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No Headlights, AC fan switch lights up turn signals (lights switch too), blows softly

Discussion in '60-Series Wagons' started by elsie, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. elsie

    elsie

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    I'm still very new to this and have no other social media experience so I hope I'm putting this in the right place. Last time I butted into someones conversation or thread or whatever it's called and made people angry so I'm trying my best to figure this out. Too many things to click on that I don't know what they mean. So, I hope someone sees this. Please respond even if you can't help my issue to let me know if I'm even doing this right. And will someone tell me what the heck "tags" are? I left that blank. Sorry this is long. It's a squirrely problem.

    Ok, I rebuilt my AC compressor and took it to a shop to have them draw a vacuum and put in oil and some of my precious stash of R-12, and do a pressure test. All went well and the AC is back to meat hanging temperature. I mention this just in case, but I don't think the issue is from this work because I did it a month ago and this problem just popped up in the last few days.

    I hop in Elsie, (my 88 FJ62) head down the road and hit the AC. It comes on, but I notice it isn't blowing very hard while on high. Strange. Then I look at the clock and notice it is very very faint, can hardly see it. First thought is the lights are on. It was early and maybe my left hand just turned them on in habit after years of owning Elsie. I flip the lights and the AC starts blowing hard and the clock brightens, but I notice I had turned the lights on. I turn them off and all is well. Strange again. I ask my son who drives her too and he says he hasn't noticed anything like that. A couple of days later I hop in and the same thing. Low blow low clock. I flip the lights on and the turn signal arrows light up, the high beam indicator faintly lights up, the clock brightens and the blower starts blowing hard. Turn the lights off and blower soft clock dim but the turn signal lights stay on. I take the blower fan switch from high to low and the turn signal lights dim. Then I notice that if I engage the AC button and flip the blower fan to low the signal lights dimly light, to medium a little brighter, high pretty bright, but still blowing softly. I turn on the lights and hear a buzz down by my left foot. Sounds like a relay. I've worked on just about every machine type and have dealt with relays on Volvo wheel loaders and excavators (a typical problem with them) and know that sound.

    Turn the AC off, lights off. Wait to jack with it when I get home. Get home turn the AC to high, same signal lights on, flip on the lights, buzz starts, check the headlights, nothing, not even dimly on, do the half crab walk to look up under the dash above the pedals and find the relay outlet up against the drivers side wall and high. Feel them and the brownish/red square on is the one buzzing and the one next to it to the rear of the truck (silver and round) is pretty warm.

    Now, relays can last a long time, and they can go out. But, often they go out because something is exceeding the specified load. Half the time when they buzz, they will be dead soon, and it is just the relay. Half the time they die, get replaced and then start buzzing again and you have to go digging through a spaghetti of wires to find the problem.

    During all of this the charge/voltage/battery gauge has stayed between the "good" two white lines toward the top of the gauge and barely move a half a needle when I engage the AC or blower or lights and buzzy relay.

    I opened the hood and checked the AC switch line. It's fine. I noticed my 29 year old original negative lead connector was not real tight on the battery pole and couldn't be tightened anymore. So, I changed that because I should, but didn't expect it to solve anything. It didn't of course.

    I've replaced the buzzy relay but nothing changed. I'd love to have a guide to tell me what each of the relays on that outlet bank are for so it would give me something to think about or go on. Other than that, I'm stumped. I'm hoping someone will know exactly what it is so I don't have to start tearing things apart and putting a voltmeter to every harness and component and checking readings to the repair manual schematics troubleshooting guide. That's a PITA I'm not looking forward to. HELP!!! Thoughts?
     
  2. rrv333

    rrv333 SILVER Star

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    You're in the right place. I'm neither an A/C or electrical guru but from reading on here and my own personal experiences, it maybe a ground issue. Problem is finding the bad ground. I could be way off so hopefully someone more qualified will chime in. HTH
     
  3. OSS

    OSS SILVER Star

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    rrv333 has pointed you in the right direction. I'll pile on.

    The wiring in your truck has a couple weak ground junctions that can eventually burn up and cause electrical mayhem. There are a few of these in the truck where several ground wires connect to a single 'bus' connector, and from that connector, one big wire leads to body ground. This connector is undersized and inadequate for the current that flows through it - so it eventually- after a very long time, burns up.

    What may be happening in your case is that the main lead to ground from this connector has probably fried the plastic housing it's inserted into. The burning of the plastic creates carbon & crap that creates a thin film of insulating contaminates between the slide pins of the main ground wire pin - impeding the flow of electricity.

    Electricity is lazy and will always choose the path of least resistance to ground, and once the main path to ground is compromised, it will grudgingly flow through other components that are connected to the same junction. This might be a light bulb, signal flasher, fan etc. This is called a floating ground.

