2nd Generation Specific 1986-1992 Discussion

'90 GXL - Electrical Issue

Old 01-17-2014, 11:36 AM
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Location: Portland, OR
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Exclamation '90 GXL - Electrical Issue

Hi folks,

This morning when I opened my car up to go to work, it seemed to have encountered some kind of an electrical issue. I'm not much of an expert at electrical systems at all; hoping someone might be able to shed some light on this.

When I unlocked and opened the drivers door, I noticed the dome light and courtesy lights did not turn on. My first thought was dead battery. So I got out the charger, connected it, and the battery was fine.

Next I tried starting the car. To my surprise, the car started just fine. But there were some strange things.

Here is what I see:
- car starts and runs/drives fine
- dome light/courtesy lights: do not work when opening door or when pushing the dome light buttons/switch
- radio: does not come on
- Idiot light cluster:
- door-open and hatch-open lights stay on all the time.
- clock does not come on
- seat belt light works fine
- the rest of the lights (correctly) stay off
- gauges and gauge illumination: work fine
- heater control box: air mix, fan speed, and illumination all work fine
- headlights & fog lights: work fine
- power windows: work fine
- power moonroof: works fine
- door locks: power locks themselves work fine, but anti-theft system does not arm when locking doors.

Is there a fuse or certain area in wiring that could cause this combination of behavior?

Thanks in advance!
onecoolmint is offline  
Old 01-26-2014, 08:48 AM
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Default Re: '90 GXL - Electrical Issue

I am a bit late to this party, and I suppose this gets to be my first post. I have an '86 that has gremlins aplenty, one of which was the lack of courtesy/dome lights when you get in/out of the car. My list read almost identical to yours.

Taking a meter, you could even do it with a test light, I began probing at the bulb itself up in the assembly. I had power to one side of my housing, but no power to the other side...that meant no light. So I replaced the bulb thinking it was that simple, need to complete the circuit and a blown bulb won't do that.

Nope. I then pulled the mirror and that entire assembly to get a look. The previous owners had soldered a wire on that side since at some point in its life the wire had broken off. I removed the solder, and then re-installed the wire with new solder, but when I put it back up it still did not work. I pulled it back down, re-flowed the solder on the selector switch, then installed it once again only to find it was still not working as advertised!

I ended up cleaning the contacts once more, gave the bulb holders a gentle squeeze with some pliers, then tightened down all the screws and connections there at the mirror/light assembly. Now everything is working as it should in that regard but my radio and cigar lighter are not working!

All of my fuses are fine. I even replaced them all just to make extra sure, plus I had a big bag of assorted fuses to play with. Next I pulled the idiot light cluster out and carefully re-flowed the solder on the main connector pins. I put it back together and now my clock works but still no stinking radio!

Later on I plan to pull the radio and replace it with something better, and I think at that time I will try to trace the wires to see if I can find a short somewhere. I had the bezel off when I was replacing my shift boot last week and I can already tell there is a nightmare awaiting me behind that radio!

Long story short, I am in the same boat as you and if you find some obscure fix that I am missing then I would definitely be interested to hear what it was!
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