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Frustration with headlights... Not working.

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by SteveRosenow, October 18, 2019.

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^





  1. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    Two nights ago while out with my girlfriend, I had an issue pop up that was unexpected: My headlights stopped working.

    As we were driving around Olympia, I had been driving with them on as per usual and they had worked fine until I went out to go to a BSA meeting with her. After the meeting, we decided it was time for dinner so I started up the rig and turned the headlights on since it was now nightfall.

    ...only except this time, they weren't working. Everything else comes on, including the tail lights and parking lights up front. The headlights themselves, INCLUDING the fog lights, DO NOT TURN ON, with only one exception:

    The only way I can get the headlights to turn on, is by holding the signal stalk/multifunction switch lever towards me as though I'm flashing my high beams, and I had to do just that for the entirety of a 40+ mile drive home.

    Is there a particular cure for this? I have searched high and low and I cannot be without my SUV as half of my driving will be at night.
     
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  3. J_C

    J_C Well-Known Member

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    I'd guess it's the headlight switch itself or the headlight relay. The switch you could check with a multimeter and the relay you could swap with another of the same type in the relay box.
     
  4. donalds

    donalds Elite Explorer

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    Interesting
     
  5. enb54

    enb54 Elite Explorer

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    X2 on that, by pulling back on the stalk your high beams work, so unless you burned out both low beams, there is something else common, your multimeter is your best friend on this...
     
  6. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season? Staff Member Moderator

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    check fuses
    Then plan to replace the multifunction switch in the steering column
     
  7. Craigerz

    Craigerz Elite Explorer

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    Exact thing just happened to me. Replaced the switch on the dash and that fixed it.
     
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  8. RandomNerd2000

    RandomNerd2000 Well-Known Member

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    Check fuses, I had an 01 XLT that had no headlights years ago, reason why was the headlight was full of water and when it blew the bulb it then shorted out a short time later. I replaced the light, fuse, and bulb and it never blew it again.
     
  9. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    All fuses, including the main maxi fuse in the power distribution box, check out fine. I removed the headlight switch last night, disassembled it and cleaned off the contacts and still nothing.
     
  10. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    Exactly where is the headlight relay? Mind you, I don't have the message center. I do have autolamp.
     
  11. J_C

    J_C Well-Known Member

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    ^ Good question! There should be a relay box, not the main power distribution box, under the hood somewhere. IIRC it has varied from model years and/or Ranger pickups. It may be under your air cleaner box, follow the wire looms and wire from the headlights.

    Since you have autolamps, be sure you don't have the rearview mirror slider set all the way to the left, and I'd move it around and wiggle it a bit to be sure it isn't involved.

    However, cleaning the headlight switch may be a great start, but ultimately, the real test is using a multimeter to see where the power stops then trace backwards (towards the battery) from there. Headlight wiring diagrams are among those linked in my sig below.
     
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  12. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season? Staff Member Moderator

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    On my 96 explorer the headlight relays were under the airbox
     
  13. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    Does/did your vehicle have DRL's (daytime running lamps)?
     
  14. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    I have my slider all the way to the left on mine because my auto lamp function does not work in the sense that the lights do not shut off. I tried moving the switch to see if that had an effect on the functionality of the headlights but it didn't.
     
  15. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    The auto lamp function? Yes it does.
     
  16. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    The auto lamp function? Yes it does.
     
  17. fast_dave

    fast_dave Active Member

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    @SteveRosenow

    Just throwin' this out there after reading your posts to this thread;

    Is this a multi-operator vehicle where over the years the tilt steering feature is used often/between drivers?

    Just askin' because not only does all of your exterior lights & headlights run through the Multi-Function Switch, the Multi-Function Switch itself is a know "Explorer Wide" problem, but also the wiring harness wires and/or wire connector that connects into the Multi-Function Switch can become a problem, as it runs over a tilt-column.

    Hope that helps -:)
     
    Last edited: October 20, 2019
  18. Mr. Alligator

    Mr. Alligator Elite Explorer

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    Auto lamps? Especially auto lamps that you know are not functioning well? I would disconnect/unplug the disfunctional auto lamp from the system, to eliminate that from the circuit. Get a standard rear view mirror.

    just a thought. Good luck.
     
  19. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    No. DLR's was a separate thing. There's a module in the console that can cause trouble with the headlights.

    Edit:
    Try unplugging your Autolamp mirror to see if that makes any difference.
     
    Last edited: October 21, 2019
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  20. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season? Staff Member Moderator

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    I still vote multi function switch as the culprit
     
  21. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    I agree that it's a possibility.
     

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