    The culprit to your electric problem is probably behind the dash at one of these ground junctions.

    The thread below shows a common issue with FJ60 cruisers & I 'think' the 62 has one of these bastards as well.

    Is my alternator about to eat dust?
     
  4. elsie

    elsie

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    Thanks for your replies. Firstly, I'm glad I'm doing things right on the site...so far. I'm a much better mechanic than tech guy. OK, the thread link you sent me was great stuff. I also found another thread from 2011 where a fella had the same problem. His solution that fixed it was cleaning the ground/negative battery cable to the frame and it did the trick. I checked mine out and although I had just replaced the original negative post connector, I wasn't happy with the way the rest of the wiring looked. Then I did the (oh so comfortable at 50 with a spinal fusion) half crab walk to lay on the front floor boards and located all the spots in the pictures for the ground connections to the inside frame and the consolidated ground connectors and everything looked clean and solid. It was a bitch to find them and then hold the flashlight and get my tri-focal glasses to see everything clearly while trying to ignore the pain in my back, but I struggled through it and was pleasantly surprised at what good condition all the wiring was under there. So, after years of having tools in my hands I know to do the easy stuff first and then progress and eliminate. I did the battery connections. The six wires going to the positive pole were a little corroded and the nut to the frame for the negative cable was rusty. So, I stripped and soldered and shrink wrapped all six lines to the positive post and cleaned and filed and brushed the negative connection to the frame and sandwiched the crimped loop connector between the frame and the battery box support arm for a better connection, instead of on the outside (just made more sense for a good connection that would stay clean). It all looked a lot cleaner and with very solid connections now. I started Elsie up, let her warm, flipped on the lights, all good, turned on the AC and blower to high, all good.

    But, at my age I don't celebrate too early. Took her for a spin. All still good, till I hit a stop light and decided to hit the high beams. Headlights went out, fan/blower dropped by 50%, and the turn signal indicators went on, plus the rear defroster light as well, but this was the first time I've jacked with this at dusk, so maybe I just didn't notice it lit up before. I immediately looked at the charge gauge and saw it had dropped to the bottom of the "good" range between the two white lines at the top. I turned off the lights and AC and got on the highway. After five minutes, I turned on the lights, all good, the AC on high, all good. Exited, came to another light, watched the charge gauge, it started dropping very slowly to the bottom of the "good" range and, lights off, AC low, turn signal lights on. Turned them off and headed home. Got into the drive and turned everything back on and all good. Then gauge down, lights off,...... So, turned all off kept it running. Called for my son, grabbed my voltmeter and had him do what I said.

    I had him kill it. I checked the battery. 12.53 volts, OK. Had him start it and rev it. 13.74 volts, I don't know what this vehicles alternator should be doing at idle, but I'd have been a lot happier at 14.5. I had him idle and turn on the lights, all good, but the meter dropped to 13v. Had him turn on the AC on high, all good, but 12.54v. Two minutes of that and I had him hit the high beams and, the lights went out, AC low, ..... and the meter went to 12.75v, turned lights switch off, meter to 13v, AC off, meter to 13.74v.

    Had him rev the engine a little for five minutes and repeated the process and it was exactly the same. Sooooo, I'm thinking: 1. Voltage regulator 2. Alternator 3. Battery 4. A loose ground that isn't evident yet. But, I just don't think a loose ground would be that predictable. When it's under load with the lights and the AC on high and the engine turning at 2k-3k on the highway, all is well. Get it to idle at a stop and the charge starts dropping and all the problems act the same. I've had this truck for well over ten years and have been through a battery going dead and then it just wouldn't start but never did this, so I don't think it's the battery. That puts me at #1 or #2. Thoughts?
     
  5. rrv333

    rrv333 SILVER Star

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    Alternator based on these last scenarios
     
  6. elsie

    elsie

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    My thoughts too. Do you happen to know what the alternator should be putting out in voltage at idle and under load? Thx
     
  7. elsie

    elsie

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    I've noticed there have been a lot of views on this thread, so I felt it best to do an update in case someone else has run into the same problem. I am 99% sure it is the alternator. I hate replacing a main component just to have it not solve the problem. Not so much the money, but the wasted wrench time. So, I really research first because it has served me well. I have spoken to two pro shops that work on Land Cruisers and only Land Cruisers to verify my thought process. In both occasions, they cut me off before I finished telling them everything and then told me everything that was happening and they were dead on. Both of them said the FJ60 and the FJ62 will turn on the turn signal lights, then the high beam indicator light, then the rear defrost light, then the brake light, and start buzzing the big red relay as the alternator/internal voltage regulator starts going bad. Put it under load as it is weakening and these weird no headlights, low AC blower, instrument panel lights coming on, is a clear sign. Do a load test on the battery to be sure it is still good, then a load test on the alternator and if you get the same dropping charge indications I got with my volt meter and that is it 99% of the time. The other 1% is a bad battery connection.

