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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. Craigerz

    Craigerz Elite Explorer

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    Only reason I said it's the switch in the dash is I had the exact same experience. I had all lights except headlights, but when you pulled on the multi function switch the high beams would flash and my multi function switch is less then a year old.

    I had a spare switch in the garage from when the headlight out warning circuit in the console went out, and I bought the switch first but never put it in until now.
     
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  3. 410Fortune

    410Fortune MUD SEASON 2.0 Staff Member Moderator

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    Listen I've been around hundreds of Gen II trucks, when both low beams fail or high beams fail it usually is the multifunction switch ESPECIALLY when the low beams are gone but the brights work when you hold the stalk back
    Check bulbs, fuses, then replace the multi switch most times that will fix it.
    But that's just me :) it can also be relays, auto dimmer, etc...but the failure rate of the multi switch is common and when one second they are fine the next they are gone and the fuses are good.....well all the switching for the headlights low to high beams is done inside that stalk......

    The headlight switch in the dash, the dimmer switch in the dash I have had to replace also, but 7 times out of 10 its the multi switch (It helps to have a box full of them for testing)
     
  4. J_C

    J_C Well-Known Member

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    ^ Yes the MFS is a possibility but I wonder if it's less of one due to his being able to get the headlights to come on by using the MFS held in.

    It's same story different day, either fire the parts cannon at replacing (or refurbishing) one thing after another till it's fixed, or grab a multimeter and the wiring diagram and see where power stops.

    The exception is the relay you can swap with another already there, and I found a pic of one case where (don't know what vehicle) has it in the under-dash (right of driver's foot) relay box pictured below.

    Here are the diagrams both with and without daytime running lamps and the autolamps circuit:

    Multi Function Switch testing.jpg

    Under Dash Fuse Box  -CJB Central Junction Box.png
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: October 21, 2019
  5. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    As J_C said - "grab a multimeter and the wiring diagram and see where power stops." Even using a cheap test light is better than firing the parts cannon IMO.
     
  6. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    It isn't a multi-operator vehicle at least as of yet, until my girlfriend starts driving it.

    Is the multifunction switch at least repairable? I cannot afford a new one at the moment.
     
  7. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    If you determine the MSF is your issue, just replace it. When replacing it (which is pretty easy) be sure to check all the wires going into it. It is a know problem that the wires can pull our of the connector over time from the steering wheel being tilted.
     
  8. Caponetta

    Caponetta New Member

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    I just repaired this issue on a 99 XLT yesterday. Same situation, only flash to pass worked.

    I suspected headlight switch or the MFS. I removed and carefully opened the headlight switch, it was immediately obvious this was the culprit as one of the copper contacts was very corroded. I cleaned up the contacts with some sand paper and put the switch back together and viola!

    Hope yours is as simple.
     
  9. J_C

    J_C Well-Known Member

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    Yes the multifunction switch (MFS) is repairable for (arguably the most common problem) corroded contacts and hardened grease. I did this to mine though the problem I had was an erratic turn signal, but the contacts for everything in it were in bad shape.

    You'll need a torx screwdriver to take out ~ 5 screws, a toothbrush plus petroleum solvent like gasoline to clean the old grease out, then an abrasive such as steel wool, fine sandpaper, or metal polish with cotton swabs, etc to clean the copper contacts, flush that debris out, and then fresh grease. In a pinch, standard (lithium, petroleum based) automotive grease would work but ideally you'd use silicone grease aka dielectric grease on all the copper contacts.

    Note that Ford usually used petroleum based grease on this and the headlight switch, which is why it hardens and why gasoline will dissolve it. Silicone grease will not dissolve in gas. Point is you don't HAVE to use silicone based grease, but it will last longer if you do, and should have "some" kind of grease on it.

    You can test whether the MFS is the problem before doing that. If you unplug the connector to the MFS, then short the red/yellow wire on its mating connector to the red/black wire, using a piece of jumper wire or even a paperclip (which could cause dimmer lights due to the resistance of the paperclip metal) the headlights should come on if the MFS was the problem instead of something else. Obviously you need the headlight switch on too, this just jumpers the MFS out of the circuit.
     
