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Thread: Headlights out (all of them)

  1. #1
    Van Fan Dogfish's Avatar
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    Headlight problem

    Regarding my daily driver... 86 2WD LE 317,000 miles. Day before yesterday... daytime, I turned my headlights on in a construction zone (law here in PA). I saw the blue high beam indicator was lit on the dash. When I tried to kick the high beams down the indicator stayed lit regardless of the stick position. When I arrived at my destination, I got out to check the lights. I expected to see the high beams on all the time. Not the case... I had no headlights at all.
    I drove home in the dark. The driving lights were adequate at times and I supplemented by holding back on the stick and lighting all the headlights. All lights worked that way. At some point after holding back on the stick for a few minutes I let up for an on coming car. The indicator light went out and the lights began to function normally. Last night however I saw the indicator blink on for a second and the lights blink off.
    Any thoughts on what to replace... and /or an order if I should replace multiple parts. I have trouble fixing things that don't show symptoms or are intermittent at best.
    Thanks in advance for your time and attention.
    -Jim

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    Van Enthusiast joegri's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight problem

    hi dogfish the vans can give ya fits as you prolly already know. seems to me there is a headlight relay under the dash i would have to check out my books and on line drawings to see exactly where it is . but thats where i,d start. then head to the light switch/wand it self next. good luck i,m sure you,ll get it and be back on the road at night! atleast it does,nt get dark till much later.

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    Re: Headlight problem

    This particular problem sounds like it's in or around that large flat connector under the steering column trim since you DO have (had) the high-beam indicator, and also the use of the high beams via the "flasher". Tim wrote a post on that over on TVP, but hasn't had time to duplicate that post here. I seem to recall that he had to jumper a wire, and also that he initially drove with the high beams on via the stick when his lights failed, but soon smelled something frying and had to abandon that.

    Good luck, and go after it sooner rather than later!

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    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight problem

    Yes, that sounds like the exact problem I had a few years ago. Here's a copy/paste of my old post on TVP:

    I was driving home from a remote job Friday and my headlights started blinking off for a second, then back on. I had about 40 miles of twisty country roads to get home, so I was a bit concerned. A few times the headlights blinked off for up to 5 seconds but as I was pulling off the road they would come back on. Every time it happened the high beam indicator would come on, so I figured it was a bad ground. Anyhow, This went on until I got about 8 miles away from home & they went out for good. I found that they worked when I pulled the blinker switch toward me, but would go off as soon as I released it. I drove another couple miles with the high beams on like this but started noticing the smell of burning plastic, so I pulled over and called my wife. She came to the rescue & I had her lead the way with the Previa while I tailgated her the rest of the way home.

    Today I checked it over and found a burned wire in the connector at the base of the steering column. Rather than mess around changing the connector, I cut the wire off from both sides and spiced it back together with a short piece of 12 ga wire. Here are some pictures of the problem and the repair. Tim








  5. #5
    Forum Newbie Justdrumin's Avatar
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    Headlights out (all of them)

    Hey guys, this is my first Toyota Van and I love it! That is until things started going south. For the first 5 or so days of my ownership the headlights were fine but now I have no Hi or Lo Beams. ALL of the other lights work (Interior, Running, Brakes, Tails, Blinkers). I searched the forum vigorously and found some information so I did check both 15A fuses in the under-dash fuse block as well as the 40A fusible link behind the passenger seat. According to the ohm setting on my multi-meter they're fine. I also read some posts saying to check the blue connectors behind the steering column panel and there are no signs of burnt connectors so I'm stumped at this point. Any help is appreciated, Thanks

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    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Yeah, these can be a PITA to chase down. I'm guessing there's a burnt connector or a bad ground someplace. Could also be a bad switch/dimmer combo in the column. You can chase down with a volt meter but more often than not it's the visual inspection that helps pinpoint the problem. Getting a factory service manual will help identify wires and locations of components. Here's some on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...anual&_sacat=0. Avoid Chiltons and Haynes. The ones published by Toyota are what you want. Very detailed and specific information in those. Tim

