Frustration with headlights... Not working. | Page 2 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Frustration with headlights... Not working.

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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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)
 






^ 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
 

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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.
 






@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 -:)

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.
 






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.

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.
 






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.
 






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.

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.
 






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) automotive grease would work but ideally you'd use silicone grease aka dielectric grease on all the copper contacts.

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.

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).
 






^ 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.
 












^ 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.

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?
 






^ 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.
 






Exactly where is the headlight relay?
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.
 






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.
 






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.

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.
 






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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