    Last edited: October 22, 2019
  10. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    If you want to try taking the MFS apart you can, but beware of tiny parts inside. I have found that a great way to clean electrical contacts is to soak them in a solution of 50% lemon juice and 50% white vinegar. Worked great on brass, I imagine it would also work great on copper. I don't think I needed to scrape or sand anything afterwards. The contacts looked like new afterwards (and they were over 60 years old). Personally I'd just buy a new MFS (and I'm quite frugal).
     
    Last edited: October 22, 2019
  11. J_C

    J_C Well-Known Member

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    ^ The parts inside aren't too bad to manage if you have it lying flat on a table when it's opened. There's just a piece or two that comes loose and if you look at it a minute it is fairly clear how they go in.

    It will need a solvent and toothbrush to clean out the grease even if a soaking (water based acid solution) cleaner is tried, but I prefer a fine abrasive method because it leaves the contacts nice and smooth. In my case I used brasso on a paper towel and cotton swabs for the harder to reach contacts, and they ended up with a near mirror finish.

    I thought about buying a new MFS, but I like to see how things fail and upon opening it, it was fairly obvious it just needed the contacts touched up, cleaned out and regreased. That only took 5 minutes or so, except for the time I left it outside for the gasoline to evaporate off after I flushed it out.
     
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  12. fast_dave

    fast_dave Active Member

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    Last edited: October 22, 2019
  13. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    Maybe I'm recalling someone else, but wasn't it you that lost a spring out of your MFS when you took it apart, only to find it weeks later on your floor?
     
  14. J_C

    J_C Well-Known Member

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    ^ Yes, but that was a different situation. At the time I took the end cap off and screw under the cap out while it was still on the vehicle. The end cap doesn't need to come off at all to clean the contacts for the lights, just the main body of it opened.

    At the same time, the stalk area behind the end cap has grease in it and should not be submerged in anything unless you intend to pull it all out, clean and regrease it. In that case, do put your hand over the stalk end piece as you pull it off so you catch the spring and little metal cap that sits on it. The main problem there is my ignorance in not realizing there was a spring that could fly out and I didn't see it fly out... but all is good, my MFS is fully functional again.
     
  15. Justinwht

    Justinwht Member

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    There is a relay box under the dash between steering column and radio. It was a snap on cover. The headlight relay is first one closest to firewall.

    A quick test would be swap it out with fuel pump relay under the hood. There are two, I forget if it's the one closest to side panel or to the center. Pulling one of them and see if engine starts, if it doesn't then that's the fuel pump relay. The opposite relay goes by various names, it's a "pedal-to-metal" gas pedal relay that cuts off AC compressor when you floor the accelerator pedal. It's a good spare if fuel pump relays goes bad as it serves no other function.
     
  16. SteveRosenow

    SteveRosenow Member

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    UPDATE:

    A friend of mine parting out a 2000 Ford Explorer XLT was gracious enough in letting me have the headlight switch, multifunction switch and a few relays to help get the job done.

    After an hour of getting the dash apart (the knee panel under the steering column was hard as hell to remove!) I was able to get in and replace the headlight switch, as it was the first troubleshooting point.

    Sure enough, the headlight switch replacement worked! Which is weird since I thought the headlight switch that was in it, was still good and capable of being fixed.
     
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  17. koda2000

    koda2000 Explorer Addict

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    I don't recall having to remove the knee panel in order to get at the headlight switch. Even when I have removed the knee panel, it's easy to remove. What was so difficult? 4 screws on the bottom and 2 pop out clips in the upper corners.
     
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  18. 410Fortune

    410Fortune MUD SEASON 2.0 Staff Member Moderator

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    Ahhh the knee guard, your first time it can be a real PITA
    After you do a bunch of them it gets easier....like less then a minute type of easier....of course having the 7mm and 8mm sockets and a flexible extension on an impact driver really helps.

    Glad you got it fixed!
     
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