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    Forum Newbie Justdrumin's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Yeah, these can be a PITA to chase down. I'm guessing there's a burnt connector or a bad ground someplace. Could also be a bad switch/dimmer combo in the column. You can chase down with a volt meter but more often than not it's the visual inspection that helps pinpoint the problem. Getting a factory service manual will help identify wires and locations of components. Here's some on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...anual&_sacat=0. Avoid Chiltons and Haynes. The ones published by Toyota are what you want. Very detailed and specific information in those. Tim
    Thanks for the reply Tim! I've been working with a mechanic, who is a family friend, trying to figure out the flaw in the system. We're at a point now where we have to look before we leap to keep labor cost down. It looks like no burnt connectors and with a new relay in, the headlights worked for about 10 minutes until the relay got EXTREMELY hot and the lights shut off . You mentioned a switch/dimmer combo could be the issue and my mechanic had this theory as well but is there a way to tell for sure before I pay him to make that leap? He mentioned the possibility of installing a new switch and it just blowing if we're wrong . Any tips and pointers would be rad, thanks in advance!

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    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    It's normal for relays to run warm.....even hot as there's a coil inside that draws power. Still, it's probably a good idea to check the headlight fuses and the fusible link near the power steering reservoir to be sure the correct value link/fuses are being used. If the relay got really hot, then I'd pull the socket it plugs into and check it for damage. Sometimes high resistance at these terminals can lead to arcing, and this can create excessive heat. Assuming you have the correct fuses/link, I don't see you burning up any components while testing the system. You could have a short, but that would blow the link or the fuses (thus protecting your components). Most of the time it's a bad connection that starts arcing & eventually becomes open. Lots of hidden places under the dash & on the back of relay sockets, fuse panel, and switch where this can happen. You might need to disassemble a bit and pull some components for a thorough inspection. Tim

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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    I did a full rewire of my headlights about 9 years ago. I did it using 1 relay for low beams and 1 relay for high beams and simply allowing the headlight switch and low/high switch only control the relays while the relays transferred power from the battery to the lights. So far, this has been working flawlessly and now able to run higher wattage lights. I plan to upgrade to HIDs with bi-xenon projectors for the low beams someday when I start driving the Van again. It's a real tight fit to retrofit projectors into a 4x6" housing. Should be interesting to have a 1984 Toyota Van with HID projectors. Doing a rewire is worth it, even with halogens. The light output improved so much, even with the sealed beams, I got flashed at a lot. I never got flashed at with the AutoPal E-Code lights and 90/100 watt H4 bulbs though. I retrofitted HID projectors on my Cobalt and I love them. They use less power too, so they should make the Vans' weak alternators happy.

  10. #10
    Forum Newbie Justdrumin's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Quote Originally Posted by kcg795 View Post
    I did a full rewire of my headlights about 9 years ago. I did it using 1 relay for low beams and 1 relay for high beams and simply allowing the headlight switch and low/high switch only control the relays while the relays transferred power from the battery to the lights. So far, this has been working flawlessly and now able to run higher wattage lights. I plan to upgrade to HIDs with bi-xenon projectors for the low beams someday when I start driving the Van again. It's a real tight fit to retrofit projectors into a 4x6" housing. Should be interesting to have a 1984 Toyota Van with HID projectors. Doing a rewire is worth it, even with halogens. The light output improved so much, even with the sealed beams, I got flashed at a lot. I never got flashed at with the AutoPal E-Code lights and 90/100 watt H4 bulbs though. I retrofitted HID projectors on my Cobalt and I love them. They use less power too, so they should make the Vans' weak alternators happy.
    At this point I'm very tempted to do a full re-wire. This is what I'm dealing with right now. No wiring Diagrams. No Mercy.