    Next, both said, "don't get a crap aftermarket one from a chain store or you will have more problems later and have to replace it and do more later. Either get your old one rebuilt by someone who uses Denso parts to do it right, or buy a rebuilt Denso." Considering the crap ones are $127 and the local Denso re-builder in Dallas (AES) will rebuild in in a day for $160, I am taking mine to get rebuilt and will happily pay the extra $33. I usually only use OEM parts anyway, so was very happy at that price. The new ones I found were around $400.

    I'll let y'all know how it all works out after I put it back on. Thx
     
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  8. elsie

    elsie

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    All right, this one was a PITA. Pardon me, but truth is truth. So, what I have finally figured out is this. If you have a compound problem of battery connections getting a little frayed/corroded, and an old alternator that is working extra hard because of that battery, 102 degree heat with the AC blasting, and simple age of the brushes, diodes, and internal voltage regulator; the multi-connectors that hold the grounds for several electrical systems can get hot and melt. Thus, the connection that bridges between all 6-10 ground wires gets tarnished/oxidized and leaves you with a bad connection for all of the grounds in that connector.

    Behind the instrument panels and under the dash on both sides, there are several of these multi-ground-connectors. Some of them are a milky color like most all electrical connectors, and some are orange. Both types have some other wires other than grounds going into them, but are just sharing the connector and not connected to the ground wires. They are pretty easy to identify once you pull out the instrument cluster and the rest of the dash. They're usually wrapped fairly loosely by black tape to a large bundle of wires in normal black ribbed harness casing. They all have an end cap opposite where the wires go in that is clearly a metal male multi-clip that connects all of the ground wires together. I think if they would have put a loop on that metal multi-clip that could be attached to the metal framing, it would keep this problem from happening. But, they don't, so when the system is overworking (due to the problems in paragraph one) it gets hot and stresses the connection. Then the connection is bad enough that the lazy electricity is just looking for any ground it can find since the main one has a crap connection now and it causes the other instruments with grounds going to the multi-clip to get some juice and faintly turn on or light up.

    The way you know this is your problem is when you turn on something electrical and it causes other un-associated lights to come on. IE: You flip on your AC blower and the turn signal indicators light up. Or the rear defrost light, high beam indicator, or some or all of that happens and what you flipped on does not come on. As my previous notes in this strand state, I temporarily thought it was fixed when I cleaned up the battery leads. But, because the alternator was going bad, it just held off the problem for a bit until the load to that connector got hot again and corroded the connection more to make the symptoms raise their ugly heads again.

    I've read where some folks take the connector apart, clean it, and put it back together, but since I don't like the design in the first place, I don't want to have to do this again. I pulled all of the ground wires out of the faulty connector leaving them intact by pulling off the metal multi-clip with a tiny screw driver which I also used to bend back the plastic that keeps the female ends on each wire in the orange connector, so it all just slides out of the plastic housing, then cleaned the multi-clip nice and shiny as well as the ground wire female connectors, then cut back another half inch of wire insulation on each ground wire and plugged the female wire tips into the male mulitclip without putting them back in the orange plastic housing. So, what I had was the same connection but no orange plastic shroud/insulator. Then, I doused the whole thing in flux, stuck a soldering iron in the middle of the whole thing and then melted solder into it making it one solid block of silver. Now, there aren't any thin little connections, but one piece of conjoined grounds in a solid block. Tape the whole thing up with thick electrical tape and you are done. There is simply no way to have a bad ground connection when all the wires are fused into solid block of metal.

    I'll send some pics tomorrow and add a few more notes. Sorry this is so long, but if you have this problem, you will happily spend the ten minutes it takes to read this entire strand and save hours by not pulling your hair out trying to figure out what the heck is going on after re-doing your battery connections, buying a new battery, and rebuilding your alternator, and the problem is still there.
     
  9. 4runnered

    4runnered

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    Thank you! I've been fighting these issues, when headlights are on and heater on, I intermittently lose all power inside the truck. Blinker indicators both light up, and high beam indicator lights up. It's worse with the heater fan running which leads me to believe it's one of these ground buses. I've checked the white ground buses on the drivers/passenger side both get warm but show no sings of burning, I'll pull them apart and clean them. My money is going to the orange one behind the dash. I've got a healthy gm 1wire alternator charging at 14.4 and also just installed dual batteries with all new leads, both batteries grounded to cab/engine/frame. So I already ruled out battery lead issues. How much dash needed to be removed to get to Orange plug?