at idle and about 13.6 at higher RPMs). When I bought the car I noticed the interior lights dimmed quite a bit when the car was at idle so I was expecting to replace the alternator anyways.
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

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Originally Posted by jordache16 View Post
So if I am understanding you correctly you have been able to determine that it is not a problem with a relay?
Correct. I used an alligator clip and jumped the relay, and the lights worked fine. Of course doing this means they are permanently on. So I can rule out anything from the relay to the headlights/fogs themselves.

Resetting the ETACS didn't help me. Right now, my headlights don't come on at all unless I jump the relay. Also, I haven't noticed any dimming of lights at idle, nor have the lights come up when I rev the engine, so I don't think it is the alternator, at least for me. I would think if your alternater isn't charging, and you have HIDs, then it is possible the headlights might have issues there. But I'm not 100% sure.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

[QUOTE=LunarSX;6503793]Right now, my headlights don't come on at all unless I jump the relay.QUOTE]

Well, I guess I wasn't completely right. I tried running the lights without jumping the relay, and the lights turned off. I hit a bump further down the road and they came back on. I'm confused as to why hitting a bump would cause the lights to go back on. Sadly, I'm still not sure what is causing the issue.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

So on my way back home for Thanksgiving this week I was stopped in a drive thru to get some food and noticed my headlights went off (I've never had them go off once they came on). So I reved up the engine to move up in line and they came back on. Then maybe 30 seconds later of waiting in line with the car on idle they went off again. After this happened I was certain it was some type of charging issue.

I already had an alternator ordered and was planning on putting it in this weekend, hoping this would fix my problems. Well I got the alternator installed yesterday and sure enough I still get the same problem where the voltage drops to 11-12V with everything on and the car on idle. I haven't had the headlight problem yet but I am certain it is only a matter of time; the interior lights and everything get dim just like they did before when the car is at idle. Well after doing some more diagnosing I found that it is the A/C compressor in particular that is pulling the voltage way down. With the A/C off and everything else on, she charges where it should (around 13.6V). With the A/C on it will slowly drop down to the 11V range. So after some research on 3Si I found that the idle is supposed to increase when the A/C compressor kicks on, which mine does not. My idle stays at 600 RPM pretty much no matter what.

So everything I have found thus far points me to the Idle Air Control valve which is what adjusts the idle up under certain conditions. I went ahead and pulled the IAC valve since it is easy enough to do (way easier than the alternator) and ran some continuity tests on it per stealth316's nice article on them: Stealth 316 - ISC Servo Motro

Sure enough I have no continuity between two of the pins listed in the stealth316 article. I cleaned the stepper motor and put it back in (wasn't expecting this to change anything but I thought what the hell, since I already had it out) and am planning on ordering a new one today. Hopefully this fixes my headlight/charging issues at idle, I will report back once I get the new one installed.
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

Quote:
Originally Posted by jordache16 View Post
Sure enough I have no continuity between two of the pins listed in the stealth316 article. I cleaned the stepper motor and put it back in (wasn't expecting this to change anything but I thought what the hell, since I already had it out) and am planning on ordering a new one today. Hopefully this fixes my headlight/charging issues at idle, I will report back once I get the new one installed.
Did you end up putting the new IAC valve in? How did it work out for you? Problem Solved?
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

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Originally Posted by LunarSX View Post
Did you end up putting the new IAC valve in? How did it work out for you? Problem Solved?
Yep, that fixed my problem. Sorry for not updating the thread.

I replaced the IAC valve with a new one and now at idle when the I turn the A/C on the RPMs increase a couple hundred ticks to around 1000. None of the interior lights dim and I haven't had the headlights randomly turn off since I replaced the IAC valve.
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Headlights will randomly not turn on

That's great news. Thanks for the update! I'll take a look at mine this weekend.
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