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Dash and Interior Light Hiccups (1970 Javelin)

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FreeMoCo2009 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FreeMoCo2009 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/02/2020 at 10:03pm
Update 3:

To use one of my favorite expressions: Well, this sure is a real hum-dinger, ain't it?

Double checked the gauge cluster circuit board, ensured the circular connector was inserted properly, double checked the hardware on the back (both nuts and screws) to ensure they were all tightened properly, but still, no lights to be found. Pulled it out and checked the wiring with my volt meter, found that it's getting power and that everything seems to be in order. Gotta say, this one really has me stumped.

Questions that pop into my mind now (that I haven't been able to figure out with the help of the schematic book or TSM):

-Is the gauge cluster light purely dependent on the headlight switch, or would it require a connection to the steering column wiring harness? The column in the car is a hodgepodge of 3 columns I've dismantled and rebuilt into one (cue the term "frankencolumn"). The wiring harness appeared to be good, and everything else is working, which makes me wonder if I may have missed something?
-Are the bulbs in the gauge cluster 2-way or 1-way? They're stock replacement incandescent bulbs that light up whenever I test them. I haven't found an issue with them yet, and was going to attempt the "flip flop" test before posting this, but figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. To my knowledge, incandescent bulbs have always been 2-way, so they wouldn't affect anything. Of course, I've been wrong before...

I'm all for suggestions at this point, as I'm truly lost as to where to go with this. Apologies to everyone for asking all the stupid questions (or at least, I feel that they're stupid haha). Thanks again to everyone for the help!

Cheers!
-Brad L.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote george w Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/03/2020 at 6:10am
Now that you've confirmed that the other dash lights are working with good bulbs then the problem must lie within the instrument cluster. The cluster is only dependent on the circular connector for all it's electrical connections. If you have 12 volts power on pin 5 (orange wire) with the headlight switch on and a good ground connection back to the body on pin 7(black wire)of the plug then the problem must lie within the cluster itself.
I have had connectivity issues with the both the brass contacts within little, black bulb holder/sockets themselves as well as the bent wire contacts on the wedge base bulbs. Some of the new bulbs I've used just don't want to make good connection with the contacts inside those bulb holders, so check those wire contacts on the base of each bulb.

Get yourself a regular 9 volt battery and a couple of alligator clip wire jumpers. Test each bulb and then test the bulb when it's inserted into the plastic holder by touching the clip leads to the brass contacts on the outside edge of the bulb holder. Make sure the bulb lights. If the bulbs light then you'll want to put the bulbs back into the cluster one at a time and make sure the copper contact pads on the PC board as well as the little brass contacts on the bulb holders are clean and making good contact with each other. You may need to bend the contact fingers on the bulb holders a bit. Connect the 9 volt battery with the test leads to pins 5 and 7 on the cluster and confirm the bulbs are lighting once installed back into the cluster. ( polarity does not matter with regular light bulbs )If they don't light then you most likely will have a bad connection between either the base of pin 5 and/or 7 and it's copper circuit trace on the PC board. This can be corrected by some brass wire brush cleanup of that joint and soldering of that pin base to the PC board using rosin core solder.
The 9 volt battery has more than enough juice to light the bulbs for your testing purposes.
Long time AMC fan. Ambassador 343, AMX 390, Hornet 360, Spirit 304 and Javelin 390. All but javelin bought new.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FreeMoCo2009 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/10/2020 at 2:19pm
Update 4:

Ding ding ding! George, kudos to you sir, as it turned out to be the pins all along! I grabbed a soldering iron and solder from the local hardware store, and after about 20 minutes of work (and a few burns on my fingers), everything lights up once again! So glad I can finally put this one to bed and put my dashboard back together.

Thank you everyone for all of the help and tips!

Cheers!
-Brad L.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FreeMoCo2009 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/10/2020 at 8:51pm
New Update:

So the gauge cluster lights are working now, but upon running more diagnostics, I came across another issue. Whenever I use the turn signals, the two interior dome lights in the Jav start flashing, but none of the outside lights go off. Solenoid appears to be working fine, as it's still audible as the interior lights are flashing. I swapped the emergency light solenoid with it just to be safe, but still the same issue. Fairly certain this is because of my own handiwork with the gauge cluster, but I'm stumped as to where to start looking to resolve this.

Dome lights won't flash if the doors are open, as they're getting a solid power source from the door switches. Checked the fuses, everything's fine. Also checked the wiring harness that connects the dash to the steering column, but haven't found anything that looks out of place

Anyone know where to start diagnosing this one? Consulting the electrical diagram book, but getting lost in the schematic and unable to figure it out myself.

Cheers!
-Brad L.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote troutwilly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/10/2020 at 10:13pm
So when you use the turn signals the dome lights flash.  Do the turn signal lights also flash?
Also, when you open a door the dome lights stay on solid.  Do the turn signal lights also come on when a door is open?  Do the turn signals always work normal, doors open and closed?
Bill O.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote First_Gear Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/11/2020 at 12:28am
Well you have crossed a wire with the dome light wire somewhere. Its possible you have shorted the dome light wire to the output for the turn signals. 

Maybe you have connected the dashboard turn signal indicator light to the dome light.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote george w Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/11/2020 at 9:00am
There should be no connection between the dome/courtesy light circuits and the turn signal circuits. Nor is there any portion of the dome light circuit that gets routed to the instrument cluster. When you used the term solenoid I'm assuming that you mean the turn signal flasher.