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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    The headlight relay is closed with the light control switch at the HEADLIGHT position or the dimmer switch at the FLASH position.

    John

  12. #12
    Forum Newbie Justdrumin's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    ok, so I finally got some time to look at the van and with a trusty wiring diagram at my side came across this little number.
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    Connector 1D to the fuse block. Burnt pin appears to be pin 8.

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    So there's the problem, hopefully. However, I'm electrically handicapped and really don't know what to do from here. Do I disassemble my fuse block to get to the pin? How do I fix the connector with burnt pin 8? What caused this problem in the first place and how can it be prevented in the future?

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    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    This looks bad enough to explain the problem, but not nearly as bad as these can get. The spade on your fuse box still looks usable. This type problem is caused by a heavy sustained amp draw through a loose or otherwise high resistance connection. Since it's normal for headlights to pull lots of power, this problem was most likely caused by the connection itself (meaning there's nothing else you need to do other than fix the bad spot).

    It would be preferred to take the fuse box and this harness piece out of a parts van, but if that's not an option, I'd use a Dremel with a cut-off wheel to cut the corner out of that connector. Then I'd take a 14 gauge wire with a standard spade connector and plug it directly onto that spade of the fuse box. Make sure it fits nice & tight. If it is loose, pull it back off and slightly crush it until it grips tight. Then butt connect the new wire to the old wire in the harness. Note: when using butt connectors and other solderless terminals, quality of crimpers and connectors are important. Use a Klein crimper (or equivalent) and get the nylon insulated connectors (not vinyl). Tim

  14. #14
    Forum Newbie Justdrumin's Avatar
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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    This looks bad enough to explain the problem, but not nearly as bad as these can get. The spade on your fuse box still looks usable. This type problem is caused by a heavy sustained amp draw through a loose or otherwise high resistance connection. Since it's normal for headlights to pull lots of power, this problem was most likely caused by the connection itself (meaning there's nothing else you need to do other than fix the bad spot).

    It would be preferred to take the fuse box and this harness piece out of a parts van, but if that's not an option, I'd use a Dremel with a cut-off wheel to cut the corner out of that connector. Then I'd take a 14 gauge wire with a standard spade connector and plug it directly onto that spade of the fuse box. Make sure it fits nice & tight. If it is loose, pull it back off and slightly crush it until it grips tight. Then butt connect the new wire to the old wire in the harness. Note: when using butt connectors and other solderless terminals, quality of crimpers and connectors are important. Use a Klein crimper (or equivalent) and get the nylon insulated connectors (not vinyl). Tim
    Should I clean/sand the spaded on the fuse box? Or will it be okay as long as I do the jumper wire?

    EDIT: Never mind. I performed the process you described and the issue appears to be resolved! For now... Thank you Tim and everyone else who gave me helpful advice in my time of need! Big learning experience for me
    Last edited by Justdrumin; 11-12-2014 at 09:22 PM.

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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Awesome! Sorry for the late response, I've been working lots of overtime. Glad you got it figured out. Sanding terminals inside areas like this can be pretty difficult, and usually not necessary. Spade connectors (at least the quality ones) do a good job of grabbing fresh material. The female ones have the metal edges turned in so they dig little grooves into the male spade. If it's crushed a bit (to be extra tight), they will cut deep enough to dig into new material (as they are being forced on). This makes for a good low resistance connection. Occasionally I'll see one where the male spade is much worse than yours. In such cases I'll push it on, then remove and inspect. I'm basically checking to be sure the grooves cut by the new female spade are deep enough to expose shiny new metal. If not, I'll crush the female a bit more and push-on again. Even the worst ones will usually dig into virgin material after a few times.

