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'93 Buick LeSabre - Blown Fuse, Or Something Else?

 
 
CDobyns
 
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2011 04:49 pm
I have an older '93 Buick LeSabre, which is generally in pretty good shape mechanically. Last week I drove it to work and when I went to drive home that night, the car started normally, but when I turned on the headlights, the dashboard light lit up briefly and then went out. I managed to get home okay, although I later discovered that my tail lights/brake lights were no lit (although I think the actually brake lights were illuminating when braking).

Of some diagnostic significance, was that when I shut off the vehicle and got out of the car, the warning chime was sounding, as it would if you had left your keys in the ignition or left the headlights on (and yes, I had my keys and the lights were off).

I pulled the fuse for the tail lights from the under dash fuse block, but the fuse was still intact. I pulled a number of other fuses (but not all . . .), and didn't see any of those fuses blown. I'll admit that I'm confused about what's going here. I would have guessed the problem was fuse-related, but now I'm not sure. Any next steps or further diagnostics others would suggest?
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 5,982 • Replies: 15
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roger
 
  0  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2011 06:05 pm
@CDobyns,
It is possible for a fuse to look good after being blown, but I am inclined to put this down as "spooky electrical problem". It might even be something shorting out. Any chance it could be weather related?

If it is related to weather or vibration affecting some circuit, it might even behave normally for a while. It will come back later, of course.

Sorry, but I'm clueless.
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  0  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2011 09:38 pm
@CDobyns,
check your dash ground. the tail lights and dash lights run on the same circuit.

if the fuse is good, a ground is your most likely culprit.
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2011 08:42 pm
@Rockhead,
I'm inclined to give this theory some credence, since the fuse seems to be intact. Okay, I'd like to pursue this, and while I generally know what a "ground" is - how exactly do I test the dashboard ground?

And other than it just being cold, I'm not sure I can attribute this problem to any weather-related conditions.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2011 09:10 pm
@CDobyns,
locate it, and clean it. (also making certain it is still attached.)

Is this one of the buicks with electric and digital everything?

also, did you check the fuse with a circuit tester, or simply eyeball it?
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Jan, 2011 04:37 pm
@Rockhead,
Okay first, I will acknowledge that I did not check the fuse(s) with a continuity tester (which I do own), but resorted to the "eyeball" method - which was only because of an issue of time availability ( . . . well time, plus freezing cold conditions . . .). I do need to use the more reliable diagnostic tool, which I will do.

Second, this model LeSabre is the analog gauge dashboard, and not the digital everything type (which I'm still not very fond of anyway).

Last, I get the locate and clean and check contact, but any hint/clue on where exactly the dashboard ground is located?
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Jan, 2011 06:10 pm
@CDobyns,
a test light is the easy way to check a fuse. touch both sides. they should both light up. this saves trying to remove and install the little bugger.

the dash ground will be hidden away, but will connect at the steel framework or firewall. (it has to connect solidly to the steel body framework of the car.)

it will most likely come off of the gauge cluster itself...
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Jan, 2011 08:52 pm
@Rockhead,
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night may keep the postman from his appointed rounds, but all of those (and a couple more), have kept me from working on this problem much further over the past couple of days.

Tonight I did get a window of good weather which allowed me to confirm that only the tail lights and the dashboard group cluster seem to be affected by this electrical problem. Headlights, parking lights, brake lights and turn signal indicators all appear to working normally. So, the only downside is the inability to drive the car at night so that nobody runs into the back of me, although conceivably you could drive with your foot lightly on the brake to keep the brake lights illuminated - although that's clearly not a realistic long-term solution (I suppose . . .).

Since the dashboard (and tail lights) illuminate when you toggle the headlights on, and since I seem to recall that the dashboard lights did come on briefly when I activated the headlights, the night the lights (dashboard/tail lights) failed. I wonder if some component behind the headlight On/Off switch failed and could be replaced (or maybe just hot-wired into the headlight circuit), since the wiring circuit to the tail lights and dashboard must have there terminus right there also (since they all turn on together). Does that sound right?
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Jan, 2011 08:56 pm
@CDobyns,
the headlight switch is a potential culprit.
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2011 10:26 pm
@Rockhead,
Okay, a brief update on the electrical problem. Despite temperatures that were only barely above the teens today, I removed the driver's side door panel and examined and tested the headlight switch, and it seems to be working properly. So, good news - although conducting all this disassembly and testing would have been more fun in April or May.