The courtesy lights are not supplied power through either the headlight switch or the door jamb switches. The courtesy light circuit is fed power from the fuse panel and the power goes directly to the light sockets. The door jamb switches and the headlight switch (when fully CCW past the detent) provide the ground path to complete the circuit and light the bulbs.

When the dome lights flash with the turn signals do they appear to be normal brightness or do they appear dimmer that what would be normal. Clearly there's some cross connection between these two circuits which would make me start troubleshooting at the fuse panel. Before going further, is your car still using only the factory wiring harness and fuse panel ? This is important to know when troubleshooting.

I would suggest starting your troubleshooting by disconnecting all wiring connectors at the fuse panel EXCEPT the main power feeds. There are two power feeds into and two main circuits in the fuse panel. One circuit and set of fuses have power all the all time directly from the battery feed and the other circuit is "switched power" that comes from the ignition switch when in the accessory or on position. The always hot, battery feed, is the heavy red wire going to the 4th from left terminal on the top row of the fuse panel. The "accessory switched" feed is the heavy brown wire going to the 1st, far left terminal on the top row.

Somehow the wiring between the turn signals, which are on the switched circuit of the fuse panel, is tied somehow into either the emergency flasher circuit or the courtesy light circuit which are on the unswitched or always hot circuit of the fuse panel.

Both the switched (turn signals) and unswitched (emergency flashers) circuits pass through the steering column connectors so that may be the first place to start looking for something incorrectly connected or miswired.

I would start by only connecting the courtesy light feed wire to the fuse panel This should be the plug with a red wire connected to the second from right terminal on the lower row of the fuse panel. At this point only the courtesy lights should work when the doors are opened or the headlight switch is turned fully CCW past the detent. Go around the car and see if any of the brake or turn signal bulbs, including the green arrow indicators in the instrument cluster, are glowing when the courtesy lights are either on or off. They should not be glowing!

Next re-connect the turn signal feed wire plug with two brown wires, which goes on the far left, lower terminal of the bottom row of the fuse panel. Don't turn the ignition on but do the same test as above by turning on the courtesy lights. Check the turn signal lights again. They should not be glowing.

Now turn the ignition switch to either accessory or on and turn on the turn signals. Try both the left and the right. Are the dome lights flashing ?
If they are then you need to start tracing the wires under the dash and in the left kick panel, A pillar area. If everything is OK so far then you'll want to connect the emergency flasher feed wire connector back on the fuse panel. This is a connector plug with two red wires and it goes on the 2nd. from left, top row terminal of the fuse panel.

Do your light tests again and see what your results are. By this point you should have identified what circuits are affected. if things still work out at this point then you'll want to reconnect one circuit plug at at time on the fuse panel until you find the problem returns. When it does you'll know what circuits and wires you'll need to check out.

      

Long time AMC fan. Ambassador 343, AMX 390, Hornet 360, Spirit 304 and Javelin 390. All but javelin bought new.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote troutwilly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/11/2020 at 10:44pm
george W....excellent instructional.  I learned so much electrical stuff from re-wiring my AMX and continue to learn on this forum.
Let me ask though. As cars get older I have seen where all lights seem to brighten and dim when the turn signals and brake lights are used.  Would this be the cause of either incorrect bulbs, bad connections (especially grounds), or old wiring?
If so, before the OP starts crawling in and out from under his dash I ask, do the dome lights actually blink or just dim and brighten with the signals?  And do other lights also dim and brighten with the signals?
Bill O.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote george w Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/12/2020 at 7:18am
Regarding your observation of lights dimming when using turn signals or other lights, like brake lights are on. The answer is no, that's not normal for any car, even old ones ASSUMING that the battery and the charging system is working as it should AND the battery cables are in good condition.
What you're observing is voltage drop with added or varying load. While some voltage variation can be expected as lights, HVAC blower and other normal electrical loads are turned on and off, there should not be noticeable dimming or flucuations, especially with a minor load change like brake lights or turn signals.
If the battery is at or near full charge then any "dimming" should be barely noticeable if the car is not running and not noticeable if the engine is running at above idle speed. What you can check though is: A, The cleanliness and tightness of the battery connections and cables, especially where the positive battery connections are joined at the battery side of the starter relay on the fender well. B, the connection of the negative battery cable to the engine block behind the alternator and C, and this is important for the lights and accessories, the ground jumper between the engine mount bracket and the engine cross member. It's this ground that provides the return path for all electrical devices in the car except the starter and ignition which receive their grounding though the block and the negative battery cable.

I know it's repetitive and you've heard it said hundreds of times, but all these connections should be shiny clean for both the terminals themselves and the surfaces that they mate with. Of course the battery should be disconnected before doing any inspection and cleaning.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FreeMoCo2009 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/14/2020 at 9:55am
New Update!

Cue the obligatory "kicking one self in the behind" moment, as I realized the ignition switch wasn't turned to the "run" position when I was diagnosing the turn signals. With the ignition set to "run," everything works as should be expected (woot!) George, my hat is off to you, sir, as your explanation of the electrical systems and how to run diagnostics is fantastic! I apologize to everyone if I've sounded like a bit of an idiot while trying to diagnose these issues over the last few weeks, but again, electricity is like witchcraft to me lol.

Many thanks again to everyone, I'm sure I'll be back with more questions later on. For now, the build continues!

Cheers!
-Brad L.
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