    FWIW, the factory cannot do this on multiple connection plugs. Imagine how hard it would be to push-on/pull-off an 8 pin connector if all the spades grabbed like this. As a result they make them all loose. Loose terminals that transmit high current typically end up like this. I'm guessing your repair is better than the factory (in regards to resistance). Tim

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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Hi Justdrumin, We are experiencing the same problem with our 1987 Van... just replaced the fusible link and checked the fuse... but before we get too crazy, where exactly is this panel located? That is, all in all, was it necessary to take the dash apart? Just trying to avoid that if at all possible.
    Thanks for your help with this one,
    Bridget

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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Those pics are the back of the fuse box. It's located down low in the middle of the dash. It can be removed without too much disassembling. Another common place for a bad connection is the blue connector under the steering column. To access it you'll need to drop the plastic cover under the column. Once it's off unplug the blue connector and check the terminals. Tim

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    Re: Headlights out on 1985 Van

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Those pics are the back of the fuse box. It's located down low in the middle of the dash. It can be removed without too much disassembling. Another common place for a bad connection is the blue connector under the steering column. To access it you'll need to drop the plastic cover under the column. Once it's off unplug the blue connector and check the terminals. Tim
    Thanks, Tim!
    We took a look at it last night. I forgot to mention, there was an audible "pop" through the speakers for the last few weeks when I turned on the headlights. Then one day, the headlights just stopped working.
    Anyway, we pulled the stereo fuse and, voila! Headlights!
    I guess whomever installed the aftermarket stereo must've mixed up some wires. We'll have to pull it out and rewire accordingly...
    I have a feeling we are never going to get away with not taking the dash apart, so this is all good information to have.
    Thanks again!

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    headlights out

    I have a wonderful 1987 Toyota vanwagon. My headlights started going off and on without warning. I found the headlight relay "hanging" below the glove box and wiggled it...the lights came back on. Well I guess I did that for too long and it finally burnt out. I took the van to a Toyota dealer and was told the relay was fine but the box it plugs into was fried. Well...the one spot where that headlight relay plugs into was fried. There are many relays plugged into this box and everything else works fine (turn signals, parking lights, interior lights, etc). My problem is that Toyota doesn't make this "box" anymore. I've searched junkyards and online but no one has one. Does anyone have any suggestions? Perhaps a way to bypass the "box" and get my headlights back? Thanks, Rain.

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    Re: headlights out

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain View Post
    I have a wonderful 1987 Toyota vanwagon. My headlights started going off and on without warning. I found the headlight relay "hanging" below the glove box and wiggled it...the lights came back on. Well I guess I did that for too long and it finally burnt out. I took the van to a Toyota dealer and was told the relay was fine but the box it plugs into was fried. Well...the one spot where that headlight relay plugs into was fried. There are many relays plugged into this box and everything else works fine (turn signals, parking lights, interior lights, etc). My problem is that Toyota doesn't make this "box" anymore. I've searched junkyards and online but no one has one. Does anyone have any suggestions? Perhaps a way to bypass the "box" and get my headlights back? Thanks, Rain.
    Rain, I have the same thing going on. The connection if loose gets hot, the hotter it gets, the looser it gets, then melts and deforms a bit of the plastic, the connectors within become weak...

    I got away with manipulating the electrical connectors within the fuse panel and installing the relay with some dielectric grease. But it's not a permanent solution. I hate electrical work on cars. That's just me. I've been dragging my feet on replacing the fuse panel for that reason. I keep meaning to really get in there and see if the wiring to the headlight relay can be pulled out the back and new connectors installed and the relay mounted somewhere outside the fuse panel so that the whole thing doesn't need to be changed.

    I thought I saw fuse panels in two vans at PicknPulls but that was maybe a month ago - I considered getting one, but then I was reminded that I would actually have to then do this type of work. They should be pretty common, although I don't know about differences between model years.

    The same thing is going on with my blower motor relay for the heater, but only if I hit a big pothole. "If the heat doesn't work, you just reach down here and tap tap tap with your finger on this thing," said the folks I originally got the van from. Suspension work might be the fix for that one.

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