The next stop on the diagnostic trail would seem to be the fuse box and apparently the relay that's also under the dashboard, which transfers power to the instrument panel and the tail lights, when the headlights are turned on.

A couple of things I don't understand. The first is why the "warning chime" is sounding, even when the headlights are turned off - which is the same chime you would hear to remind you if you left the headlights on (accidentally) and opened the driver's side door. Even though the headlights are clearly turned off, this seems to suggest that something in the circuit (tail light / instrument panel) is still energized, even though the lights are not illuminating. I'm sure that's somehow significant, although I'm not sure how - or why.

Likewise, I can't figure why the fuse box doesn't list either the headlights, tail lights or instrument panel, although the instrument panel (IP) seems to be listed under Fuse #21 (which I've checked as being OK). Well, I've included a thumbnail to the fuse box listing, and I'm open to additional suggestions. Thanks.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/th_FuseChart-1.jpg
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2011 10:30 pm
@CDobyns,
I'm gonna have to get back to you. I hope by tomorrow.

I'm almost braindead tonight. finishing a motor swap in frigid temps all afternoon.

and yes, I think you are correct on the significance of the chime when it is not supposed to go.

(the door switches act to ground the circuit, btw.)
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2011 10:33 pm
I might mention that it is not terribly difficult to run a new tail circuit.

if you have to...
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Mar, 2011 08:38 pm
@Rockhead,
I thought I would try to resurface this question since it's been a while since this attracted any additional input. I'm still mostly convinced that this problem is still linked to a problem with some kind of relay under the dashboard. I can't quite see, but there seems to be a relay of some sort, similar to a turn signal relay - which I can even hear "clicking" under the dashboard. Since I've had to replace turn signal relays in the past, I'm wondering if this is a similar, replaceable type of relay, that transfers power to the dashboard and rear tail lights when the head lights are toggled on. Any further theories?
0 Replies
 
mdirollo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Oct, 2016 12:36 pm
@CDobyns,
Hello CDobyns,
I realize it's been some time (i.e. about 5 or 6 years) since you posted your last comment about the lighting issue you were having with your 1993 Buick LeSabre. Still, I read it and wondered if you ever got to the source your issue(s)?
The reason I ask is that I have a friend who just purchased a very nice, very well cared for 1993 Buick LeSabre which, like your car, has dash lights that are not working. I haven't yet looked at the car but I do know that the dome light is also not working - which is unlike your scenario. The dome light may or may not be a separate issue - but I can't say for sure since, as I mentioned, I haven't yet had a chance to lay my hands on the car (but plan to shortly, hence my reason for writing).

I also do not know whether or not her tail lights are working though I will check when I get the chance to see and work on the car. I only saw the car once and I honestly didn't think to check the tail lights since she (my friend who owns the car) hadn't said anything about them being out - she only mentioned the dash and dome lights.

I plan on checking the fuses first, maybe the dome light bulb itself as well if necessary.

If you see this message, I would greatly appreciate any information, input, guidance that you have to offer.

Thanks,
Mark
CDobyns
 
  2  
Reply Sat 22 Oct, 2016 02:27 pm
@mdirollo,
Wow. Some of these postings never seem to fade away. So, here's a quick update - which won't be terribly helpful, I'm afraid.

I never could track down the lighting group problem, although we did continue to drive that vehicle, or at least during the times of day when we were sure that we wouldn't need the headlights.

Then someone bashed and cracked the front grill assembly/frame, which I was able to repair and replace, luckily.

Shortly after that, the water pump began to leak - which I was capable of replacing, until I determined that to remove the water pump, it was necessary to remove one of the engine mount supports (to this day, I'm not sure why the engineers designed the engine/water pump in that configuration). At that point, I had simply reached my limit (economically, emotionally, etc.) with the vehicle - and we opted to donate it to a local charity. We were sorry to see that car go - since while being 22 years old, and still needing a couple of repairs, it was in remarkably nice condition - and fixable. Maybe your friend ended up with our vehicle. Bought in Maryland and white in color? That's the final story, and again - no good insights to provide regarding the lighting issue. Good luck.
0 Replies
 
CURTIEGOLEM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 10:08 am
@CDobyns,
I literally just got pulled over and got $162 ticket for this issue when it just happened. I own a 93 buick lesabre. But I realized that the buick will set off signal alerts. For example when a lightbulb is out non of them work. So what I did was REPLACED the 10 AMP PARK LIGHTS since it was broken. It fixed all my issues.
0 Replies
 
 

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